Kübler-Ross, Terminally ill, Zurich, Swiss Immigrant
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross is a remarkable, if somewhat unusual, woman. Although her views remain highly controversial and have received much criticism, it is difficult to deny the impact that she and her work have had on contemporary attitudes towards death and on the treatment of the dying and the terminally ill. Kübler-Ross first achieved fame in 1969 with the publication of On Death and Dying. The book is now considered a classic text on the subject and is required reading in many medical and nursing schools, theological seminaries, and university psychology and sociology courses. In the thirty years since its initial appearance, Kübler-Ross has certainly had an interesting career. Her widely-read and translated books, highly-attended lectures and workshops, and frequent media appearances attest to a broad popular following, while her work with cancer and AIDS patients, terminally ill children, and the elderly have rightly earned her many accolades. However, many of her later thanatological studies and investigations into the afterlife, as well as aspects of her personal belief system, seem completely at odds with contemporary medical knowledge and have been routinely condemned by professionals as nothing more than new-age quackery. Long aware of this dichotomy between her popular and professional reputations, Kübler-Ross attempts to set the record straight, once and for all, in The Wheel of Life. On page one, she defensively writes: "Maybe this will help. For years I have been stalked by a bad reputation. Actually I have been pursued by people who regard me as the Death and Dying Lady .... Maybe this, what is certain to be my final book, will clear that up. It may also raise a few new questions and perhaps even provide the answers" (15). While Kübler-Ross probably will not succeed in her intended goals of repairing her damaged reputation and of convincing detractors of her views, this poignant account of her life and work will be of interest to anyone who has followed the career of this influential woman.
"Book Review: The Wheel of Life: A Memoir of Living and Dying,"
Swiss American Historical Society Review: Vol. 35
, Article 4.
Available at: https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/sahs_review/vol35/iss1/4