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O. Carl Simonton dies at 66 [corrected]


by Susan Ezra, RN, HNC

O. Carl Simonton, MD

O. Carl Simonton, MD

We at Imagery International would like to acknowledge O.Carl Simonton, MD who died on June 18 of this year (2009). He died at the all-too-young age of 66. The notice of his death has just recently come to our attention.  With much respect, we would like to highlight his contributions to the field of mind/body medicine and mental Imagery as a powerful component of healing.

He began his exploration in the 1970’s when, as a radiation oncologist, he was one of the first doctors to connect the mind with the body. His work with “terminal” cancer patients was ground-breaking at the time.  He found that patients who had a positive attitude tended to live longer and have a better quality of life and ability to cope with cancer and treatment.  The idea of Imagining the immune system with chemotherapy fighting the cancer was spawned from this pioneering work.  The “pac man” could be visualized eating up and destroying the cancer cells. What a radical, fanciful notion! Yet people felt empowered and did better than other patients with similar diagnoses.

Two widely acclaimed books followed – Getting Well Again(1978) and The Healing Journey (1994).  The first book became a classic on the subject and the second book showed an evolution incorporating some of the science supporting mind/body medicine.  The Simonton Cancer Center in Pacific Palisades continues to train practitioners internationally and offers retreats for cancer patients and their loved ones.  In November of 1997, Dr. Simonton was honored by the American Medical Association for his film, Affirmations for Getting Well.

In addition to these highlights, an in-depth article will be available in the December ImagiNews.  To honor Dr. Simonton, please make a donation in his name to:

The Simonton Cancer Center Scholarship Fund
P O Box 6607
Malibu, CA 90264

“Carl Simonton opened the door in mainstream culture to the power of Imagery in healing.  Those of us who honor Imagery in our work are forever indebted to him”, well spoken words by one of our board members, Juliet Rohde-Brown.

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