• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

Dying is a social as well as physiological phenomenon. Each society characterizes and, consequently, treats death and dying in its own individual ways—ways that differ markedly. These particular patterns of death and dying engender modal cultural responses, and such institutionalized behavior has familiar, economical, educational, religious, and political implications. The Handbook of Death and Dying takes stock of the vast literature in the field.

Religion and the Mediation of Death Fear
Religion and the mediation of death fear

It is commonly believed that normal people are afraid to die and that death anxiety is a cultural universal. As a result, some people also assume that the threat of death should serve as a deterrent to the kinds of behaviors that are deemed to be undesirable, inappropriate, and/or threatening to the society. Such thinking seems to abound. For example, international travelers are frequently confronted with signs in some countries warning them that the possession and use of illegal narcotics is punishable by death. In many parts of the United States, people who commit murder may be sentenced to die at the hands of the state—again, the assumption is that the existence ...

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