The Topic of Cancer: New Perspectives on the Emotional Experience of Cancer

Editor : Jonathan Burke

The Topic of Cancer: New Perspectives on the Emotional Experience of Cancer

Book Details

  • Publisher : Routledge
  • Published : December 2013
  • Cover : Paperback
  • Pages : 256
  • Category :
  • Catalogue No : 33075
  • ISBN 13 : 9781780491134
  • ISBN 10 : 1780491131
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This book focuses on our emotional responses to cancer by offering a range of perspectives: psychoanalytic, medical, spiritual and religious, as well as literary. Once suppressed, akin to a taboo, the topic of cancer is now very much in the public consciousness. The prevalence of the disease and well-publicised medical advances in its treatment demand it.

Topic of Cancer begins with Freud's cancer, widely known of but rarely understood in its historic and analytic context. Psychotherapeutic reflections are then offered on our understanding of the adult and adolescent with cancer, and the challenges of sustaining a thoughtful presence in the face of the trauma experienced when a child is diagnosed with cancer, and during treatment. The dilemmas and challenges faced by today's psychotherapist with cancer are explored next and, for the first time in cancer literature, an account of the emotional demands on nurses involved in sensitive, intimate care. With an increasing number of people living longer with cancer, “survivorship” and palliative care are the focus of the chapters that follow.

As cancer is not the domain of any one discipline, Topic of Cancer looks next at the nature of religious and spiritual experience in addressing the psychological needs of people with cancer, and then considers how a poet might address painful experience, such as having to confront the possibility of approaching death. Lastly the cancer memoir is explored as an increasingly contemporary means of coming to terms with the “Emperor of all maladies”.

Reviews and Endorsements

‘This is an extremely valuable book. Despite all improvements in outlook and changes in attitude towards it, cancer still faces those who suffer from it, and those who care for and are close to them, with a unique challenge. This book helps to meet that challenge on many levels. Rooted in psychoanalytic understanding, it is at the same time multifaceted. It brings together outstanding contributions from medical, psychological, and spiritual perspectives and shows the creativity that those confronting cancer may discover in themselves. The chapters are impressive individually, and taken together they offer a fresh and rich view of the “topic of cancer”. Truly a book to be grateful for.’
— Michael Parsons, British Psychoanalytical Society; author of The Dove That Returns: The Dove That Vanishes: Paradox and Creativity in Psychoanalysis

‘This multifaceted volume brings together the diverse perspectives of psychoanalysis, clinical medicine, and the creative arts to illuminate the experience of individuals who have been diagnosed with cancer. Beginning with a detailed account of Sigmund Freud’s personal struggle with the disease, it takes the reader on a fascinating journey into the emotional lives of cancer patients and their families. The wealth of information in this evocative text will undoubtedly inspire readers to pursue the many threads that have been woven into this thoughtful account of an illness.’
— Gary Rodin MD, Professor of Psychiatry, University of Toronto; Senior Scientist in the Ontario Cancer Institute; and holder of the University Health Network Lederman Chair in Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care, Princess Margaret Hospital, University of Toronto

‘The authors in Jonathan Burke’s truly outstanding and moving book have managed to speak about cancer in a direct, compassionate, non-defensive, and non-catastrophising way. I experienced great comfort in knowing that cancer can be engaged with, however painful it may be for the person who might be dying, and for those who will survive. The Topic of Cancer: New Perspectives on the Emotional Experience of Cancer deserves a crucial place not on our bookshelves, but rather, more immediately, on our bedside tables.’
— Professor Brett Kahr, extracted from the Foreword

About the Editor(s)

Jonathan Burke first trained in social work and later became a hospital administrator before moving to London where he took up a post as a health planning consultant to UK hospitals and ministries of health abroad. His professional interest in the cancer field began with strategic studies he undertook examining the organisation of services for cancer patients in Cyprus. He is the author of the Enfield Cancer Directory, funded by Macmillan Cancer Relief, and for six years he managed the Cancer Life project on behalf of Enfield Disability Action before training as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist. He has facilitated a range of seminars on cancer related issues, most recently helping develop the “Topic of Cancer” Seminar Series at the London Centre for Psychotherapy. He now works as a psychotherapist in private practice.

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