We don’t go there

I have a wicked sense of humour. The type that likes to tease those registrars. And so when he asked me last week when I was diagnosed, I simply asked ‘Do you mean when I dreamed I had it and diagnosed myself, or the official one?’

He was great. This guy will go far. Open. Interested and willing to learn. So I asked him what they teach people in medical school these days about the role of the mind in healing. He thought about it for a moment and then said ‘nothing’. And then added that he felt the role of the mind was completely underestimated.

And I wonder how they cannot be teaching doctors about the role of the mind? The research is all there. And in the same way that the body is fragmented into its parts in the study of medicine, so too are the different streams of medicine. Most doctors only learning their own particular art and science and not having the time, interest or resources to understand how they all fit together. If only treatment were more integrated.

Take for instance the fact, and I do mean the fact, that treatment expectations have been demonstrated to contribute significantly to side-effects. Or that the process of informed consent can set up these expectations in the first place. Let alone the media influence. And there we have an issue. Physical symptoms created by a mental construct. Most people don’t realise this research is current and known throughout the world. But do they use this knowledge in chemo education? Not widely. But perhaps the informed ones do.

I wonder what it will take for mainstream medicine to begin to integrate the power of the mind in the treatment of cancer?

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