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The Study of Dying


  • 7 b/w illus. 2 tables
  • Page extent: 298 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.48 kg
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 (ISBN-13: 9780521739054)

  • Also available in Hardback
  • Published November 2009

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$24.99 (P)

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.


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.

Prize Winner

Choice Outstanding Academic Title, 2010


"Poised somewhere between On Death and Dying by Elizabeth K├╝bler-Ross and How We Die by Sherwin Nuland, The Study of Dying is a well-crafted book that looks at demise from all sorts of angles. The ending is self-evident: the importance of a good exit cannot be overstated." - Journal of the American Medical Association

"The editor and each contributor have marshaled the death and dying literature authoritatively, offering beginning and advanced students alike a very readable and worthy introduction to this field. Kellehear's long fascination with death has yielded a most informative volume, of great value to thanatological professionals and those wishing to better understand how we die.... Highly recommended." - Choice


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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