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The study of the phenomenon of somatic death.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the division of medical, biological, and clinical disciplines that studies the immediate causes of death as well as thanatogenesis, or the clinical and morphological manifestations and dynamics of dying. Thanatology also studies medical intervention in the death process to revive the organism or alleviate the death agony.

A distinction is made between general and specific thanatology. General thanatology studies the overall death process, and specific thanatology studies the terminal state associated with different diseases and different causes of death. Specific thanatology involves a consecutive study of data on the course of the given disease, on the hereditary and constitutional predispositions to the disease, and on the clinical and morphologial manifestations of the disease. On the basis of these data, the clinical and anatomical epicrisis, or thanatological analysis, is made. The epicrisis is particularly important in forensic medicine and forensic thanatology.

In relation to the growing importance of the discipline of reanimatology, the field of experimental thanatology has developed. Experimental thanatology studies the cessation or restoration of the body’s vital functions during the terminal state. Clinical and experimental studies have established that the basic terminal pathogenetic factor in all forms of the death process is hypoxia, a state involving the accumulation of incompletely oxidized products in the cells and tissues. These studies have also demonstrated the important role played in the death process by the impairment of nervous function and of the hormonal, enzymatic, and ionic equilibriums.


Shor, G. V. “Tanatologiia (uchenie o smerti) pod uglom zreniia patologicheskoi anatomii.” In Trudy I Vserossiiskogo s”ezda patologov. Moscow, 1924.
Negovskii, V. A. “Osnovnye itogi patofiziologicheskogo izucheniia protsessov umiraniia i ozhivleniia organizma.” Arkhiv patologii, 1962, vol. 24, no. 7.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Hou: Were there any significant differences between teaching music thanatologists and teaching general students?
Society has a need for physicians who are healers, not "thanatologists." (74) Physicians can best protect society if such conduct is in the nature of a Pavlovian response by intuitively and instinctively seeking to actively prolong the life of a patient.
Although the work in its entirety is likely to be of direct relevance only to thanatologists working within the period, its multi-disciplinary approach will ensure that its readership profile will be much wider.
Researchers on death, or "thanatologists," often look to Elizabeth Kubler-Ross as a critical pioneer in advancing cultural acceptance of, and intellectual inquiry into, the nature of death and dying.
Moreover, given the large proportion of our health care spending that occurs in the final 3 months of life, well-trained thanatologists would provide an excellent opportunity to cut the costs of medical care.
His stance is common among thanatologists (death specialists, from Thanatos, death), but when our zeal to 'confront death' is prominent, we overlook two essential things: a) staring at death is an act of arrogance; b) like the sun, death is also benevolent, 'a counterpart to the great source of life, the sun' (Ricks, 1993: p 20): we will benefit from both as long as we don't eyeball them with our hyper-rationalist stare.
Some physicians and thanatologists think that the definition of "whole-brain death" is ambiguous and, consequently, some people relate to inanimate bodies as if they were alive.
The performance features harps and voices of music thanatologists from Sacred Heart Medical Center and across the Northwest.
Other team members can include nutritionists, massage therapists, bereavement specialists and music therapists, also known as "thanatologists." At Sacred Heart Hospice, thanatologists play harps and other soothing instruments for patients.
Music thanatologists - people musically involved in the process of death - are referred to patients by chaplains, physicians, nurses, social workers, families and even the patients themselves.
Music thanatologists are specially trained in a four-semester program with a semester-length clinical practice to play prescriptive music that matches even momentary physiological changes in the dying patient.