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Topic: Death Investigations, Famous Debates; Studies; Media & Reality
April
Fiancee of Thanatos


Posts: 135
Joined: Aug. 2009
Posted: Feb. 02 2011,12:48 am

I just watched PBS Frontline's latest documentary "Post-Mortem," and it is a shocker in some ways. It also confirmed something I've believed for years -- ever since I watched the two "Autopsy" documentaries, titled "The Dark Side of Medicine" and "Voices of Death." Consider the following.

Some people, like doctors, can feel good about protecting the public against disease.  :barfo:
Some people, like law enforcers, can feel good about protecting us against crime and terrorism.  :alarm:
Some people inspect products, protecting us against defective and dangerous merchandise.  :flush:
Others, who do accreditation screenings, protect us against incompetent hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities.  :nono:
But who are the people who can claim credit -- assuming they are competent -- for protecting the public against all these things and more?   :king:

Medical examiners. Those who do autopsies on the dead.  :death:

They convict the guilty, and clear the innocent. They can tell you whether that ailing, elderly person died of their illness, or if an incompetent nursing aide gave them the wrong medicine. They can detect an epidemic in the early stages, before it reaches catastrophic proportions. All this and more, from finding out the saddest and most basic, important question after a death: how, and when, someone died.

Often I think they are society's single greatest force for Good.

Their work is often seen as "undignified," even dehumanizing to the deceased. However, they don't regard it that way. The really good ones approach a body with a kind of reverence. In the beginning of the  Frontline show, a medical examiner describes how she literally talks to the dead person -- like talking to a spirit, almost! -- saying, "Tell me your story." And in the discoveries she makes, she feels as if that person is answering her.

Some readers might wonder why I regard autopsies -- and organ donations, when useful -- as dignified, while I regard embalming as ugly and undignified. The crucial difference is necessity. When cutting or dissecting corpses is truly necessary, an act that serves the living, it can be one of the highest honors imaginable. (I regard this as true even in the most shocking situation of all: when dead people have been cannibalized to save their comrades from starvation. I regard it as a great honor, in death, to save or improve a life!) But embalming is a useless environmental hazard. It is anti-life as well as a neurotic denial of death.

The shocking thing, revealed in this Frontline documentary, is how often our nation's autopsies are carried out by incompetent people, without proper training or qualifications (some are not M.D.'s!), or in wretched conditions without proper equipment, or by biased people who report whatever they want, e.g. to help their cronies. There is no federal oversight, and no accreditation process as there is in most other things! Imagine: we accredit universities, hospitals, nursing homes, and so forth, but not post-mortem facilities and personel? Absurd!

In the world of fiction and the media, from the novels of Patricia Cornwell to shows like CSI, we're given the impression that all investigations are as top-notch as those of "Dr. G, Medical Examiner" (on the Discovery Health Channel). This image should be made into a reality. One part of the problem is a shortage of medical examiners, in large part due to poorer salaries in the field. As one speaker reveals, it would only cost about $2.50 in tax money from each citizen (or even just $2) to create a good facility in every community.

I believe that we who revere Death, whenever we can in our busy lives, should call for better salaries and more investments in this field, so that medical examiners, who are among Death's Servants, can be outstanding servants of justice and Life.  :clap2:  :rose:

Edited by April on Feb. 02 2011,12:58 am

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"Death is the mother of beauty." -- Proverb

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Leilah
Lady Death


Posts: 6081
Joined: Feb. 2001
Posted: Feb. 02 2011,6:50 am

Having previous experience working in morgues in MAJOR cities, I can attest first hand to some of the deplorable conditions in these facilities AND the horrendous treatment that the dead receive. They are treated more like refuse than empty vessels that once contained spirit. They are literally dragged on the floor, thrown into corners, etc. Also, there are MANY BAD M.E.'s out there (some of you may remember a few names from the news, but I won't mention them here, but I worked under one of them.)

Personally, I am NOT a fan of the autopsy process. It is often OVER USED. I can't tell you how many times an autopsy would be ordered on a case where the cause of death was obvious, like a  bullet through the brain, or someone who has jumped to their death, etc.

Ask any funeral director if he LIKES receiving bodies after a post-mortem and he or she will regale you with some "lovely" stories. I could say more...but folks are probably trying to enjoy their breakfasts right now..... :barfo:

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"Death stands above me whispering low, I know not what into my ear; Of His strange language all I know is, there is not a word of fear."

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russalka
Azraelite


Posts: 1810
Joined: June 2003
Posted: Feb. 02 2011,8:13 pm

You could tell us more a little later...... rip  :eyemouth:  rip

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Let me guide myself with the blue, forked torch of this flower
down the darker and darker stairs where blue is darkened on blueness
even where Persephone goes, just now, from the frosted September
to the sightless realm where darkness was awake upon the dark

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Morgan
Owned by Donn & Than


Posts: 9144
Joined: May 2004
Posted: Feb. 03 2011,1:17 am

PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :2bounce:  :2bounce:  :2bounce:

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NAMASTE, AND MY VASUKI LICK YOUR NOSE!

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April
Fiancee of Thanatos


Posts: 135
Joined: Aug. 2009
Posted: Feb. 03 2011,3:07 am

[quote=Leilah,Feb. 02 2011,7:50am]
Personally, I am NOT a fan of the autopsy process. It is often OVER USED. I can't tell you how many times an autopsy would be ordered on a case where the cause of death was obvious, like a  bullet through the brain, or someone who has jumped to their death, etc. [end quote]

I'm humbled and impressed by your experience, Leilah; in this field, I can't speak from direct experience, only research. Like Morgan and Russalka, I'm interested in your stories! And I certainly share your horror at the lack of reverence going on in so many procedures. I have something to say about that at the end of this post. But first, I feel like sharing a few more of my reasons for thinking the way I do; if we disagree, that's only natural, since no two thinkers can agree all the time. I hope the data is interesting, at least, for Forum readers.

One of the important points made in the Frontline program is that (and you may already be aware of this, from your experience), while a cause of death may be obvious, it takes an expert, and often an autopsy, to discover crucial details and contributing factors. I quote Dr. Fierro, the woman who so movingly describes how she talks to the dead, asking them to tell their stories:

"It doesn't take a great medical mind to figure out someone's got his head blown off by a shotgun. But it does take special expertise to tell the distance. Is his arm long enough to do it? Is there any other activity with his body that would have predisposed him to depression? Does he have marks of defense? That's pretty sophisticated stuff."

Also (and again, this may be something you know), the technical "cause of death" may be "secondary to" something else, and that may be vital to know. In my "Autopsy" video, "The Dark Side of Medicine," a 61-year-old man's dementia was secondary to heart problems (if I recall correctly); and -- especially important -- a 35-year-old woman's children needed to know if her heart defect was a hereditary type. It was, which meant they needed testing to help insure they wouldn't die as tragically young as she did.

(Also, if I recall correctly, the infamous Dr. Mengele technically died by drowning -- but because he'd suffered a stroke while wading in the shallow water on a beach. He fell into the water, and by the time people got to him and pulled him out, he couldn't be revived.)

In addition, there may be questions related only indirectly, if at all, to the cause of death which could well be worth answering. In my own case, after I'm gone, my family might want an autopsy to find out -- if it's possible -- the causes of my abdominal pain. An autopsy might yield no more answers than the sonograms and abdominal CAT scan I've already undergone. The verdict might still be, "Mysterious neuropathic (or 'phantom') pain." But then, an autopsy might show something that couldn't have been found except by intense exploratory surgery, which is a risk I can't take while alive, since it would probably cause increased pain due to further nerve damage.

If there are any mysteries about my medical condition that my family wants to try to solve, I would want them to have every opportunity. (I'm not too concerned about looking pretty at my funeral, since I hope to be placed on an elevated platform and fed to vultures in a special vulture sanctuary, in a Nature preserve whose owner I know! More on that in future posts, if people are interested.)

I'm sure, of course, that there are some unnecessary autopsies being done, just as there are unnecessary procedures in every area of medicine (and other areas of life). But personally, I'm convinced by the data saying that there aren't enough of them being done -- or at least, not enough good ones!

When the question is "homicide, suicide, or accident?" killers can walk free, or innocent people can be charged and often convicted, even when the technical "cause of death" is obvious.

What we need, IMO, is a lot more reverence in the whole scene. Reverence, no doubt, would make the procedures more efficient as well as respectful. That's one thing I love about the "Autopsy" video: with its peaceful music, suggestive of the heavenly spheres, it gives a sense of "as above, so below": that even in a procedure as "mundane" as an autopsy, there can be awareness of a spiritual dimension.  :star:   :star:   :star:

Edited by April on Feb. 03 2011,3:12 am

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"Death is the mother of beauty." -- Proverb

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AnneMarie
Lost Soul


Posts: 8
Joined: Nov. 2010
Posted: Feb. 03 2011,11:10 am

Hearing that kinda shit just makes me hate people even more!!!   :pissedoff:

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Morgan
Owned by Donn & Than


Posts: 9144
Joined: May 2004
Posted: Feb. 03 2011,3:26 pm

I LOVE the idea of bein' fed to the vultures.  I see 'em almost every day when I walk, with a herd of 'em flyin' overhead.  Once I went to a field where a couple of 'em landed.  One may have been about  10 metres away from me.  They're such regal animals.   Archaeopteryxes remind me of a cross between a pheasant and a vulture.

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NAMASTE, AND MY VASUKI LICK YOUR NOSE!

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April
Fiancee of Thanatos


Posts: 135
Joined: Aug. 2009
Posted: Feb. 03 2011,4:59 pm

In that case, you might want to contact the Universal Ethician Church, which runs several Nature preserves, including the vulture sanctuary I just mentioned. One of the Church's many websites is

http://www.skyburial.org

I have a Yahoo group, "The Society for Ecological Sky Burial," although it's been largely inactive for a time. (And I need to expel some spambots, although there have been pretty few spam messages.) Here's the URL, in case you want to join up. I'm sure you'd liven up the group (although some members probably wouldn't understand the "cooked child" humor as I do)!

http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/skyburialists/

Delighted you like the idea! Now all we need is a vulture emoticon....  :rose:   :rose:

Edited by April on Feb. 03 2011,5:03 pm

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"Death is the mother of beauty." -- Proverb

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Thanatoic Discipline
Reaper


Posts: 31
Joined: Oct. 2009
Posted: April 27 2011,7:27 pm

I was watching that last night, sadly I got in on the tail end of it and did not see it all. Going on the pbs.org website and watch the whole thing there.

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Samaelz
Disciple of Death


Posts: 2584
Joined: Feb. 2001
Posted: May 09 2011,11:05 pm

Remember the old faces of death flicks? When I was in high school I just had to watch them for education :darkangel: It was intence for me but I did stomach it. The only thing worse is the stench of real death. Now that could almost make just about anybody puke but I managed well with nose plugs that had marith and lavender within my nose. My studys are free of charge -hmm. :darkangel:

Edited by Samaelz on May 10 2011,1:04 am

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The infernal empire can "kiss" my swiss chesse Dracula!

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