Death, Society and Human Experience / Edition 11

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Providing an understanding of the relationship with death, both as an individual and as a member of society.

This book is intended to contribute to your understanding of your relationship with death, both as an individual and as a member of society. Kastenbaum shows how individual and societal attitudes influence both how and when we die and how we live and deal with the knowledge of death and loss.

Robert Kastenbaum is a renowned scholar who developed one of the world's first death education courses and introduced the first text for this market.

This landmark text draws on contributions from the social and behavioral sciences as well as the humanities, such as history, religion, philosophy, literature, and the arts, to provide thorough coverage of understanding death and the dying process.

Learning Goals

Upon completing this book, readers should be able to:

  • Understand the relationship with death, both as an individual and as a member of society
  • See how social forces and events affect the length of our lives, how we grieve, and how we die
  • Learn how dying people are perceived and treated in our society and what can be done to provide the best possible care
  • Master an understanding of continuing developments and challenges to hospice (palliative care).
  • Understand what is becoming of faith and doubt about an afterlife

Note: MySearchLab does not come automatically packaged with this text. To purchase MySearchLab, please visit: or you can purchase a ValuePack of the text + MySearchLab with Pearson eText (at no additional cost). ValuePack ISBN-10: 0205863515 / ValuePack ISBN-13: 9780205863518

Accepting & denying death/biomedical approaches: definition of death/transition from life/leading causes, etc

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Thank you to the following reveiwers:

Allen Richardson Cedar Crest College
J. Meredith Martin University of New Mexico
Patrick Ashwood Hawkeye Community College

“It is written by sociologist doing research in the field. These bits of original research are scattered throughout the book and gives a backbone of expertise. The author keeps up with recent trends in the death and dying field. There are good examples of different ethnic groups and their beliefs/practices in the text.”

-Patrick Ashwood, Hawkeye Community College

“The text is quite well done. The coverage of the events of September 11, 2001 are an excellent addition to the book. The material on death anxiety is first rate.”

-Allen Richardson, Cedar Crest College

“I think it is a fantastic text! It is very inclusive.”

-J. Meredith Martin, University of New Mexico

New edition of a text which examines our relationship to death by drawing upon scholarship and research as well as on the words of people who have found themselves in the middle of death-related situations. Fifteen chapters discuss subjects including the death system, causes of death, transition from life, hospice care, AIDS, suicide, grief, the funeral process, and violent, assisted, and childhood death. They conclude with a discussion of whether we survive death, and the promise of death education and counseling. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780205001088
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 10/2/2011
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 11
  • Pages: 528
  • Sales rank: 111,386
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Bob Kastenbaum’s exploits as skating messenger apparently qualified him to become editor of two community newspapers, an eccentric career trajectory that somehow led to a graduate scholarship in philosophy and a Ph.D. in psychology at the University of Southern California (1959). He was most interested in fields of psychological study that barely existed at the time: lifespan development and aging, time perspective, creativity, and death and dying. Kastenbaum became part of an emerging cadre that overcame the prevailing neglect and resistance to these issues. He worked in varied settings as clinician, researcher, activist, hospital administrator, educator, and author. The innovative programs he introduced into a geriatric hospital and his article, “The Reluctant Therapist” have been credited with preparing the way for increased attention to the needs and potentials of vulnerable elders and terminally ill people. With Dick Kalish, he founded Omega, the first peer-reviewed journal focused on death-related issues. Kastenbaum taught the first regularly-scheduled university course on death and dying and came up with the first textbook (Death, Society, & Human Experience, 1977). He also established the first university-based educational and research center on death and dying (Wayne State University, 1966). His other books include The Psychology of Death (1972, 1990, 2000); Dorian, Graying: Is Youth the Only Thing Worth Having? (1995), and On Our Way. The Final Passage Through Life and Death (2004). He has also served as editor of the Macmillan Encyclopedia of Death and Dying, (2003) and two previous encyclopedias. In the public sphere he has served as a co-founder of The National Caucus on Black Aging, consultant to the United States Senate Special Subcommittee on Aging, and participant in developing the Veterans Administration’s geriatric research and educational centers, and the landmark National Hospice Demonstration Project. Kastenbaum lives in Tempe, Arizona with Bunny (wife), Angel (The Incredible Leaping Dog), enhanced by Pumpkin and Snowflake in the cat department. Along with his continuing research interests, Kastenbaum has been writing book and verse for musicals and operas. He notes that nobody has died in the two most recently premiered operas (Closing Time; American Gothic, music by Kenneth LaFave), but cannot make any such promises about the next opera.

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Table of Contents





Chapter 1: As We Think About Death

Chapter 2: What is Death?

Chapter 3: The Death System

Chapter 4: Dying

Chapter 5: Hospice and Palliative Care

Chapter 6: End-of-Life Issues and Decisions

Chapter 7: Suicide

Chapter 8: Violent Death: Murder, Terrorism, Genocide, Disaster, and Accident

Chapter 9: Euthanasia, Assisted Death, Abortion, and the Right to Die


Chapter 1: As We Think About Death

A History of Death?

Not Thinking About Death: A Failed Experiment

Your Self-Inventory of Attitudes, Beliefs, and Feelings

Some Answers – And The Questions They Raise

Man is Mortal: But What Does That Have To DO With Me?

Anxiety, Denial, and Acceptance: Three Core Concepts

Studies and Theories of Death Anxiety

Major Findings From Self-Reports of Death Anxiety

Theoretical Perspectives on Death Anxiety

Accepting and Denying Death

Chapter 2: What is Death?

Ideas About The Nature And Meaning Of Death

Death As Observed, Proclaimed, And Imagined

Biomedical Approaches To The Definition Of Death

Event Versus State

What Does Death Mean?

Interpretations Of The Death State

Conditions That Resemble Death

Death As A Person

Conditions That Death Resembles

The Undead

Death As An Agent Of Personal, Political, And Social

Chapter 3: The Death System

A World Without Death

Basic Characteristics Of The Death System

Components Of The Death System

Functions Of The Death System

Disasters And The Death System

How Our Death System Has Been Changing—And The “Deathniks” Who Are Making A Difference

Causes Of Death: Yesterday, Today, And Tomorrow

Basic Terms And Concepts

Chapter 4: Dying

The Moment Of Death: Is It Vanishing?

What Is Dying, And When Does It Begin?

Trajectories Of Dying: From Beginning To End

Guarded Feelings, Subtle Communications

Individuality And Universality In The Experience Of Dying

Theoretical Models Of The Dying Process

Chapter 5: Hospice and Palliative Care

Hospice: A New Flowering From Ancient Roots

Standards Of Care For The Terminally Ill

Hospice In Action

Relief Of Pain And Suffering

Hospice Access, Decision Making, And Challenges

Dame Cicely Saunder’s Reflections On Hospice

Chapter 6: End-of-Life Issues and Decisions

From Description To Decision Making

Who Should Participate In End-Of-Life Decisions?

The Living Will And Its Impact

Right-To-Die Decisions That We Can Make

A Right Not To Die? The Cryonics Alternative

Organ Donation

Funeral-Related Decisions

Chapter 7: Suicide

What Do The Statistics Tell Us?

Four Problem Areas

Some Cultural Meanings Of Suicide

A Powerful Sociological Theory Of Suicide

Some Individual Meanings Of Suicide

Facts And Myths About Suicide

Suicide Prevention

Emerging Issues And Challenges

Chapter 8: Violent Death: Murder, Terrorism, Genocide, Disaster, and Accident



9/11/01 And Its Consequences

Accident And Disaster

Chapter 9: Euthanasia, Assisted Death, Abortion, and the Right to Die

“I Swear By Appollo The Physician”: What Happened To The Hippocratic Oath?

Key Terms And Concepts

Our Changing Attitudes Toward A Right To Die

The Right-To-Die Dilemma: Case Examples

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