The Ellard Collection

Life after death

John Ellard



‘Life after death’ is an essay by the late Dr John Ellard reproduced from the book The Anatomy of Mirages: a Psychiatrist Reflects on Life and the Mind.*

Dr Ellard, revered former Editor of Modern Medicine of Australia and Medicine Today and a distinguished psychiatrist, wrote many essays in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s on society’s most controversial and vexing issues. These were published in various journals including Modern Medicine of Australia, and also collected together and published as books. The essay ‘Life after death’ originally appeared in the June 1985 issue of Modern Medicine of Australia.
* Ellard J. The anatomy of mirages: a psychiatrist reflects on life and the mind. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press; 1994. p. 117-125. 

Article Extract

At a particular time in my life simple inspection revealed that I had survived middle age. Therefore, I was informed by that most accurate of mechanisms – hindsight – and, when asked, felt capable of writing about it. Then my acquaintance with old age became sufficient to enable me to write about that time of life. But if one can survive middle age, can one progress further? Can we survive old age? No one personally known to me seems to have done so, and as my shadow lengthens my confidence in my own immortality does not increase correspondingly. Nevertheless, the scientific attitude requires that once the question has been raised, it must be examined, and in any case I must give an answer to my colleague’s question.
Picture credit: © Barry Olive, 2017