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Does gallows humor among physicians encourage accusations of murder and euthanasia?
Date:9/3/2012

hile grand rounds and other academic forums can present controversial topics to make the point that it is acceptable to have and air differing views," he says.

As to gallows humor, Dr. Cohen believes it would be a mistake to conclude that physicians ought to cease joking about death with their colleagues. He cites Freud, who believed that wit contains and neutralizes a tremendous amount of hostility, that laughter provides emotional catharsis, and that jokes reveal more about societal attitudes of the time than about the individuals to which they are directed. "Levity must remain an acceptable defense mechanism in medicine for coping with the weightiest of medical duties: helping patients die with grace and dignity," he concludes.


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