Psychological Changes Preceding Spontaneous Remission of Cancer

Johannes N. Schilder, Marco J. de Vries, Karl Goodkin, Mike Antoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


To develop hypotheses about psychological influences that may favorably affect tumor behavior, 11 patients were recruited who evinced spontaneous regression of histologically diagnosed and reviewed adenocarcinoma (n = 3), lymphoma (n =2), melanoma, chorion carcinoma, ovarian carcinoma, mesothelioma, liver carcinoma or sarcoma, and malignant giant cell tumor (a child). The authors studied retrospectively what had happened to these patients prior to the first signs of their clinical improvement. These patients seemed to have gained access to poignant activities and experiences, shortly prior to their tumor regression. Change involved an increased dystonic reaction to limited aspects of the personality and an increased syntonic reaction to a wider set of characteristics than normally accessed. These changes either followed other persons’ abusive behavior that “went beyond the pale” and elicited a different coping response than previously had been manifested by the patient, or were otherwise facilitated by particular events, independent of the patient’s behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)288-312
Number of pages25
JournalClinical Case Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • cancer
  • psychooncology
  • psychosocial
  • remission
  • spontaneous regression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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