Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Almost There: How is Death Constructed?

        In preparation for the final stage of Alzheimer’s the family and friends of the aforementioned may either consciously, or subconsciously, begin to prepare for the death of the subject. This preparation includes grieving over both “social death” and “psychological death” even before physical death has occurred (Doka).
Sudnow described social death as, ‘“that point at which socially relevant attributes of the patient begin to permanently cease to be operative as conditions for treating him and when he is, essentially, regarded as dead’” (Long 481). Meaning that because the patient is no longer regarded as a social being, able to interact and communicate in a deliberate fashion, they are essentially nonexistent in the realm of those perceiving a community oriented world. This concept, since it is based on the perception of the outsiders, seems legitimate. To be social one must interact with others regardless of what medium that may take place in. The interaction is not exclusively psychical, and in the case of an STAD patient that premise is exactly why this death is substantial. For example if we were talking about the late and great Christopher Reeve, we could argue that although he didn’t have any physical response for the most part, his brain was still surviving in the world of the collective conscious.
His legacy; totally unrelated, but lovely...and social
Because of that he was still able to be “social.” Sure we wouldn’t see him out on the dance floor tearing it up, but unlike the STAD patient he is able to connect with others on a mental level.

            The psychological death occurs when there is a “loss of individual consciousness” where the individual is no longer aware of themselves, they are perceived to no longer have a personal internalized identity:
“Psychological death has already been defined as the point at which the individual’s persona is lost” (Long 481). This statement I do take issue with. Since we do not have proof other than biological evidence (which in most cases would win me over), it is impossible to know since there has been no first-hand accounts of how one perceives themselves at that point in time, who can tell? However, looking at it from the POV of the onlookers, yes, there is a real and substantial loss when the person you know is no longer perceivable in a physical or psychological sense.

1 comment:

  1. Ok, this seems like there is much more room to play, philosophically speaking. If death happens at the moment when the "persona" is lost, that seems useful to think about in relationship to the themes of the course. It is not just the experience of being a self, but instead that the self needs to be constructed in a deliberate manner to really have presence. This is compelling, since it really strengthens that idea that self must be performative. It's not simply that we ARE, but that we DO, that we KNOW, that we in a Lacanian sense can look back at ourselves and see a self there. This is all very juicy, but maybe there is more room here to extend your analysis?