Death Is That Man Taking Names: Intersections of American Medicine, Law, and Culture

Death Is That Man Taking Names: Intersections of American Medicine, Law, and Culture

Death Is That Man Taking Names: Intersections of American Medicine, Law, and Culture

Death Is That Man Taking Names: Intersections of American Medicine, Law, and Culture

Synopsis

"This book is enormously important, beautifully reasoned and written with crystal clarity by an author of wide scholarly experience, brilliant insights and extraordinary erudition. It is the first book length study I've seen that reasons from the individual psychology of all stakeholders. It ultimately provides the only truly revealing way to understand the personal and civic conundrums surrounding dying, which have always been characterized by irrational thinking, inconsistencies of behavior and paradoxes of personal viewpoints."--Sherwin Nuland, M.D., author of "How We Die

"Once you acknowledge the profound and inescapable ambivalence that shapes our attitudes toward death, what can we learn about our death-dealing policies and practices, from end-of-life care and assisted suicide to the death penalty? Robert Burt's "Death is That Man Taking Names provides extraordinary insights in eloquent and elegant prose. All thoughtful people who are seriously interested in the deeper roots and broader implications,of our policies concerning death should read this remarkably original and provocative book."--Thomas H. Murray, President, The Hastings Center, and author of "The Worth of a Child

Excerpt

The Milbank Memorial Fund is an endowed national foundation that engages in nonpartisan analysis, study, research, and communication on significant issues in health policy. The Fund makes available the results of its work in meetings with decision-makers, reports, articles, and books.

This is the seventh of the series of California/Milbank Books on Health and the Public. The publishing partnership between the Fund and the Press seeks to encourage the synthesis and communication of findings from research that could contribute to more effective health policy.

Robert Burt contributes to more effective policy for the care of persons who are near death by arraying evidence that in American society “ambivalence about death can be denied” but “it cannot reliably be suppressed. ” The results of developing and implementing policy to “bring public visibility and rationality to death-dispensing decisions” have included “new guises for public concealment and implicit acceptance of irrational impulses. ”

Burt challenges policymakers to acknowledge persistent ambivalence about the acceptability of death. He argues that law and clinical policy should insist that persons making decisions that bear on death — including dying persons themselves — should recognize and “amplify” this unavoidable ambivalence. To do otherwise, he argues with elegance and eloquence, is to risk “renewed (and perhaps even more virulent) abuses of dying people. ”

Daniel M. Fox, President Samuel L. Milbank, Chairman . . .

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