메인 Canadian Psychiatric Association Journal Book Review: Death of ManDeath of ManShneidmanEdwin S., Foreword by ToynbeeArnold, Markham,...
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December, 1976 BOOK REVIEWS education - child psychiatrists interested in school mental health consultation, psychologists and social workers. One aspect which is not dealt with adequately is that of how to build evaluation into the consultation process, specifically as to the short-term and long-term effects upon the children, on the learning process and on the school system. R.J. McQueen, M.D. Vancouver, B.C. Death of Man Edwin S. Shneidman, Foreword by Arnold Toynbee, Markham, Ontario, Penguin Books Limited, pp. 238, $2.95, 1975. This is an uneven book, a conglomerate of meditations about death - a topic which is, to some extent, overexploited by presentday writers. It demonstrates how very difficult, perhaps impossible, it is, even for a thanatologist (p. XV) to contemplate and discuss death without sudden matabasis, either into legalistic particularities, questionnaires and statistical analyses and literaryexcursions. There is a most interesting chapter on H. Melville's (1819-1891) impressions of the Japanese appreciation of death as the final reunion with nature. The last chapter is on gun control in the United States. How much easier it is to find new words: 'postvention' (p. 33; 'postself' (p. 43); 'cessation', to replace the word death (p. 59); the strange construct: "my death classes" (p. 183); and so on, to discuss semantic differences and to speculate on peripheral happenings. This should not be a criticism because the only way to study death is through the phenomenology of dying; that is from the periphery. Everything else is just pretentious. The main problem with this book, from the first chapter on is the difficulty of not confounding death and dying: the English language does not clearly separate these two ideas. What does a "clinical thanatologist" (p. 7) really have to know and do? Does he have to appreciate what death means in our lives? Does he know how to transfer this philosophy to the dying patient? There are 587 rather crude interview examples (pp. 1123), fu; ll of leading questions and comments as to how to behave with a person approaching the last threshold on our road. The book lacks historical depth. From the fifth Century B.C. an elaborate consolatory literature has flourished (2) and an attempt is made to integrate death and dying in a realistic way. All this has been omitted. The bibliography is rather rich, but takes into consideration only the last 20-30 years, earlier references are exceptions, but even in this period some important work has been forgotten - Landsberg's (1901-1944) (3) "The Experience of Death" and Jaspers' (1) study of the world in the shadow of the atomic bomb (with no need for the inflated word 'megadeath' with its doubtful meaning) and a few off-hand references to European philosophy and theology in general. Perhaps this is only a preliminary 'snapshot' of the author's present view of death and an enlarged and deeper study is to come - or is this the final word? I hope it is just the beginning. One last note - we could take issue with many of the statements on page 25. Most appropriate to the topic of death is Weisman's (1972) Concept of Appropriate Death, hailed as "especially felicitous". Simplicius writing to his contemporary Cicero (106-43 B.C.) mentions the Eucairia - the good season for death, the right and appropriate time for it, after a fulfilled life (2). The very fact that a Greek word was used, suggests that the concept goes far back into the Greek consolatory literature, and is not as modern as this book proclaims. References 1. Jasper, K.: Die Atombombe und die Zukunft des Meschen. Muenchen: R. Pieper, 1958. 2. Kassel, R.: Untersuchungen zur griechischen und roemischen Konsolationsliteratur, Zetemata, Monographien zur klassischen Altertumswissenschaft, Heft 18, Muenchen: Verlag C.H. Beck, 1958. 3. Landsberg, P.L.: The Experience of Death, pp. 193-231, In: Essays in Phenomenology, Ed. M. Natanson, The Hague, M. Nijhoff, 1966. Dimitrije Pivnicki, M.D. Montreal, P.Q.