Home » Ask the Therapist » Disassociation of Possible Cancer Diagnosis

Disassociation of Possible Cancer Diagnosis

Asked by on with 1 answer:

Can a person disassociate feelings toward a diagnosis of cancer cells in the breast being found on a body scan. My mother had breast cancer twice in her forties and ultimately died last year of thyroid cancer brought on by the radiation used to combat the breast cancer. I was sexually abused for years as a child and often would disassociate during the experience until it was over. Does this coping mechanism kick into play forty five years later? It has been five days and I still don’t have any feelings towards the probable diagnosis (MRI scheduled after Christmas). It is more of a numb feeling toward the statement. I just keep telling myself to trust in Jesus and keep my eyes on him and it will be fine. Is this normal?

Disassociation of Possible Cancer Diagnosis

Answered by on -


Your early experience with dissociation due to the abuse may be the way you protect yourself from very difficult and threatening situations. Many cancer treatment centers offer counseling and would be familiar with your type of reaction. They may be able to help you with better coping strategies.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral
PC username: sphinxe

Disassociation of Possible Cancer Diagnosis

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). Disassociation of Possible Cancer Diagnosis. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 20, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.