New in Mesothelioma Treatment: A Focus on the Power of Positive Psychology

The damaging effects of asbestos exposure don’t only impinge on a person’s physical health. Victims of asbestos-related illnesses suffer psychologically, as well. In this exclusive ongoing series, we’ll shed some light on that other side of terminal illness by examining the impact of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases on mental and emotional health-not just for patients but for their loved ones as well.

Some of the topics we’ll cover include: psychiatric conditions common to victims of mesothelioma cancer and other related conditions, how to share news of a terminal diagnosis with loved ones, coping with grief and loss, types and stages of the bereavement process, self-help techniques for managing mental health during treatment and more.

Mesothelioma and Mental Health-PART FOUR

As medical science continues to advance towards new mesothelioma treatment options, one factor in recovery is hardly fresh but remains consistently on the patient radar: the often-curious power of positivity. While people have been purporting a somewhat unexplainable connection between the brain and the body for centuries, the link has only recently begun to receive research-based scientific scrutiny-largely precipitated by the development of fairly recent fields like positive psychology and mind-body medicine.

Understanding the Power and the Proof of Positive Thinking

Because the current research on positivity and its immediate effects on illness and general physical health are minimal and rather limited in scope, there’s no real surprise in the fact that results have been at times contradictory and hardly considered “conclusive.” Beyond the relative newness of empirically focused research, studies on positive thinking are considerably more complex and difficult to construct than-for instance-those established to gauge the effectiveness of a chemo drug or other “traditional” medical modality, as in mesothelioma clinical trials.

When evaluating so-called traditional methods of new mesothelioma treatment, researchers can compare a randomized clinical control group directly with a separate set of individuals chosen to receive an experimental treatment form. Most evidence of positive thinking has been largely anecdotal in nature, derived largely from what are called case studies conducted on individuals. Until further studies using complex data analysis on whole groups of patients with terminal and/or late-stage cancer diagnoses can be conducted, the proof of positivity on remission rates and recovery will be difficult to demonstrate.

Survivor Stories-Living Proof of Positivity as “New” Mesothelioma Treatment?

Despite an unfortunate lacking of empirical evidence, the stories of many notable mesothelioma “survivors” serve as compelling testimony for the effects of positive thinking and faith on supposedly “terminal” conditions. The vast majority of individuals who have lived past (many, well past) the general maximum mesothelioma life expectancy of five years credit, at least in part, their optimistic attitude towards the illnesses with their long-term remission and recovery.

The longest-living and perhaps most vocal of this group of so-called “survivors” is an Australian author and cancer educator Paul Krauss, who-after being given only weeks to live-is miraculously still thriving seven years later. Krauss has publicly credited his continued health to a combination of experimental, nutritional, and mind-body techniques-most ostensibly, a positive attitude maintained in the face of certain death.

In his best-selling book Surviving Mesothelioma and Other Cancers: A Patient’s Guide, Krauss writes: “Hope is physiological! Hope affects the way we feel. Hope in the form of positive beliefs affects our recovery…To think positively is a matter of choice! Positive thinking actually works.”

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