EMOTIONAL REACTIONS TO DISFIGUREMENT FROM CANCER THERAPY. Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Disfigurement not only produces current anxieties but reactivates childhood conflicts. The emotional reaction depends upon the disturbance to the patient's major adaptations to life as well as the meaning of the organ to the patient. Fear of isolation and rejection by others may be more terrifying than fear of death. Emotional reactions include regression with marked dependency, anxiety, depression, hostility and, if severe, paranoid states, hypochondriasis, denial, counterphobic behaviour, obsessive-compulsive reactions and schizophrenic reactions. Management basically involves early establishment of a positive doctor-patient relationship. In such a relationship the physican should educate his patient, undercut guilt, accept transient regression and expression of anger, set limits on counterphobic behaviour, either support or gently question denial of reality, and support, without being overly sympathetic, a depressed patient. The nurse, social worker, psychiatrist and the patient's family may be valuable members of the therapy team. Disfigurements of various body areas pose individual problems of management.

publication date

  • August 31, 1963

has subject area