Dec 02, 2021  
2021-2022 College Catalog 
2021-2022 College Catalog
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PSY 220 - The Psychology of Death and Loss

3 Credits, 3 Contact Hours
3 lecture periods 0 lab periods

Adjustment to death and loss. Includes thinking about death, meaning of death, death system, dying, hospice, and end-of-life issues. Also includes suicide, violent death, euthanasia, bereavement, funeral process, near death experiences, and death education and counseling.

Recommendation: Completion of PSY 101  before enrolling in this course. REA 091  with a C or better (or assessment into REA 112 ). If any recommended course is taken, see a financial aid or Veteran’s Affairs advisor to determine funding eligibility as appropriate.

Course Learning Outcomes
  1. Distinguish between attitudes, beliefs, and feelings regarding death.
  2. Apply critical theory to concepts of death.
  3. Describe the functions of a death system.
  4. Integrate the concept of dying into view of life transitions.
  5. Distinguish between hospice and traditional medical care of dying people.
  6. Describe significant pathways to healthcare decision-making.
  7. Differentiate myths from facts about suicide.
  8. Discuss individual and societal dynamics involved in violent death.
  9. Define the role and responsible and responsibilities of the physician as a key person in assisted suicide and right-to-die decisions.
  10. Discuss guidelines for sharing the child’s death concerns in whatever situations they arise.
  11. Distinguish between those responses to the grieving person that are perceived as helpful and unhelpful.
  12. Define both the similarities and differences in the funeral and memorial processes as practiced by people of varying racial, ethnic and religious traditions.
  13. Compare and contrast findings supporting and not supporting near-death experiences.
  14. Identify key issues and challenges in the field of thanatology.
  15. Identify some of the ways in which our feelings about dying and death have been changing as the conditions of life have also changed.

  1. Thinking About Death
    1. Self-inventory of attitudes, beliefs, and feelings
    2. Accepting and denying death
  2. Meaning of Death
    1. Biomedical approaches
    2. Death as an agent of personal, political, and social change
  3. Death System
    1. Basic characteristics
    2. Causes of death
  4. Dying and Life Transitions
    1. Trajectories of dying
    2. Experience of dying
  5. Hospice and Traditional Medical Care
    1. Standards of care
    2. Programs in action
  6. Health Care Decision-Making
    1. Living Will
    2. Right-to-die decisions
  7. Suicide
    1. Statistical profile
    2. Cultural meanings
  8. Individual and Societal Dynamics
    1. Facts, myths, and guidelines
    2. Suicide prevention
  9. Violent Death
    1. Murder
    2. Terrorism
    3. Accident and disaster
  10. Euthanasia
    1. Attitudes toward a right-to-die.
    2. Dilemmas
    3. Dr. Kevorkian and the assisted-suicide movement
  11. Death in Childhood
    1. Concepts of death
    2. Helping children cope with bereavement
    3. Dying children
  12. Funeral Process
    1. Current developments
    2. Memorials
    3. Becoming a knowledgeable consumer of funeral services
  13. Near-Death Experience
    1. Historical perspective
    2. Evidence favoring near-death experiences   
    3. Problems with near-death experiences findings
  14. Death Education and Counseling
    1. Historical perspective
    2. Current scene
    3. Counseling and psychotherapy
  15. Perspectives
    1. The good death
    2. Making sense of it all

Effective Term:
Spring 2016

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