People Who Kick Buts: Elizabeth Kubler Ros
The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.
- Born on July 8, 1926 and passed away on August 24, 2004.
- A Swiss American psychiatrist, a pioneer in Near-death studies and the author of the groundbreaking book On Death and Dying (1969), where she first discussed what is now known as the Kübler-Ross model.
- She is a 2007 inductee into the American National Women’s Hall of Fame.
She was the recipient of twenty honorary degrees and by July 1982 had taught, in her estimation, 125,000 students in death and dying courses in colleges, seminaries, medical schools, hospitals, and social-work institutions. In 1970, she delivered the The Ingersoll Lectures on Human Immortality at Harvard University, on the theme, On Death and Dying.
- Elisabeth Kübler was born on July 8, 1926 in Zürich, Switzerland, one of triplets.
- Her father did not want her to study medicine, but she persisted.
Eventually her father took pride in her career.
- During World War II she became involved in refugee relief work in Zürich and later visited Majdanek death camp. She graduated from the University of Zürich medical school in 1957.
- She moved to the United States in 1958 to work and continue her studies in New York.
- As she began her psychiatric residency, she was appalled by the hospital treatment of patients who were dying. She began giving a series of lectures featuring terminally ill patients, forcing medical students to confront people who were dying.
- In the late 1970s Kübler-Ross became interested in out-of-body experiences, mediumship, spiritualism and in other ways attempting to contact the dead.
This led to a scandal connected to the Shanti Nilaya healing center where she was duped by the medium Jay Barham, founder of the Church of the Facet of the Divinity.
Claiming he could channel the spirits of the departed and summon ethereal “entities”, he encouraged church members to engage in sexual relations with the “spirits”. He may have hired several women to play the parts of female spirits for this purpose. Kubler-Ross’ friend Deanna Edwards attended a service to ascertain whether allegations against Barham were true. He was found to be naked and wearing only a turban when Edwards unexpectedly pulled masking tape off the light switch and flipped on the light.
- She conducted many workshops on AIDS in different parts of the world. In 1990 she moved the healing Center to her own farm in Head Waters, Virginia to reduce her extensive travelling.
- In 1958 she married a fellow medical student from America, Emanuel (“Manny”) Ross and moved to the United States. Becoming pregnant disqualified Kübler-Ross from a residency in pediatrics, so she took one in psychiatry. She had two miscarriages, finally having a son, Kenneth, and a daughter, Barbara, in the early 1960s. Her husband requested a divorce in 1979.
- One of her greatest wishes was her plan to build a hospice for infants and children infected with HIV to give them a last home where they could live until their death, inspired by the aid-project of British doctor Cicely Saunders.
In 1985 she attempted to do this in Virginia. But local residents feared the possibility of infection and blocked the necessary re-zoning. In 1994, she lost her house and possessions to an arson fire that is suspected to have been set by opponents of her AIDS work.