Facing Cancer and the Fear of Death: A Psychoanalytic Perspective on Treatment

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Norman Straker
Jason Aronson, Incorporated, Dec 27, 2012 - Psychology - 170 pages
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In Facing Cancer and the Fear of Death: A Psychoanalytic Perspective on Treatment, Dr. Norman Straker proposes that “death anxiety” is responsible for the American society’s failure to address costly futile care at the end of life; more specifically, doctors default on the appropriate prescription of palliative care because of this anxiety. This leads to unnecessary suffering for terminally-ill patients and their families and significant distress for physicians. To address these challenges in the culture of medical education, increased psychological support for physicians who treat dying patients is necessary. Additionally, physicians need to reach a consensus regarding the discontinuation of active treatments.

Psychoanalysts have traditionally denied the importance of death anxiety and report relatively few treatment cases of dying patients in their literature. This book offers multiple treatment reports by psychoanalysts that illustrate the effectiveness and value of a flexible approach to patients facing death. The psychoanalytic reader is expected to gain a greater level of comfort with facing death and is encouraged to consider making themselves more available to the ever-increasing population of cancer survivors. Further, psychoanalysts are encouraged to be more useful partners to the oncologists that are burdened by the irrational feelings of all parties.

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About the author (2012)

Norman Straker, MD, offers an approach for facing death and the treatment of cancer patients based on 35 years of clinical experience. One of the original faculty members of the very first psycho-oncology services under the leadership of Dr. Jimmie Holland at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Dr. Straker is still engaged in pedagogy and research at the center. He also teaches at Weill Cornell College of Medicine, Mt. Sinai Medical Center, and the New York Psychoanalytic Institute. A psychoanalyst by trade, Dr. Straker has chaired the discussion group, “Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy of Cancer Patients” at the American Psychoanalytic Association for more than 25 years. He is in private practice in New York City.

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