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Bustamante, J.J. (2001). Understanding Hope: Persons in the Process of Dying. Int. Forum Psychoanal., 10(1):49-55.

(2001). International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 10(1):49-55

Understanding Hope: Persons in the Process of Dying

Juan José Bustamante, M.D.

This article describes the experience of dying, shared in the therapeutic process by the psychoanalyst and patients suffering from incurable or terminal illness. Chronic illnesses and the possibility of death places the patient and the family in a disturbing and stressful situation, that requires not only continued medical care but also sensible listening to the patients' needs, to prevent harmful and unnecessary interventions. When disease is in an advanced stage, and death is inevitable, high technology medicine must be avoided and the intimacy of the person must be the highest and most important issue in the relation. The clinical material of this article describes the psycho-social stages that patient and family go through during the process and also how understanding hope could be a universal clinical strategy that creates a therapeutic bond, offering the patient and the analyst the alternative of meaningful experiences.

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