Psychological Factors in Breast Cancer: A Preliminary Study of Some Personality Trends in Patients with Cancer of the Breast

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Abstract

Summary

Fifty women attending a breast tumor clinic for the first time were given, individually and prior to medical diagnosis, a personal history questionnaire and several projective personality tests. These clinical techniques were essentially for the purpose of investigating the patient's maternal experiences and heterosexual adjustments.

Summary

Based on the findings of subsequent exploratory surgery, these women were divided into two groups, those having malignant neoplasms and those with benign disorders. At the time of interview and testing, these 50 women, unaware of their diagnoses, had similar physical symptoms and fears of cancer reinforced by impending hospitalization and surgery. Therefore, psychological differences between the cancer and nonmalignant cases could not be thought of as situational nor attributed to anxiety factors. The questionnaire and tests were also administered to a third group of 25 women examined at a cancer detection center who were found to be completely free of any breast pathology, thus serving as an additional control. Comparisons were then made between the 3 groups.

Summary

Some differences occurring between the cancer patients and the other groups which might be advantageously subjected to further inquiry are as follows:

Summary

Women with malignant tumors reported a far greater number of sibling deaths at birth or in infancy.

Summary

The childhood of the cancer patients seemed to be characterized by excessive responsibilities predominantly associated with caring for younger children. As adults their marriages appeared less successful.

Summary

The cancer group expressed more negative feelings toward pregnancy and birth and evidenced specific disturbances in feminine identification.

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