Sympathectomy of the Soul:
Dutch Euthanasia and

End of Life Issues — By on January 14, 2005 at 1:55 am

After a three-year investigation, the Royal Dutch Medical Association has concluded that Dutch doctors ought to be able to kill patients who are not ill but who are judged to be “suffering through living.” The report, which contradicts a Dutch Supreme Court ruling that euthanasia should be allowed only if a patient has a “classifiable physical or mental condition”, argues that no reason can be given to exclude situations of such suffering from a doctor ‘



  • Terry

    I see a wonderfull social engineering project here. Increasing the total happiness in a society can be accomplished by encouraging unhappy people to end their lives, or, in the last resort, ending it for them.

  • http://pseudopolymath.blogspot.com/ Mark O

    For an alternative view on the value of suffering, see Romans 5:3-5.

  • http://jivinjehoshaphat.blogspot.com/2005/01/suffering-ethics-in-netherlands.html JivinJehoshaphat

    “Suffering” ethics in the Netherlands

    I always thought a doctor’s task was to heal and care for patients, not kill them when they have no illness and then label it as “reduc(ing) suffering.” It seems that many Dutch doctors fail to realize that killing patients doesn’t “reduce suffering”…

  • http://www.leanleft.com Kevin T. Keith

    The Dutch have conflated reducing suffering with eliminating suffering
    I am always amazed at conservatives’ enthusiasm for (other people’s) suffering.
    Personally, I regard eliminating suffering as a good thing. I gather that these patients in the Netherlands feel the same way. It doesn’t seem to me that your perception that they must continue suffering to some particular degree – that they are allowed to “reduce” their own suffering but prohibited from succeeding entirely in doing so – obligate them to live in pain?
    While mental and psychological pain can be just as traumatic as physical pain, it may not necessarily be a permanent condition.
    This is a practical, not a moral, objection. Perhaps some pains can be overcome easily enough to make it worth the effort. It is likely that others can be overcome only with time and effort that, in itself, would be worse than death, and still others can never be overcome. Distinguishing these is itself a difficult practical problem. And yet again, that identification is complicated by the tendency of the suffering to presume their suffering is incurable. But if these problems can be answered – if there are pains that cannot be overcome and they can be reliably identified – then your observation is no objection to ending those pains in the only way possible. And it’s not as if this problem hasn’t been noted or addressed before – the psychological literature is filled with it. In the end, people make the best evaluation they can, knowing the risks of both under- and over-estimating the difficulties of their condition, and then make the best decisions they can accordingly. For mentally competent patients, at least, this ought to be enough.
    The issue, like so many in bioethics, is at bottom simply one of whether or not we will allow people to make their own decisions and control their own lives by the values they (not you) hold. That possibility seems to trigger some kind of allergic reaction in conservatives, for whatever reason, but seems reasonable enough to me. More importantly, they have a moral right to do so. Conservative bioethics consists largely in preventing people from exercising their own rights and liberties – making the “ethics” part of conservative bioethics even more than usually ironic.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com mumon

    Why not go closer to home and consider Bush whether or not Bush and Gonzales are, in fact murderers?
    Oh, yeah, they’re conservative. They get a free pass.

  • http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com Joe Carter

    Mumon Why not go closer to home and consider Bush whether or not Bush and Gonzales are, in fact murderers.
    Someday, Mumon, I’m going to collect your comments together to use as examples of how to win an argument by sophistry. You seem to use just about every one of the

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    I, like Kevin, usually defer to individuals to regulate their choices. Individuals are usually better at weighing the decisions unique to their personal circumstances and even when they are not collective decision making has a host of problems of its own.
    However skeptics are right, IMO, to worry about giving doctors the legal right to kill their patients. The whole thing is open to a lot of abuse not only by doctors but by family and others who may put psychological pressure on people who are already sick to ‘stop being a burden’.
    I don’t think this is a ‘growing culture of death’. If you live in Holland you probably will enjoy quite a bit of effort to ensure you will have as much life as possible. I wouldn’t be surprised if Holland’s abortion rates were even lower than the US and some countries where abortion is outlawed! This issue is actually a by-product of the ‘culture of life’ that has pushed death back so much that there are many more people now living in states that the technology of the past simply could not support.

  • Dave S.

    Predictably, KTK defends death as a path to happiness and mumon veers wildly off topic.

  • http://pseudopolymath.blogspot.com/ Mark O

    Kevin,
    You know for a certainty that in the future you will suffer, but your solution for yourself is not to end it all. I furthermore don’t believe you really feel that eliminating suffering as a good thing is true unless you’re hopelessly naive. You don’t advocate (I holpe) breaking out the soma and welcoming all to a “Brave New World”.
    You end your comment “almost” making a reasonable point (that you feel the restriction of rights is primary and that (I assume) the right to end one’s own life is one of those “unalienable rights”) but then drop the ball while by being unable or unwilling to try to understand the “conservative” point of view. You dismiss it as an “allergy” not a reasoned ethical decision. Do you imagine that your lofty superior attitude improves your rhetoric?

  • http://www.leanleft.com Kevin T. Keith

    You know for a certainty that in the future you will suffer, but your solution for yourself is not to end it all.
    There are many ways of eliminating suffering; relatively less drastic ones usually work, so they are the obvious choice in most circumstances. Death is a reasonable alternative only for those whose other alternatives are worse than death. The point is simply that that is not an empty set.
    Assuming that believing this is equivalent to believing that everyone who might suffer in any way should kill themselves is absurd. As for me, I don’t kill myself now because I believe that someday I might still possibly have a girlfriend, a steady income, and a decent place to live. If things go on as they are much longer, however, I’ll give it some thought.
    I furthermore don’t believe you really feel that eliminating suffering as a good thing is true unless you’re hopelessly naive.
    I’ve never been convinced that life is “ennobled” or “given meaning” by suffering, and I’ve never regarded those who do believe so (usually physically healthy conservative pundits with lucrative think-tank jobs and publishing contracts) as being either convincing or sensible. As for the Brave New World, the only problem I see with it is that its social conditions were mandatory and imposed without consent. But a world of universal health, rampant sex, no religion, rampant sex, social contentment, and rampant sex sounds pretty good to me!

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com mumon

    Joe Carter:
    I didn’t think you’d actually investigate further on Bush and his atrocious record in executions.
    But I thought of my usual reaction to your topic here, which is “if it comes from people who self-identify as ‘Christian conservatives,’ you’re not getting the full truth.’
    And sure enough, you didn’t put out the full truth:
    0. This topic was raised earlier this week by Theodore Beale/Vox Day, to deflect charges that he was an anti-semite.
    1. The link is dead. People who want to read what seems to be the link can go here: http://www.australasianbioethics.org/Newsletters/currentbioedge.html#healthy
    2.Here’s some of what you left out:

    The emeritus professor of clinical psychology who led the report, Dr Jos Dijkhuis, denied that Dutch doctors would agree to a request for euthanasia from a patient who was simply tired of living. is committee believes that “suffering through living” is real suffering which involves a range of physical and mental ailments. In about half of the cases studied Dr Dijkhuis said that there had been no “classifiable disease”. “We see a doctor’s task is to reduce suffering; therefore we can’t exclude these cases in advance,” he argues.

    3.”Therapeutic nihilism” is to be denying that treatment can be affected. Do you read what you link to?
    4. Again, given the sadistic bias in the US against any aggressive pain relief, and its insane drug war policies, not to mention the barbaric way in which the death penalty is applied in Texas, I would look first at the plank in the eye of the conservative Christian, were I one.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com mumon

    Having said all the above, though, here’s my take on suffering:
    Life is suffering.
    Understanding and application of the 4 Noble Truths results in the transcendance of suffering, not its elimination.
    Sometimes appication and of the 4 Noble Truths – and invoking the precept against killing- will result in a killing. That’s why mindfulness is important.
    And frankly, practices that ignore the mindfulness- such as those that focus on tut-tutting at those liberal Dutch- tend to result in greater suffering. Or, to put it another way, look at the plank in your own eye before trying to remove someone else’s.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com mumon

    And… before someone cries “Biased against Christins!” in response to what I wrote on January 14, 2005 12:08 PM, (“if it comes from people who self-identify as ‘Christian conservatives,’ you’re not getting the full truth.”) let me remind you folks, that at least some of the Christian conservatives, some prominent ones, are faith-based, not reality based:

    Knowing that God says,

  • http://www.anotherthink.com/contents/postmodern_culture/20050114_followup_euthanasia_in_the_netherlands.html AnotherThink

    Follow-up: Euthanasia in the Netherlands

    The Dutch medical establishment wants to apply euthanasia to the “sufferings of living.”

  • Mr Ed

    I am always amazed at conservatives’ enthusiasm for (other people’s) suffering.
    And I’m always amazed how otherwise intelligent people can express such simplistic views. If this is how you truly believe, which I doubt, then you have no idea what a “conservative” position on this issue is.

  • http://usr-bin-mom.com michelle

    If you live in Holland you probably will enjoy quite a bit of effort to ensure you will have as much life as possible.
    Unfortunately, that’s not true, Boonton. The vulnerable have much to fear in a society where doctors, who are presumed to know better than their patients, are given the right to choose between life and death for those patients:
    http://www.grandforks.com/mld/grandforks/news/world/9890729.htm

    Dutch doctors have some intentional role in 3.4 percent of all deaths, according to statistics published in the medical journal The Lancet. About 0.6 percent are patients who didn’t ask to be euthanized, the journal said.
    Dutch courts often treat those cases leniently if an investigation determines that the doctor acted out of concern for the patient’s well-being.
    Opponents of expanding euthanasia to the young cite a recent Dutch court ruling against punishment for a doctor who injected fatal drugs into an elderly woman after she told him she didn’t want to die.
    The court determined that he’d made “an error of judgment,” but had acted “honorably and according to conscience.”
    News reports say that since that decision some elderly hospital patients are carrying written appeals not to be euthanized. A German company has proposed a nursing home just across the border from the Netherlands that would be promoted to aging Dutch residents as a safe haven in a country where euthanasia is illegal and likely to remain so.

  • http://kasobs.blogspot.com/2005/01/suffering-through-living.html Kim’s Thoughts and Observations

    Suffering through living

    Url change; Joe Carter at Evangelical Outpost is posting on the Dutch Euthanasia decision by the Royal Dutch Medical Association that doctors ought to be able to help those “suffering through living” to have doctor assisted suicide.

  • Quadko

    To link this to a few topics I have been thinking about (with some horror, needless to say):
    As I understand what the Dutch have done, it is no longer patient requested suicide but Doctor decided “mercy” killing. So:
    A. If one doesn’t get Social Security, or enough to live a “happy lifestyle”, does that count as suffering? Can a doctor kill one because of their economic lack which leads to suffering?
    Aa. If a doctor has that power, does the government? “We can’t give you enough money to make you happy, so we are going to kill you for the good of society.” Euthanasia as a fix for the Social Security problem, and a corollary to abortion having killed off the new wage earners who would have paid for it?
    Ab. Under our new policy, Poverty has been eradicated. And we _mean_ eradicated. The poor obviously suffer, and we know how to deal with suffering.
    Ac. (works for bad grades, poor job performance, and all of society’s ills.)
    B. Since “emotional suffering is worse than physical suffering”, does euthanasia become a cure for depression? Divorce induced, pregnancy induced, job loss induced, obesity induced, drug withdrawal induced

  • Quadko

    The Dutch are being so irresponsibly and aggressively “progressive” they are gradually turning into a rather medieval society.
    In this they are very wrong; only the government should have the right or authority to kill people (wars and capital punishment) and those governmental rights should be very strictly curtailed. Giving more institutions or people actual rights to kill citizens is downright evil, and that list will just grow.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com mumon

    Quadko:
    Giving more institutions or people actual rights to kill citizens is downright evil, and that list will just grow.

    I know what you mean. It’s bad enough we have Bush as president.
    Really, why don’t you folks turn an eye on the guy in Washington?

  • Mr Ed

    mumon:
    Do you know what the difference is between el-Masri and those Dutch patients? el-Masri is alive.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com mumon

    Mr Ed:
    Do you know what the difference is between those Dutch patients and some of el-Masri’s not tried, not convicted, co-prisoners?
    Nothing. They’re both dead and we don’t know why.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com mumon

    And besides, Ed, what about that plank in the eye of the US?

  • Quadko

    “…turn an eye on the guy…”
    (Nice rhythm to that, btw.) Oh, I watch my hero pretty closely, and am generally very pleased by what he does. Naturally, I don’t confuse 50+ years of some hidden and scandalous action by the military with OHtP GWB’s personally signed policies. I don’t imagine defending American lives can be done by the rules and methods of the local Rose Society.
    Nor do I confuse Salon.com with a newsrag happy to praise the President when the situation warrants. I am quite convinced that the exact same situation under a favored Democrat president would be presented in a radically different light than the story you link to.
    I also don’t confuse the hell that is war with a visit to the doctor’s office, as the Dutch seem to be doing. Of the two, I would fix the problem with the medical profession before I even looked at the military problem.
    But I am happy to stand with someone whom I disagree with politically and say “Doctors killing patients is immoral and wrong and should be resisted.”

  • http://www.postmodernclog.com/archives/000973.html Le Sabot Post-Moderne

    Bloggy Goodness — Jan 15, 2005

    Kathryn, a long-lost pal from my teenage activist days, links to a must-read article from Elle magazine — Confessions of a Very Good Girl. Kathryn and I came through the Evangelical subculture and into the Reformed world with our faith intact. The aut…

  • Mr Ed

    Nothing. They’re both dead and we don’t know why.
    Says el-Masri. But, oddly enough, he is still alive. Why would they kill some prisoners and not only leave others, who were also witnesses to the killings alive, but fly them to another country and drop them off?

  • Kevin W

    I don’t understand what Mumon is so exercised about re: the War on Terror. Way I see it, the Muslims are suffering so that they consider it a lifestyle improvement to strap Semtex on their children’s backs and have them blow themselves up, either in close proximity to US Army troops at a checkpoint, or, better still, at a Tel Aviv bus stop. So, to take your absurd line of thinking to its logical conclusion, the United States Air Force is alleviating suffering on a mass scale on every bombing run and missile strike.
    So, what’s your problem with GWB? Is he not, too, doing the work of the Dutch euthanists, but better?

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com mumon

    Mr Ed:
    Look we already know people did die in custody. This is not a point of contention. Rather than be suspicious of that “foreigner,” maybe you ought to dig a bit deeper.
    Kevin W:
    Thanks for making the point. Your take on “Muslims “just just how really knowledgeable you are about the rest of the world.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com mumon

    Quadko :
    You’re talking about a German citizen, who apparently had no record of any kind who was kidnapped on the way to his vacation far away from the Middle East.
    Could be you.

  • Larry Lord

    Yo Kevin W, how about some mea culpa about the WMD debacle?
    Is it time yet to admit you were wrong?

  • Septeus7

    Quote from the Kevin the Retard: Personally, I regard eliminating suffering as a good thing. I gather that these patients in the Netherlands feel the same way.
    First, it is not the patients who feel that way just some committee making the decision on their behalf. Kevin, if I believe that all liberals “suffer through life” may I kill them? What about being a medical doctor allows me to determine the value of your life for you?
    Second, if I as an outside observer look at person who just badly burned his hand while cooking I could very easily judge him to be suffering. So to eliminate the suffering I knock him unconscious and cut off his hand. Afterwords, I shoot him full of pain killers so when he wakes up he won’t have suffered at all. Unfortunatingly, because I cut off my friend’s hand he can no longer work….thus more suffering. The problems with the irrational quest to elminate sufferinng are as follows:
    1.It is impossible to elminate to suffering and an attempt to do so merely moves suffering from one form to another. Suffering is like matter.
    2.Suffering cannot be objectively defined via a second party without mistakes being made on a consistant basis.
    3.Some suffering has functional value to society and the individual.
    4.The suffering life still has value. How people should be valued it not related or dependent on their pain or suffering level.
    Quote from Kevin the Retard: As for the Brave New World, the only problem I see with it is that its social conditions were mandatory and imposed without consent. But a world of universal health, rampant sex, no religion, rampant sex, social contentment, and rampant sex sounds pretty good to me!
    First, you are wrong that the conditions where imposed without consent. They were imposed from conception via a conditioning process to which everybody was subjected. Thus everybody “consented” to the mandatory social conditions. You need to read the book again. It refutes most of the your arguments or at least shows the psychopathic nature of liberalism when followed to its inevitable conclusion.
    However, I am glad to see that you freely admit what I said months ago about your and your friend’s(tgirsch) liberal position leading to a Brave New World scenario. For my insight, I was ruthlessly mocked here as being crazy and/or considered obsessed with the book. I thank you for your endosement of rampant child sex in society, rampant drug use, and the abolition of representative government in favor of an utopian authoritarism with a caste system. You saved me much valued time showing that you are a total nutjob while giving me credibility at the same time. Again, I truly thank you.
    Kevin, in closing, let me give you a warning. Throughout history we have seen many folks with utopian dreams of elminating pain and suffering for everyone come to power and it always leads to mass carnage and loss of liberty. Your modern progressive liberalism will be no different if you achieve the power you desire so uncontrollably.
    Right now, America is in a war with one such utopian dream called radical Islam and naturally you have sided with them and not America via a passive resistance to every effort to combat the enemy of our lives and freedoms. Many of the American people know this and we will keep you and your ilk at bay til we have defeated this enemy and put it in its rightful grave. But know this, after our current fight with Islam the next enemy to be defeated and put in the dustbin of history will be Progressive Liberalism.
    It will be America’s greatest stuggle but I am doing everything in my power to see that the RIGHT wins it. I make a alot of donations to lobby groups and I’m a part of the setting up of a movement to elminate your major party. However, I know that it may fail and we may be unable to stop your climb to power at some point given Murphy’s Law. When that happens and when this war comes and it must; I will gladly fight to the death and defeat you to save this America for my children’s sake from that progressive liberal utopian dream or ,rather, that hellish nightmare that you wish to inflict on this great Country.
    So help me God.

  • http://www.mediaculpa.com/index.php?id=P213 MediaCulpa

    Euthanasia Ends the Suffering of Those Who Perform It

    Joe Carter at Evangelical Oupost says euthanasia is a "sympathectomy":
    After a localized trauma or peripheral nerve injury, a person may feel a syndrome of pain and tenderness that

  • hobgoblin

    mumon (paraphrased): [though bubble] [Uh-oh, the damned Dutch are showing the logical end to the utilitarian dystopia that modern liberalism always engenders. Time to change the subject!]
    “Bush Lied!!!! People Died!!!11!!onehundredeleven!!1111!!”
    mumon, for someone who’s ostensibly “buddhist” (“Understanding and application of the 4 Noble Truths results in the transcendance of suffering, not its elimination.“) you seem to display an overbearing abundance of ego (or “the self”).
    Not everything is about your j1had against Bush, and killing folks ‘cuz they don’t feel like living is on the far edges of nihilism.
    Don’t you know that the intellect is an illusion created by the ego in order to bolster its sense of existence. The great nothingness of the Void laughs at insignificant trifles like the current president.
    Please, do us all a favor and embrace the blissful emptyness of the void, cast aside the pretentions of intellect, and become one with the Ultimate reality. Then we won’t have to put up with your off-topic rants.