December 19, 2012

Thanatotic Therapy

This is a new one for me.

To be and not to be: Thanatotic Therapy

Reuters photographer Sheng Li reports on “death experience therapy” at Ruoshui Mental Health Clinic in Shenyang, China:
Then I met 42-year-old Mr. Yang, who had booked his therapy appointment for that day. During the psychological preparation talk, I learned that Yang had lost his mother when he was only 11 months old. Lacking maternal love and constantly being insecure in his childhood made him unable to cope with the pressure of work and daily life, and thus he became profoundly pessimistic.

With his wife’s accompaniment, he followed the therapist’s instructions and got in the coffin while the funeral music began. Maybe it was the music – I found myself completely absorbed in the atmosphere, and felt somewhat sad during the entire process. Mr. Yang told me later that for a few seconds he really felt as if he were dead inside the coffin, and his desire to keep on living became stronger. And when he heard his wife reading a letter to him, he cried. He said that it was so strange that when he was “dead,” he actually felt closer to his wife and loved ones.

Since the clinic’s opening in 2009 more than one thousand people have “attended their own funerals”, as it were, each one lasting between four and five hours, during which the “patient” lies in the coffin listening to eulogies prepared by family and friends. Tang Yulong, a therapist at the clinic, says many burst into tears upon their “resurrection”.
A slightly different (and less expensive) form of “coffin therapy” can be found in Eastern Europe, where one coffin maker allows patrons to settle in and “slowly get used to eternity”.
Posted by Jill Fallon at December 19, 2012 11:02 AM | Permalink