In Being Mortal, Atul Gawande explores how modern medicine is ill-equipped to deal with the prospect of death. He explores how we resist facing the reality of dying and shows how we can begin to change our attitudes, practices and expectations. This book draws on clinical studies, case histories and stories from his own experiences as a doctor and a son to illuminate the subject of mortality relative to modern medical systems, about how hard it is to see ourselves clearly in a culture that revolves around the self.
Gawande explores the nature of death-seeking in the modern medical system. He argues that our obsession with preventing deaths and resolving pain – a mere distraction from our primary duties, whose real value lies in cultivating children, improving family life, relieving human suffering and ensuring economic prosperity – has robbed us of any sense of mortality. Here is a thought-provoking look at what it means to be mortal today – and how we can find meaning in an age that has lost its moral compass.
Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End is a brief, highly personalized and insightful account of how we look at death, what continues to be at stake despite widespread medical interventions. Through his personal stories, which combine with solid research, he shows how we are not only responsible for our own health but also how technology has let us believe that our own healthcare decisions are ours alone. We are told that we live for 80 years or more—Gawande revisits this myth in bite-sized pieces across different chapters. But the self does not survive illness; it lives on in our doctors. To keep his patients alive on their terms (and therefore free from the self), he must first become one himself.
About Being Mortal Book
This review of Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande provides a chapter-by-chapter detailed summary followed by an analysis and critique of the strengths and weaknesses of this book.
Gawande draws on clinical studies, case histories and stories from his own experiences as a doctor and a son to illuminate the subject of mortality relative to modern medical systems. His treatment of the subject covers a broad range of institutions and individuals that shape the lives of the aged and terminally ill. The central thesis of the book is that the experience of the end of life has been problematized and addressed by medical models that place extending life over quality of life and institutional frameworks that place safety and efficiency over the ability for people to have autonomy over the last part of their lives.
Gawande is a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a professor at the Harvard Medical School. He is a writer at The New Yorker magazine and author of three New York Times bestselling books.