X-Message-Number: 3711
Date: 20 Jan 95 17:29:30 EST
From: Mike Darwin <>
Subject: CRYONICS On the pure goodness of cryonics

Bob Ettinger takes issue with me over the negative impact of cryonics on a
significant number of people's  lives.  He also suggests that his experience
with CI is large and deep enough for him to be accurate in his asssessment.

I will not spend time on this at great length, but I will cite some of the many

First let's start with Bob's statement about "no CI members being on Prozac "(or
presumably any other antidepressant drug).  If this is true, then CI represents

an EXTRAORDINARY crossection of the human population!  Indeed, you have achieved
a 100% filter for the most common form of mental illness!  (Of course, you
DIDN'T say how many were taking Thorazine or other antipsychotics :) Just

Let me relate my experience at Alcor.  At one time, when Alcor had about 170
members I did a comprehensive look-throough of their medical files.  I found 5
people *listed* depression or other mental illness on their records, or were
taking medication.  Now, keep in mind that I KNEW most of these 170 people
pretty well.  Of the 170 almost 30 were actually on antidepressants or
anxieolytics.  Of these, most had seen a psychiatrist for depression,
panic/anxiety disorder, or manic depression or other mental health problem.
Please note that this does NOT include a number of people I knew who I
personally thought NEEEDED to be on medication.  Now, I am not a psychistrist,
but I think people who are seriously self medicating daily with alcohol and/or
drugs have a problem.that constitutes mental illness and could probably benefit
by intervention/treatment.

Is/was Alcor atypical or full of crazies?  Hardly.  Yes, I think that people are
likely to be more depressed who sign up and get involved (especially those who
get involved) because the results and worries or so burdensome.  But, the fact
remains that about 20 million people are diagnosed (i.e., MEDICALLY diagnosed)

with depression in the US alone.  And it is estimated that this is only half the

true number.  That's pushing 10% of the population!  So, forgive me if I find it
hard to believe that CI members are peculiarly free of this problem.

Now as to some specifics:

Cryonics has, in my experience, caused severe disturbances in family dynamics
where there are noncryonicist family members, and particularly where there are
last minute cases where the member joins in the last year or two of life.  In
three cases I have done I have witnessed alienation, bitterness and hostility,
and serious division with the ranks of the familty over the issue of
cryopreservation.  These did not resolve with time, and in several cases have

gotten worse.  In some cases cryopreservation was regarded as an absolute horror
(interestingly enough, most of these were whole body cases!)

Here are some specicfics, names mentioned when possible:

Dick Jones' sister and business parter.  Not only did they take no comfort from
Dick's cryopreservation, his sister was disgusted by it and actually probably

delayed the application of CPR while she had a priest give last rights.  Bitter,
costly, time-consuming and largely unproductive litigation resulted from this
case, and that doesn't include a number of unpleasant and almost nasty
confrontations between cryonics society staff during Dick's illness and while
his estate was being ransacked by the next-of-kin and various hangers -on.

The Bedford family was deeply divided over Bedford's cryoprerservation.  The
personal and financial cost of carrying out his father's wishes were staggering
to Norman.  When I talked with Norman last he told me bluntly: "Please don't
think me uncaring, but you now have more interest in Dad than we do ( him and
his current wife).  We've been through nearly 20 years of hell over this. (They
had moved to a remote location where I had great difficulty finding them.)  We
are grateful for all you've done, but please, destroy this number and don't
contact us again.  I wish Dad well, but I'm past caring..."

Alcor patient A-1108 also had serious family problems, some as a result of
diversion of finmancial resources to cryonics that his family (including school
-aged children) felt they needed; the wife was particularly resentful that he
went whole body and that he had changed insurance policies to Alcor without her
knowledge!  The last thing she ever said to me was "I wish he'd never heard of
this lousy idea!"

The family of patient A1410 also experienced real grief and disruption as a
result of the cryopreservation of their son/fiancee.

I do not know what their current feelings are, but it was no secret that the
wife and at least one of the children of Jerry Leaf did not exactly find
cryonics a warming influence in their lives....

I will not give ID numbers here, but I will say that the relatives of at least 5
other patients not talked about above have experienced continued anxiety,
sometimes intense, as a result of their concern over the safety and well being
of their loved ones in cryopreservation either because of legal problems during
and subsequent to the Dora Kent affair, or due to their concern over Alcor;'s
management, policies, stability, etc.

When a person is dead, at least they are dead.  Grief is a fairly well defined
process which usually proceeds to a point where there is a reasonable degree of
acceptance and closure.  Cryonics interrupts this.

CI has had a good history so far.  They have been little involved in standby's
and terminal care, seem less concerned and anxious about ischemic intervals

above or near 0xC of hours or a day or two, and have a large population of older
patients or patients where the relatives made the arrangements.

I do NOT deny the real comfort I have seen cryonics give both the dying patient
and in some cases the next of kin.  But I have also seen cryonics RAISE anxiety
in dying patients as they worry about logistics or have denial mechanisms which
nornally come into play interrupted by the presence of cryonics staff and
transport hardware in the home/hospital/hospice/nursing home.  Again, since CI
has limited experience with standbys it has yet to encounter these problems.

By way of example, Dick Jones became very apprehensive when cryonics people
(some long-time friends) cam to visit because it interrupted his denial and
forced him to confront the fact that he was dying.

Finally, people in leadership positions in cryonics have (long) had histories of
devloping serious psychological problems such as depression, alcoholism,
burnout, and drug abuse.  The leaders or presidents of at least three cryonics
organizations I know of had serious problems with alcohol which in my personal
(and unprofessional) opinion were nearly a direct result of the stress involved
as a result of their cryonics related work.

Care to ask any of the surviving Directors, staff, next-of-kin, or activist
families of Alcor what their emotional state was during the Kent case and the
years of bitter and costly hassles with the state of California were?  Long
standing friendships were permanently ruptured as a result of the stress.

Finally, there are family members suffering tremendous anxiety over whether or
not their loved one got an adequate cryopreservation.  I know of at least four

such cases personally. In two cases I would describe the formerly placid next of
kin as near obsessive and in real pain over this issue.  Nor is this an Alcor
only problem.  Surely you (Bob) had at least passing contact with the family of
JB, who were TT clients and came to know some of the agony and distress they
went through as a direct result of cryonics.

I beleive that cryonics can be a good.  That it can do good.  That it should be
practiced.  But I also believe it has the capacity to cause real and lasting
harm on many levels to those who come in contact with it.  The point here is

that we'd all be better served if we 1)acknowledged that such problems exist, 2)
Tried to think of ways of minimizing them, and 3) Tried to develop coping
strategies when the problems  cannot be avoided.

I believe that CI will experience some of these problems first hand.  And the
larger you grow and the faster you grow, the sooner it will happen.  I must

simply, therefore, disagree with your message and speak from what I feel is both
a valid and valuable reservoir of experience.

While Margaret and Paul's death's have not helped, they certainly were not and
are not the triggers for this.  If readers wish  to retrieve my in-depth
thoughts and analyses (as well as possible solutions to these downsides of
cryonics) they are referred to the first six chapters of my book STANDBY: END
Briefs to this net, and can be retrieved through requests to Kevin Brown, who I
believe will be kind enough to supply the message #'s.

Mike Darwin

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