Is “Healthy Dying” a Paradox? Revisiting an Early Kastenbaum Challenge

Allan Kellehear*

*Corresponding author for this work

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This article is a review of Robert Kastenbaum's 1979 essay entitled “Healthy dying: A paradoxical quest continues.” It begins with a summary of the arguments and challenges in the original essay. This is followed by an evaluation of his original claims in the light of contemporary insights in modern public health history and empirical studies of near-death experiences and deathbed visions. The recent development of health promotion in palliative care is described in relation to these developments and Kastenbaum's early question about the paradoxical quest for health while dying is again posed against this background. Given our modern understanding of “health” in current global health policy and debates, it is argued that “healthy dying” is no paradox. Instead, the pursuit of health at the end of life represents a realistic modern desire to compress morbidity, minimize unnecessary suffering, and enhance quality of life at this time.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-55
Number of pages13
JournalOmega: Journal of Death and Dying
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2015
Externally publishedYes

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