chapter  13
On the Cause of Death
ByWilliam Petersen
Pages 15

Therapies with rather strange characteristics compete, especially in less developed countries, with modern Western medicine. The mechanical manipulation of rotating needles brings about a considerable rise in the level of endorphins, the opiates that the body generates. Death is the end of life, but according to beliefs held in many cultures, some posthumous remnant of the human being survives and continues an existence in an afterlife. However attractive the afterlife is pictured, even those certain that they will go to heaven seldom welcome the first step, their own death. Each species has its own normal longevity, and as an individual approaches its end its vital processes slow down. Persons approaching their death, however one specifies it, are generally viewed as having ambiguous attributes. If a bacterium invades a body and the person dies of the disease associated with the germ, such a sequence is the simplest example of the cause of death.