methodological module

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The second module out of four. Part of a research study for my thesis work called A Good Death. The work was is an ongoing project that begun as part of my MFA studies at Parsons the New School for Design.



2. IN THE SOCIAL: Morticians (Funeral Directors) Executioners Coroner Suiciders EmbalmersFriday, October 5, 12 3. EMBALMING The art and science of temporarily preserving human remains to make them suitable for public display at a funeral. Embalming has a very long and cross-cultural history, with many cultures giving the embalming processes a greater religious meaning.EMBALMERS Have been trained in the art and science of embalming and may not have any contact with the family, Embalming training commonly involves formal study in: Anatomy: A branch of biology and medicine that considers the structure of living things. Thanatology : The scientific study of death. Chemistry : The science of matter, especially its chemical reactions, but also its composition, structure and properties. Friday, October 5, 12 4. THE HISTORY Embalming has been recorded in history as far back as the Egyptians. Back in those days, only the wealthy were embalmed or mummified as it was known then. Over the years the procedure has changed many times to what we now know as modern day embalming. In addition, the Incas and other cultures of Peru, carried out embalming rituals, as they lived in a climate which favored a form of mummification.Friday, October 5, 12 5. THE HISTORY In 1867, the German chemist August Wilhelm von Hofmann discovered formaldehyde. Its preservative properties were soon discovered and became the foundation for modern methods of embalming, replacing previous methods based on alcohol and salts. Embalming is distinct from taxidermy. Embalming preserves the human body intact, whereas taxidermy is the recreation of an animal's form often using only the creature's skin mounted on an anatomical form.Friday, October 5, 12 6. WHY? Embalming is primarily done to disinfect and preserve the remains of the body. Disinfection is important for all who have to handle the remains, and for the public safety.Friday, October 5, 12 7. THE METHODS > Gravity-feed embalming: used for Embalming for anatomy education. No drainage. > Arterial embalming: Blood is displaced by injecting the chemicals and drainage occurs. > Hypodermic embalming: injection of embalming chemicals into tissue with a hypodermic needle and syringe. > Embalming autopsy: Different from standard embalming because the nature of the post-mortem examination disrupts the circulatory system, due to the removal of the organs. In these cases, a six-point injection is made.Friday, October 5, 12 8. THE CHEMICALS > Formaldehyde, Also called Methanal. > Glutaraldehyde > Ethanol, also called pure alcoholFriday, October 5, 12 9. THE PROCESS > The first step in the embalming process is to wash off any waste, bodily fluids, or other materials on the body. Then the muscles are massaged to get rid of stiffness, called rigor mortis, which can make it difficult to move the body. > The next step is to set the features, making them impossible to move later on.Friday, October 5, 12 10. THE PROCESS > Injection of embalming chemicals into the blood vessels, usually via the right common carotid artery. (Single-point injection) > The embalmer massages the body to break up circulatory clots as to ensure the proper distribution of the embalming fluid.Friday, October 5, 12 11. THE PROCESS > The embalming process continues with a small cut above the navel. The mortician inserts a tube into the abdomen through the cut. A pump is attached to the tube, and the contents of the stomach and intestines are pumped out. > The body is stitched closed. * A typical embalming takes several hours to complete.Friday, October 5, 12 12. GROOMING > The body is re washed and dried. > Observation by the embalmer. > Cosmetics (a photo of the deceased in good health is often used for reference) > Baby powder is applied to eliminate odor.Friday, October 5, 12 13. CLOTHING > The outfits used to be very formal for both female and male > In recent years, a change has occurred and many individuals are now buried in less formal clothing. > After the deceased has been dressed, they are placed in the casket (coffin).Friday, October 5, 12 14. NOTABLE EMBALMINGSFriday, October 5, 12 15. NOTABLE EMBALMINGSFriday, October 5, 12 16. SUSTAINABLE DEATH? Green burial: How to turn a human body into compost? Dying to Do the Right ThingFriday, October 5, 12 17. GLOSSARY Cadaver: A corpse, also called a cadaver in medical literary and legal usage or when intended for dissection, is a dead human body. Thanatology: The scientific study of death. It investigates the mechanisms and forensic aspects of death, such as bodily changes that accompany death and the post-mortem period, as well as wider social aspects related to death. It is primarily an interdisciplinary study offered as a course of study at numerous colleges and universities. Skeletonization: Refers to one of the final stages of decomposition, during which time the last of the soft tissues of a corpseor have decayed or dried to the point that the bones of the skeleton are exposed. Synthetic Biology: A new area of biological research and technology that combines science and engineering. The common goal is the design and construction of new biological functions and systems not found in nature.Friday, October 5, 12


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