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June 14, 1965

Death and Identity

JAMA. 1965;192(11):1017. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03080240087041

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Death and bereavement have led many authors to express their personal emotions. Only recently, however, have behavioral scientists investigated the variety of attitudes and reactions to grief and death. This book is a collection of such studies, with brief interpretative comments by the sociologist-editor. The excellence of most of the papers, their skillful arrangement, and the wide range of sources, all justify this compilation, which is not marred by the fragmentation, repetition, and unevenness of most "instant books."

One might quibble about the title—the book says much about death, little about identity. Has "identity" been used because it is one of the fashionable words of the moment, like "seminal," "operational," "parameter," or "alienation"? The first paper, by Robert Lifton, reports on interviews in 1962, of those who survived the Hiroshima bombing. This overwhelming encounter with death produced lasting effects, including, often, hostility, a sense of new and unwanted identity, and,

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