Thanatológiai Szemle

elektronikus folyóirat


VII. évfolyam



Dear Reader,

Though our Readers can take our new issue in an unchanged form we have to inform you about one change, Béla Blasszauer, one of the oldest members of our editorial staff since the formation of the journal had unfortunately resigned due to his age and health status and his place is taken by ethnographer Judit Czövek who is working in the Ethnographic Research Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. We would like to thank Béla Blasszauer his work until now and his being kindly disposed towards the journal right here and we wish him better health condition and strength to be able to go on with his research in the field of thanatology for a long-long time! And we heartily greet Judit Czövek and hope that with her help the journal’s ethnographic specialist set will be greater and no readers who would like to read even more interesting and valuable articles in this topic will be disappointed.

In the ’Poems’ column of this issue you can get acquainted with two beautiful lyric pieces of Éva Bánki. The author is teaching world literature at the Faculty of Humanities of Károli Presbyterian University and at the Faculty of Portuguese of Lóránd Eötvös University of Sciences. You could already read her poems on the columns of journals ’Sárkányfű’ (Dragon Herb), ’Kalligram’ (Calligram) and ’Mozgó Világ’ (Moving World), her first novel ’Raintown’ is going to be published on spring 2004 by Magvető Publishing Co.

Those who graced our last issue with their attention could see that the issue of euthanasia, a current theme of our days had got a stressed role on the columns of our journal. Naturally it was due to the debates and bills or acts being born that led to ’legislation’ of euthanasia in the Netherlands and Belgium as firsts in Europe. It is not by chance that we go on with this circle of thoughts in our very issue as well and that we give place to opinions that were drafted by the problems of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide in the legal act. The statement of the Ethics Task Force of the European Association for Palliative Care possesses us to see concepts concerning euthanasia and palliative care raising many debates more clearly; Dutch professor of medical ethics, Henk ten Have draws our attention to the points that can urge to reconsider the law later on, according to the short-term experiences. He pinpoints that as the practice of euthanasia becoming accepted burdens the spread or establishment of palliative care of the critically ill as an alternative model.

Our next greater topic is related to the work of volunteering helpers in hospices. Being responsible for co-ordination in Buffalo Hospice, USA, April L. DiPizio gives a thorough summary about which factors have to be considered during the organization of volunteering helpers’ work according to the American model, and he gives good example on how involution of civilians to the everyday activity of hospices can enrich their work and to what extent does it add to the deepening of relationships with patients and families.

The short paper of Zsuzsa Baloghné Vajna can even serve as a contribution to this study, since it shows the life of two hospital patients from the point of view of a volunteering helper and that how positively influence loving and understanding support, small motions the mental and emotional development of patients reproved to alienation of hospital loneliness and how they hinder the depravation of those.

Our faithful Readers could get used to the fact that exploration and introduction of the cultural traditions of our historic past makes an important part of our journal and those - due to our authors - can be shown in the light of variety of religions and traditions. Thank for János Oláh we could get an overall picture of Jewish burial an death ceremonies by his interesting papers and we gladly say that our knowledge can get accelerated in a somewhat more recondite field as we read the study about Jewish view of afterworld and its conceptional crystallization in this issue.

The paper of András László Magyar - finishing the ’Studies’ column of our volume - is going to be a real scoop since as it is accustomed of its author, it introduces a special but rather interesting segment of the beliefs concerning the dead, and it brings examples from historic Hungary and the Baltic to deepen the knowledge of special fields in ethnography - catching the fantasy of so many people.

In the name of the editorial staff and the editors I frankly hope that the kind Readers will take this new issue of our journal with as great interest as great our happiness is when we publish this tiny selection of papers submitted to our journal.

Ildikó Horányi
senior editor




Dark and sweet
At the ends


Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide: a view from an EAPC Task Force.

Palliative Medicine 2003; 17: 97-101.

Nowadays there is a great interest shown towards ethical and loyal problems concerning euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. That is why it is needed to have guideline principles that can serve as reference points during the debates formulated on decent organizational levels as well. EAPC (European Association for Palliative Care) has also joined this work and in 2003 its expert team on ethics published its statement concerning the issue that helps clarifying the definitions of ’palliative care’, ’euthanasia’ and ’physician-assisted suicide’, and stressfully emphasizes the differences between palliative care and several forms of euthanasia.


European Journal of Palliative Care. 8th Congress of the European Association for Palliative Care. Plenary lectures. The Hague, 2-5. April 2003. 21-27.

After the introduction of the Law of Ending of Life on Request and Physician-assisted Suicide the series of debates was not finished in the Netherlands and practice also shows that there still are problems for which this law can’t give a solution. The study provides with the syllabus of arguments and counter-arguments that make us think even after the promulgation of the law about its being right or wrong. It also draws the attention on the fact that the issue of euthanasia coming into prominence is the one in the Netherlands which burdens the spread or establishment of alternative methods of easing the suffering of the critically ill (e.g. palliative care) and it also slows down the organization of technical institutes for this task.


The management of volunteers in hospice and palliative care: the U.S.A. model

In the United States of America the operating of hospices is based mostly on volunteering that is much preferred in the States. Recruitment of volunteers, their appropriate training, co-ordination, evaluating work concerning their activity and expression of the appreciation for the service makes an important part of the job in hospice offices. The present study analyses thoroughly the tasks of employees dealing with the co-ordination of volunteers and all those factors that are indispensably needed for the volunteers performing their duty on the highest level.


Caressed, wrinkled faces... Note of a volunteer in hospice

Zsuzsa Baloghné Vajna relate on the difficulties in everyday life of two elderly ladies in need of hospital care and living in compulsory being locked together. She gives a short case-report of the process during which the two women become more opened and more understanding toward each other simply by getting mental support and nurture from a volunteer and social worker of a hospice-team.


The Image of Afterworld in Ancient Jewish Literature

The image of afterworld presents already in the oldest books of the Bible, yet its clear and unambiguous description can be found only in the later biblical texts, in the books of prophets. The Jewish literature in the age following the writing of the last books of the Bible is dealing in length with afterworld, the image of immortal spirit and Resurrection. The temporary place for souls can be followed in ancient Jewish literature, but Resurrection, the souls becoming ’embodied’ raises clearly only since the 2nd century ante.


About Vampire Sickness in Transylvania

In the first decades of the 18th century all Europe has burned in vampire-hysterics. According to the period’s investigation minutes the alleged vampires (dead corpses raising for their graves and sucking blood of the living) caused several deadly diseases and moreover, epidemics in some villages in Slavonia, Bánát and southern Transylvania. Based on Transylvanian data the present study tries to find out if this so-called vampire sickness could be identified with today’s terminology. The author concludes that vampire sickness stands for more different diseases (typhus, cholera, sepsis, food poisoning, plague, etc.) so that the main role is played not by the symptoms of one specific disease but by beliefs about vampires and false explanations of death cases.



Death, Our Life’s Twin Star (Lívia Kölnei)