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March 22, 1985

The Trick Is to Live

JAMA. 1985;253(12):1721. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03350360047009

To the Editor.—  The COMMENTARY in the Nov 2, 1984, issue of The Journal tells us that "death is not the enemy and that death is natural."1 Plagues are also natural. So are earthquakes, typhoons, and droughts. Nature is not always welcome or nice. This truism about death should be coupled with the corollary that avoidance of death is the nature of life. Things that are alive strive to keep living.The authors refer pejoratively to "the intensification of concern to sustain and preserve life." This is a strange argument for a medical journal. Medicine's purpose is the preservation of life and health, and failure to accept that goal should be as disqualifying for a physician as atheism is for a priest.In recent years it has been argued that it is inappropriate for a physician to provide expensive treatment to the aged and intellectually deteriorated. One would not, of