Cognitive Sciences Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for practitioners, researchers, and students in cognitive science, psychology, neuroscience, and psychiatry. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Some medical professionals work in areas where they are exposed to death often (say, E.R, O.R, Cancer Treatment, etc.), specifically in an area where they bond with the patient and the patients' families over a long period of time, such as cancer treatment.

  • Does such exposure sometimes cause psycopathic/sociopathic behavior, shizophrenia, apathy, and other mental and emotional scarring?
  • Does such exposure cause changes to thoughts on death significantly?
  • In an attempt to numb this pain, would the subjects be more likely to believe excessively and obsessively in religion and the afterlife? (Please don't take offense if you are religious.)

Of course I'm not saying that all subjects in this situation would display these symptoms, but depending on pre-existing conditions I wonder whether some are more susceptible to emotional trauma than others.

share|improve this question
that would be a good question alone also, "would the subjects be more likely to believe excessively and obsessively in religion and the afterlife" – Greg McNulty Jun 6 '13 at 22:39

I can offer a case study - Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, creator of the infamous "Kubler-Ross Model" or "five stages of grief" (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance). Her entire career as a psychiatrist was spent working with terminally ill patients and their grieving families. She strongly believed in a life after death and outer-body experiences, and worked with a man at her Healing Centre who claimed to be able to contact people after they had passed over. This was of course a sham, you can read more about it here.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.