Thanatológiai Szemle

elektronikus folyóirat


VIII. évfolyam



Dear Reader,

It is a platitude that there are so many horrible things in our era but among all these perhaps we most fear terror and AIDS and modern death in intensive care units and that we’ll have soulless or burned-out nursing staff around in our last days.

Can the unexplainable be explained? Can humanity be taken to the horribly feared end? Can threatening death that is ahead be palliated? Our special issue is on all these.

The poems of the young poetess, Mónika Mesterházi having already three volumes published give the answer in advance. They help us feel that it is indeed possible to bring humanity and gentleness to the sick one dying in the bleakness of the intensive care unit. Nice memories recalled in the minutes of farewell and evanescence, the atmosphere of childhood summers that cannot be cast away, spicy scent of lawn-mowing, sun and tawny skin, feelings of love and gratitude shine through her beautiful lines. It is a great honor for us to publish the poems of Mónika Mesterházi, the poetess, literary translator and teacher.

The writings of Magdolna Singer are always on the helping relationship’s beauties and difficulties depicting this not a bit easy work with the greatest spiritual depth and humanity. This time she analyzes the relationship she has formed as a mental health care professional with a young man suffering from AIDS following the developmental route of the helper and the helped one that came through in spite of all the difficulties. It is one of the greatest values of the paper that the author is able to portray herself and the helped one with healthy criticism and many times with humor which is very important on the way of learning to accept being different without biases and to break up with the attitude that topics which are considered as taboo in these days can be depicted only with pathos and keeping a distance.

Zsolt Papp, the young man living in a homeless shelter and suffering from AIDS has experienced it many times what evanescence is like both physically and spiritually. He was waiting for death in the deepest pits of misery in total hopelessness when someone took his side, his lot became important for someone. And now he doesn’t want to die, the world opened for him, he is able to tune in his environment, his fellow invalids and nurses and he is even able to help in the spiritual problems of the shelter’s habitants.

It is not only important to deal with the souls of the seriously ill but also with the souls of health care workers escorting them. Psychological condition of the caregivers dealing with the most seriously ill depends largely on the milieu of the workplace and on whether the leaders of the workplace involve appropriate professionals in the work of the ward who can promote the general condition of the workers with various psychological methods. This is concluded in the study of Margit Szicsek who has been working as a psychologist for many years beside caregivers working in the most difficult fields of health care. The results of the study demonstrate that involvement of a psychologist is considered as important unfortunately in very few places. Its consequences are the workers’ psychological exhaustion, saturation and the formation of various occupational deformations that can be finally harmful for even the patients.

After the study examining the psychological condition of 100 caregivers we can read the thoughts of a nurse, Zsófia Szemkó in her writing of a lyric overtone in which she tells about the reason for what she chose to deal with patients of the most severe condition. The most important for her is learning: To learn from patients and families, to draw a lesson from situations for not to learn from my own mistakes but to internalize the sawn positive example in my life the author confesses. And we can learn a lot from dying patients...

In our life laden with terror we often think of the question: is it possible to live with everyday fright and fear of death? In the study titled Taming Fear - The Theory of handling fright which is very exciting and containing many practical morals Vera Békés introduces models of psychological defense through papers of American authors that were written or became regrettably actual after the terror attack in September, 2001. One of the main ideas of the study is the question of how our fear of death influences our world concept and self esteem and to what extent are these factors in interaction with each other.

Have a nice reading and a thoughtful immersion!

Katalin Hegedűs, Dr.




In memoriam
At the Intensive Care Unit
At the Internal Medicine Ward
In memoriam P. F.



Double development
Introduction of the helping support of a young man suffering from AIDS-disease

The study shows over the helping relationship of a young man suffering from AIDS-disease and a hospice volunteer - studying mental health care - that has been lasting for two years. The paper demonstrates the difficulties that aroused within the relationship, the mistakes that were taken during the supporting work but in the same time it follows the developmental route of both the helper and the helped one that became obvious in spite of all the difficulties. The study is a beautiful example of how strong is one of the effecting factors introduced by Carl Rogers: unconditioned acceptance. Due to this enduring and continuous acceptance, the health condition of the young man who has been destitute of love and acceptance since his childhood became better and his self-acceptance has improved. Moreover, with the tool of creative writing an activity has started which provides him with continuous joy and became the possibility of self-exploration and self-curing. We can also read parts of his writings in the study.


Cogitation upon death, my physicians and my companion in distress

The author of a hard life, living in a homeless shelter continuously threatened by his AIDS-disease confesses upon death, his fears, nursing staff and fellow invalids with a lot of humor, self-irony and brave honesty.


Relations of burn-out and psychological immune-competence in nursing work

The aim of the study dealing with occupational deformation, psychological immune-competence, workplace milieu, workplace stress-sources and mental protection is to draw our attention to the fact that in health care - and in every workplace where the workers work with their own personalities besides their professional knowledge - psychological exhaustion, saturation and occupational deformation need to be considered. The author performed her investigations in hospital wards and special nursing homes dealing with chronic patients (100 nurses) with the method of searching for the relationship between burn-out index and psychological immune-competence and the results were statistically analyzed. At those workers having a higher burn-out index some values of immune-competence altered from average. In conformity with foreign studies (USA, Germany) she came to the point that the greatest danger doesn’t rise from stress factors of the work itself in the field of interest but workplace milieu has a decisive significance. Protection can be achieved by continuous maintenance of the workers’ mental health and thus the results demonstrate that there is an urgent and justified need for the presence of psychologists in various fields of Hungarian health care.


Hospice work as a tool for self-development

Have we ever thought during our work in hospice about why this and that person is there? How did we get here and what do we consider our work? As a job for which we receive salary or as mission? If as a mission then what makes this and that person happy? During my many years long hospice work I become more and more conscious that learning is very important for me. To learn from patients and families, to draw a lesson from situations for not to learn from my own mistakes but to internalize the sawn positive example in my life. In relation to the patients’ lot I can see in my work that there’s no need to hurry. Have we ever thought of the concept of Time, of what does it mean? Either on how much time do we have and what is important? Have we ever needed to make a scale of values during our work? Can we decide what is important in our lives and whether the scale of values has changed since we work here?


Taming Fear - The Theory of Handling Fright

According to the Theory of Handling Fright subsistence is a basic human claim therefore awareness of being mortal fills us with horror. In order to alleviate concerns upon transience and our existence’s eventuality we internalize the world concept provided by our culture that shows reality as stabile and constant thus provides with the possibility of immortality and also renders norms of valuation that we can use to evaluate ourselves as well. According to the Theory of Handling Fright people with high self esteem feel that they meet the cultural norms and thus they are able to become immortal in some way. Therefore world concept provided by the culture and appropriate self esteem within this renders protection against anxiety caused by awareness of death.