Behavior: Toward a Better Death

Dying people are surrounded by a "conspiracy of silence, denial and dissimulation" that dehumanizes them and increases instead of easing their psychological suffering. That is the conclusion of Harvard University Psychiatrist Avery Weisman, one of the experts in the rapidly growing science of thanatology—the study of death. In an effort to break that conspiracy, Weisman has written a perceptive book, On Dying and Denying (Behavioral Publications; $9.95), which he hopes will help human beings to face death "with clarity, equanimity and acceptance."

Because man "is frightened to death by the specter of death," he tries to pretend that it does not exist,...

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