Mission Statement

The Psychosocial Treatment Laboratory, under the direction of Dr. David Spiegel, is dedicated to studying the interrelationships among the components of human behavior --


Physical, environmental

and psychosocial factors

exert a profound downward

  influence...on neuroendocrine  

and immune functioning

[which] in turn...exerts

an effect on the body


psychological, physiological, and external environment. Once believed to be autonomously functioning systems, we now know that the nervous, endocrine and immune systems are integrally connected, with exquisitely sensitive communications and interactions. These continual fluctuations are not exclusively regulated from the bottom up by the internal molecular and cellular environment. Physical, environmental and psychosocial factors exert a profound downward influence as well on neuroendocrine and immune functioning. In turn, the neuro-physiological environment exerts an effect on the body.

This effect appears to be relatively non-specific. The body does not differentiate carefully between types of stressors during a stress response. The overlap among stressors can be seen in an individual who has been diagnosed


These benefits may

lead, in turn,

to delayed disease

  progression and prolonged   

survival time, as

well as improvement

in quality of life


with a life-threatening disease such as cancer or AIDS. The disease itself is a stressor, as are the treatments and the resultant psychosocial changes. These stressors may lead to detrimental changes within the body, which can be minimized through psychosocial intervention. This is particularly important in the settings of illness and trauma, in which physical and psychosocial distress often respond well to intervention. These benefits may lead, in turn, to delayed disease progression and prolonged survival time, as well as improvement in quality of life.

In investigating the triad of emotional expression, social support and stress response in the settings of trauma and illness, the Psychosocial Treatment Laboratory strives to meet the following objectives:

  • Foster a spirit of investigation, collaboration, achievement and mutual supportfor ourselves and our subjects.
  • Understand the mechanisms by which psychological processes affect physiologic response.
  • Develop and validate interventions designed to decrease adverse effects of illness and trauma.
  • Improve doctor-patient communication leading to refined allocation and utilization of health care resources.
  • Detoxify illness, trauma and dying in order to preserve and improve relationships with self and others.
  • Improve quality of life and hopefully prolong survival time for patients with life-altering illness or trauma.
  • Investigate the special needs of selected populations for greater generalizability of results.
  • Disseminate group intervention and self-hypnosis techniques through professional training, education and collaboration with our colleagues.


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