The anxiety over death persists in everyday life- though often denied or repressed- lingering as an unconscious worry or intuition that typically seems to compromise one’s feelings of well-being and experience in a range of areas; coming out often as malaise, depression, and anger in much conduct. If one accepts the cliché that life is preparation for death, we must accept that the lived experience of the dying body is not highlighted merely in obvious cases of deterioration such as in the ageing or diseased body, but in everyday life as a normal phenomenon.
This book proposes that sensitivity to this dimension can empower us to develop creative relationships to the vulnerability of others and to ourselves as well. Part One lays the groundwork for a study of the ways the aura and fear of death recurs as a constant premonition in life and how people try to deal with this uneasiness. Part Two then goes on to apply this focus to particular concerns and problems such as dementia, depression, aging, retirement, and a range of anxieties, frustrations and aggressions.
The Dying Body as Lived Experience will be of interest to a wide interdisciplinary audience in the health sciences, in the sociology of health and illness, philosophy, bioethics and in the expanding field of medical humanities.
Table of Contents
Prologue: The Dying Body as Lived Experience
Introduction: Death, Mystery, Life
1. Desperation as Grey Zone
2. Fear and Trembling
3. The Collective Fantasizes Death: The Imaginary at the End of its Tether
4. Fear and Likely Stories
5. Death, Happiness and the Meaning of Life: The View from Sociology
6. Ending and Beginning
Part 2: Dementia and the Look of Madness: Aging, Raging and the Poetics of Passing On
7. The Enigma of the Brain and its Place as Cause, Character, and Pretext in the Imaginary of Dementia
8. The Writing Machine: Public Health, Dementia and the Spell of the Brain as an Object of Social Enthusiasm
9. Plague Strikes the Family
10. The Cliche of Depression
11. Tragedy and Comedy
12. The Travesty of End of Life
Alan Blum is Executive Director of the Culture of Cities Centre and Senior Professor of Sociology and Communication and Culture at York University, Canada. He is the author of The Grey Zone of Health and Illness, Theorizing, and The Imaginative Structure of the City, and co-author of On the Beginning of Social Inquiry and Self-Reflection in the Arts and Sciences.
'The Dying Body as a Lived Experience tackles all the weighty questions of existence in an unflinching fashion, comfortably occupying the same philosophical spaces of Plato, the founder of philosophy; Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, German philosopher in the early modern era; Martin Heidegger, mid 20th-century German philosopher; and French Sociologist Émile Durkheim, most often cited as the principal architect of modern social science. What’s striking to the reader and perhaps Blum’s greatest contribution is his comprehensive, all-encompassing approach to this vast subject not through white-hot issues of organ donation or the death penalty, but instead through everyday life experiences such as loneliness, demoralization, desperation, settings of rehabilitation and propensities for acting-out on occasion.'
Megan Mueller, Research Communications, York University, 2017