Dying, Death, and Bereavement

Dying, Death, and Bereavement

Dying, Death, and Bereavement

Dying, Death, and Bereavement

Synopsis

This book is a brief but comprehensive survey of research, writings, and professional practices concerned with death and dying. It is interdisciplinary and eclectic--medical, psychological, religious, philosophical, artistic, demographics, bereavement, and widowhood are all considered--but with an emphasis on psychological aspects. A variety of viewpoints and research findings on topics subsumed under "thanatology" receive thorough consideration. Questions, activities, and projects at the end of each chapter enhance reflection and personalize the material. This fourth edition features material on: * moral issues and court cases concerned with abortion and euthanasia; * the widespread problem of AIDS and other deadly diseases; * the tragedies occasioned by epidemics, starvation, and war; and * the resumption of capital punishment in many states. The book's enhanced multicultural tone reflects the increased economic, social, and physical interdependency among the nations of the world. Topics receiving increased attention in the fourth edition are: terror management; attitudes and practices concerning death; cross-cultural concepts of afterlife; gallows humor, out-of-body experiences; spiritualism; mass suicide; pet and romantic death; euthanasia; right to die; postbereavement depression; firearm deaths in children; children's understanding of death; child, adolescent, adult, and physician-assisted suicide; religious customs and death; confronting death; legal issues in death, dying and bereavement; death education; death music; creativity and death; longevity; broken heart phenomenon; beliefs in life after death; new definitions of death; children's acceptance of a parent's death; terminal illness; and the politics of death and dying.

Excerpt

Thanatology, the study of death and dying, has experienced significant growth since the 1950s, when Herman Feifel's Meanings of Death introduced the field to behavioral scientists. Before that time, death and dying were principally the concerns of poets, clergymen, and mystics. Death was viewed as a subject to be avoided as much as possible by physicians, and as a somewhat taboo topic even by psychologists. Since that time the research and writings of Robert Fulton, Geoffrey Gorer, Richard Kalish, Robert Kastenbaum, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, and Edwin Shneidman, among others, have helped to make thanatology a legitimate area of scientific discussion and research. Some of the events that have prompted research and writing in thanatology are the growth of the elderly population, the increased use of medical technology to extend life, the decline in infant mortality, political issues such as abortion and euthanasia, and continuing violence on both the domestic and international scenes. Descriptions of genocide, mass and serial murder, and AIDS and other epidemic diseases, as well as news stories and dramatizations concerned with death and dying have also contributed to interest in this field.

During the past four decades, hundreds of articles and books dealing with the results of medical, psychological, anthropological, and sociological studies of death and dying have been published. In addition to reports of empirical investigations, the number of theoretical and other speculative writings concerned with death, dying, and bereavement has increased substantially since the 1950s. Moreover, creative works of literature and art pertaining to the topic have not diminished. Media reports and features on dying and death, including many excellent television documentaries and films, are now almost commonplace.

Courses devoted exclusively to the topic of death and dying have become increasingly popular since Robert Fulton introduced the first regular course on the subject at the University of Minnesota in 1963. Workshops, units, courses, and entire academic programs on dying, death, and bereavement are now offered in various schools and departments of colleges and universities, including psychology, sociology, social work, nursing, religion, education, physical education, medicine, counseling, and human development. Graduate schools in many American universities have followed the lead of Brooklyn College, which in 1982 began offering a . . .

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