History of The Wellness Community

Harold H. Benjamin, PhD
Last Modified: May 25, 1997

THE WELLNESS COMMUNITY opened in 1982 with nothing more than HAROLD BENJAMIN?S novel Patient Active concept. It?s growth has been spectacular.

There are now 16 facilities throughout the United States and the program is still growing dramatically, with 4 additional facilities in various stages of development.

More than 350 prestigious oncologists are now members of The Wellness Community Professional Advisory Boards.

The program has psychologically and emotionally supported over 30,000 participants since opening, many of whom were referred by their physicians. It now supports over 2,000 participants each week.

The Wellness Community is the program where GILDA RADNER found friendship, hope and a renewed control of her life while she was fighting cancer, and NORMAN COUSINS was the Honorary chairman of The Wellness Community board since its opening.

After graduating from Cornell Law School in 1950, Harold Benjamin was a successful attorney and business man in New York City and Beverly Hills. Starting in 1972 when his wife had a bilateral mastectomy, Dr. Benjamin, devoted himself to the study of the effect psychological and social trauma has on the cancer process. As a result of such study he formulated a set of guidelines cancer patients can use as partners with their physicians in the fight for recovery which would probably improve the quality of their lives and might enhance the possibility of their recovery. He called that concept the "Patient Active Concept."

Armed with that concept, he retired from the practice of law and all other economic pursuits to found The Wellness Community to provide the Patient Active concept, without charge, to as many cancer patients a possible. Dr. Benjamin, who earned a Ph.D. in social psychology in 1985, provided the financial resources for the program for the first two years and has devoted his full time to the project without compensation of any kind since that time.

For the first six months the public and medical profession looked on the program with skepticism, suspecting that profit was the motive or that it was a front for alternative remedies. However, observers soon learned that Dr. Benjamin?s only motive was to help, without charge, as many cancer patients as possible fight for recovery as partners with their physicians. When that became apparent, physicians began to refer their patients to the program along with social workers, other health professionals and the American Cancer Society. Now, The Wellness Community is accepted as an integral part of total cancer patient care.


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