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The Mystery of Michael Jackson’s Death

June 25, 2009
By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

Why 50-year-old Michael Jackson would die from cardiac arrest is a giant mystery.

According to The Los Angeles Times, Jackson was not breathing when paramedics came to his home. Attempts to resuscitate the pop singer were unsuccessful.

According to the American Heart Association, cardiac arrest is markedly different from a heart attack. In cardiac arrest, the heartbeat becomes chaotic or rapid while a heart attack is caused by restricted blood supply to a region of the organ. A heart attack can, however, precipitate cardiac arrest.

One possible cause of cardiac arrest is the abuse of prescription drugs; this occurred in another celebrity death, that of Anna Nicole Smith.

It may be that some of the same circumstances that surrounded the Smith case were present in Jackson’s passing.

Brian Oxman, the Jackson family lawyer, said that Michael may have had a problem with prescription drugs as part of the preparation for the challenge of a 50-concert tour, which was to begin in London this July.

Oxman told CNN that the singer was taking drugs because of some past injuries, including a broken back and broken leg. The pain from the injuries was an inhibiting factor for Jackson’s demanding rehearsal schedule.

“This was something which I feared and something which I warned about,” Oxman said. “I can tell you for sure that this is something I warned about. Where there is smoke there is fire.”

Alleged multiple plastic surgeries, frequent hospitalizations and the need for unusual medications were a troublesome part of Jackson’s life.

An autopsy on the singer is planned for as soon as Friday.

Perhaps then some of the mystery will begin to be unraveled.

But will Michael Jackson be remembered for his pop music, or his peculiar behavior?

Jackson was on the verge of making one of the biggest entertainment comebacks in history. He was set to take off on a new and ambitious concert tour that would have revived the image of the consummate performer he possessed decades ago.

But his sudden and unexpected passing robbed him of the opportunity and erased his comeback from the history pages.

There is no question that Jackson will be remembered for the musical and video innovations, which fundamentally altered pop culture.

Jackson went from the cute little lead singer of The Jackson 5 to an authentic musical and performance artist who redefined music videos and even invented his own moon-walk dance.

Indelible hit songs like “Thriller” will always be a part of his legacy.

But then there was the other Michael — the one who seemed to change physical appearance with each passing album, his features becoming more refined and his skin a whiter shade of pale.

There was the Michael who wore surgical masks when he went out in public, placed veils over his children’s faces, put his newborn on display and in jeopardy and fondly talked of being a Peter Pan.

There was the Michael about whom disturbing allegations arose, allegations that resulted in a long public trial and worrisome rumors.

So how will Michael be remembered? By his music and dancing or the eccentricities and accusations?

Who was the “Man in the Mirror?

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Copyright © 2009
James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
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