Frozen Bodies and Future Imaginaries: Assisted Dying, Cryonics, and a Good Death
2.2. Medical Aid in Dying
2.3. A Good Death
3. Case Studies
3.1. Thomas Donaldson—Patient A-1097
3.2. Kim Suozzi—Patient A-2643
3.3. Norman Hardy—Patient A-1990
4. Future Imaginaries
4.1. Creating Opposites
4.2. Hope and/in the Future
4.3. Hope and/in a Good Death
“This modern sensibility replaced the older ‘hope’ that characterized the traditional deathbed and the Christian belief in redemption, which had prevailed in earlier American Ars Moriendi… But as modern medicine clearly could not offer the promise of an otherworldly salvation, physicians opted for a more tangible and limited hope: not the promise of a world to come, but a this-worldly guarantee that as long as life persisted, something could always be done for the dying patient”.
“Cryonics presents a paradox for many anti-euthanasia arguments. Extending health and life is the goal of medicine, and typically such arguments claim euthanasia is contrary to these goals. Since cryonics would have the greatest chance of success if the patient were euthanized before her health greatly deteriorates, such terminally ill patients want euthanasia in order to—paradoxically—extend their lives”.(p. 527)
5. Final Discussion
5.1. Is Cryonics a Death-Denying Technology?
5.2. Autonomy and the Good Death
Conflicts of Interest
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A cryonics member is a living person who has either paid for their future cryopreservation, or is paying in installments, usually through their life insurance. A cryonics patient is the legally dead body and/or brain of a cryopreserved member. Cryonicists do not consider their “patients” biologically dead. Not all transhumanists are cryonicists, and not all cryonicists self-identify as transhumanist.
People Unlimited are an immortalist community, and most members do not self-identify as transhumanist. However, they are in support of any efforts to reverse aging and mitigate disease and death.
Robert Ettinger’s second book, Man into Superman, was published in 1972, four years after the Harvard Medical School Report introduced the category of brain death (initially termed irreversible coma), which redefined biological and legal death (Kastenbaum 2007, p. 43).
For example, if I were not able to utilize MAiD, or I had to withhold food and fluids to die, this would be considered a bad death. If this situation occurred at a hospice facility near Alcor or CI, and my body or brain were successfully vitrified after my legal death, my death would be a good cryonics death. However, if lack of access to MAiD resulted in the deterioration of my brain tissue before my death, this would be considered a bad cryonics death.
The Society for Venturism is a religious organization, which attempts to use religious exemptions to prevent autopsies and other destructive post-mortem, pre-cryopreservation techniques.
The YouTube channel Ask a Mortician features videos on topics such as natural burial, iconic corpses, changes in the funeral industry, and cryonics. The videos are all made by Caitlin Doughty, who is an author, former mortician, and leader in the growing death positive movement.
“Deathist” is a derogatory term to describe death positive activists.
In 2016, 14-year-old “JS” ended her life through physician-assisted death after a ruling by the British High Court. This option was granted to her by the judge based on her rights to personal autonomy. Diagnosed with brain cancer, JS wanted to utilize MAiD in order to be cryopreserved. “I don’t want to be buried underground. I want to live and live longer and I think that in the future they might find a cure for my cancer and wake me up. I want to have this chance. This is my wish” (Huxtable 2018, p. 477). JS’ body was then flown to the Cryonics Institute in Michigan.
In 2016, Jean Brault, aged 61, received a doctor’s help to end his life only after starving himself for 53 days and refusing water for 8. This occurred in the province of Quebec, Canada, where MAiD was a legal option at that point (McKenna 2016).
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Cohen, J. Frozen Bodies and Future Imaginaries: Assisted Dying, Cryonics, and a Good Death. Religions 2020, 11, 584. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11110584
Cohen J. Frozen Bodies and Future Imaginaries: Assisted Dying, Cryonics, and a Good Death. Religions. 2020; 11(11):584. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11110584Chicago/Turabian Style
Cohen, Jeremy. 2020. "Frozen Bodies and Future Imaginaries: Assisted Dying, Cryonics, and a Good Death" Religions 11, no. 11: 584. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11110584