Cryonics, Death

Life not death

The idea that cryonics does not involve the freezing of “dead” people but is form of low temperature care to prevent death is almost as old as the idea of cryonics itself. In May 1968, Cryonics Reports, the publication of the Cryonics Society of New York (CSNY), writes that recognition of cryonics as a form of treatment to be administered prior to death should help overcome a major psychological impediment to its acceptance and major step forward in redirecting the aim of medicine.


Only scientific research will provide the understanding that will lead to changes in human growth and development. But to bring about these changes it must be applied to human beings. The aim of medicine is to sustain and improve life. It is therefore mandatory for the physician to utilize every known treatment in order to save a patient. Cryonic suspension is a known means of treatment, because freezing a body definitely prevents physical deterioration. The goal of cryonic suspension is preservation and it works!

The fact that resuscitation after freezing is presently impossible is irrelevant if there is the slightest chance that it will be possible in the future. By freezing the body we are stopping the spread of a condition that is certain to destroy it completely. This is a desirable and valid goal.

Perhaps the major psychological impediment to acceptance of the treatment is the concept of freezing after “death.” When we refer to “death” we mean legal death only. Because we believe it may be possible ultimately to revive a patient placed in cryonic suspension, we do not regard that patient as “dead” biologically.

A patient is declared “dead” when the attending physician decides that resuscitation is impossible by any known or available means. Death is not synonymous with absolutely irreversible damage, but only damage that can not be reversed at the time of treatment. Resuscitation technology is improving constantly; conditions that are irreversible today will easily be reversible tomorrow.

It would seem, therefore, that the term “death” should be reserved only for those special circumstances in which it is impossible to place the patient in cryonic suspension. After freezing or supercooling, the patient should be declared “in suspension.” This should be considered a temporary condition of indefinite duration.

The general acceptance of the idea that cryonic suspension is a treatment to be administered prior to “death” not after, would be a major step in crystallizing and redirecting the aim of medicine, saving the lives of many people, and clearing a pathway for an all-out drive to conquer aging.

Cryonics Reports, Vol. 3, No. 5, May 1968