As unique as each death is, fantasies of the ‘good’ death tend to coalesce around identifiable cultural scripts, deathbed discourses or, in the terms I have chosen, paradigms.1 In this book, I shall follow current literature in maintaining that, despite the enormous variability found in the dying process, two deathbed paradigms have come to dominate contemporary Western culture. One is the well recognized ‘death-withdignity’, a cultural item that has been subject to intense scrutiny over the last 40 years. The other is what I have chosen to label the ‘hi-tech death’ — the breathless, chest-pumping, electricity-sparking explosion of resuscitative activity that occurs on city streets and in hospital ERs.2
Religious Ritual Good Death Cultural Script Cultural Item Medical Therapeutics
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