Understanding the Cancer Personality and It's Importance in Healing
Douglas Brodie, MD
6110 Plumas Suite B
Reno, NV 89509
Why Dr. Brodie?
There are probably dozens, perhaps hundreds of physicians who now specialize in alternative and integrative treatments for cancer patients, in settings from a small solo office to elaborate and expensive state-of-the-art clinics with residential facilities. Dr. Brodie was chosen for this book for several reasons. By far the most important was his profound understanding, gleaned from a half century of experience, of the importance of addressing the mental/emotional causes that almost always underlie the development of cancer. In this, he is one of a select few.
Over the course of fifty years of treating many thousands of cancer patients, Dr. Brodie observed that there were certain personality traits and stressors that were consistently present in these patients. In fact, much of his website is devoted to offering an extraordinarily insightful look at what he has found to constitute “the cancer personality.” As well, he includes a list of what he has come to believe are the seven most important “success factors” in determining whether there will be a positive outcome for a particular patient, again based on decades of observations. With Dr. Brodie’s permission, all of this crucial information will be included later in this chapter, exactly as he has written it. It is something every cancer patient will want to seriously consider.
Although to act upon these concepts requires us to overcome the desire to avoid painful self-examination and catharsis, it also offers real hope for those with the courage to walk this difficult path. Dr. Brodie calls this the willingness “to expose and address deep-seated emotions and to resolve long-standing conflicts.”
It is the key to true and lasting healing on several levels.
A Pioneer in Alternative Cancer Treatment
One of the original and most highly-regarded pioneers in the field of integrative cancer treatment, Dr. Brodie has fifty plus years of experience and expertise in both allopathic and complementary and alternative treatments. He began focusing exclusively on alternative and integrative medicine in the early 70’s, long before the public knew much about this orientation. His practice almost immediately began to shift toward alternative cancer treatments and desperate cancer patients from other states began to seek him out.
Early on, Dr. Brodie developed several unique procedures for enhancing the immune system in cancer patients and he offered primarily alternative and nutritional methodologies. Although he does incorporate chemotherapy and radiation, it is usually in much smaller amounts than normal and only when this is appropriate. He has found that including these additional alternative methodologies offers significant protection against the toxic side effects of chemotherapy and radiation.
Because of his courageous stance on medical freedom and the right of each patient to choose a personal treatment plan that included an integrative or alternative approach, Dr. Brodie was brought before the California medical board, with three unsuccessful attempts to revoke his medical license. He was subsequently severely criticized by the medical establishment for his non-conventional treatment methods, although to this day he has never had his license revoked. In 1980 he made the decision to practice exclusively in Nevada, which as a result of a less restrictive attitude and more favorable legal climate, has one of the highest number of alternative and integrative cancer clinics in this country.
By 1983, Dr. Brodie was appointed by the Governor of Nevada to serve on the newly formed State Board of Homeopathic Medical Examiners. This was only the second such board ever created in the nation and Dr. Brodie continues to be licensed both to practice medical homeopathy and as a conventional medical doctor.
A Conversation With Dr. Brodie
Dr. Brodie had some fascinating things to say when he was interviewed for this article. In response to a request for his comments about how the Brodie Clinic addresses the mental and emotional aspects of disease, his initial observation was that he believes that psychological conflicts, particularly suppressed anger, underlie the development of cancer in most of the cases he has treated over many decades.
He emphasized that “Suppressed anger seems to be by far the most common emotional feature of cancer patients in general.” He added that this anger “has usually been suppressed for so long that patients either can’t bring it out, or don’t even realize that it’s there….but it’s down there somewhere in just about every case. We try to bring these things out and point out that this is really part of the disease and an important part, and one that must be addressed.” Dr. Brodie observed that most patients do recognize this aspect of their cancer, although there are a few who resist this realization completely and remain in denial. He suggested that many males over 60 found the suggestion of a psychological component to their disease to be unacceptable and this age group more than any other refuses psychological support.
The Brodie Clinic's protocol for treating cancer generally includes a three week residential stay in Nevada, with at least one session per week with the clinic’s psychologist, who is very experienced with addressing and resolving these emotional issues. Upon the conclusion of the treatment, every effort is made to find an appropriate therapist to support the patient at home, and this is emphasized as critical for long-term healing and preventing relapse.
Dr. Brodie adds: “And with every visit with me, I’m constantly reinforcing what the psychologist is doing with them (the patients), although I try not to overwhelm them.” In this way, he functions almost as a therapist as well, because he has found this to be such an essential component of long-term healing, every bit as important as the medical treatments he offers.
Brodie went on: “We provide all the physical interventions possible, but we cannot neglect the psychological. It’s a much-neglected aspect of cancer care, even by the best alternative physicians out there, and that needs to change. The emotional aspects of cancer cannot be ignored.”
Physical interventions include various I.V. infusions and other methods to support and enhance the functioning of the immune system. But by far the most exciting physical therapy, according to Dr. Brodie, is IPT or Insulin Potentiation Therapy. Here is how Brodie describes the theory and effect of administration: “We use IPT quite often now. Cancer cells require a relatively large amount of sugar—close to 12 times as much as a normal cell. Therefore they’re extremely sensitive to changes in the blood sugar levels. When blood sugar is reduced through the use of IPT, the cancer cell becomes ‘panicked’ so to speak, and opens its cell membrane up to take in more sugar, only with the sugar can now come substances the cell would normally block, such as chemotherapy. Therefore we can use only a fraction (normally 10%) of a standard dose of chemotherapy and obtain a greatly-enhanced effect that is more specific to the cancer cell and not poisoning every cell of the body in the process. In effect, IPT turns the small dose of chemotherapy into a powerful ‘smart bomb.’
Brodie has been extremely impressed with the results he has obtained using IPT: “It has really improved our success rate tremendously...it's really exciting.” He went on to emphasize however that even with tumor destruction, “The immune system must still be regenerated and the emotional issues addressed, or the cancer will likely recur at some point.”
In a recent conversation, one of Dr. Brodie’s staff also offered an observation about the profound and direct effect on the immune system of stress caused by unresolved negative relationships. A cancer patient at the clinic was being closely monitored and had her immune system measured on Friday at 70% activity. Following a difficult weekend visit from a family member, on Monday this number had dropped to 10%. All of this was scientifically documented at the clinic. How many cancer patients have watched their immune systems falter and their disease progress, and never made this type of connection?
Other Clinic Information
Most other logistical information about the Brodie Clinic is available on their website or with a phone call. The clinic cancer program is offered daily, but is non-residential, and patients use accommodations nearby; a list of options is on the website. Two other physicians work with Dr. Brodie. Diseases other than cancer are treated as well. The standard cancer protocol is three weeks long and the cost is in line with or even less than other similar clinics, approximately $10,000, but this amount can vary. Much will not be covered by insurance and the IPT therapy, since it contains chemotherapy, is an added cost. All this should be discussed with the clinic before plans are made to visit. They offer the option of working with a third party billing service that is experienced in getting non-conventional treatments covered by insurance companies, for a percentage of the payment.
In addition to psychological counseling and IPT, some of the therapies offered at the Clinic include:
- Nutritional Guidance
- Vitamin-Mineral Infusions
- Biological Response Modifiers
- Immune System Evaluation
- Immune Enhancement Therapy
- Hypoglycemic Therapy
- Megadose Ascorbate Infusions
- Chelation Therapy
- Oxygenation Therapy
- Ultra Violet Blood Irradiation
- Darkfield Microscopy
Articles Written by Dr. Brodie
“The Cancer Personality: Its Importance in Healing”
”Evidence of a relationship between cancer and personality type has existed for centuries. In dealing with many thousands of cancer patients over the past 28 years, it has been my observation that there are certain personality traits which are rather consistently present in the cancer-susceptible individual. These characteristics are as follows:
- Being highly conscientious, dutiful, responsible, caring, hard-working, and usually of above average intelligence.
- Exhibiting a strong tendency toward carrying other people's burdens and toward taking on extra obligations, often "worrying for others."
- Having a deep-seated need to make others happy, tending to be "people pleasers." Having a great need for approval.
- Often having a history of lack of closeness with one or both parents, sometimes, later in life, resulting in lack of closeness with spouse or others who would normally be close.
- Harboring long-suppressed toxic emotions, such as anger, resentment and/or hostility. Typically the cancer-susceptible individual internalizes such emotions and has great difficulty expressing them.
- Reacting adversely to stress, often becoming unable to cope adequately with such stress. Usually experiencing an especially damaging event about 2 years before the onset of detectable cancer. The patient is unable to cope with this traumatic event or series of events, which comes as a "last straw" on top of years of suppressed reactions to stress.
- Showing an inability to resolve deep-seated emotional problems and conflicts, usually arising in childhood, often even being unaware of their presence.
Typical of the cancer-susceptible personality, as noted above, is the long-standing tendency to suppress "toxic emotions," particularly anger.
Usually starting in childhood, this individual has held in his/her hostility and other unacceptable emotions. More often than not, this feature of the affected personality has its origins in feelings of rejection by one or both parents. Whether these feelings or rejection are justified or not, it is the perception of rejection that matters, and this results in a lack of closeness with the "rejecting" parent or parents, followed later in life by a similar lack of closeness with spouses and others with whom close relationships would normally develop. Those at higher risk for cancer tend to develop feelings of loneliness as a result of their having been deprived of affection and acceptance earlier in life, even if this is merely their own perception. These people have a tremendous need for approval and acceptance, developing a very high sensitivity to the needs of others while suppressing their own emotional needs.
These good folks become the "caretakers" of the world, showing great compassion and caring for others, and going out of their way to look after the needs of others. They are very reluctant to accept help from others, fearing that it may jeopardize their role as caretakers or that they might appear to have too much self-concern. Throughout their childhood they have typically been taught "not to be selfish," and they take this to heart as a major lifetime objective. All of this benevolence is highly commendable, of course, in our culture, but must be somehow modified in the case of the cancer patient. A distinction needs to be made here between the "care-giving" and the "care-taking" personality. There is nothing wrong with care-giving, of course, but the problem arises when the susceptible individual derives his/her entire worth, value and identity from his/her role as "caretaker." If this shift cannot be made, the patient is stuck in this role, and the susceptibility to cancer greatly increases.
As noted above, a consistent feature of those who are susceptible to cancer appears to be that they "suffer in silence," and bear their burdens without complaint. Burdens of their own as well as the burdens of others weigh heavily, often subconsciously as well as consciously, upon these people because they, through a lifetime of suppression, internalize their problems, cares and conflicts. The carefree extrovert, on the other hand, seems to be far less vulnerable to cancer than the caring introvert described above.
Most cancer patients have experienced a highly stressful event, usually about 2 years prior to the onset of detectable disease.
How one reacts to stress appears to be a major factor in the development of cancer. Most cancer patients have experienced a highly stressful event, usually about 2 years prior to the onset of detectable disease. This traumatic event is often beyond the patient's control, such as the loss of a loved one, loss of a business, job, home, or some other major disaster. The typical cancer victim has lost the ability to cope with these extreme events, because his/her coping mechanism lies in his/her ability to control the environment. When this control is lost, the patient has no other way to cope.
Major stress causes suppression of the immune system, and does so more overwhelmingly in the cancer-susceptible individual than in others. Thus personal tragedies and excessive levels of stress appear to combine with the underlying personality described above to bring on the immune deficiency which allows cancer to thrive. These observations have given rise to the term psychoneuroimmunology.
In my experience, one of the most difficult and most important hurdles to overcome in cancer patients is how to make major changes in their life-styles. Not only is it necessary to make changes in the physical aspects of their lives such as eating habits, but major changes need to be made in the way they react to stress.
The way they react to stress is due largely to the way they think about life. There can be no lasting changes of behavior without first having a change in thinking and in belief systems. It is often extremely difficult for these patients to make substantial changes in these ingrained patterns of thought. Many find it too difficult or too disagreeable to make such alterations in their settled way of thinking and reacting. Many likewise find it too unpleasant to make changes in the physical aspects of their life-style, even in the face of life-threatening illness.
In my office patients are counseled to address their problems and to make the appropriate adjustments to the best of their ability. A psychologist with extensive experience in dealing with these unique problems is readily available to our patients.
These patients are encouraged to take charge of their own health and to be active participants in their care. They are urged to learn as much as possible about the disease and all of the treatment options, including the various conventional modalities.”
“Success Factors in Dealing with Cancer”
”A positive attitude is essential to a successful outcome for all cancer patients. It is absolutely essential that the patient reject the prevailing concept that death from cancer is inevitable, and the belief that conventional medicine offers the only hope for survival.
Success Factors: Certain consistent features or attributes distinguish the successful cancer survivors from those who are less successful. The successful cancer patients, by and large, are those who are:
- Willing and able to reverse a stressful life-style, to reduce heavy obligations, burdens and anxieties, and who learn to say "No" to those who would lay burdens upon them.
- Aware of the critical importance of spiritual growth and having faith in God or their concept of a Higher Power.
- Ready and eager to take charge of their own health care, to study in depth the various alternatives, and to make dietary and other changes in their physical life-style.
- Able to reject the idea that the diagnosis of cancer automatically means death and that conventional treatment offers the only hope.
- Willing to accept responsibility for the behavioral factors which led to the disease, to submit to self-assessment, and to make the necessary adjustments and corrections to eliminate these factors.
- Prepare to abandon destructive and "toxic" emotions such as fear, anger, resentment, guilt and self-pity, replacing these with such positive emotions as hope, love, forgiveness, gentleness, confidence and faith.
- Able to overcome inhibitions, particularly learned restraints which may have prevented full sexual gratification, allowing guiltless and total fulfillment.
Conventional medicine has only recently begun to recognize the connection between the mind and the immune system. It is an extremely important aspect of a healthy immune system, healing and freedom from disease.
The surviving cancer patient has a healthy skepticism of the conventional approach to cancer, and questions all of the premises of that approach. He/she is eager to study in depth all treatment modalities without prejudice, then to follow the chosen course or courses with dedication, discipline and common sense.
The cancer survivor is most often one who has accepted and welcomed spiritual growth, one who has developed a close relationship with God or a Higher Power.
The successful cancer patient has confidence and faith in his/her course of action. The long-term cancer survivor is usually the one who is willing to expose and address his/her deep-seated emotional problems and to resolve long-standing conflicts.
The foregoing attributes have been those most frequently associated with victory over cancer. In recent years I have come to the conclusion that these attributes or qualities are virtually indispensable to recovery from cancer. It has further been my experience that if the problems and conflicts discussed at the beginning of this section are not addressed and corrected, the cancer patient will likely not get well.
More often than not, neither conventional nor alternative methods alone penetrate deeply enough into the patient's inward nature, so much of which is kept beneath the surface and so much of which underlies that patient's disease. Counseling, prayer, meditation, reaching the deeper dwelling place of feelings — all must be brought to bear to resolve the patient's inner conflicts. These underlying issues must be addressed simultaneously with physical treatment, whether it be conventional, alternative or a combination of therapies. Otherwise, none of these physical modalities will be effective. We must recognize loving energy as an essential part of healing.”
The Cancer Personality: A Major Factor in Integrative Care
The following text is taken from the abstract of a lecture Dr. Brodie was to give at the Global Holistic Health Summit in Bangalore, India in January 2003. It can serve as a summary of Brodie’s thinking on the importance of addressing the repressed emotional imbalances most of us carry throughout our lives.
“...These cancer susceptible individuals often carry long-suppressed toxic emotions, such as anger, resentment and hostility, usually arising in childhood, which have been internalized to such an extent that such individuals have extreme difficulty in bringing these unacceptable emotions to the surface. As with many conditions, whatever goes on mentally, emotionally and spiritually in these people can have a profound effect on their physical health. The immune system in particular is continually under the influence of these factors. Conventional medicine has only just begun to recognize the connection between the mind, the emotions and the immune system……The foregoing information is incorporated into our holistic and integrative program, utilizing the services of an onsite psychologist with extensive experience in helping cancer patients to resolve their particular conflicts. It has been our consistent observation that those patients who are best able to resolve these issues, along with being willing and able to make other lifestyle changes, are the most successful cancer survivors.“