January 20, 1975

Dying Is Worked to Death

Author Affiliations

Dartmouth Medical School Hanover, NH

JAMA. 1975;231(3):247. doi:10.1001/jama.1975.03240150010008

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To the Editor.—  I am in full accord with Dr. Vaisrub about the distasteful spectacle of swarms of individuals making capital out of the current preoccupation with death. When one looks through the journals at the so-called articles on thanatology, one is appalled by the amount of hollow verbiage that fills the pages. Writing about death has, like pornography, become a commercial enterprise. I think that this whole fad deserves a sociologic study. I suspect that it is in part related to the reaction of Americans to the immense carnage during the last war. I spent my adolescence in wartime Warsaw, where an estimated 800,000 people died a violent death over five years. Two hundred thousand were killed in the 1944 uprising alone. I am fairly well acquainted with the Polish postwar literature and visited the country last month. There is certainly far less vocal preoccupation with death and dying