Jefferson Journal of Psychiatry


During internship, the daily confrontation with the consequences of disease contributes much to the distress which young physicians experience (I). Not only are interns responsible for first line medical care, they must also provide emotional support for their patients struggling with pain, disability and impending death. This paper seeks to examine some of the factors responsible for the turmoil involved in caring for these dying patients.

Our conceptions of death and dying are determined to a large extent by the cultural context in which we live. Compared with other times in which death was not so ego alien, we presently live in a time and culture which Aries has called "death-denying"(2). Eissler has suggested that "death is one of those unsavory facts which cannot be integrated into (our present), essentially hedonistic civilization . . . (It) must therefore remain a foreign body, denied by silence rather than recognized as the possible Alpha and Omega of life itself' (3).

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