Women of Switzerland

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Psychiatrist, 1926-2004

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross was a Swiss-American psychiatrist, a pioneer in near-death studies, and author of the international bestseller ‘On Death and Dying’ (1969). In spite of her father’s objections, Elisabeth was determined at an early age to study medicine. She married an American whom she met at university, and they moved to the United States to fulfil their medical residency requirements.
She began her life-long individual care practice after observing the routine neglect of patients in psychiatric institutions, thus bringing about significant improvement in their mental wellbeing. She subsequently pursued a career in psychiatry with a primary focus on death and dying, working with terminally ill patients as part of her research. Her bestselling book ‘On Death and Dying’ was credited with helping people to set aside the long-held Western reluctance to talk openly about death and contributed to the hospice movement. Based on her many patient interviews, she identified the five now widely accepted stages that patients encounter as they confront death: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Today, these stages are associated with any major loss or life-changing experience. During her career Dr Kübler-Ross was associated with 16 different hospitals and universities, wrote more than 20 books and received more than 47 awards and honours.

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Elisabeth Kübler-Ross