Chemotherapy and self-transcendence: an informal survey
A friend of mine, who has indirect experience with 'chemo brain' symptoms in a close family member, raised an interesting hypothesis. He suggested that only patients who experience negative effects report it to their oncologists or general practitioners. Patients who experience a positive psychological change after chemotherapy, as his own family member did, are unlikely to report.
According to the 'filter' hypothesis of the mind-body problem, which I extensively discussed in this peer-reviewed paper, certain reductions of brain activity should allow for a de-localisation of consciousness and an expansion of awareness. Patients experiencing this usually report increased feelings of self-transcendence and spirituality, heightened creativity, psychic phenomena, and a host of other symptoms associated to non-local awareness. The question, of course, is whether, under certain (potentially rare) circumstances, 'chemo brain' couldn't lead to similar phenomenology. If it does, then we potentially have a huge population to study mind de-localisation through reduction of brain activity. Perhaps enormous volumes of data in this direction are out there, currently unreported.
It is not within the scope of this blog to launch any scientific study. But I thought I would try and do a little informal survey just to get an initial feeling for how promising a formal study in this direction might be. For this, I'd like to ask for your help in filling out the very short, multiple-choices-only form below, in case you have direct or indirect experience with 'chemo brain.' It won't cost more than a couple of minutes of your time. The partial results will be visible after you fill it out.
Though this survey is informal and non-scientific, I ask for your cooperation to keep the results as clean as possible:
- Please do not fill out the form more than once (unless you know multiple patients who have undergone chemotherapy);
- Please fill it out only if you have direct or indirect experience with 'chemo brain;'
- I will publish the final results for everyone to see once there are enough responses. Please don't fill out bogus answers just to see the partial results. Have a little patience.
If you know people who have had direct or indirect experience with chemotherapy, please forward this article to them, asking them to consider filling out the survey below. This entire exercise will only make sense if we collect at least a couple of dozen responses. I count on your help to spread the word and mobilize people. Think of cancer boards, facebook cancer groups, twitter, and other social fora. I think the results, though anecdotal, could be interesting and help motivate a serious study at some point. There is a chance this effort could unlock significant new insights, so all help is welcome!
If, in addition to filling out the form above, you'd like to share your experiences with 'chemo brain' in more detail and nuance, please leave a comment below. Anonymous comments are permitted.