Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-8448b6f56d-xtgtn Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-04-22T17:24:57.938Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

4 - From Primitive Fear to Civilized Stress: Sudden Unexpected Death

from Part Two - Trauma and Acute Stress

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 April 2014

Otniel E. Dror
Affiliation:
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
David Cantor
Affiliation:
Acting Director, Office of History, National Institutes of Health
Edmund Ramsden
Affiliation:
Research Fellow at the Centre for History of Science, Technology and Medicine, University of Manchester
Get access

Summary

“Voodoo Death.” By this I mean the casting of a fatal spell on a person by a king or priest or voodoo doctor exerting an influence among savage and superstitious people, with the result that the person who is credulous and terrorized by the spell is said to die.

Walter B. Cannon, 1934

The sudden and unexpected death of a presumably healthy person in the midst of his accustomed activities is one of the most dramatic and disturbing events in clinical practice and everyday experience. The tragedy is heightened when autopsy examination shows an essentially normal myocardium with minimal disease of the coronary arteries and no evidence of thrombotic occlusion.

Edmund D. Pellegrino, “Sudden Death”

Since “voodoo death” can be seen as comparable to our own society's “sudden death,” for which much anecdotal material is complemented by some clinical and pathophysiological assessment, we believe that “voodoo death” does refer to an empirical phenomenon whose complex dimensions are receiving more adequate description…. These noxious effects of belief and expectation have recently been called “nocebo.”

Robert A. Hahn and Arthur Kleinman, “Belief as Pathogen”

In 1942 Walter B. Cannon, head of the Department of Physiology at the Harvard Medical School, published his now-famous essay, “‘Voodoo’ Death.” In this study Cannon elucidated the mechanisms responsible for the detrimental physiological effects of “magic” spells or “voodoo” rituals in “primitive” societies.

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2014

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×