X-Message-Number: 13504
From: "George Smith" <>
References: <>
Subject: Re: PR on neuros versus brain only
Date: Sat, 8 Apr 2000 18:37:46 -0700

In Message #13497, Doug Skrecky asked:

> There are two types of neuros; whole head, and brain only.
> Is there any evidence that brain is more acceptible than head,
> from a PR standpoint?

Having assisted in numerous autopsies for three years in the military and
specifically having personally removed the brain in most of those autopsies,
I think I can first offer some practical observations.

(1) In a military autopsy it was standard procedure to remove the brain (in
Europe in the early seventies).  I suspect that most civilian autopsies are
less rigorous regarding this issue but it could certainly be requested.
Because the removal and sectioning and (at least short term) preservation of
the brain in formalin is a common practice, it should, in principle, be much
easier to secure medical cooperation in releasing this organ for cryonic
preservation.  The Organ Donor program seems reasonable enough here to use.

(2) The viewing of the body in a funeral setting is unaffected by whether or
not the brain was previously removed in autopsy.  I always took great care
in avoiding incisions which could even remotely impact the face.  This is
also standard procedure.  Therefore the appearance of the body is not
disfigured when presented for "viewing" by the mortician.  This therefore
has a minimum PR negative impact in my opinion.

(3) Culturally, I think we can all agree that the entire concept of
decapitation is very negatively emotionally charged.  The issue of removing
the head has many practical advantages (less damage to the brain, for one!)
over removing the brain from its natural protective "box", but the closer we
can approximate the accepted cultural norm of current funerary practices,
the better our PR stance will be in my opinion.

That is one very good reason to stay with a whole body approach if at all
possible.  Then cryonics can be viewed as just another alternative for
dealing with the body and avoids all the other issues of brain removal or

I felt Linda Chamberlain handled this best when in a 1998 TV documentary I
recently saw again, she carefully explained that neuros were "removing the
BODY from the head".  This was a very sensitive and intelligent reframing of
an emotional issue and both defused the negatives to a large extent while
helping to educate the viewer in understanding the authentic intent and
purpose behind it.  Very wise.

Nevertheless, I believe that while the head only option is not exactly a PR
nightmare, it remains at least a disturbing dream.  To not seem too cynical,
I would keep my head down (sorry!) on this issue from a PR perspective.  I
would stress the whole body option and suggest the value of the neuro as a
secondary alternative.

George Smith

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