On Death Without Dignity: The Human Impact of Technological Dying / Edition 1

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Candidly written, On Death Without Dignity: The Human Impact of Technological Dying, attempts to re-humanize the inevitable biological occurrence called dying. It is Moller's view that through the advancement of medicalized technology, has come the demise of the contemporary dying process. The oncological death is reflected as failure in the part of modern medicine, the physician, and the hospital; yet the patient experiences alienation, stigma, helplessness, and normlessness. Yet as a culture the current societal approach to the dying—silent avoidance—only adds to this alienation. Society has failed to provide the necessary rules for this universal, social, and biological event.

Moller, an advocate for the dying, tells their story and seeks to reduce their socially enforced isolation. He stresses the importance of the inventing of social rules and behaviors for this social phenomenon of oncological dying. Social response must transform from this medicalized, technological state back to the natural, social experience it is and bring the suffering and tribulations of the dying out of the social deep freeze of isolation and silence.

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What People Are Saying

Mary Jo D. Good
(Moller) makes a compelling case for rethinking the way we use technology in oncology, especially in the last months of life...its contribution and strength lie in the author's presentation of his own field research and in his analysis of his observations. Thus, the book not only has value to the field of medical sociology, but it may also assist those in the health care profession as it spotlights medical practices common in care at the end of life and forces us to question the purpose and ethics of such practices. (Mary Jo D. Good, Harvard Medical School)
William Lamers
Moller says he sets out 'to paint an iconic portrait of the human experience of dying in the modern, medicalized social setting.' He has succeeded. It is not a pretty picture...I strongly recommend this stimulating book for institutional (medical, health care, behavioral sciences, theological) and public libraries as well as practitioners in all the helping and healing professions. Moller has provided us a contemporary equivalent of the ominous prayer of the Middle Ages: 'Memento Mori' (remember death). (William Lamers, Journal of the National Cancer Institute)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780895030672
  • Publisher: Baywood Publishing Company, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/28/1990
  • Series: Perspectives on Death and Dying Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 134

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments

Introductory Précis: Jack Elinson, Ph.D.


Technology, Meaning, and Death
Meaning of death or death of meaning

Death and Denial in Modern America

Technological Medicine, The Technocratic Physician and Human Dying

Individualism, Fellowship, and Dying
The non-communal environment
Dying and loss of fellowship

Modern Dying and Social Organization of the Hospital
The hospital as total institution
Patient alienation within the hospital

The Stigma of Dying
Identity problems: Beyond the looking-glass
The stigma of dying: Scenarios of personal terror
Sexuality and dying: Fertile ground for stigma
As the new self emerges

Approaching Omega: The Roller Coaster of Dying
The course of dying and societal forces

A Concluding Statement on Technology and the Social Isolation of Dying

A Methodological Note


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