Fear of the Unknown: Enlightened Aid-in-Dying

By Arthur S. Berger; Joyce Berger | Go to book overview

Introduction
One of us (AB) is a member of a group of physicians, nurses, clergy, attorneys, ethicists, social workers, philosophers, and others who make up the Bioethics Committee of a major metropolitan hospital.A variety of cases comes before the committee. For example:
A man in a persistent vegetative state after a motorcycle accident was being fed artificially through a gastrostomy tube. He could blink his eyes and make grunts but otherwise he was not in a state of consciousness. Although he had no living will, his wife asked that the feeding be discontinued because he was no longer truly alive.
An infant was born at the hospital with anencephaly. Her skull was missing, the scalp was absent and hemorrhagic, and fibrotic tissue was exposed. She had a brain stem but no brain. Her parents asked that the child be considered dead and used as an organ source to save other children's lives.

Were these patients alive or dead? What is life? What is death? The committee struggled with the medical, legal, ethical, and philosophical issues raised by such cases. Most of all, we all realized that, although we knew that we, too, had to die someday, we still did not understand the true nature of life and death.

Most readers, too, are ignorant about what life and death are. And we are obviously totally confused about the problem of survival of death, which is the subject of this book.

What are the aims of Fear of the Unknown: Enlightened Aid-in-Dying? Several developments brought a nagging problem into the open: the case of the "suicide doctor," Dr. Jack Kevorkian, who with his suicide machine or carbon monoxide gas has assisted twenty people to commit suicide;

-vii-

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Fear of the Unknown: Enlightened Aid-in-Dying
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction vii
  • References xi
  • Part I - Views of Death: General and Medical Implications 1
  • 1 - Views of Death 3
  • References 14
  • 2 - Personal Continuance View: Impact on the Dying Patient, Physician, Nurse, and Chaplain 17
  • References 28
  • Part II - Investigations and Pre-Death Phenomena 31
  • 3 - A Century of Investigation 33
  • References 42
  • 4 - Extrasensory Perception 45
  • References 51
  • 5 - Out-of-Body Experience 53
  • References 60
  • 6 - The Near-Death Experience 63
  • References 71
  • 7 - Deathbed Visions 73
  • References 77
  • Part III - At-Death Phenomena 79
  • 8 - At Death 81
  • References 84
  • Part IV - Post-Death Phenomena 85
  • 9 - Mental Mediumship 87
  • References 95
  • 10 - Reincarnation 97
  • References 104
  • 11 - Hauntings, Ghosts, and Apparitions 107
  • References 113
  • Part V - Appraisal and Judgment 115
  • 12 - Critical Appraisal 117
  • References 136
  • 13 - Evaluation, Persuasion, and Aid-in-Dying 139
  • References 146
  • Selected Bibliography 147
  • Index 153
  • About the Authors 161
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