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Jan 20

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Religious Studies
Sherry Smith

th RELIG ST 2N03 January 20 The Medicalization of Death Death and dying shifts - From family community and religion to professionals - From known people to strangers and lay people to professionals o In 20 century, more professionals o Doctors, nurses, coroners, medical examiners o Grieving managed my social workers, psychologists o Dying, death, grieving defined as medical problems o Professionals fought dying with high technology o Death defined in medical terms o Grieving through counselling and prescription drugs - From realm of ordinary everyday life to health care institution o Someone may consider themselves dead if they can no longer take care of themselves Death as symbolic construction - Some contemporary scholars view death as symbolic construction - Death subject to same rules and limitations as other concepts we have - Death Has important references associations and consequences - Symbol: any object, act, event, person, idea or narrative that conveys meaning - Geertz o Religions are systems of symbols that provide a meaningful orientation fr the believer  Shapes believers interpretation of life experiences including death  These interpretation or definitions are human constructs embedded in words concepts ways of thinking available in particular societies t particular historical moments  Thus definitons of death vary within western society and cross culturally  Left with feeling that constructs of death still under construction  Symbolic constructions of death can lead to whether you think interaction is possible Changing defs of death in west - Over last half of 20 century def of death changed as a result of biomed technologies. o Turning point was WW1 o Brought medicalization - Biomedicine plays key role in defining death in our society, separating it from life Conventional signs of death - Historically absence of heart beat and breathing, still used today - When respirators, ventilators other life support systems are used to sustain vital signs, heart beat and breathing are no longer adequate - Person with loss of brain function and brainstem function can be considered alive because of heart and lung function - Brain death: irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brainstem (spontaneous breathing loss) o Heartbeat can continue o Criteria for brain death supplement vital signs - Clinical death: determined on the basis of either cessation of heartbeat and breathing or criteria for brain death - Cellular death: death of cells and tissues of body which occurs asa progressive breakdown of metabolic processes resulting in irreversible deterioration of affected systems and organs of body. o Die because cells die o Neurons last 5-8 minutes o Medulla , controls brainstem o Cerebral cortex, intellectual ability Advanced signs of death - Lack of eye reflexes - Fall of body temp – algor mortis - Purple/red discoloration as blood pools- livor mortis - Rigidity of muscles- rigor mortis Robert Veatch - Medical ethicist - 4 levels - 1: defining death o Death means a complete change in the status of a living entity characterizdd By the irreversible loss of those characteristics that are essentially significant to it. o Includes non humans, cells o Can be explained to social phenomena, organization of cultures or societies - 2: pinpoints significant dif between life and death o Flow of bodily fluids o Soul o Consciousness - 3: locates where one should look for signs of significant change - 4:
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