• 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.

Near-Death Experiences as Secular Eschatology
Near-death experiences as secular eschatology

Near-death experiences (NDEs) have invaded an area of concern long reserved for theologians—the study of last things. A majority of Americans believe that there is life after death. According to an August 2000 Harris Poll, 85.6% of Americans 18 years of age or older believe the soul survives after death, and 75.3% think they will go to heaven (Harris Interactive 2000). In a national survey on near-death experiences, Gallup and Proctor (1982) found that approximately 23 million Americans “have, by prevailing medical definition, died briefly or… come close to death” (p. 6) and about 8 million (or approximately 35%) of these have had some sort of NDEs. A recent search of the Internet for the phrase ...

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