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May 23, 2006

Study Finds Docs Who Assist Suicides Suffer "Substantial" Psychological Effects

Topics: Assisted Suicide

PORTLAND, May 23, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A new study shows that the psychological effects of "helping patients to die" can be severe for doctors participating in euthanasia and physician assisted suicide (PAS). The report by the group Physicians for Compassionate Care Education Foundation (PCCEF) gleans data from a number of sources articles in independent medical journals, legislative investigations and the public press.

The study is among the first of its kind and says the effects on doctors of the inversion of their traditional medical function can be "substantial".

"Doctors describe being profoundly adversely affected, being shocked by the suddenness of the death, being caught up in the patient's drive for assisted suicide, having a sense of powerlessness, and feeling isolated. There is evidence of pressure on and intimidation of doctors by some patients to assist in suicide."

The author concludes, "Many doctors who have participated in euthanasia and/or PAS are adversely affected emotionally and psychologically by their experiences."

The study quotes a doctor from the Netherlands, the first country to legalize euthanasia: "Many physicians who had practiced euthanasia mentioned that they would be most reluctant to do so again."

Pieter Admiraal, a leader of Holland's euthanasia movement is quoted saying, "You will never get accustomed to killing somebody. We are not trained to kill. With euthanasia, your nightmare comes true."

One doctor said that he worried that legalization would limit clinical options offered to patients by doctors who grow to rely upon euthanasia as a quick fix. Dr. Zylicz, responding to a British questionnaire is quoted saying, "This is my biggest concern in providing euthanasia and setting a norm of euthanasia in medicine: that it will inhibit the development of our learning from patients, because we will solve everything with euthanasia."

The PCCEF study corresponds with reports by German authorities during the second world war that showed negative psychological effects on the doctors and nurses involved in the government sponsored euthanasia program T-4. The program was authorized by Hitler and at first focused on handicapped and orphaned children and mentally disabled adults who were starved to death or killed by lethal doses of medication.

In his landmark 1997 book, Origins of Nazi Genocide, Henry Friedlander reported that the psychological condition of nurses and doctors involved in the quasi-legal euthanasia program suffered alcoholism and serious mental disorders after prolonged stints working in the killing centres.

Read the full article from Physicians for Compassionate Care:
http://www.pccef.org/articles/art44.htm

Posted by tim at May 23, 2006 10:43 PM


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