Avie Tevanian says ‘Reality Distortion Field’ led Steve Jobs to delay conventional cancer treatment

“One of Steve Jobs’ closest friends and business allies has said the former Apple boss’s own self-belief and mindset led him to put off having his cancer treated,” BBC News reports.

“Avie Tevanian said Mr Jobs had a ‘reality distortion field’ – a force of will that helped him get people to achieve the impossible,” The Beeb reports. “That same belief system caused him to refuse conventional treatment for his cancer in the critical early stages after diagnosis.”

“He decided instead to explore alternative therapies and go on a special diet,” The Beeb reports. “Mr Tevanian said: “Steve was an unconventional person and when it came to treating his illness he was very happy to use non-traditional methods. I think he truly thought that through some unconventional means he could cure himself.'”

The Beeb reports, “‘Being Steve, it was easy for him to find people who would agree that it was worth a try. Many of us around him, myself included, his wife and other people were saying: ‘Steve, you know, maybe you should just have some surgery here and get it over with,” said Mr Tevanian, who was chief technology officer at Apple until 2006 and a long-standing friend of Mr Jobs – even organising his stag party.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote back on October 20th, “What’s done is done. Hopefully the revelation will help save other people’s lives.”

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “dab2” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Hindsight is kind to Steve Jobs’ decision to delay cancer surgery – November 1, 2011
Steve Jobs tried everything from exotic diets to cutting-edge treatments in brave battle with cancer – October 21, 2011
Biographer: Steve Jobs refused early and potentially life-saving surgery for nine months (with video) – October 20, 2011
Doctor: There’s no way of knowing if nine-month surgery delay shortened Steve Jobs’ life – October 15, 2011
Harvard Medical School researcher: Steve Jobs’ trust in alternative medicine likely shortened his life – October 14, 2011


    1. Tragic, but not quite correct. As Jobs’ doctor said through NYT, Jobs did not just got strange diets at the time, but at the same time consulted with many local and even international doctors and scientists before the surgery. And for this type of cancer that delay was not “critical”.

      So I am against people with half of the picture knowledge like Tevanian or Isaacson making judgements about this. Isaacson’s blunder about this matter actually caused NYT’s article which corrected this ignorant judgementality that Isaacson spread about Job’s pre-first-surgery research about how to deal with the cancer.

    1. you can be a genius and not get everything right. people cure themselves with alternative means for a number of illnesses. it’s too bad steve chose this route but as was written in the book they don’t know that the outcome would have been much different had he had the operation immediately either. all I know is he is sorely missed on this planet.

    2. Actually, given the healing power of the mind it is almost plausible that someone with his force of will could dominate his own cancer. Heck, SJ probably had a shot at converting the cancer cells into something beneficial .

      There is no use second-guessing the man. He made his choice and he had very little hope for long term survival, regardless of his treatment approach. I wish that SJ was still at Apple HQ doing his thing…

      1. You are wrong on both accounts. His initial diagnosis was very positive since the doctors thought him lucky for finding it very early on. He just happened to get a checked up because of kidney stones. Second, the mind has limits, you watch to many movies. The only recourse for some cancer is to cut it out and cut it early.

      2. Your first statement is a death sentence.

        As Elizabeth Kuber-Ross’ book on death and dying discussed this problem. The first typical stage is denial that you have it and that it can take you out. With the rare Cancer types CAN be cured with today’s knowledge, if you get stuck more than a few weeks in the denial stage, you are probably toast. You need to immediately hit the ground running against it. Steve had the money to do this with top of the line treatments. Sadly he squandered those precious months.

        I hope someone has learned from remembers Steve’s mistake and it makes them snap to their senses with a shortened denial stage of a few days, not months or years.

        My mother also went into denial when lumps were found, and 3 years later was dead. My father denied he was feeling seriously sick for a bad reason and dead in 3 months after diagnosis. Cancer treatment needs to borrow the NIke slogan—Just DO IT!

    3. Define “genius.”

      “One who never makes mistakes?” “Perfection?” “Master of everything there is to know?” “God-like?” “Immortal?”

      There’s an equally inaccurate assessment about risk: “If you fail, you’re an idiot. If you succeed, you’re a genius.”

      IQ test: Steve is a genius. Steve delayed conventional medical treatment. Steve starts conventional, as well as extremely expensive state-of-the-art, futuristic, cutting-edge treatment. Steve never gives up, dies fighting.

      Conclusion: Steve wouldn’t have died if he hadn’t delayed treatment. Or- Steve died in spite of all that was done, the wait had negligible impact. Impossible to say. What’s done is done.

      Conclusion 2: “Steve wasn’t a genius.” Only an idiot would conclude this based upon all the other evidence to the contrary!

    4. Thing is, most geniuses are idiots.

      Intelligence is not one dimensional. Whilst somebody may be a genius in one area, they can be a complete idiot in others.

      The fact that Steve Jobs didn’t get his cancer treated in a timely manner is arguably proof that he was an idiot, but it really has little bearing on whether or not he was a genius.

  1. We would probably all agree that Einstein was a genius, Mozart was a genius, and of course the list goes on. Steve Jobs may or may not have been a “genius” since that’s a term that eludes an accurate definition. We know he was a very smart, willful, determined, and highly focused man. There’s little argument about that. And that’s enough to suggest that since he knew that conventional therapies for pancreatic cancer, even the rarer form he had, were not successful…in short that regardless of what he did with western medicine his time was very short, that he might as well try something else that had a chance of working. If you remember Steve McQueen…he did a similar thing, opting for Laetrile treatment in Mexico. I wonder if your doctor told you tomorrow that you had a 10% survival chance, in 3 years even with conventional treatment…what YOU would attempt to do… Throw in with all the doctors who told you it was basically over and time to get your affairs in order?

    1. I think it is the fact that everyone is saying he went straight to and only alternative medicine that is the issue. Not that he did try other things as well when the traditional things aren’t working…

      His own friend and colleague with the SAME cancer who went to the doctor right away to get surgery and chemo and survived was pleading for him to do it as well ASAP. He thought he could cure it with crazy diets and acupuncture to begin with.

      Reality Distortion Field = Having taken way too much LSD in your life.

    1. I feel the same way…sad that I can’t hop on the web and see what insight into the future Steve is hinting towards…sad that the person who led the effort to make computers useable for me and kept the consumer at heart with his ideas and user interfaces, is not here to lead us into the next great thing…his enthusiasm and passion was a big part of the fun.

  2. Truth be told, even at the time of first diagnosis, there could have been micro-metastases seeded outside the pancreas. Although getting the surgery 9 months earlier would have been preferable on a statistical basis, no one can say with any certainty that it would have cured him or even extended his life significantly versus his actual life course. On average, statistics gathered from a collection of cases may suggest that getting the surgery earlier leads to an improved prognosis and outcome. But each individual case and outcome is unique, and it is pure conjecture to claim that if he had had the surgery earlier, the outcome would have been different. Moreover, the surgery itself is quite involved, quite major, high risk, with many quality of life implications. I think any individual, Steve Jobs or not, can be understood for taking the quantity of time they personally need to wrap their minds around the pros vs. cons, the risks vs. benefits of a very life-altering surgery.

  3. “Avie Tevanian said Mr Jobs had a ‘reality distortion field’ – a force of will that helped him get people to achieve the impossible. That same belief system caused him to refuse conventional treatment for his cancer in the critical early stages after diagnosis.” With friends like these who needs speculators and trust violators of one’s privacy..

  4. Avie has it right. Anyway, good riddance. Jobs, turns out, was a loser. Being a liar (oh, I’m sterile), a cheat (Woz confirmed as much), an options backdated (SEC should have jailed his ass), an utter moron that cost him his life (no cancer treatment in time) and a mean-spirited f**k to prospective employees and even current ones … if all of that is not enough to tell us what an utter loser this asswipe was … the fact that he abandoned his first kid on Day One ends any discussion about this loser.

    1. You also forgot about him being a sh*t father once he did finally admit to it. Regardless, people on here will not see any of that.

      He is an awesome businessman and visionary for consumer products, though falls short of most human decency.

    2. … oh, forgot one thing. This asswipe also bragged about using LSD, making fun of Gates, who has no history of this, nor of abandoning a child, nor of lying and cheating nor being stingy with his wealth. Jobs, you asswipe, how many people and families did you help destroy by funding these drug dealers, and how many people who worship you felt it was OK to use such drugs after your bragging. You scum piece of shit … glad you are D-E-A-D.

        1. Though attributed to Star Trek, I don’t think RDF has ever been used on the show. I’m a Trekker and have only heard of RDF in association with Steve Jobs. Searching for the terms together should have found the specific episode it came from, but only seems to bring us back to stories saying Bud Tribble (mistakenly?) *claimed* the term came from Star Trek.

          1. I’m not a Trekkie, though I remain a fan of the original and The Voyager. W.r.t. RDF, though I’m not sure if it was explicitly expressed as such, I always felt RDF notion may have come from The Menagerie episode. Captain Pike was paralysed and was aided by Kirk and Spock to return him to Talos IV, in order to reunite him with Vina. Talos IV distorts reality in such a way, your fantasies seem real enough to you. Etc.

            Here’s what I could find on the wiki on that with a minimal search. Being a Trekkie, you might have better links and info. Cheers!


    1. Then your situation is unique.

      I know no one personally and all of those I know because of their celebrity, who have developed cancer, have ever succeed in beating with “alternative therapies”.

      In fact there have been those (of some celebrity) who having lived a certain type of lifestyle, should never have developed cancer to begin, and yet they did and died from it.

      It’s most likely that those, whose alternative treatments reportedly cured them, went into spontaneous remission rather than that so-called alternative treatments did them any good.

  5. The conventional treatment wasn’t some little surgery. It’s probably the most invasive procedure you could ever get. They remove practically your whole digestive system. If you could avoid that, you probably would try, cause you can’t put back anything you take out. Yes, yes, I know dying is a worse outcome, but the tumor was described as slow-growing. If it were such a no-brainer to get the surgery, the surgeons would have told him so. Really.

    1. The choice was clear, you ether have the Dr. remove the tissue, or you have the cancer remove it. It was his choice. In any case, he still had the surgery and still had the other issues to contend. I think even Jobs regretted his decision of postponing treatment. If he lived any longer, it was because of his beautiful wife, that kept him in check and forced him to get the liver transplant reluctantly. She was the one to place Jobs in two simultaneous organ transplant lists. If is wasn’t for her, Jobs would have had an even shorter life.

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