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The Study of Dying


  • 7 b/w illus. 2 tables
  • Page extent: 300 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.61 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521517676)

What is it really like to die? Though our understanding about the biology of dying is complex and incomplete, greater complexity and diversity can be found in the study of what human beings encounter socially, psychologically and spiritually during the experience. Contributors from disciplines as diverse as social and behavioural studies, medicine, demography, history, philosophy, art, literature, popular culture and religion examine the process of dying through the lens of both animal and human studies. Despite common fears to the contrary, dying is not simply an awful journey of illness and decline; cultural influences, social circumstances, personal choice and the search for meaning are all crucial in shaping personal experiences. This intriguing volume will be of interest to clinicians, professionals, academics and students of death, dying and end-of-life care, and anyone curious about the human confrontation with mortality.

• Highlights the human experience of dying as complex, diverse, surprising, and full of possibility • Studies how people behave just minutes, hours or days before their death and how that conduct is influenced by a range of physical, psychological, cultural and spiritual factors • Challenges us to pause and think again before stereotyping dying as simply sad and bad, and re-examines our common fate more carefully, more thoughtfully, and even more hopefully


Preface; 1. What the social and behavioural studies say about dying Allan Kellehear; 2. The dying animal: a perspective from veterinary medicine Siri K. Knudsen; 3. The dying human: a perspective from biomedicine Marie-Aurelie Bruno, Didier Ledoux and Steven Laureys; 4. The dying human: a perspective from palliative medicine Michael Ashby; 5. The demography of dying Glennys Howarth; 6. Historical approaches to dying Julie-Marie Strange; 7. Dying and philosophy Geoffrey Scarre; 8. The art of dying Clare Gittings; 9. Dying in Western literature John Skelton; 10. Cinematic visions of dying Fran McInerney; 11. Dying in Judaeo-Christian thought Douglas Davies; 12. Near-death experiences and deathbed visions Bruce Greyson.


'… eloquent book … an even-handed analysis … The Study of Dying is a well-crafted book that looks at demise from all sorts of angles.' Journal of the American Medical Association

'This interdisciplinary collection of chapters makes a valuable contribution to understanding the social experience of dying. Acknowledging that there is limited work which addresses the experience of dying specifically, the contributors achieve the collection's central aim of exploring the diversity and complexities that shape 'dying as a particular form of social life and experience' (p.1) … Drawing together perspectives from a range of disciplines, including religion, literature, history and medicine, the volume provides a nuanced and thoughtful picture of current knowledge about the dying process.' Network, magazine of the British Sociological Association

'… the strength of this edited collection is its multidisciplinary approach to dying and the range of fascinating ideas and evidence contained within it.' Sociology of Health & Illness


Allan Kellehear, Siri K. Knudsen, Marie-Aurelie Bruno, Didier Ledoux, Steven Laureys, Michael Ashby, Glennys Howarth, Julie-Marie Strange, Geoffrey Scarre, Clare Gittings, John Skelton, Fran McInerney, Douglas Davies, Bruce Greyson

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