Lecture 1 death and dying in contemporary society
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Lecture 1: Death and dying in contemporary society . Agenda: a) Investigate State of Death and Dying Today b) Investigate Historical Perspective c) Debate / Discuss d) Video presentation “Crypts, Coffins, and Corpses” e) Discuss Phenomenological Journaling .

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Lecture 1: Death and dying in contemporary society

  • Agenda:

  • a) Investigate State of Death and Dying Today

  • b) Investigate Historical Perspective

  • c) Debate / Discuss

  • d) Video presentation “Crypts, Coffins, and Corpses”

  • e) Discuss Phenomenological Journaling


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Development of Current Attitudes to Death and Dying

  • Setting a perspective:

    • Illich states: “Image of death determines the prevalent concept of health”

    • So what?


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Phases and Stages

  • “Stage 1: Dance of the Dead” 15th century

  • ✞ Prior to the 15th century death in hands of god (death is grim)

  • ✞ During the 15th century move toward becoming part of life

  • ✞ Readiness for societal change


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Stage II: Dance of Death 16th - 17th century

  • “Dance represents a change from being a transition into the next world to accent being put on this life”


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Dance of Death (contd)

  • ✞ The individual faces death alone

    • ✞ Death then, becomes an adversary, whereas in earlier medieval times a doctor /healer would not attempt to prolong life*

  • ✞ Folk and superstitious practices were employed to ensure a good death

  • ✞ By end of 17th century corpses were no longer sacred.

  • ✞ Push toward freedom


  • Stage iii bourgeois death 17th 18th century l.jpg
    Stage III: Bourgeois death 17th - 18th century

    • Industrial revolution creates employment and wealth

    • Those who can afford it, now pay to “keep death away”

    • Health of a nation becomes economic management (an overall policy of government)

    • Families begin to uphold ethics of good health

    • Middle class employs doctors and society begins to give them the power to tell when death will strike

    Forerunner to medical care

    Death is an “untimely event” for those who are both “healthy and old”


    Stage iv clinical death 19th century l.jpg
    Stage IV: Clinical Death 19th century

    • Death is a product of disease certified by the doctor

    • Rise of the scientific doctor.


    Stage v health as a commodity 20th century comcommcommodity 20th century l.jpg
    Stage V: Health as a Commodity 20th century COmCOmmCommodity 20th century

    • Doctor in a struggle with death

    • Society deems it to be a civil rite (prolong life)

    • People eventually lose their “spiritual capacity to deal with death


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    Stage VI: Death in Intensive Care middle of 20th century COmCOmmCommodity 20th century

    • Critical condition in ICU

    • Individual is protected against death by modern medicine

    • We no longer can set scene for our own death (death rituals are medicalized)

    • Death seen as failure for both doctors and nurses

    • Preoccupation with living has repressed any meaningful preparation and acceptance of death

    • Lose connection with understanding life

    Stage 7 = Social Death

    Death denying culture

    OR...


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    Are we Returning to... Stage 8

    • Holistic concepts?

      • Understanding death as a rite of passage?


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    What does stage 8 look like?

    • A return to holistic care

      • Finding meaning in life and death

        • Taking responsibilities for our death / dying rituals


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    Rituals in other Societies?

    http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/series/taboo/4600/Overview#tab-Videos/07780_00


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    Are we stuck at Level 7 in the West?

    • Looking at the Death, Dying and the Dead in Popular Culture?

      • Or are we ready to embrace something new?


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    The Crux of Article 2!

    • The West is frequently described as a death-denying society.

    • Numerous scholars have observed that recent generations of North Americans lack the firsthand familiarity with death and dying that our ancestors had.

    • Meanwhile, our popular media and many of our cultural mediums appear to have an obsessive fascination with death, dying, and the dead.

    • Nowhere is this paradox more apparent than in our popular culture. Television programming, movies, songs, the print media, games, jokes, and even recreational activities are fraught with thanatological content.


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    The Crux (contd)

    • So what do folks think?


    The crux contd16 l.jpg

    • Is it that:

      • We are not a death denying culture?

        • or

      • We are a death denying culture, but our insulation from death causes us to crave some degree of information and insight concerning death, and we feed that craving through popular-culture depictions of death and dying.

        • or

      • Again we are death denying culture, but through displacement we socially neutralize our death anxiety?

    The Crux (contd)


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    The act of neutralization

    • Reconceptualizes death into a form that stimulates something other than primordial terror. These phenomena may be considered fascinating / entertaining, depending on the social context (i.e., visit to Elvis Presley’s grave).

    • Through detachment, (i.e., horror movies, video games) suspend belief about death. Enjoyment of this type of humor / entertainment per se requires us to laugh at our own mortality.

      • Ultimately, North American folk may vest interest in popular culture to dilute our anxiety and desensitize death, so as digest death making it easier to live and transcend death.


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    Grave Digger: Dave Matthews

    • Is this death denying, morbid, or is a sign of a stage 8?

      • Or is just...

    • Just - Rock -in Roll!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7wSefU2H9Q


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    Summing Up

    • Looking at the past and present


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    Stages in the process of social death in ‘primitive societies’

    Initial social status

    Period of transition

    New social status

    Living person

    Soul in Limbo

    Dead ancestor

    Rituals marking

    biological death

    Rituals of mourning

    Rituals of social death


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    Stages in the process of social death in modern ‘western societies’

    Initial social status

    Period of transition

    New social status

    Living person

    Body and Soul in Limbo

    Dead ancestor

    Hospital patient

    Rituals of admission

    hospitalization and / or institutionalization

    Anticipatory grief

    Social death

    Biological death and rituals of mourning


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    Movie Time: Crypts, Coffins and Corpses societies’

    • Take notes

    • Be prepared to Discuss


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    For Next Week... societies’

    • Continue to journal remember: 1 out of the Oxford book of Death and the 2nd related to the reading, lecture material, felt-sense, etc.

    • Reading for this week...


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