Soc M138: the history of suicide
Soc M138: the history of suicide Sociology M138
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Freddie816 on Wednesday April 6, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Sociology M138 at University of California - Los Angeles taught by Timmermans in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 60 views. For similar materials see Death, suicide and trauma in Sociology at University of California - Los Angeles.
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Date Created: 04/06/16
4/6/16 ● Diogenes challenge ○ Believed that the corpse was just nature and he asked to be thrown over a wall after he died bc this would not make a difference to him if he were dead ○ The problem is that the American culture does not treat the dead this way ■ No period in the history of time has disposed of the dead this way ● There has always been strong rituals and norms for the dead ■ This is so because the dead are extremely important to our culture, this can be demonstrated by how the dead are obtained after the Vietnam warthe American government spent 100’s of dollars in order to retrieve the dead who died in combat in order to give the dead a proper burial. Why was this so important?: ● The US was able to make amends by doing so ● This brought the dead to order ● I think that by retrieving dead bodies, reflects the importance of how the American culture treats the dead by attempting to reinforce “the good death” ○ “The work of the dead” by Lackner messages ■ We care for the dead ● The dead are sacred/holy saints ● The dead body is the connection between the world of the living and the world of god ● Corpses never lose their aura even if we believe that they have no significance ● It is important that we know who the dead body belongs to (name) ● The dead give us something to hold on to as the transition bw both worlds (living and god) ■ The dead symbolize and embody the fact that life is final ● We care for and treat the dead with respect because: ○ The corpse embodies the continuous relationship with the living person ■ ie Families need to know that they are burying their own blood, in order to sustain relationship ○ The way we treat the dead reflects our ideas of mortality ■ This allows us to cope with mortality ○ If we don't take proper care of the dead, the dead can haunt us ■ iethe day of the dead ○ Caring for the dead makes us moral beings ■ The dead makes civilization ● The dead shapes religion, art and politics ● The corpse is an icon of the ungraspable ● The corpses provides us with knowledge 4/6/16 ○ Causes of war ○ Origin stories of civilization ● The dead bring communities together ● The dead can unmake civilization ○ Smashing of tombs ■ Provides negative Symbolism ● This all demonstrates the strong feelings we have for the dead ● Civil warfaustner (president of harvard university) ○ Argument: people’s attitudes towards caring for the dead drastically change: ■ People attempt to embalm bodies and send them back to where they were from ● People attempt to refrigerate bodies ● People visit the battlefield ■ Transforms rituals ● Name the dead ● Notify the kin ● Count the dead ○ Evaluation of how good the officer was ■ National cemeteries are made only for those of the north ● The fact that we punish the south by not burying the body leads to further divisions ■ The dead creates a crisis and brings people together ● The body is the link of the person we knew ○ This reflects our humanity: how we value humans ● Cultural work of suicide ○ Europe and early america considered suicide to be a sin and punished those who were successful by: ■ Dehumanizing the body: burned or torn apart ■ Ravaging the property: house is torn down ■ Burial is dishonorable(stake driven through heart, stones thrown at body, can't be buried at church) ● (unlike a homicide, body and soul are killed in suicide) ■ Example: ● A corpse is found hanging from a tree in europe. A detailed report is made and the corpse is trialed and found to be guilty of taking his own life. The corpse is then punished: ○ The corpse’ identity is erased from entire existence. ○ The body is tied to a horseback upside down and is dragged throughout town ○ Body is thrown out to dogs ■ Judas 4/6/16 ● Commits a crime against god, kills himself and soul is taken by the devil ○ Augustine ■ Relied heavily on the 5th commandment: thou shall not kill ● Suicide and homicides are sins to God's law and therefore a violation to the 5th commandment ○ Suffering is preferable to suicide ○ Thomas Aquinas: 13th century ■ Suicide is bad because life is given by God and taking of one's’ life is a violation to God, and to society ● Suicide is contrary to charity ○ Individuals should love self ○ The belief that revolved around this period is that suicide is a sin, a crime and deserves to be punished ■ Committing suicide was stealing from the owner ● Slaves who committed suicide bc they believed that they would be freed, would be torn to pieces on the basis that the dead body cannot reach freedom once it is dismantled ■ Soldiers who attempted suicide were deserting the state ● Punishable by the death penalty ○ Avoiding the consequences of committing a sin: suicide ■ Those who committed suicide would go straight to hell and those who committed homicide could still go to heaven. This idea was so strong that people found ways to commit indirectsuicide in order to be guaranteed to go to heaven such as by committing a homicide kill a child and turn themselves in for execution ● The idea was that by killing a child and being executed as a result would lead to a desired death but the individual would still be ensured to go to heaven bc he did not commit the act of suicide himself ● In addition, by killing a child and not an adult, the child would also go to heaven bc of the idea that children are innocent whereas adults are most likely to carry sins ○ This demonstrates the power of cultural beliefs: how we deal with the dead are deeply consequential ■ Suicide justified by the labeling of an act of insanity ● Idea is that an act of suicide is no longer an act of will and can therefore no longer be punished ● Coroners hence begin to label suicides as acts of insanity ○ Suicide can be prevented with mental health care ■ Current remnants ● Suicide is a crime ● Suicide is a sin 4/6/16 ● Suicide is due to a disease ○ Can be cured by mental health care ● Examples of how these ideas still hold strong ○ Life insurance does not cover purposeful deaths ○ Suicide is not mentioned in obituaries ○ Suicide is justified by being acts of attention ● Summary: Do the dead matter? ○ The main idea behind this lecture was to demonstrate that the dead are extremely important to the american culturedemonstrated through symbolic rituals, such as through governmental attempts to retrieve dead bodies in order to give the dead proper burials obituaries, celebration of memory ieMLK day ■ This is further demonstrated through the early ideas of suicide: a crime/a sin. ■ Today: suicide is not covered by life insurance, ignored and avoided ○ This is so, I believe, done to reinforce the notion of a good death (think of the right to die movements, hospices etc)
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