history of Arizona's physicians is rich in mystery,
controversy, innovation and pride. Since the
settlers first inhabited the territory, physicians
have been a part of Arizona's legacy. They helped
shape the culture of this Great State and set
the standard for the quality of care delivered
to its citizens. The Physicians of Interest
page on this website highlights the historical
work of Arizona's physicians and the roles they
played while shaping the State's future. The
biography of a new physician will be added each
month and in time, the page will represent a
patchwork of the names and faces that brought
medicine in Arizona to life.
Dr. Elizabeth Kübler-Ross
World-renowned psychiatrist and prolific author, Dr. Kübler-Ross retired in Scottsdale Arizona in 1995. Although her direct connection with Arizona is through her retirement and recent death, this physician’s work on death, the stages of grieving, and AIDS has connected her with the world.
Kübler-Ross authored more than 20 books, many of which have been translated into more than twenty-eight languages. Her bestselling first book, On Death and Dying, 1969, made her an internationally distinguished author. Even today, her vanguard book is required reading in most major medical, nursing, and psychology programs. Her emphasis on a “good death” strengthened the hospice movement and brought it into the mainstream. Her pursuit in challenging the medical profession to change its view of dying patients advanced many significant concepts such as living wills, home health care, and helping patients die with dignity.
Dr. Kübler-Ross was born as one of triplet sisters in Zurich, Switzerland, on July 8, 1926.
Early in her childhood she decided upon a medical career. The focus of her work in death and dying crystallized in 1945 as a member of the International Voluntary Service for Peace. It was in a concentration camp, after World War II, she discovered butterflies carved in the walls where prisoners spent their final hours. To the young Elizabeth, these carvings symbolized a beautiful transformation that occurs at the time of death and she wanted to share this with others.
After graduating from medical school at the University of Zurich, where she met future husband and fellow medical student Emanuel "Manny" Robert Ross, she came to the United States in 1958. She served her internship and residencies at hospitals in New York before moving to Denver in 1962. She was horrified by the customary treatment of dying patients. "They were shunned and abused; nobody was honest with them," she said. She made it a point to sit with terminal patients, listening as they poured out their hearts to her. While simultaneously raising two small children, she began giving influential lectures featuring dying patients who talked about their most intimate dying experiences.
From 1965 to 1977, she worked in the Chicago area before moving her practice to Virginia. Throughout the 1970's, Dr. Kübler-Ross led hundreds of workshops and spoke to standing room only crowds worldwide. The "five psychological stages of dying" (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance) outlined in her book became accepted as common knowledge throughout the world.
She assumed the Presidency of the Elisabeth Kübler-Ross Center and the Shanti Nilaya Growth and Healing Center in the late 1970's, a base from which she gave "Life, Death and Transition" workshops. In the 1980's, she purchased a 300-acre farm in Head Waters, Virginia, to serve as a healing and workshop center, and called it Healing Waters. She then turned her focus into helping babies born with AIDS at a time when nobody else wanted anything to do with them.
The March 29, 1999 issue of Time Magazine named her one of "The Century's Greatest Minds" in a summary of the 100 greatest scientists and thinkers of the century. Throughout the span of her life, she continued to encourage students with similar interests, and regularly contributed forwards, chapters, and sections to numerous other authors’ books regarding death, dying, and grief. She was the recipient of more than 20 honorary degrees from colleges and universities across the country. She participated in a number of advisory boards, committees and societies, and was one of the founders of the American Holistic Medical Association.
She is survived by son Kenneth Lawrence, a photographer in Scottsdale; daughter Barbara Lee Rothweiler, a clinical psychologist in Wausau, Wisconsin, (husband, Jeffrey); granddaughters Sylvia and Emma; and sister Eva. A final thought from Dr. Elizabeth Kübler-Ross: "Life doesn't end when you die. It starts."
Reproduced in part from article posted on www.elizabethkublerross.com