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Death and Dying Complete Textbook Notes

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PSYC 3570
Darcy Dupuis

Psychology of Death and Dying Chapter One We are a culture that tries to keep death as far away as possible in all aspects of our lives Some like outrunning death while others avoid the mortal anxietyDeath Anxiety emotional distress and insecurity aroused by encounters with dead bodies grieving people or other reminders of mortality including ones own thoughtsMortality Salience a situation that is likely to bring thoughts of death to mind related to ontological confrontation but is often not as threatening Less disturbed by it when we are feeling confident about ourselvesMore physicians are communicating and patients and family members express their concerns and opinions more now Fatalism the belief that future events have always been determined therefore one is powerless to affect the futureAttitudes refer to our action tendencies Beliefs refer to our worldview Feelings provide us with qualitative info or a status report on our sense of being Living Will a document that instructs medical personnel on an individuals wishes should a situation a rise in which that person cannot communicate directly Often involves the request of limiting the type of medical interventions One of a class of documents known as advance directivesNon organ donors tend to be more anxious about death but people that think of themselves as effective and self reliant are more likely to sign donation cardsPeople with positive religious coping styles experienced less pain and distress than those without Denial an extreme response in which one attempts to cope with danger or loss by ignoring important features of reality A primitive defence that rejects the existence of threat and is only effective for a short period of time but is ineffective when prolonged or used repeatedlySorrow is oriented with the past and anxiety towards the futureAnother strategy to avoid death anxiety is to identify with death joining forces with death or killing others in reality or in games and fantasiesSelf report questionnaires are widely used in studies of death anxiety However little is learned about the respondents overall attitude structure or belief system low scores on death anxiety scales are difficult to interpret how high is high anxiety and what is a normal level respondents are often selected opportunistically the typical study is a one shot affairMajor Findings from selfreports of death anxiety They consistently find a low to moderate level of death anxiety women tend to have higher death anxiety scores could be because they are more open in dealing with their thoughts and feelings on emotionally intense subjects no age differences or somewhat lower death anxiety amongst older people death anxiety tends to be relatively high in adolescence and early adulthood peaked at around age twenty and women reached another peak around their 50s baby boomers want to live forever death anxiety is higher in people with diagnosed psychiatric conditions people with a sound mental health status have learned to avoid the extremes of too much anxiety Trait anxiety the apprehension and restlessness we carry around with us in everyday lifeTransitional situations often lead to a spike in death anxiety situations threaten our sense of securityA delayed stress reaction often arises some time after our brush with death Post traumatic stress disorder a delayed response to a death or other disturbing experience that has occurred under extremely stressful conditions The traumatic event is reexperienced repeatedly and other disturbances of feelings thoughts and behaviour are also likely to occurThe anxieties of patients family members and professional caregivers can form a continuous loop of mutual distressEarly Psychoanalytical Theory Sigmund Freud stated we could not really be anxious about death because our unconscious system does not respond to the passage of time Thanatophobia the expressed fear of death that serves as a disguise for the actual source of discomfort Freud said it derived from the castration anxietyExistentialism a philosophical position that emphasizes peoples responsibilities for their own lives and deathsSchizophrenia a form of mental and perhaps biomedical illness in which a person is out of contact with reality and emotionally alienated from othersOntological confrontation a situation that sharply reminds people of their personal vulnerabilities to deathTerror Management theory a theory based on the proposition that many of our sociocultural beliefs symbols and practices are intended to reduce our sense of vulnerability and helplessness in prospect of deathCan be used to raise or lower death anxietyEdge Theory a theoretical approach that emphasizes the survival function of death related anxietySelective attention individual is not in denial but simply directing their attention to whatever seems most salient in the immediate situationSelective response individual may have significant thoughts and feelings about death but they have judged that this is not the time or place to express themCompartmentalizing person is aware of being in a life threatening situation and is responding to some aspects person stops just short of realizing the situationDeception people sometimes deliberately give false information to others Resistance people who are in stressful situations may recognize their danger but decide not to give in to it Comprehends the reality but decides to fight for life as long as possibleAnxiety Denial and Acceptance How should we respond y Most of us have both acceptance and denial type strategies that are available for coping with stressful situationsy States of total acceptance and total denial of death do occur but usually in extreme circumstancesy Denial can be understood more adequately as adaptive processes y Our pattern of adaptation should be considered within the context of our interpersonal network y Acceptance and denial can be evaluated only when we are in a position to understand what the person is trying to accomplish and what they are up against Collective representations the symbols and themes that convey the spirit and mood of a cultureTaoism an ancient and still influential Chinese philosophical religious system that sees life and death as linked in a fundamental reality that underlies the apparent diversity change and disorder of the observable worldUniform anatomical gift act a law that permits people upon their own deaths to designate their bodily organs for transplantation to other people CHAPTER TWOWHAT IS DEATH What does death meandifferent quotes explaining some peoples ideas of deathIdeas about the Nature and Meaning of DeathClear that we are either dead or alive Death is regarded quite differently by many peopleHindubirth death rebirth and again death are linked in a constantly recurring cycleborn to die but die to be reborn Each person differs in their attitude and feelings and each individual may differ depending on the situation dead man walking can be a cultural as well as an individual phenomenon Anatomist Gunther von Hagens developed tissue preservation technique known as plastination Death associated with decay Plastination replaces the fluids and lipids in biological tissues with polymersresulting in dry odourless and durable specimen that can be studied by generations of medical studentsVon Hagens also created a gallery of lifelike figures from plastinated corpseshe says reveals the beauty beneath the skin frozen in time between death and decay Death as Observed Proclaimed and Imagined Victor Frankenstein and his monster were created by an 18year old woman whose own life had been born through death o Her mother died during childbirth and had an enduring effecto Came of age in a time of galvanic electrical experiments were a conspicuous part of the new scientific enterprise
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