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October 18, 1965

Telling the Truth about The Necessary End

Author Affiliations

Greenfield, Mass

JAMA. 1965;194(3):311-312. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03090160089040

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To the Editor:—  In his letter (193: 629, 1965) Dr. Neumann dogmatically states, "Man does not like to know how long he is going to live... To exemplify, a patient worked quite happily to his 65th birthday... died the day after retiring, of a coronary thrombosis. Theoretically, if an exceedingly keen... prognostician had been able to predict this turn a year earlier, and had informed the patient, his last year... instead of the usual mixture of troubles, joys, plans and hopes... would have been a glum year indeed." How does Dr. Neumann know?A person's reaction to such a prediction would depend on many factors, important among which would be his philosophy of life (including religious beliefs), his present health and happiness, his prospective health throughout the remaining year, and his total environment. In my own case, at age 69, if such a prediction were made to

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