American physicians on the contemporary scene suffer in aggravated form from their rejection of the very idea of death. Rarely are they able to face death in a patient with equanimity. The vigilant and sympathetic support which patients rightly expect of their physicians may be lacking. This book, written by a perceptive and thoughtful psychoanalyst, is one of the rare contemporary considerations of the problem of death and dying which really even tries to throw light on the subject.
A striking reproduction of the death mask of Beethoven serves as frontispiece and sets the tone for this scholarly and searching essay. Death as a precondition for life and the impossibility of physical immortality with infinitely protracted longevity are taken as basic assumptions. The contributions of Heidegger, Simmel, Ehrenberg, and Freud, as well as a review of a great deal of miscellaneous and out-of-the-way material published mostly in this century, define