Life Studies Blog (Old)

January 20, 2005

Instrumentalization of grief support: system and ethics (by M)

The following is the second part of my comment on Ann Mongoven's paper, "Giving in Grief: Perspectives of Hospital Chaplains on Organ Donation." (the first part:Jan.5).

According to Mongoven, many chaplains stressed that religious images and concepts (in Cristianity) might decrease the number of donation because people sometimes believe in "resurrection" (the occasion on which all dead people will be brought back to life at the end of the world). Hence "these Christians might have a special reluctance to "mutilate" the body" (p.181).

Mongoven writes:

"The chaplains repeated acknowledgment that some religious imagery, including imagery within culturally prevalent religious traditions, may be in tension with organ donation -- a striking observation in light of current policy initiatives" (p.182).

This comment is very interesting to me because in Japan many scholars have repeated that in Europe and the USA the majority of people believe in Christianity, hence, they show little reluctance to accept brain death and organ transplantation, contrary to the Japanese. Mongoven's paper seems to refute this opinion. This teaches us that cross-cultural comparison should not be made by mere "impression"....

Mongoven points out that there is a tension in the mind of chaplains, the tension between "grief support to the families" and "the outcome -- family consent to the donation." All the chaplains do not think that their main role is to increase the number of donation, but of course they know the number of donation might increase by a sensitive grief support. This tension is inevitable, but "several noted that they felt the recognized tension was itself good" (p.193).

Mongoven went on to imply that the refinement of organ procurement system might lead to the instrumentalization of "grief support to the families" by chaplains or by specialists, because good grief support may enlarge the consent rate of the families, but it also means that grief support is to be counted as a mere "instrument" of the system. I think this is the most important point of her paper. I contemplated similar problems in the book
Painless Civilization. I think this is one of the most important philosophical problems of contemporary civilization.

Photo: "Coffee made in a milk factory".

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