Palliative Care

The 400-Year Quest for a Good Death


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About the Book

The long history of medical care for the dying has largely been neglected. It began in 1605 when physicians were challenged to enable persons to die peacefully. Today it includes palliation of oppressive symptoms, emotional and psychological care, and respect for the wishes and cultural backgrounds of patients and families. Especially since the 1990s, it embraces symptom-easing palliation for patients with severe life-limiting and chronic illnesses. Providing a detailed picture of contemporary palliative care, this book chronicles four centuries of the quest for a good death, covering the fight against futile end-of-life treatments, the history of life-extending treatments and technologies, the roles of nurses, the liberation of the dying from isolation in hospitals and hard-won victories to secure patients’ right to choose.

About the Author(s)

Harold Y. Vanderpool is a professor emeritus of history and philosophy of medicine in the Institute for the Medical Humanities at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. His career includes teaching courses on medical ethics, death and dying, and suffering; articles and book chapters on terminal care, and national and international lectures. He lives in Cedar Park, Texas.

Bibliographic Details

Harold Y. Vanderpool

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 280
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9799-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1971-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Preface 1
1: From Proclamation to Recognition: 1605–1772 5
2: Minute Details and Codified Conduct: 1789–1825 23
3: That Science Called Euthanasia: 1826–1854 39
4: Polarities Between Attention and Disregard: 1859–1894 58
5: Challenging the Overreach of Modern Medicine: 1895–1935 76
6: Never Say Die Versus Care for the Dying: 1935–1959 93
7: Times of Momentous Transition: 1960–1981 112
8: Progress, Threatening Seas, and Endurance: 1982–1999 140
9: Choices: 2000 to the Present 173
Epilogue 207
Chapter Notes 211
Bibliography 243
Index 265

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “This wise and revealing study is sure to be valuable to the dying and those who love them, as well as to the physicians and other health professionals who care for them.”—Library Journal
  • “Vanderpool has written a history of palliative care that focuses on key issues that have dominated the health care dynamics of caring for the dying for centuries. The book makes a valuable contribution from both historical and contemporary perspectives. Recommended”—Choice
  • “This is a useful book for those doing research in medical history or palliative care, and academic libraries supporting these areas should consider it for purchase”—Booklist
  • “A scholarly, detailed historical account…meticulously researched…a must read to gain full understanding of where we have been, where we are, and what we can do next to improve the care of the dying”—Explore
  • “This is a scholarly treatise about the history of palliative care over the last 400 years. It is enjoyable to read”—Hospice Care; “excellent…a treasure trove…a most helpful volume”—Watermark