Author Topic: Call for Euthanasia on Psychological Grounds To Be Banned  (Read 2827 times)

Keith Maitland

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Call for Euthanasia on Psychological Grounds To Be Banned
« on: December 11, 2015, 12:55:48 AM »
Belgian experts call for euthanasia on psychological grounds to be removed from the law. The group of psychiatrists, psychologists and others is calling for euthanasia on the grounds of psychological suffering alone to be removed from the Belgian legislation.

They write, “The current law assumes wrongly that there are objective clinical criteria with regard to psychological suffering that could justify euthanasia. It is for this reason that euthanasia on the grounds of psychological suffering alone cannot be regulated by law.”

RTWT here:

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1512/S00164/calll-for-euthanasia-on-psychological-grounds-to-be-banned.htm

Hope

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Re: Call for Euthanasia on Psychological Grounds To Be Banned
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2015, 08:21:06 AM »
Belgian experts call for euthanasia on psychological grounds to be removed from the law. The group of psychiatrists, psychologists and others is calling for euthanasia on the grounds of psychological suffering alone to be removed from the Belgian legislation.
I don't normally agree with what you say, Keith, but here I may have to make an exception.  I have often wondered whether any procedure should be thus permitted if it is only for psychological grounds.  I suppose this relates to a couple of friends I've had over the years who clearly had mental illnesses, but refused to accept that they did, therefore refused treatment and who both died unnecessarily - both from a medical pov and an age pov.

In effect, they had 'self-euthanased'.
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Shaker

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Re: Call for Euthanasia on Psychological Grounds To Be Banned
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2015, 12:25:18 PM »
I don't normally agree with what you say, Keith, but here I may have to make an exception.  I have often wondered whether any procedure should be thus permitted if it is only for psychological grounds.
Where would that leave people with terminal cancer, MND, etc.?

Quote
I suppose this relates to a couple of friends I've had over the years who clearly had mental illnesses, but refused to accept that they did, therefore refused treatment and who both died unnecessarily - both from a medical pov and an age pov.
But was it unnecessary from their point of view?
« Last Edit: December 11, 2015, 12:36:13 PM by Shaker »
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Hope

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Re: Call for Euthanasia on Psychological Grounds To Be Banned
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2015, 01:25:55 PM »
Where would that leave people with terminal cancer, MND, etc.?
In case you hadn't noticed, terminal cancer is a physiological issue as well as a psychological one.  As is MND. 

Quote
But was it unnecessary from their point of view?
I believe it was.
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Floo

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Re: Call for Euthanasia on Psychological Grounds To Be Banned
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2015, 01:28:37 PM »
Providing a person is in their right mind they should be permitted to end their life if it is a burden to them.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2015, 01:32:38 PM by Floo »
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Shaker

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Re: Call for Euthanasia on Psychological Grounds To Be Banned
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2015, 01:30:44 PM »
I believe it was.
That's your opinion again though - what was theirs?
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Keith Maitland

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Re: Call for Euthanasia on Psychological Grounds To Be Banned
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2015, 02:31:02 PM »
Floo,

Providing a person is in their right mind they should be permitted to end their life if it is a burden to them.

Speaking of depression, there is apparently no clinical evidence correlating depression with the desire to hasten death. What evidence we have is anecdotal, but, as Ron Lindsay says in his book Future Bioethics, at least one study of depressives found that there was “no significant effect of depression on decision making.” In other words, depressed persons may be able to distinguish fantasy from reality, and this might suggest that chronically depressed persons might reasonably choose, after long, terrible experiences of trying to cope unsuccessfully with depression, that life was no longer worth living. In such a case, if there is a desire to bring life to an end, this might overlap with a reasonable choice to bring this about.

Udayana

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Re: Call for Euthanasia on Psychological Grounds To Be Banned
« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2015, 03:05:35 PM »
I.E. you can still be "in your right mind", not suffer any physical medical condition and choose to die without  reason other than life does not seem worth the effort?


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Floo

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Re: Call for Euthanasia on Psychological Grounds To Be Banned
« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2015, 04:30:24 PM »
I.E. you can still be "in your right mind", not suffer any physical medical condition and choose to die without  reason other than life does not seem worth the effort?

That is a personal choice, whether others agree with it or not.
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Brownie

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Re: Call for Euthanasia on Psychological Grounds To Be Banned
« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2015, 04:53:29 PM »
Providing a person is in their right mind they should be permitted to end their life if it is a burden to them.

People with mental health issues are not always in their right minds though floo.  Sometimes they get better too and are glad to be alive!

It's horrible to know someone is suffering mentally but they need tlc (not always drugs which can have very bad effects), and nurturing.
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Rhiannon

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Re: Call for Euthanasia on Psychological Grounds To Be Banned
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2015, 06:34:22 PM »
People with mental health issues are not always in their right minds though floo.  Sometimes they get better too and are glad to be alive!

It's horrible to know someone is suffering mentally but they need tlc (not always drugs which can have very bad effects), and nurturing.

It's not always so simple.

Keith Maitland

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Re: Call for Euthanasia on Psychological Grounds To Be Banned
« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2015, 03:39:38 AM »
Udayana,

I.E. you can still be "in your right mind", not suffer any physical medical condition and choose to die without  reason other than life does not seem worth the effort?

There is no non-religious reason why suicide is wrong.

The only serious non-Judeo-Christian argument I am aware of for this is J. David Velleman's, which he presented in his paper "A Right of Self-Termination?" His argument boils down to this:

1. Why do we respect the wishes of others? Because they matter.

2. I can't argue based on "mattering" that I should be allowed to cease to exist, because this contradicts the idea that I matter.


I think this argument fails, because ending something's existence does not at all imply that the thing does not matter. My favorite example of this is Robert Rauschenberg's erased de Kooning drawing; one can hardly argue that the de Kooning drawing's value and worth was denied by its being erased.

We are all potentially burdened by coming into existence. We made no decision to come into existence. We should be allowed to say "no, thank you" to this unasked-for gift.

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Re: Call for Euthanasia on Psychological Grounds To Be Banned
« Reply #12 on: December 12, 2015, 07:03:16 AM »
I.E. you can still be "in your right mind", not suffer any physical medical condition and choose to die without  reason other than life does not seem worth the effort?
In which case you would be in a position to do it yourself.
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Nearly Sane

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Re: Call for Euthanasia on Psychological Grounds To Be Banned
« Reply #13 on: December 12, 2015, 09:52:25 AM »
Udayana,

There is no non-religious reason why suicide is wrong.



Surely that would depend on your overall theory of ethics? While I have noticed that there is a strain in your writing that takes an objectivist position, you haven't ever openly justified it and you would need to do so here if you are going down this route.

Rather I would suggest on a non objectivist view of my morality there is an infinite possibilities of justifying suicide as wrong, or indeed as right dependent on the axioms you base that morality on. Indeed if one extends that to being situational ethics, then it is possible for the same person to determine differently because of differing circumstances. It should also be noted that many of those who believe in objectivist ethics are also situationalists rather than absolutists.


If we take the classic and most simplistic view of Utilitarianism, then suicide could be either wrong or right based on the impact to everyone. That you might not believe in Utilitarianism does not change that and illustrates the problems with the position you have taken.


I know that due to issues of time in making comments, and the practice of language, that we all make statements that sound more absolute, and therefore in relation to morals more absolutist, then we really believe but your starting position in the above post needs a great deal more work on stopping it being a simplistic assertion such as Alan Burns makes.

Udayana

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Re: Call for Euthanasia on Psychological Grounds To Be Banned
« Reply #14 on: December 12, 2015, 10:24:39 AM »
In which case you would be in a position to do it yourself.

Indeed, as we all, practically, are.
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Nearly Sane

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Re: Call for Euthanasia on Psychological Grounds To Be Banned
« Reply #15 on: December 12, 2015, 10:28:53 AM »

To quote Dorothy Parker

'Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp
Guns aren’t lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live'

Udayana

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Re: Call for Euthanasia on Psychological Grounds To Be Banned
« Reply #16 on: December 12, 2015, 10:37:38 AM »
Udayana,

There is no non-religious reason why suicide is wrong.

The only serious non-Judeo-Christian argument I am aware of for this is J. David Velleman's, which he presented in his paper "A Right of Self-Termination?" His argument boils down to this:

1. Why do we respect the wishes of others? Because they matter.

2. I can't argue based on "mattering" that I should be allowed to cease to exist, because this contradicts the idea that I matter.


I think this argument fails, because ending something's existence does not at all imply that the thing does not matter. My favorite example of this is Robert Rauschenberg's erased de Kooning drawing; one can hardly argue that the de Kooning drawing's value and worth was denied by its being erased.

We are all potentially burdened by coming into existence. We made no decision to come into existence. We should be allowed to say "no, thank you" to this unasked-for gift.

I have not found a way by just using logic, without religious type assumptions, to being able to determine if something matters or not, let alone what to do about it then.

Rauschenberg's erased de Kooning drawing is, of-course, brilliant. But So is M.C. Eschers's Drawing Hands.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2015, 11:16:03 AM by Udayana »
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Keith Maitland

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Re: Call for Euthanasia on Psychological Grounds To Be Banned
« Reply #17 on: December 13, 2015, 04:10:57 AM »
Nearly Sane,

Surely that would depend on your overall theory of ethics? While I have noticed that there is a strain in your writing that takes an objectivist position, you haven't ever openly justified it and you would need to do so here if you are going down this route.

The question is, is it ethical to prohibit suicide, and the answer, is no, it isn't.

Mental health workers, whenever they do so, usurp the inalienable prerogative of the individual to dispose of an existence which, even in its best moments, is a pointless, Sisyphean chore, a glorified endurance test.

Strindberg was right when he said the only people comfortable in this world are swines. In the modern age this is especially true. How anyone can have anything other than a jaundiced view of the world, man, and human relations is beyond my powers of comprehension.

I mean, this may not please psychiatrists, the great pathologizers of the all too sane cynicism of some of us (which they call paranoia, which there is always at least a grain of truth in, and is often the product of a clearer vision and a greater sensitivity to the injustice most people are so deeply mired and complicit in that it is no wonder they dismiss us as paranoid), but human beings are really overrated, a product no doubt of the fact that it is only man himself that is able to evaluate the species.

When we want to deny people rights (especially fundamental ones like freedom) we'd better have damn good reasons for doing so, so in a fair ethical discussion the burden of argument so to speak lies with those denying rights, not those affirming them. Freedom should only be limited by absolute necessity, i.e my freedom ends where yours begins and vice versa. If it cannot be shown that suicide is a breach of the rights of others then it clearly isn't wrong, which isn't to say that it's necessarily smart or rational.

Given the fact that slavery has long been abolished what are we arguing about here really? In a free, open society every person is the sole owner of his or her life and body so therefore it follows they can do whatever they damn well please with it, provided they do not endanger others or cause a public disturbance. The myth of mental illness (quite mysterious diseases/disorders which do not have traceable biological features so seem to exist mainly in the subjective, socio-cultural realm - with possible exceptions such as schizophrenia) has too long been used to degrade people and rob them off their natural rights and I happen to think this is a bloody outrage.

The lack of rationality of an action (in this case suicide) should not be a criterium for goverment intervention otherwise they'll be able to control the whole of society and a scenario à la 1984 or Brave New World isn't far off. That's if committing suicide under extreme mental duress is even irrational: surely if one suffers mentally or emotionally for years on end and there's no real cure or effective relief (Plath and Woolf come to mind) it's hard not to see these poor people's quality of life is below zero and it's pretty damn rational to want to end all that meaningless suffering. If I were a cynic I might be inclined to belief the de facto suicide prohibition is more to the benefit of the mental health and pharmacological industry than to those they're supposed to help and heal (hard to do that if you don't even know the cause of the problem). As Sasz justly asked: qui bono?

In short: if someone close to me had to suffer so horrendously and the medical establishment failed them so miserably I'd completely understand and even applaud their decision to end their life. That's the real tragedy here, isn't it? If suicide is indeed closely associated with mental suffering and it is the job of psychiatrists and psychologists to treat this suffering and still the suicide-rate is through the roof then clearly they're not very good at their job so they denounce suicide (on highly spurious grounds) in order to avoid being denounced by it just like the clergy in Hume's time argued against it based on nothing but weak sophisms which he easily refuted.

If psychiatrists and their ilk are so keen on rationality perhaps they can explain to us why they still haven't found any biological cause for these mental conditions or why they still don't know how their medications and talk therapies are supposed to work and why they so often don't work at all. The answer to the suicide problem is not more prevention (blaming the victim, if ever so subtely) but better, scientifically valid care which up to date is sadly lacking. Make sure you can actually cure people of their mental illnesses and they'll flock to you for treatment (as they do to other medical specialties) and I'm confident (almost) no-one would not rather be relieved from their problem than die by their own hand which is a grim enterprise even in the best of circumstances and the great majority of suicides clearly do not die under the best of circumstances. Which in itself is an outrage: not only do we not respect people's right to self-determination but we in effect force them to carry out their act in secrecy (as if it were a crime, which de jure it isn't) with highly imperfect means (resulting in grave, horrible consequences such as disfigurement, brain damage, handicaps and the like), reinforcing the stigma attached to suicide and thus adding to the burden of those left behind.

As to the subject of death: clearly it doesn't concern us (we cannot experience death since this implies a consciousness so the very thing which death destroys) and it is only an evil if there is an immortal soul AND there is some kind of deity who thinks killing oneself to escape suffering is somehow a breach of modesty meriting more punishment. Both elements seem incredibly improbable to me.

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Re: Call for Euthanasia on Psychological Grounds To Be Banned
« Reply #18 on: December 13, 2015, 09:43:33 AM »
I'm not sure how much gets invested in research into mental health, but if it's anything like the budget allocated for caring for the mentally ill, it'll be woefully inadequate. I guess that the problem here is that we don't have sufficient criteria to say who is likely to recover and who isn't, which leaves both the medical profession and the legal process somewhat at sea.

I fully understand why the medical profession watches the suicidal and keeps them from harming themselves. I have spent quite a lot of time talking to people who have attempted suicide, and some have explained it as not wanting to die, but just wanting the mental pain to stop, and being at a loss as to how else to go about it. With care they've recovered, and now not just have normal lives, but good lives. The problem for people facing this kind of acute mental health issue is that there isn't adequate care available before they reach the point at which suicide appears to be the only viable option, compounded by the stigma around MH that prevents many from seeking help in the first place.

But for some it isn't like that - it's not a crisis moment, but a daily struggle. I got used to sharing meals with people with wrists and arms scarred from multiple suicide attempts, and who knew that at some point they would try again, one way or another. These were some of the most courageous people I have ever met, keeping going in horrendous pain, looking for light, wanting to keep going mainly because of the people who loved and cared for them. In these cases I've come to the view that assisted dying is a compassionate option.

And these are just my limited observations not as any kind of expert, but as someone who has been mentally ill myself. The bigger picture is far more complex, I know.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2015, 09:46:06 AM by Rhiannon »

Shaker

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Re: Call for Euthanasia on Psychological Grounds To Be Banned
« Reply #19 on: December 13, 2015, 10:18:01 AM »
Too long to quote and actually nothing to add; simply two exceptional posts by Keith and Rhiannon.
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Nearly Sane

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Re: Call for Euthanasia on Psychological Grounds To Be Banned
« Reply #20 on: December 13, 2015, 12:32:53 PM »
Keith. If you want to engage, can I suggest as a basic starting point, you read what someone has written and start from there, as the entirety of your very well written, hugely self indulgent post has nothing to to with what I wrote other than taking it as a ski lift to go off on another assertatron flight.


This flaky 'it's right because I quote Strindberg' pish is as ever with you, another set of vacuous wanking that should have been kept to your teenage diaries. My post was asking how you might move to the objective statement that you are making, and what did I get, a well toned diatribe, ignoring the question. And stamping your tiny feet about another set of assertions

Yesterday, I was talking to a friend about the effect his uncle's suicide when my friend was 12 had on him, and it wasn't about blame, it wasn't about whether it was right, it was a genuine cry for understanding, a cry for what if anything the 12 year old could have done. And, yes, there may be people whose deaths and suicides effect no one going forward but they are damn few, and thinking you are one of them is, simply on a numbers basis, indulgent crap.

Do we do the best for those suffering from depression and mental illness? No. Is that a reason to spunk your adolescent witterings as if they have a scintilla of objectivity? Arse!
« Last Edit: December 13, 2015, 12:34:41 PM by Nearly Sane »

Rhiannon

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Re: Call for Euthanasia on Psychological Grounds To Be Banned
« Reply #21 on: December 13, 2015, 02:02:35 PM »
I know we don't fully understand mental illness, but I'm not convinced that there is always a choice for those who take their own lives, nor any treatment for some severe forms that can make life tolerable. We have to get out of this mindset that blames both victim and loved ones, including self-recrimination; we don't do it for other forms of illness.

Shaker

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Re: Call for Euthanasia on Psychological Grounds To Be Banned
« Reply #22 on: December 13, 2015, 02:06:49 PM »
... because a lot of people still haven't quite entirely shaken off old ideas that mental/emotional conditions have a voluntary aspect to them - that they can be overcome just by being positive enough or by trying hard enough. As you say, anybody saying the same of bowel cancer for example would get a smack in the teeth (and would deserve it).
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Nearly Sane

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Re: Call for Euthanasia on Psychological Grounds To Be Banned
« Reply #23 on: December 13, 2015, 02:11:49 PM »
And since no one is saying that, why are we talking about it?

Shaker

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Re: Call for Euthanasia on Psychological Grounds To Be Banned
« Reply #24 on: December 13, 2015, 02:16:56 PM »
Since no one mentioned Keith's teenage diaries until you brought it up in your previous borderline hysterical screed, what's the relevance of that, precisely?
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