Psychological Analysis Of Death: The Death Of Ivan Illych

1045 words - 4 pages

The Death of Ivan Illych brings an excellent in-depth description of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s 5 cycles of grief theory. In the book, it shows how Ivan Illych goes through these cycles in their own individual way. The cycles that Kubler-Ross uses in her theory are: denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and acceptance. To get a better understanding of these cycles, this paper will describe each cycle and provide quotations that will help develop an idea of how someone going through these cycles may react.
According to Kubler-Ross’s theory, the first cycle is denial. Denial in this case is the individual denying that they are dying. When the individual resists the reality that they are going to die. “Then where shall I be when I am no more? Could this be dying? No I don’t want to!” (Tolystoy, “TdofII” p127), Ivan may have felt that he would be leaving too much behind if he were to die: worrying about where he’ll after he dies and refusing to something that cannot be stopped. Concerned mostly about losing his luxuries, he was clearly afraid and couldn’t accept he was dying as shown in this quote. “In the depth of his heart he knew he was dying, but not only was he not accustomed to the thought, he simply did not and could not grasp it.” (Tolystoy, “TdofII” p129).
The second stage of Kubler-Ross's theory is anger. To blame others for why they are dying as well as blaming a higher power is a sign of the anger cycle. A person in the anger cycle will also resent others because they are not dying and will show feelings of envy. Ivan Illych's anger cycle showed strong resentment to his wife, fellow magistrates, and God. “Go on! Strike me! But what is it for? What have I done to thee?”(Tolystoy, “TdofII” p143). In addition to this phase he became somewhat bipolar: alternating between two state-of-minds, one in despair, rage, cruelty, and one in hope and desperation.
After the individual has had a chance to vent their anger and realizing that death is certain, they resort to bargaining with whatever higher power they believe in. “This involves the individual believing or hoping that he or she could postpone death by coming to a negotiation with a higher power” ( Although there might not be an exact reference to Ivan Illych bargaining, it would seem logical to believe he was bargaining when he confessed to the priest in hopes that a miracle would happen. So that then, he could go back into playing cards or working. The book also stated that Ivan felt relieved to have the priest hear his confession. “Ivan Illych was softened and seemed to feel a relief from his doubts and consequently from his sufferings, and for a moment, there came a ray of hope”(Tolystoy, “TdofII” p149-150). So it seems that Ivan Illych thinks he'll be cured because he confessed to the priest, therefore meaning he confessed to God.
Unfortunately, Ivan's condition gets worse and he enters the cycle of depression. This is when an individual realizes that their death...

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