Life's End: Technocratic Dying in an Age of Spiritual Yearning / Edition 1

Life's End: Technocratic Dying in an Age of Spiritual Yearning / Edition 1

by David Wendell Moller

ISBN-10: 0895032023

ISBN-13: 9780895032027

Pub. Date: 10/01/1999

Publisher: Baywood Publishing Company, Incorporated

The absence of culturally established guidelines and moral codes to preside over dying leaves patients and loved ones confused and anxious.  They frequently feel that they are inadequate participants in their own experience, often not knowing


The absence of culturally established guidelines and moral codes to preside over dying leaves patients and loved ones confused and anxious.  They frequently feel that they are inadequate participants in their own experience, often not knowing how to act or what to say. Physicians typically ignore the personal chaos experienced by patients and their families. They instead focus on technical and physical concerns. This process whereby the personal issues of dying are redefined into technical matters is not only consistent with their training and social organization of work, it serves to reshape the human experience of dying into disease focus and treatment options. This enables healthcare professionals to work each day in an environment where dying and death abound without having to deal with the emotions and social issues of dying and death. Patients and families experience deep personal and social implications of dying, whereas physicians adopt a preeminently technical approach in their patterns of care.

The theme of controlling the experience of dying through technological manipulation and through the social isolation of individuals is central to this book. This new work explores how the American value of individualism and the widespread commitment to technology have given rise to particular forms of governing the process of dying that are unique to the professional dominance of death in the hospital setting.  It focuses on how the values of technology in the broader society are applied in the framework of medicalized care of dying patients, and discusses the consequences this has for their lives. Additionally, this book analyzes how the value of individualism, so ubiquitous in the broader society, influences the treatment of dying patients and their definition of the meanings of their own dying. It shows how the dominant values of the American cultural system are institutionalized in the medical treatment of dying patients.

The explicit purpose of this book is to analyze dying and death in the cosmopolitan, modern setting. There is, however, an additional theme that is implicit in the analysis and observations. The portrait of dying, which is provided in the pages of the book, also tells us a great deal about life. It demonstrates that the foundation for the medicalization of death that piercingly shapes the life experience of dying persons and loved ones is a product of the ways of life in the broader culture.

The most important message of the dying patients whose lives and sufferings so enrich this book, was not about death. It was about life.  This book, with the landscape of modern life and death which it portrays, is devoted to understanding and honoring the lives and sufferings of all dying persons—both present and future.

Intended Audience: Death education professionals, grief counselors,

death educators, bereavement therapists, grief ministry, bereavement

groups; Professionals in: Psychology, Sociology, Medical Nursing, Social

Work, Counselors, Hospice, Clergy



David Wendell Moller, affectionately called Dr. Death by his student s at the beginning of his course on death and dying, transforms into Dr.  Life at the finish in honor of the journey into life and mortality through which he takes those enrolled in his classes. This pilgrimage is ultimately a reckoning of life choices and the joys of living. Described by his peers as “the most outstanding teacher I know” and “as being nothing short of brilliant in the classroom,” Moller seeks to impress on his students that death resurrects life as nothing else can. His ability to “touch forever their lives” led to his winning the prestigious President’s Award for Distinguished teaching at Indiana University.

Moller’s interest in medical ethics and thanatology directed him to earn a Ph.D., in Sociomedical Sciences from Columbia University. Currently he is a professor at Indiana University, Indianapolis. He teaches sociology in the School of Liberal Arts, where he is also chair of the Program in Medical Humanities and Health Studies. Moller is a faculty member of the Program in Medical Ethics at Indiana University School of Medicine. His resolution to making death and dying less horrendous led him to a position on faculty of the Palliative Care Program at Wished Hospital, Indiana University School of Medicine.

Product Details

Baywood Publishing Company, Incorporated
Publication date:
Edition description:
New Edition
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

Table of Contents

Table of Contents




Chapter 1 - Aging and Social Change: Toward an Interdisciplinary

Research Agenda Stephen J. Cutler

Chapter 2 - Psychology’s Contributions to Gerontology Laura L.

Carstensen, Jeremy Graff, and Frieder Lang

Chapter 3 - A Social Psychology of the Life Cycle: Interdisciplinary

Social Policies, Perceptions, and Prospects Jeffrey Michael Clair,

William C. Yoels, and David A. Karp

Chapter 4 - Clinical and Health Services Delivery Research Richard M.

Allman, Patricia S. Baker, and Richard S. Maisiak


Chapter 5 - Diversity As a Catalyst for Change E. Percil Stanford and

Gwendolyn E. Stanford

Chapter 6 - Intergenerational Relationships and Aging: Families,

Cohorts, and Social Change Vern Bengtson, Timothy Biblarz, Edward

Clarke, Roseann Giarrusso, Robert Roberts, Judith Richlin-Klonsky, and

Merril Silverstein

Chapter 7 - Interdisciplinary Health Care in the Twenty-First Century:

Fantasy or Fundamental? Theresa J. K. Drinka

Chapter 8 - Organizing Chronic Care: The Value of Organization Theory to Gerontology William E. Aaronson, Connie J. Evashwick, and Richard M.


Chapter 9 - Nursing Homes and the Long-Term Care Market Michael A.

Morrisey and Fredric D. Wolinsky


Chapter 10 - Perspectives on Aging: Progress and Priorities for

Age-Related Cancers Harvey Jay Cohen

Chapter 11 - Caring for Alzheimer’s Disease Patients: Issues of Verbal

Communication and Social Interaction Louis Burgio, Rebecca Allen-Burge,

Alan Stevens, Linda Davis, and Daniel Marson

Chapter 12 - The Geriatric Medical Encounter Patricia S. Baker, Jeffrey

Michael Clair, William C. Yoels, and Richard M. Allman

Chapter 13 - Treatment of Urinary Incontinence: Current Status and

Future Directions Kathryn L. Burgio, Patricia S. Goode, R. Edward

Varner, L. Keith Lloyd, Donald A. Urban, and Mary G. Umlauf

Chapter 14 - Mobility Impairment and Its Consequences in the Elderly

Cynthia Owsley, Richard M. Allman, Marilyn Gossman, Sherron Kell,

Richard V. Sims, and Patricia S. Baker

Chapter 15 - Closing Comments: Barriers To and Potential For an

Interdisciplinary Research Agenda in Aging Richard M. Allman and Jeffrey

M. Clair



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