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Essay on On Death and Dying, by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

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In 1969, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross opened a dialogue of debate about death and dying. She accomplished this with her ground breaking book “On Death and Dying.” In 1993, another physician by the name of Sherwin Nuland, continued the dialogue with his popular book “How We Die- Reflections on Life’s Final Chapter.” A comparison of chapter one, On the Fear of Death, from Kübler-Ross’s book, and chapter seven, Accidents, Suicide, and Euthanasia, of Nuland’s book, shows that both Kübler-Ross and Nuland argue for control over the circumstances surrounding a patient’s death. However, while Kübler-Ross advocates for strong patient control, Nuland emphasizes the need for physician and society control.
The sub-title of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ book describes her audience as doctors, nurses, clergy and the family of dying patients. Because of her target audience the book is written on a more emotional level, citing examples of both positive and negative death experiences. There are no detailed descriptions of what happens to the body as it dies, just discussions of how the dying person might feel and how they might want to experience their last moments of life. Sherwin Nuland takes a much more scientific approach with his book “How We Die”. In chapter seven, Accidents, Suicide and Euthanasia, Nuland describes in great detail the pathophysiology of why a person dies from sepsis and pulmonary infection. His book is targeted more towards the health care professional who is familiar with long drawn out discussions of the pathophysiology of a certain disease process. The choice of target audience by each author correlates to their discussions regarding who controls the death experience. Kübler-Ross argues for patient input and control and so...


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...ay’s society, but not without controversy. Especially discussions about a patient’s right to hasten certain death that may be painful or difficult for the patient. Kübler-Ross advocates a balanced approach to patient care: There is attention to the scientific side of healthcare as well as the emotional needs of the patient, and the patient is allowed to be in control. Nuland advocates a more scientific approach to patient care: death is viewed on a more realistic, scientific level and while the emotional needs of the patient are considered, the physician retains the right to decide if the patient is mentally fit enough to make all final decisions.




Works Cited

Kubler-Ross, Elisabeth. On death and dying. New York: Scribner, 1969. 15-23. Print.

Nuland, Sherwin. How we die: Reflections on life's final chapter. New Yord: Vintage Books, 1993. 140-63. Print.


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