November 28, 2023

Dutch Medical Association promotes suicide book

Sold over internet for people who are not terminally ill

Sites which provide suicide information on the internet are banned in some
countries. But in the Netherlands, the Dutch Medical Association is helping to
promote a reliable do-it-yourself suicide guide for doctors and their patients,
according to the British Medical Journal. The 180-page book, "Information about the Careful Ending of
, which is available for sale on the internet for 25 Euros, will soon
be available in a condensed English translation. It has been published by the
Foundation for Scientific Research into Careful Suicide, which is headed by a
leading Dutch advocate of euthanasia, Dr Pieter Admiraal.

Like other suicide books, this gives advice about refusing food and fluids
and taking a combination of drugs to induce coma and death. Amongst the authors
are a chemist who writes under a pseudonym and a Canadian expert in the
sociology of euthanasia, Russel D. Ogden. Mr Ogden described a method for
committing suicide in a potentially undetectable way with helium in a 2002 issue
of the American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology.

The book is aimed at people who are not experiencing unbearable and
hopeless suffering. These conditions are required to qualify for a doctor’s
assistance in euthanasia, which is legal in the Netherlands. However, the Dutch
Medical Association apparently feels that people who are not terminally ill also
have a right to die if they want. The authors do advise patients against acting
impulsively and counsel young people to contact a doctor if they feel suicidal.

The medical association’s ethics policy adviser, Gert van Dijk, pointed out
that although doctors are not supposed to assist suicides, they still have a
"duty of care" to help people remain comfortable. The book should assist them in
this. ~ BMJ,
June 21

There is an intriguing job vacancy at University
College London for a PhD interested in neuroaesthetics. The successful
candidate will be investigating “the neural bases of creativity and
affective mental states such as the experience of beauty”. Is this another
sign of a growing conviction that neuroscience will explain everything?

Could be. A bit of Googling reveals that this job
is part of a £1 million grant from the Wellcome Foundation to Professor
Semir Zeki. According to last
year’s press release
, his mission is to search for “the neural and
biological basis for creativity, beauty and love”. The Wellcome Trust, which disburses over £600
million every year for medical research, is the largest non-government
medical research donor. 

"The new field of
neuroaesthetics will teach biologists to use the products of the brain in art,
music, literature and mathematics to better understand how the brain
functions," says Professor Zeki. "Success will encourage an
interdisciplinary approach to other fields, such as the study of economics or
jurisprudence in terms of brain activity. This will have a deep impact on
social issues."

And the Wellcome Trust seems
convinced that this is not phrenology for modern man. It praised Professor Zeki
as "a Renaissance man for the 21st century," whose "research sees
no boundaries between science and the arts and humanities, and will provide an
exciting insight into issues that strike at the heart of what it is to be