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Study of Death: Thanatology


About age 9-10 we realize that death is final, universal and inevitable ... Mourning: behaviours that express grief. Rituals: e.g. Irish wake, sitting shiva. Stages: ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Study of Death: Thanatology

  • Study of Death Thanatology
  • (Thanatos Greek God of Death)
  • Pascal man is the only animal that knows he will
    die some day
  • Fear of death uniquely human
  • Historically, death part of daily life, high
    mortality rate, took place at home
  • 20 century
  • death in hospital
  • medical technology
  • facilitated death denial
  • funeral parlours
  • euphemisms

  • About age 9-10 we realize that death is final,
    universal and inevitable
  • Adolescence invulnerable, immortal cant happen
    to me, risk taking, denial
  • Early adulthood change when becoming parents
  • Middle age death of parents, friends, siblings.
    Highest death anxiety
  • Old age lowest anxiety, though facing death of
    spouse and peers
  • Role of religion true believers and atheists
    lowest anxiety

  • What is death?
  • Determined by doctor (if available). Errors
  • Clinical death heart and lungs stop. But
    nowadays resuscitation through technology CPR,
    oxygen, defibrillation, etc. (NDEs)
  • Brain death no EEG. New structures (cerebral
    cortex) die first, then midbrain, then medulla
    and spinal cord (vegetative functions and
    reflexes) is this person alive? Coma

  • Euthanasia active or passive
  • Active method used to terminate life, e.g. drug,
    asphyxia, etc.
  • Special case assisted suicide (Kevorkian)
  • Passive withhold or remove life support
  • Ethical issue Nazis
  • Issue of longevity and economics
  • Cultural variations, Netherlands
  • NDE Near death experience, increase since
    resuscitations increased

  • First thanatologist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
  • Process in 5 stages
  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance
  • Not a typical stage process individual
    differences, order of stages, return to earlier
  • Also observed in chronic illness, loss of body
    parts, loss of function

  • Schneidman alternation of emotions instead of
  • grief
  • anguish
  • anger
  • anxiety
  • denial
  • NO acceptance

  • Pattison living-dying interval, prolonged by
  • 3 phases
  • acute crisis time of diagnosis
  • chronic gradual deterioration, longest phase due
    to medical-technological advances
  • surrender giving up, not a real acceptance
  • Variables that affect process
  • age
  • cause of death
  • personality
  • religious beliefs
  • ethnic background
  • hospital, home or hospice location

  • Survivors
  • Grief feelings
  • Mourning behaviours that express grief
  • Rituals e.g. Irish wake, sitting shiva
  • Stages
  • numbness
  • yearning, anger and denial
  • depression, apathy, disorganization
  • acceptance, adjustment, reorganization
  • All 4 can coexist and alternate

  • Varying time span, influence of culture
  • Child and spouse worst
  • Widows/widowers longer grieving if bad marriage
    sanctification of dead spouse (guilt)
  • Increase in morbidity and mortality (one study in
    text contradicts)
  • Double whammy
  • immune system weakens
  • self neglect (meals, exercise, sleep, smoking and

  • Psychoneuroimmunology
  • Psycho thoughts and feelings
  • Neuro brain and nervous system
  • Immuno immune system
  • Logy study of
  • People who have supports fare better
  • Anticipatory grief helps (when death is expected)