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Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

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Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, M.D. (July 8, 1926 – August 24, 2004) was a Swiss American
Swiss American
Swiss Americans are Americans of Swiss descent.There are several ethno-linguistic subgroups among Swiss Americans, including Swiss German-speaking, Swiss French-speaking, and Swiss Italian-speaking....

 psychiatrist
Psychiatrist
A psychiatrist is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. All psychiatrists are trained in diagnostic evaluation and in psychotherapy...

, a pioneer in Near-death studies
Near-death studies
Near-death studies is a school of psychology and psychiatry that studies the phenomenology and after-effects of a Near-death experience .-NDE :...

 and the author of the groundbreaking book On Death and Dying (1969), where she first discussed what is now known as the Kübler-Ross model
Kübler-Ross model
The Kübler-Ross model, commonly known as The Five Stages of Grief, was first introduced by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book, On Death and Dying....

.

She is a 2007 inductee into the American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 National Women's Hall of Fame
National Women's Hall of Fame
The National Women's Hall of Fame is an American institution. It was created in 1969 by a group of people in Seneca Falls, New York, the location of the 1848 Women's Rights Convention...

. She was the recipient of twenty honorary degrees and by July 1982 had taught, in her estimation, 125,000 students in death and dying courses in colleges, seminaries, medical schools, hospitals, and social-work institutions. In 1970, she delivered the The Ingersoll Lectures on Human Immortality
The Ingersoll Lectures on Human Immortality
The Ingersoll Lectures is the name given to an annual series of lectures presented at Harvard University on the subject of immortality.-Endowment:...

 at Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

, on the theme, On Death and Dying.

Birth and education


Elisabeth Kübler was born on July 8, 1926 in Zürich
Zürich
Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Zurich. It is located in central Switzerland at the northwestern tip of Lake Zurich...

, Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

, one of triplet
Multiple birth
A multiple birth occurs when more than one fetus is carried to term in a single pregnancy. Different names for multiple births are used, depending on the number of offspring. Common multiples are two and three, known as twins and triplets...

s. Elisabeth was born fifteen minutes before her identical sister, Erika. Minutes later came her sister, Eva. Her family were Protestant Christians. Her father did not want her to study medicine, but she persisted. Eventually her father took pride in her career. In an interview she stated: In Switzerland I was educated in line with the basic premise: work work work. You are only a valuable human being if you work. This is utterly wrong. Half working, half dancing - that is the right mixture. I myself have danced and played too little."

During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 she became involved in refugee relief work in Zürich
Zürich
Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Zurich. It is located in central Switzerland at the northwestern tip of Lake Zurich...

 and later visited Majdanek
Majdanek
Majdanek was a German Nazi concentration camp on the outskirts of Lublin, Poland, established during the German Nazi occupation of Poland. The camp operated from October 1, 1941 until July 22, 1944, when it was captured nearly intact by the advancing Soviet Red Army...

 death camp. She graduated from the University of Zürich
University of Zurich
The University of Zurich , located in the city of Zurich, is the largest university in Switzerland, with over 25,000 students. It was founded in 1833 from the existing colleges of theology, law, medicine and a new faculty of philosophy....

 medical school in 1957.

Academic career


She moved to the United States in 1958 to work and continue her studies in New York.

As she began her psychiatric residency, she was appalled by the hospital treatment of patients who were dying. She began giving a series of lectures featuring terminally ill patients, forcing medical students to confront people who were dying.

In 1962 she accepted a position at the University of Colorado
University of Colorado at Boulder
The University of Colorado Boulder is a public research university located in Boulder, Colorado...

 School of Medicine. Kübler-Ross completed her training in psychiatry in 1963, and moved to Chicago in 1965. She became an instructor at the University of Chicago
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890...

's Pritzker School of Medicine
Pritzker School of Medicine
The Pritzker School of Medicine is the M.D. granting unit of the Biological Sciences Division of the University of Chicago. It is located on the University's main campus in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, and matriculated its first class in 1927...

. She developed there a series of seminars using interviews with terminal patients, which drew both praise and criticism. She sometimes questioned the practices of traditional psychiatry
Psychiatry
Psychiatry is the medical specialty devoted to the study and treatment of mental disorders. These mental disorders include various affective, behavioural, cognitive and perceptual abnormalities...

 that she observed. She also undertook 39 months of classical psychoanalysis
Psychoanalysis
Psychoanalysis is a psychological theory developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud. Psychoanalysis has expanded, been criticized and developed in different directions, mostly by some of Freud's former students, such as Alfred Adler and Carl Gustav...

 training in Chicago.

Her extensive work with the dying led to the book On Death and Dying in 1969. In this work she proposed the now famous Five Stages of Grief as a pattern of adjustment. These five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. In general, individuals experience most of these stages, though in no defined sequence, after being faced with the reality of their impending death. The five stages have since been adopted by many as applying to the survivors of a loved one's death, as well.

Kübler-Ross encouraged the hospice care movement, believing that euthanasia prevents people from completing their 'unfinished business'.

In 1977 she persuaded her husband to buy forty acres of land in Escondido, California
Escondido, California
Escondido is a city occupying a shallow valley ringed by rocky hills, just north of the city of San Diego, California. Founded in 1888, it is one of the oldest cities in San Diego County. The city had a population of 143,911 at the 2010 census. Its municipal government set itself an operating...

, near San Diego, where she founded "Shanti Nilaya" (Home of Peace). She intended it as a healing center for the dying and their families. She was also a co-founder of the American Holistic Medical Association.

In the late 1970s Kübler-Ross became interested in out-of-body experiences, mediumship
Mediumship
Mediumship is described as a form of communication with spirits. It is a practice in religious beliefs such as Spiritualism, Spiritism, Espiritismo, Candomblé, Voodoo and Umbanda.- Concept :...

, spiritualism
Spiritualism
Spiritualism is a belief system or religion, postulating the belief that spirits of the dead residing in the spirit world have both the ability and the inclination to communicate with the living...

 and in other ways attempting to contact the dead. This led to a scandal connected to the Shanti Nilaya healing center where she was duped by the medium Jay Barham, founder of the Church of the Facet of the Divinity. Claiming he could channel the spirits of the departed and summon ethereal "entities", he encouraged church members to engage in sexual relations with the "spirits". He may have hired several women to play the parts of female spirits for this purpose. Kubler-Ross' friend Deanna Edwards attended a service to ascertain whether allegations against Barham were true. He was found to be naked and wearing only a turban when Edwards unexpectedly pulled masking tape off the light switch and flipped on the light.

Kubler-Ross may have thought that Christianity taught transmigration of the soul (reincarnation
Reincarnation
Reincarnation best describes the concept where the soul or spirit, after the death of the body, is believed to return to live in a new human body, or, in some traditions, either as a human being, animal or plant...

).

She conducted many workshops on AIDS
AIDS
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is a disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus...

 in different parts of the world. In 1990 she moved the healing Center to her own farm in Head Waters, Virginia to reduce her extensive travelling.

Kübler-Ross suffered a series of strokes in 1995 which left her partially paralyzed on her left side, and the healing Center closed around that time. In a 2002 interview with The Arizona Republic
The Arizona Republic
The Arizona Republic is a daily newspaper published in Phoenix. Circulated throughout Arizona, it is the state's largest newspaper. Since 2000, it has been owned by the Gannett newspaper chain. It was ranked tenth in US daily newspapers by circulation in 2007.-Early years:The newspaper was founded...

, she stated that she was ready for death. She died in 2004 at her home in Scottsdale, Arizona
Scottsdale, Arizona
Scottsdale is a city in the eastern part of Maricopa County, Arizona, United States, adjacent to Phoenix. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2010 the population of the city was 217,385...

, and was later buried at the Paradise Memorial Gardens cemetery.

Personal life


In 1958 she married a fellow medical student from America, Emanuel ("Manny") Ross and moved to the United States. Becoming pregnant disqualified Kübler-Ross from a residency in pediatrics, so she took one in psychiatry. She had two miscarriages, finally having a son, Kenneth
Ken Ross (photographer)
Ken Ross is an independent commercial photographer based in Scottsdale, Arizona, who specializes in, travel/location, people and corporate photography. Educated in the U.S. and Switzerland, Ross began his photography career while residing in Sydney, Australia in 1985. His work has taken him to...

, and a daughter, Barbara, in the early 1960s. Her husband requested a divorce in 1979.

One of her greatest wishes was her plan to build a hospice
Hospice
Hospice is a type of care and a philosophy of care which focuses on the palliation of a terminally ill patient's symptoms.In the United States and Canada:*Gentiva Health Services, national provider of hospice and home health services...

 for infants and children infected with HIV to give them a last home where they could live until their passing, inspired by the aid-project of British doctor Cicely Saunders
Cicely Saunders
Dame Cicely Mary Saunders, was a prominent Anglican, nurse, physician and writer, involved with many international universities...

. In 1985 she attempted to do this in Virginia. But local residents feared the possibility of infection and blocked the necessary re-zoning. In 1994, she lost her house and possessions to an arson fire that is suspected to have been set by opponents of her AIDS work.

Honorary degrees

  • Doctor of Science, H.C., Albany Medical College, New York 1974
  • Doctor of Laws, University of Notre Dame, IN.,1974
  • Doctor of Science, Smith College 1975
  • Doctor of Science, Molloy College, Rockville Centre, NY, 1976
  • Doctor of Humanities, Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame, IN. 1975
  • Doctor of Laws, Hamline University, MN. 1975
  • Doctor of Humane Letters, Amherst College, MA. 1975
  • Doctor of Humane Letters, Loyola University, IL 1975
  • Doctor of Humanities, Hood College, MD 1976
  • Doctor of Letters, Rosary College, IL. 1976
  • Doctor of Pedagogy, Keuka College, NY 1976
  • Doctor of Humane Science, University of Miami, FL 1976
  • Doctor of Humane Letters, Bard College, NY 1977
  • Doctor of Science, Weston MA., 1977
  • Honorary Degree, Anna Maria College, MA., 1978
  • Doctor of Humane Letters, Union College, New York 1978
  • Doctor of Humane Letters, D'Youville College, New York 1979
  • Doctor of Science, Fairleigh Dickinson University, 1979
  • Doctor of Divinity, 1996

Selected bibliography

  • On Death & Dying, (Simon & Schuster/Touchstone), 1969
  • Questions & Answers on Death & Dying, (Simon & Schuster/Touchstone), 1972
  • Death: The Final Stage of Growth, (Simon & Schuster/Touchstone), 1974
  • Questions and Answers on Death and Dying: A Memoir of Living and Dying, Macmillan, 1976. ISBN 0-02-567120-0.
  • To Live Until We Say Goodbye, (Simon & Schuster/Touchstone), 1978
  • The Dougy Letter -A Letter to a Dying Child, (Celestial Arts/Ten Speed Press), 1979
  • Quest, Biography of EKR (Written with Derek Gill), (Harper & Row), 1980
  • Working It Through, (Simon & Schuster/Touchstone), 1981
  • Living with Death & Dying, (Simon & Schuster/Touchstone), 1981
  • Remember the Secret, (Celestial Arts/Ten Speed Press), 1981
  • On Children & Death, (Simon & Schuster), 1985
  • AIDS: The Ultimate Challenge, (Simon & Schuster), 1988
  • On Life After Death, (Celestial Arts), 1991
  • Death Is of Vital Importance, (Out of Print- Now The Tunnel and the Light), 1995
  • Unfolding the Wings of Love (Germany only - Silberschnur), 1996
  • Making the Most of the Inbetween, (Various Foreign), 1996
  • AIDS & Love, The Conference in Barcelona, (Spain), 1996
  • Longing to Go Back Home, (Germany only - Silberschnur), 1997
  • Working It Through: An Elisabeth Kübler-Ross Workshop on Life, Death, and Transition, Simon & Schuster, 1997. ISBN 0-684-83942-3.
  • The Wheel of Life: A Memoir of Living and Dying, (Simon & Schuster/Scribner), 1997
  • Why Are We Here, (Germany only - Silberschnur), 1999
  • The Tunnel and the Light, (Avalon), 1999
  • Life Lessons: Two Experts on Death and Dying Teach Us About the Mysteries of Life and Living, with David Kessler
    David Kessler (writer)
    David Kessler is an author, public speaker, and death and grieving expert. He has published many books, including two co-written with famed psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross: Life Lessons: Two Experts on Death and Dying Teach us about the Mysteries of Life and Living & On Grief & Grieving:...

    , Scribner, 2001. ISBN 0-684-87074-6.
  • On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss, with David Kessler
    David Kessler (writer)
    David Kessler is an author, public speaker, and death and grieving expert. He has published many books, including two co-written with famed psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross: Life Lessons: Two Experts on Death and Dying Teach us about the Mysteries of Life and Living & On Grief & Grieving:...

    . Scribner, 2005. ISBN 0-7432-6628-5.
  • Real Taste of Life: A photographic Journal

Further reading

  • Quest: The Life of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, by Derek Gill. Ballantine Books (Mm), 1982. ISBN 0-345-30094-7.
  • The Life Work of Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and Its Impact on the Death Awareness Movement, by Michèle Catherine Gantois Chaban. E. Mellen Press, 2000. ISBN 0-7734-8302-0.
  • Elisabeth Kubler-Ross: Encountering Death and Dying, by Richard Worth. Published by Facts On File, Inc., 2004. ISBN 0-7910-8027-7.
  • Tea With Elisabeth tributes to Hospice Pioneer Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, complied by Fern Stewart Welch, Rose Winters and Ken Ross, Published by Quality of Life Publishing Co 2009 ISBN 978-0-9816219-9-9

External links