Thoughts on Record: Podcast of the Ottawa Institute of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Dr. Renske Visser: A Conversation About Death & Dying

July 11, 2022 Season 3 Episode 14
Thoughts on Record: Podcast of the Ottawa Institute of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Dr. Renske Visser: A Conversation About Death & Dying
Show Notes

Death & dying are topics that clinicians frequently tackle both directly (as manifested around a fear of death), indirectly (through discussion of questions of meaning, managing pulls towards nihilism) and process-wise, through helping clients manage grief around the loss of a loved one or to process/manage their own impending death.  Medical Anthropologist & podcaster, Dr. Renske Visser, joins us for a discussion of the topics of death & dying.  In this conversation we cover:  

  • what led Dr. Visser towards the study of medical anthropology and the sub-speciality of aging, dying and death
  • the experiences that have shaped Dr. Visser's personal reflections on death and dying
  • the important distinction between death and dying 
  • Dr. Visser's thoughts on the importance of cultural tools in navigating death & dying
  • consideration of the inborn psychological tools we may posses for managing death vs. messaging by/distraction of modern society
  • how the subjectivity that we bring to our own conceptualizations of death, influences how we talk about, research & generally deal with death
  • how attitudes towards death and dying change across the arc of the lifespan and a consideration of how good (or bad) we are at predicting how we will feel about our deaths when the time comes    
  • potential "active ingredients" with respect to what eases the process of dying for people psychologically  (control, place of death etc.)
  • why the notion of “home” (i.e., dying at home) is often so prominent in discussions around end of life and how this applies  to more marginalized settings like mental health institutions, prisons etc.  
  • how the ongoing cultural evolution around euthanasia/medical assistance in dying has influenced attitudes & conversations about dying/death
  • consideration of conundrums & observations around extending medical assistance in dying to those with mental disorders 
  • the missed opportunities with respect to talking about dying more openly
  • aspects of our day-to-day life (or way that we lives our day-to-day life) that are profoundly affected by knowledge of our own death that we don’t always (or ever) acknowledge or we could benefit from making more conscious or intentional

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Renske Visser is a Medical Anthropologist interested in Ageing, Dying and Death. Renske was born in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, has lived and worked in England and is currently living in Helsinki, Finland. She holds a PhD in Social and Policy Sciences from the Centre for Death and Society at the University of Bath and has done research on parental bereavement in young adulthood, homemaking in later life, ageing in secure environments, and cancer care in prison. Renske is the post-doctoral representative of the Association for the Study of Death and Society. She has a blog entitled Dead Good Reading, where she reviews books on death, dying and the dead, and is co-host of the Death Studies Podcast which is a monthly podcast and a  platform for the diversity of voices in, around and contributing to the academic field of Death Studies.