PSY 802 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Scottish Clan, Rock Music, Blues

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Published on 27 Apr 2016
School
Ryerson University
Department
Psychology
Course
PSY 802
Professor
Thanatology: study of facts or events of death and the social and psychological mechanisms for dealing
with them; ethical and moral questions and cultural considerations; concerns a number of disciplines
(e.g. philosophy and history)
We tend to push the idea of death to the outskirts of our lives
In order to gain new choices about death, we must recognize that avoiding thinking about it estranges
us from an integral aspect of human life; Steve Jobs referred to death as “life’s change agent”
Mass media categorizes us as survivors in showing us the fatal events taking place around us; when
threat is perceived, we turn to media for information, even getting live updates due to Internet (on
September 11, two billion people tuned into the news)
Spectacular obscures the ordinary: much newsworthiness attributed to deaths of famous people
(feature-length obituaries with bold headlines); death of “normal” individual noted through death
notice (brief statement listed alphabetically in page of vital statistics)
Encounters with death in media alter the way we think about and respond to death
Death reports in media have more to do with how the event is perceived, than what actually
happened/event itself (e.g. focusing on violent nature of death rather than successful life of individual)
Media coverage can lead to “revictimization” or “second trauma”; media attempts to capture tragedy at
expense of victims or survivors
Grief and disruption of life of survivors not discussed; line between public event and private loss is
blurred; harm to victims, their pain, or punishment for perpetrators not shown
Robert Fulton/Greg Owen: media overrides meaning of human death by depersonalizing it (e.g. reports
of death are amongst commercials)
Coverage of Vietnam War kicked off “reality violence”; what passes for as death is usually just violence
and due to this we associate death with tragedies and problems
George Gerbner/Mean World Syndrome: media depicts death in such a way that conveys danger,
insecurity, and mistrust; leads to irrational fear of dying and thus, diminished vitality and self-direction
in life; anxiety and fear disproportionate to reality (begin to think predators are abundant and in attack
mode)
Death in entertainment television appoints corpses to position of “popular culture porn-star”
“Impoverishment of death symbolism in the media”: lack of stories depicting realistic themes and topics
(such as how to deal with the death of a loved one)
Thriller, slasher films showing much blood and gore through eyes of the attacker; evolutionary
background may entice individuals to exhibitions of brutality and terror
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Firsthand experiences of death decrease in frequency and representations have been sensationalized;
death is no longer something we do, but something accidental that happens to us
Euphemisms: substitutions of indirect or vague words and phrases for ones considered blunt and harsh;
imply a well-choreographed production around death (reality devalued and depersonalized)
Linguistic devices can sometimes be used to communicate deeper meanings (e.g. “passing on” conveys
understanding of spiritual transition); word choices reflect changes in how the death is perceived at
various times
Sympathy cards comfort bereaved in gentle fashion
Indicative voice: talking about the dead, we begin using past-tense; our way to acknowledge the death,
but distance ourselves
Subjunctive: our way to include the voice of the dead person; zone of possibility, rather than certainty
(e.g. “he would have been proud of you”)
Dirges: hymn of grief/form of music associated with funeral processions and burials
Elegies (way to say goodbye while celebrating who is gone): musical settings for poems
commemorating a person’s death; poem or song memorializing the dead; reflective expression of woe
and suffering; emotional acknowledgements that all things are impermanent (spiritual understanding);
requiem: musical composition played at mass for the dead
Insight into universality of death can bring comfort
Laments (e.g. Scottish clan funerals): expression of ritualized leave-taking found in many cultural
settings (praise deceased and emotional release for bereaved); keening is a vocal form of this,
reminiscent of crying
Laments (can be words, gestures, music, etc.) may help bereaved identify altered social status and seek
sympathy from community; promote social reintegration of mourner and alliance between living and
dead
Rock music may have helped break taboo against public mention of death; gospel music and blues music
sometimes considered flip sides to one another
Folk ballads (poem or song depicting story in number of short stanzas): involve premonitions of death,
deathbed scenes, last wishes of the dying, etc.
Charles Reagan Wilson’s six categories of death in country music (embody idea death should be seen
as natural and not separated from the rest of life):
Pervasiveness of death
Violent and tragic death
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Document Summary

Thanatology: study of facts or events of death and the social and psychological mechanisms for dealing with them; ethical and moral questions and cultural considerations; concerns a number of disciplines (e. g. philosophy and history) We tend to push the idea of death to the outskirts of our lives. In order to gain new choices about death, we must recognize that avoiding thinking about it estranges us from an integral aspect of human life; steve jobs referred to death as life"s change agent . Mass media categorizes us as survivors in showing us the fatal events taking place around us; when threat is perceived, we turn to media for information, even getting live updates due to internet (on. September 11, two billion people tuned into the news) Spectacular obscures the ordinary: much newsworthiness attributed to deaths of famous people (feature-length obituaries with bold headlines); death of normal individual noted through death notice (brief statement listed alphabetically in page of vital statistics)