Fear of the Unknown: Enlightened Aid-in-Dying

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

1
Views of Death

CORNERED BY DEATH

As recently as thirty years ago, death was a taboo subject. At that time Geoffrey Gorer was able to argue that it was an "unmentionable" subject ( Gorer 1965), that, like venereal disease or other social diseases, polite people did not talk about. In recent years, however, it has cornered us and has forced itself even into minds that had been closed to it.

One primary cause of death's present impact on our minds is the advances made in medical technology. In earlier times, people died in their homes surrounded by familiar and loved things and family. Now they die in hospital beds amid strangers and machines. The dramatic change in the locus of death has concentrated the thoughts of the nation on dying and death. Medical technology, often prolonging the dying process, also has concentrated thought on the right to refuse life-prolonging treatment, on the acceptance of do-not-resuscitate orders and dying with dignity. Medical technology, which also makes harvesting organs from cadavers and major organ transplantation viable options, has drawn the nation's attention further to the religious and ethical issues involved in the criteria for heart death and brain death. All fifty states now have some legislation regarding advance directives, in which patients give instructions relating to the termination of medical care should they become incapable of making choices. In 1991 Congress enacted the Patient Self-Determination Act to apprise patients of their rights to execute advance directives. In 1990, in the "right to die" case of Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Department of Health (497 U.S.261, 111 L.Ed. 224, 110 S. Ct. 841 [ 1990]), which involved the termination of artificial feeding for a woman in a persistent vegetative state, the U.S. Supreme Court held that, under the federal Constitution, an individual has

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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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