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PSYC 3570 (6)
Lecture

Psychology of Death and Dying (PSYC 3570-DE) Reading Summaries

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Department
Psychology
Course
PSYC 3570
Professor
Erin Allard
Semester
Winter

Description
Psychology of Death and Dying Reading  Summaries: Canadian Food for Thought Unit 1: Canadian Attitudes about Death • Taken from an excerpt from Marilyn Hadad’s book, The Ultimate Challenge: Coping With Death, Dying and Bereavement (2009) • Hadad believes that North American’s try to make death invisible from their normal lives • Attitudes about death determines o If we talk about these issues and our wishes for our death o How we deal with our own grief o Vary greatly in Canada • Canadian cultural view on death is based on English roots o Attitudes reflect the lack of personal experience that most people have with death o This view is based on impersonal understandings and second-hand observations from others or the media o This is predominate in the US and Great Britain • PhilippeAries, a social historian’s views on death in the Western world o Death is ugly and make invisible o People dying in institutions rather than in their homes o Death is removed from people’s everyday lives by letting others like medical professionals and funeral directors deal with the details o People try to prolong life and see death as a failure to be banished from everyone’s awareness o People have little personal experience with death o Fear of death is on the process of dying, rather than the death itself • Hadad believes that today’s society is fully aware of death and actively tries to avoid it o Examples of this include:  Emphasis on healthy eating and exercise  Importance of benefit packages in the workplace  Fundraising for medical research o Society is exposed to death in an impersonal way through the media • Death anxiety and fear of death o Demonstrated by a refusal to talk about death and avoidance Unit 2: Canada’s Deadliest National Disasters • Death is difficult and trying at any time • When caused by an inexplicable act of nature, it’s harder to come to terms with • Death becomes a shared challenge when natural disasters claim lots of lives Canada’s Worst Natural Disasters of All Time  ByAdam Shoalts (2011) http://www.canadiangeographic.ca/blog/posting.asp?ID=439 • The 2 deadliest natural disasters claimed thousands of lives and took place in 1775 o They were unrelated and happened on opposite coasts of Canada • Volcanic eruption o The Tseax Cone volcano erupted in British Columbia, spewing poisonous gas and molten lava o The gases came without warning and killed many o 2000 people perished and the Nass river was smothered in lava o The flows permanently changed the landscape • Hurricane o Occurred in Newfoundland (east coast) in September o Canada’s cold climate usually provides protection against hurricanes and tropical storms o 4000 were drowned and 1000 vessels were sunk o Royal navy thips were destroyed o It is the 7 deadliest hurricane inAtlantic history Unit 3: In Flanders Fields • Artists interpret and explore death through art as a means of understanding it • In Flanders Fields o Written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae on May 2, 1915 (during WWI) o Explores the concept of death and the relationship between the living and the dead o Possibly written as a response to the death of a good friend: LieutenantAlex Helmer o It became an instant sensation and one of the most quoted English language poems of the war Colonel John McCrae: From Guelph, Ontario to Flanders Fields By Bev Dietrich • He was a British Empire solider who was very motivational in his military duties o He served in 2 wars • His upbringing was in Guelph, Ontario, but his ancestry was in Scotland o The McCraes played prominent roles in numerous battles o Had a reputation for courage and uncanny ability to fight o Although they lost in the 1745 rebellion, they decided to serve in the English army • McCrae’s grandparents emigrated to Guelph, Canada in 1849 o John’s father, David joined the British army at 20-years old o He organized the Guelph Company of Wellington Rifles and its successor the Wellington Field Battery o He rose to the rank captain o In 1879, he resigned from the regular army and became the Commander Officer of the militia unit in Guelph, known as the 1 Brigade of FieldArtillery o He stayed active in the military for many years • John McCrae was born in 1872 o He listened to his father’s military tales and watched his involvement in the military o David passed on his passion for soldiering to his son o By the age of 14, John was active in military organizations o He joined the Guelph Highland Cadets o He also had a passion for the arts and poetry o He rose in positions in the military • He studied science of the University of Toronto • He rose to the rank of Lieutenant by 1896 o After the Boer war broke out in 1899, he missed this war however, due to being a house officer at a hospital o Asecond contingent was never called, so John missed his chance, which disappointed him • He was finally called to be an officer in SouthAfrica, which made Guelph proud o John enjoyed the sights, sounds and hard work associated with military duty and felt he was born for it o He returned to Guelph a year later and was awarded the Queen’s Medal for his war effort  He was considered a great and popular officer o Before resigning, John was promoted to Major and put on a reserve list • In 1904, he retired and dedicated the following decade to his medical career and teaching younger physicians o He gained an outstanding reputation as a physician, teacher and author • On September 9, 1914, John returned to the military as WWI began o He was taken in as brigade surgeon with the rank of major, since he was no longer experienced in the new military technology and artillery o His friends presented him with a horse named Bonfire, who would accompany him to war • On April 17, 1915, John was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel o He tended to defy regulations and display courage by attending to the wounded in the field o The intensity of the fighting and high number of causalities were unlike anything he had previously experienced o In June, John was ordered to join the CanadianArmy Medical Corps and become a Medical Officer o After this though, John grew depressed and exhausted, the battle finally changed him  He was a humanitarian at heart and was upset with the onslaught and causalities, which conflicted what he felt was “right” • On January 28, 1918, John died of pneumonia and meningitis and was buried with full military honours In Flanders Fields • The death of one of his friends moved him to write one of the most enduring poems out of the Great war • May 2, 1915, LieutenantAlex Helmer was killed by a shell-burst o John met him soon after enlisting and they developed a close friendship • Afellow officer persuaded John to submit the poem to the English magazine, when John thought little of it o The editor rejected the poem, but another magazine called Punch accepted it and published it on December 8, 1915 • The poem caused immediate sensation and placed the poppy firmly into Great War iconography • It appeared everywhere: on recruiting posters, victory bond advertisement and election billboards • It provided a much needed boost in civilian morale In Flanders Fields In Flanders fields, the poppies grow, Between the crosses, row on row That mark our place; and in the sky, The larks, still bravely signing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below, We are the dead. Short days ago, We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved, and were loved, and we lie In Flanders Fields Take up our quarrel with the foe; To you form failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high, If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders Fields Unit 4: The History of Hospice Palliative Care (HPC) • Excerpt from Marilyn Hadad’s “The Ultimate Challenge: Coping with Death, Dying and Bereavement” (2009) o Palliative care movement started in Canada in 1974 and opened at St. Boniface General Hospital o Canada has about 500 palliative care agencies and services o These programs include all services:  To improve the quality of life for the terminally ill or senior patient and their family  In pain and symptom control  Psychological and spiritual counselling o Not all services are obtainable in all locations in Canada o The demand far exceeds the availability • Statistics from Dorothy Ley Hospice Organization (2006) o 220,000+ Canadians die each year o 160,000 are in need of HPC o 75% die in a hospital or long-term care residence o 85%+ would rather die at home o Home care is cheaper than hospital/residential by 25-60% o 90% of Canadians want the kind of care that HPC provides for death o Only 53% of Canadians have even heard of HPC Unit 5: Organ Donation in Canada • Each year, thousands of Canadians experience organ failure and require transplant o Few organs are available though • Excerpt from Marilyn Hadad’s “The Ultimate Challenge: Coping with Death, Dying and Bereavement” (2009) o In 2002, 4000 people waited for donor organs  237 of these individuals died waiting o Dead donor rule  Removal of organs must not result in the donor’s death  The donor must be clearly dead before certain organs are retrieved  Otherwise this is equivalent to homicide o Human Tissue Gift Act of 1996 in Canada  Adonor must be whole brain dead and may not be reimbursed for the donation  The donor’s signature on a donor card is binding and the family’s wishes cannot supersede this  Same law for the United States: Uniform Anatomical Gift of 1987  However, if the family objects and the hospital’s efforts to change their mind fail, they tend to comply to their requests o The Ontario government is running a campaign to increase organ donation  Major hospitals in the province were required to report every death in order to identify potential donors  Presume consent: unless a person signed a card opting out, it will be presumed that the person consented to donating their organs in the event of death Unit 6: Suicide Demographics • It is difficult to accurately estimate the number of individuals who will attempt (succeed or fail) suicide • Excerpt from Marilyn Hadad’s “The Ultimate Challenge: Coping with Death, Dying and Bereavement” (2009) o It is difficult to ascertain the number of people who commit suicide because:  Problems in defining suicide  Suicides are often hidden • By family or officials to protect the family o It is even more difficult to determine the amount of people who attempted but failed to commit suicide  Many go unreported o Suicide statistics in Canada by the WHO (2005)  3690 Canadians committed suicide • Arate of 11.9 per 100,000  Gender • 2870 were males (78%) • 820 were females (22%) • Males outnumber females 3.5 : 1  503 committed by young people between 15-24 years of age (14%)  399 committed by seniors (over 65) (11%)  Greatest number of suicides occurs in middle adulthood (25-64), especially for males (76%)  The suicide rate has remained stable since 1980  First nations: • The suicide rate of first nations is 3-4X higher than the general population • Among youth it is 5-7X more likely • Among Inuit youth it is 11X more likely o Global suicide statistics by the WHO (2005)  Industrialized countries have higher suicide rates than do non- industrialized countries  Lithuania has the highest rate at 88.2 per 100,000 population  Canada’s suicide rate is in the middle of industrialized nations  Male suicides outnumber female suicides in all countries  1 million people committed suicide globally in 2000  Suicide rates have increased by 60% since 1960 • It is the 1 of 3 leading causes of death for those aged 15-44 (males and females)  Young people are at the highest risk of suicide in 1/3 of all countries (developed and developing nations) o Gender differences in suicide • Women attempt suicide 3X more often than men o They are more likely to ask for help o Less likely to use lethal means of suicide • Men complete suicide 3½- 4X more often than women o Men use more violent/fatal means of suicide o Effects of suicide:  1 suicide affects at least 6 other people  These other people are left with more guilt than other forms of death  15% of Canadians are affected by suicide in a given year Unit 7: Murder Canada’s Most Notorious: An exclusive poll reveals who Canadians consider the  country’s worst criminals By Macleans (2012) http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/11/21/canadas-most-notorious/ • Individuals who Canadians consider to the country’s worst criminals include: o Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka with 73%  They abducted and killed 2 schoolgirls in the early 1990s  Rated among the worst of the worst in every part of the country o Robert Pickton with 61%  Apig farmer who murdered 6 women and confessed of killing 43 more  He was found guilty in 2007 o Clifford Olsen with 44%  He raped and murdered 11 young people in the 1980s  He died in prison in 2011 • Others varied among Canadian’s and their definition of ‘worst criminal’ o Russell Williams with 31% (in Ontario) and 8% (inAlberta)  Aformer Royal CanadianAir Force Colonel  He killed 2 women o Marc Lepine with 33% (in Quebec), 5% (in BC)  He murdered 14 women at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique  Committed suicide o Allan Legere with 1% (in the Prairies) and 39% (inAtlantic)  Monster of the Miramichi • Canadian’s opinions of whether justice has been served: o Steven Truscott with 50% (in Ontario) and 39% (national)  Convicted as a teenager in 1959 killing of schoolgirl neighbour o Robert Latimer with 38% (in Ontario) and 50% (in Prairies and Quebec)  Saskatchewan farmer convicted of mercy killing of his disabled daughter o Bombing ofAir India Flight 182 with 44% (in BC) and 35% (national)  The lack of conviction in this case  Death of 329 people aboard o Karla Homolka with 52% (nationally) and 29% (Atlantic)  She secured a 12-year sentence in exchange for testifying against her husband Six of Canada’s most bizarre murders By Blog of Lists (2012) http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/12/15/6-of-canadas-most-bizarre-murders/ 1. John Wilson in 1833 o Wilson shot Robert Lyon because he mocked the honor of Elizabeth Hughes o Both men agreed to a duel with pistols to settle the matter o Wilson was acquitted of murder and married Hughes 2. Belcher Island massacre in 1941 o 9 Inuit were killed on a remote island o They were victims of a religious cult centered around Charlie Ouyerack (Jesus) and Peter Sala (God) who declared themselves Jesus and God o After denying their divinity, these individuals were killed (3), while the others (6) were sent into the ice sea  Sala’s sister thought the world was ending and sent them to their death 3. Albert Guay in 1949 o Guay placed a bomb on a flight to Quebec to rid himself of his wife (who was on- board) o It exploded mid-flight and killed 23 passengers and crew on board 4. Peter Demeter in 1973 o Demeter murdered his wife and attempted to cash in her insurance policy when he was caught o He attempted to have his nephew killed and planned a kidnapping and death of his lawyer’s daughter 5. Albert Johnson Walker in 1996 o After conning dozens of Canadians out of millions of dollars, Walker and his daughter fled to Europe o In Britain, he convinced Ronald Platt to emigrate to Canada and stole his identity o However, Platt returned to England and was subsequently killed by Walker 6. Mark Twitchell in 2008 o Twitchell, inspired by the show Dexter, posed as a women online and lured John Altinger into a rented garage where he killed him o Blood evidence and a deleted file (serial killer confessions) led to his arrest Unit 8: Abortion • Abortion is a controversial topic with strong feelings on both sides o Advocates in favour of abortion  Feel it represents a vital component of a women’s right to control her own body o Against abortion  The argument centers on religion and/or the protection of unborn human lives Mini doc: The life of abortion activist Henry Morgentaler By the Globe and Mail (2013) http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/news-video/mini-doc-the-life-of-abortion-activist-henry- morgentaler/article12232567/ Alook at the life of Henry Morgentaler, a physician and political activist who worked to repeal Canada's abortion law. Dr. Morgentaler died on May 29 at age 90 • Dr. Henry Morgentaler speaks to the camera and says that he was able to help many women despite the anti-abortion laws o The laws ended up changing due to his efforts o He successfully challenged Canada’s abortion law at the Supreme Court in 1988 o He was revered by some and reviled by others • Dr. Morgentaler is a holocaust survivor and an atheist o His parents and siblings died during the holocaust o He survived because the concentration/death camps were liberated by the allies in 1945 o He and his brother went to a refugee camp, where he met and married his wife o Later he immigrated to Quebec, Canada, where he earned his doctor degree o He discovered the Humanist Fellowship of Montreal and he became a spokesperson for the group  Based on the ability to will a full life • Dr. Morgentaler and his fight with abortion laws o In 1967, he spoke to a House of Commons committee arguing that pregnant women had the right to terminate unplanned pregnancies in SAFE abortion procedures o He gave up his family practice and started a full-time abortion practice and a well- staffed and well-equipped clinic
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