Discussion Questions

A. Kubler-Ross provided a five-stage model for the psychological processes an individual experience when death becomes imminent. Though the model provides a useful framework for the psychological processes surrounding death, it has been widely criticized. To what extent do you believe this model is a reliable reflection of the dying process? If it were reliable, would this be helpful in aiding people who are about to die?

B. Particular causes of death appear within certain age groups. Are there particular patterns that emerge in these ages? Can researchers or clinicians make use of this information in an effort to diminish their occurrence?

C. What reasons for wishing to end his life at 75 does Ezekiel J. Emanuel give in ‘Why I hope to die at 75’? What is your response to his essay and do you believe his reasoning is sufficient to argue for physician-assisted death?

D. There are many who argue in support of physician-assisted death, whereas others oppose it. Discuss reasons for and against physician-assisted death. What is your own opinion on the subject?

E. The dual-process model suggests there are two types of bereavement-related coping processes that occur following the loss of a loved one. What are they and is there evidence supporting this view? Assuming that there is, can a health psychologist make use of this in determining strategies to prevent complicated grief?

F. Buddy, a Golden Retriever, has been your faithful and trusted companion for 11 years, but now he is become very sick. As ill as buddy was, it did not stop him from licking your face when you lay down next to him. He had developed osteosarcoma (a type of bone cancer) that had spread so that he was in pain whenever he tried to get up. It was suggested that he be euthanized, which you reluctantly agreed to do, as painful as it was to reach this decision. Would you be as kind to a family member who was in pain and no longer had any meaningful quality of life?

G. Not everyone is cut out to be a caregiver. Unfortunately, there are instances where an individual has no option other than to act in this capacity. Can you envisage any sort of training that can help an individual become more able to take on this position? Is there any empirical evidence suggesting that this is possible and effective?

H. Assisted dying has been legalized in many countries for patients experiencing a ‘grievous and irremediable medical condition’. This typically refers to a physical illness, but it has been suggested that this should be extended to severe mental disorders, including melancholic depression that was resistant to any type of treatment. Do you feel that this is acceptable? Is this a question that can be answered through research or is it a purely ethical and philosophical question?