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How to justify avoidance of communications related to death anxiety in the health care system

Abstract

It might seem obvious that dealing with death anxiety in the health care system is desirable. Hence, there are either voices that demand more research on how this openness can be fostered or those who consider this topic unworthy of further investigations because of its triviality. The idea behind both deficient perspectives is that the health care system as a communication system can assume the position of a second-order observer who can account for his deficits. However, in terms of Luhmannian systems theory, external perturbations cannot force a functional system to reflect and change the structure of his communications in a certain way. The health care system as a communication system cannot do more than integrating the topic of death anxiety in terms of its functional perpetuation. For example, in hospitals, neither health care staff nor external counselors are able to address existential issues without being affected by functional and structural requirements of the hospital. We present an outline for the justification of the avoidance of death-anxiety related talk in the health care system by reference to systems theory and existential philosophy.

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Acknowledgments

I am indebted to Karim Patrick Alexander Zahri for fruitful discussions on death and death anxiety, to Elke Witt for important hints, and to the reviewers as well as the editor for their helpful comments, which improved the paper significantly.

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Correspondence to Murat Sariyar.

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Sariyar, M. How to justify avoidance of communications related to death anxiety in the health care system. Med Health Care and Philos 18, 353–359 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11019-014-9609-2

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11019-014-9609-2

Keywords

  • Autopoiesis
  • Death anxiety
  • Existential philosophy
  • Systems theory