Are some types of people more prone to cancer than others? Lydia Temoshok & Henry Dreher’s book ‘The Type C Connection’ explores the behavioural links to cancer & health. Take a look at some of the psychological factors that can make you cancer-prone and how to deal with them.
There is clear evidence that psychological factors – our belief systems, emotions, attitudes, behavior patterns, relationships, response to life events, etc. – play a role in causing, preventing and reversing illness. Naturally, the question often asked is: Is there a cancer-prone personality? And if so, what is its psychological basis?
Research shows that people exhibiting ‘Type A’ behavior patterns are (almost pathologically) impatient, highly charged and competitive, filled with anger and hostility which they express freely and assertively, while remaining consistently focused on their own needs. Such ‘Type A’ behavior patterns are correlated to cardiovascular (heart) disease.
With cancer, the research is not yet conclusive. However, the work of three well-known practitioners suggests that many cancer patients, especially those with a poor prognosis, show some common traits, broadly called ‘Type C’ behavior patterns.
Lydia Temoshok & Henry Dreher: Behavioural Links to Cancer & Health
In their book ‘The Type C Connection – The Behavioral Links to Cancer And Your Health’, the authors propose that ‘Type C’ behavior patterns are by sharp contrast, almost the polar opposite of ‘Type A’ behaviors described above.
It started when Dr. Richard Sagebriel, Director of the Melanoma Clinic at the University of California called Dr. Lydia Temoshok regarding his observations of melanoma patients, especially the ones with the weakest prognosis.
He said that many of them were “people-pleasers” i.e. they were driven by how others saw them and put in extra effort to be accepted and validated by people around them.
Dr. Temoshok had set up a research study to see if there was such a mind-body connection. They hence found a majority of the melanoma patients to be “excessively nice, un-complaining and submissive”. They were the “pleasers-appeasers”, who had spent their entire lives trying to be accepted and validated by others—spouses, parents, siblings, co-workers, friends, etc. In fact, their very identities seemed to derive from how they were perceived by others in their lives. Further, she discovered that in extreme cases, some patients continuously and consistently blamed themselves and suffered deep guilt combined with low self-esteem.
Out of touch with their primary needs and emotions, they look to others for signals on how to think, feel and act. What they shared was a manner of handling life stress. They coped by keeping their feelings and needs under wraps. These people never expressed anger, and rarely did they acknowledge fear and sadness. They maintained a façade of pleasantness even under the most painful or aggravating circumstances. They strived excessively to please people they cared about, to please authority figures, even to please strangers.”
Psychological Factors Like Repressed Emotions Compromise Immunity
Subsequently, Temoshok devised a series of scientific studies to explore ‘Type C’ behavior patterns in more depth and she found a strong correlation between repressed emotions and a compromised immune system – our first line of defense against cancer.
- Patients who were more emotionally expressive had thinner tumors, more slowly dividing cancer cells and a much higher number of lymphocytes (immune cells) attacking the tumor.
- While patients who were less emotionally expressive had thicker tumors, more rapidly dividing cancer cells, with far fewer lymphocytes attacking the tumor.
How To Address Behavior Links To Cancer?
Based on the insight that self-acceptance is the fundamental stepping stone towards healing, the authors encourage people to seek professional help in making 9 specific behavior shifts, which can transform their ‘Type C’ patterns.
- Develop awareness of your needs.
- Discover your inner guide.
- Reframe your ideas about your feelings.
- Learn the skills of emotional expression with doctors, nurses, friends and family members.
- Take charge of your medical care.
- Ask for and get the social support you need.
- Secure your legitimate rights.
- Work through hopelessness.
- Cultivate fighting spirit.
- Do any of these ‘Type C’ behaviour patterns apply to you or to a loved one?
- Which ones resonate most strongly?
- What steps are you taking to manage or transform them?
- Have you sought professional help or guidance in this area?
Book: “The Type C Connection: The Behavioral Links to Cancer and Your Health” by Lydia Temoshock and Henry Dreher (This link is for your information only. We do not earn any commissions/ fees when you click it and/or when you purchase the book.)
Written by Shalini Raja, a student of Communications at Mt Carmel College, Bangalore.
More from this Cancer-Prone Personality Series
|Title||About the article|
|Part 1||Based on the clear evidence that psychological factors – our belief systems, emotions, attitudes, behaviors, relationships, response to life events, etc. – play a role in causing, preventing and reversing illness, the question often asked is: Is there a cancer-prone personality? And if so, what is its psychological basis?|
|Part 2||Let us take a another expert’s view of the cancer-prone personality.|
|Part 3||This is our 3rd article in this series investigating the Cancer-prone personality.|