Doctor, am I dead? A review of social death in modern societies

Sweeting, H. M. and Gilhooly, M. L. M. (1992) Doctor, am I dead? A review of social death in modern societies. Omega: Journal of Death and Dying, 24(4), pp. 251-269. (doi: 10.2190/L0N6-P489-NR8N-JQ6K)

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In this article the concept of social death as defined by authors from various disciplines is described within the framework of the transition from life to death. The notion of social death as being complementary to such concepts as "personhood" and "a worthwhile life" is presented. Three examples of people likely to be seen as socially dead before they are biologically dead are presented: those in the final stages of a lengthy terminal physical illness, the very old, and those suffering from loss of their essential personhood because of dementia or coma. The moral dimensions of the social death phenomenon and the implications for current medical practice are considered in the conclusion.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Sweeting, Dr Helen
Authors: Sweeting, H. M., and Gilhooly, M. L. M.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:Omega: Journal of Death and Dying
ISSN (Online):1541-3764

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