February 1958

On Death

AMA Arch Intern Med. 1958;101(2):199-202. doi:10.1001/archinte.1958.00260140031006

In talking or writing about death we have a superstitious foreboding, handed down as an organic sense from all our ancestors, that the mere mention of death is a bad omen. It is as though we were attending our own funeral. Physicians have this trait in aggravated form. Some thoughts on death may be introduced by comment on a recent book dealing with death.1 This book has a strong and sweeping indictment of the medical profession, but some will consider it instead an indictment of the central characters of the book. The charge against the medical profession is that physicians are unwilling or unable to deal honestly and frankly with patients who have a disease which is the equivalent of a death sentence. On the other hand, the fact that death came as it did to Charles Werbenbaker reveals the dangers of a do-it-yourself attitude to disease. Though it

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