[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
September 30, 1974

Dying is Worked to Death

JAMA. 1974;229(14):1909-1910. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230520051036

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


We are now witnessing an extraordinary influx of essays, editorials, even books and specialized journals, on the subject of death and dying. The tide, no longer limited to the medical literature, overflows into lay publications and other communication media.

Death and dying have been always with us. Why then the current preoccupation? Even if we allow for some ethical and legal problems created by recent technological advances in life support—problems that are sufficiently new to merit comment—how do we account for the extensive writing on the "why's" and the "how's" of looking after a dying patient and his family? Has there been a recent change in attitudes toward death?

Some authorities claim that this is indeed the case. They contend that because the belief in afterlife is no longer as firm as it was in the past, death assumes the terrifying nondimension of nothingness. "Tell me your secret," pleads the