Journal of Cancer Education

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 397–398 | Cite as

The Damocles Syndrome: Where We Are Today

  • Alissa CurdaEmail author

Gerald Koocher, a psychologist who focuses on adaptation to childhood illnesses, wrote a book in the 1980s regarding the long-term effects faced by survivors of childhood cancer. The title of the book, The Damocles Syndrome, derives from a Greek legend involving a courtier, Damocles, who after expressing envy of his ruler, is given the opportunity to switch places with his king and live a life of fortune and power for one day. As he sits at a banquet table, enjoying “the good life,” he suddenly notices a sword hanging from the ceiling above him, held from slicing him in two by merely a thin hair. This legend begs the question that Dr. Koocher draws from in his book: can one lead a truly happy life when some element of fear perpetually hangs over their head?

As a fourth-year medical student planning on a career in pediatrics, I embarked on an independent study focused on Koocher’s topic and the impact of survivorship of childhood cancer. Through interviews, literature reviews, and...


Childhood Cancer Survive Childhood Cancer Posttraumatic Stress Symptom Adjustment Disorder Vocational Program 
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Copyright information

© Springer 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dartmouth Medical SchoolHanoverUSA

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