A Pleasurable Cure for Death


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Tom was only thirty minutes away, but she no longer had the energy to drive to his house. She accused Tom of being insufficiently sympathetic, and Tom, who had just had a second child, blamed her for abandoning him and his family. After several months of fights, they stopped speaking. She has asked not to be named. Godelieva felt as if her emotional progress had been an illusion.

She had seen the same psychiatrist for more than ten years and had consulted him on every decision, even those involving financial investments and home renovations, but she had now lost faith in his judgment. In the summer of , when she was sixty-three, Godelieva met a new doctor. She attended a lecture by Wim Distelmans, an oncologist and a professor of palliative medicine at the Free University of Brussels.

Distelmans was one of the leading proponents of a law in Belgium that permits euthanasia for patients who have an incurable illness that causes them unbearable physical or mental suffering. Since then, he has euthanized more than a hundred patients. In September, , Godelieva saw Distelmans at his clinic. Distelmans based on psychological distress.

I have gone through the entire procedure and am now waiting for the result. Tom and his wife had just had their third child. They both taught chemistry at Leuven University College, part of the oldest university in Belgium. He was angry that the task had fallen to him, and felt that his mother was being manipulative. On April 20, , three months after Godelieva sent the e-mail, Tom received a short letter from his mother that was written in the past tense.

She reported that her euthanasia had been carried out on April 19th, at the university hospital of the Free University of Brussels. Tom immediately drove to the house of the friend, who offered him a drink and then explained that she and her husband had driven Godelieva to the hospital.

Tom felt his mind shutting down. She had just completed an addition to the first floor: before they separated, she and her ex-boyfriend had wanted to grow old in the house without worrying about stairs. The interior of the house was decorated with framed photographs of her grandchildren. Large drawings of Tom and his sister hung on the living-room wall. There was also a draft of a long letter to her children, which was far more emotional than the one she had sent. People have a voice. Tom also discovered a booklet, produced by LEIF Life End Information Forum , an organization founded by Distelmans, that outlined the medical and legal options available to people who are dying or want to die.

In Belgium, euthanasia is embraced as an emblem of enlightenment and progress, a sign that the country has extricated itself from its Catholic, patriarchal roots.


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Distelmans, who was brought up as a Catholic and then rejected the Church, told me that his work is inspired by an aversion to all forms of paternalism. Belgium was the second country in the world, after the Netherlands, to decriminalize euthanasia; it was followed by Luxembourg, in , and, this year, by Canada and Colombia.

Switzerland has allowed assisted suicide since The United States Supreme Court has recognized that citizens have legitimate concerns about prolonged deaths in institutional settings, but in it ruled that death is not a constitutionally protected right, leaving questions about assisted suicide to be resolved by each state. Within months of the ruling, Oregon passed a law that allows doctors to prescribe lethal drugs for patients who have less than six months to live.

In , Washington adopted a similar law; Montana decriminalized assisted suicide the year after; and Vermont legalized it in The right-to-die movement has gained momentum at a time of anxiety about the graying of the population; people who are older than sixty-five represent the fastest-growing demographic in the United States, Canada, and much of Europe. But the laws seem to be motivated less by the desires of the elderly than by the concerns of a younger generation, whose members derive comfort from the knowledge that they can control the end of their lives.

In Oregon and Switzerland, studies have shown that people who request death are less motivated by physical pain than by the desire to remain autonomous. This pattern of reasoning was exemplified by Brittany Maynard, a twenty-nine-year-old newlywed who moved to Oregon last year so that she could die on her own terms rather than allowing her brain cancer to take its course.

Since her death, seven months ago, lawmakers in twenty-three U. In Belgium and in the Netherlands, where patients can be euthanized even if they do not have a terminal illness, the laws seem to have permeated the medical establishment more deeply than elsewhere, perhaps because of the central role granted to doctors: in the majority of cases, it is the doctor, not the patient, who commits the final act.


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In the past five years, the number of euthanasia and assisted-suicide deaths in the Netherlands has doubled, and in Belgium it has increased by more than a hundred and fifty per cent. Although most of the Belgian patients had cancer, people have also been euthanized because they had autism, anorexia, borderline personality disorder, chronic-fatigue syndrome, partial paralysis, blindness coupled with deafness, and manic depression. In , Wim Distelmans euthanized a forty-four-year-old transgender man, Nathan Verhelst, because Verhelst was devastated by the failure of his sex-change surgeries; he said that he felt like a monster when he looked in the mirror.


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The laws seem to have created a new conception of suicide as a medical treatment, stripped of its tragic dimensions. In the days before and after the procedure, he finds it difficult to sleep. Although doctors in Belgium had been covertly performing euthanasia before it was legalized, the majority of them opposed the euthanasia law, according to a survey conducted at the time. The right to a dignified death is viewed as an accomplishment of secular humanism, one of seven belief systems that are officially recognized by the government.

Belgian humanism, which was deeply influenced by the nineteenth-century Freemasonry movement, offered an outlet for those who felt oppressed by the Church, but it has increasingly come to resemble the kind of institution that it once defined itself against. Humanist values are also taught in state schools, in a course called non-confessional ethics, which is taken by secular children from first through twelfth grade, while religious students pursue theological studies. The course emphasizes autonomy, free inquiry, democracy, and an ethics based on reason and science, not on revelation.

There is an arrow of evolution that goes toward ever more reducing of suffering and maximizing of enjoyment. The Belgian Council of Ministers appointed Wim Distelmans to serve as the chairman of the Federal Control and Evaluation Commission, which reviews euthanasia deaths to insure that doctors have complied with the law.

A Pleasurable Cure for Death

For non-terminal cases, three doctors must agree. But doctors have adopted increasingly loose interpretations of disease. Last year, thirteen per cent of the Belgians who were euthanized did not have a terminal condition, and roughly three per cent suffered from psychiatric disorders. In Flanders, where the dominant language is Dutch, euthanasia accounts for nearly five per cent of all deaths. The percentage is lower in the southern, French-speaking parts of Belgium. The Flemish media have adopted a mostly uncritical approach to euthanasia, running numerous articles about the courage of people who have chosen to die.

Last year, De Standaard , a prominent Flemish newspaper, published a long tribute to a depressed mother who was euthanized after being abandoned by her boyfriend and becoming disillusioned by her psychiatric care. Joris Vandenberghe, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Leuven and a member of the Belgian Advisory Committee on Bioethics, said that he finds euthanasia requests therapeutically useful, because they prompt patients who would not otherwise seek medical help to consult with doctors about their feelings of hopelessness.

Because depression can be linked to other health problems, your doctor may also conduct a physical examination and order blood work. Sometimes thyroid problems or a vitamin D deficiency can trigger symptoms of depression. Depression is a serious mental illness with risks of complications. Depression can be broken into categories depending on the severity of symptoms.

Some people experience mild and temporary episodes, while others experience severe and ongoing depressive episodes. There are two main types : major depressive disorder and persistent depressive disorder. Major depressive disorder is the more severe form of depression. In order to be diagnosed with clinical depression, you must experience 5 or more of the following symptoms over a two-week period:.

These include:. Persistent depressive disorder PDD used to be called dysthymia. In order for the diagnosis to be made, symptoms must last for at least two years. PDD can affect your life more than major depression because it lasts for a longer period. Read more about why depression treatment is important.

Living with depression can be difficult, but treatment can help improve your quality of life. Talk to your doctor about possible options. You may successfully manage symptoms with one form of treatment, or you may find that a combination of treatments works best. Your doctor may prescribe antidepressants , antianxiety, or antipsychotic medications. Speaking with a therapist can help you learn skills to cope with negative feelings. You may also benefit from family or group therapy sessions.

Exposure to doses of white light can help regulate mood and improve symptoms of depression. This therapy is commonly used in seasonal affective disorder which is now called major depressive disorder with seasonal pattern. Ask your doctor about acupuncture or meditation. Some herbal supplements are also used to treat depression, like St. Talk with your doctor before taking a supplement or combining a supplement with prescription medication because some supplements can react with certain medications.

Some supplements may also worsen depression or reduce the effectiveness of medication. Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity three to five days a week. Drinking or using drugs may make you feel better for a little bit. But in the long run, these substances can make depression and anxiety symptoms worse. Feeling overwhelmed can worsen anxiety and depression symptoms. Setting boundaries in your professional and personal life can help you feel better.

You can also improve symptoms of depression by taking care of yourself. This includes getting plenty of sleep, eating a healthy diet, avoiding negative people, and participating in enjoyable activities. These include electroconvulsive therapy , or transcranial magnetic stimulation to treat depression and improve your mood. Traditional depression treatment uses a combination of prescription medication and counseling.

But there are also alternative or complementary treatments you can try. Likewise, the U. Studies are mixed, but this natural treatment is used in Europe as an antidepressant medication. This compound has shown in limited studies to possibly ease symptoms of depression. The effects were best seen in people taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors SSRIs , a type of traditional antidepressant.

Your body makes this chemical when you consume tryptophan, a protein building block. These essential fats are important to neurological development and brain health. Adding omega-3 supplements to your diet may help reduce depression symptoms. Essential oils are a popular natural remedy for many conditions, but research into their effects on depression is limited. People with depression may find symptom relief with the following essential oils :.

Depression: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and More

Those oils may be beneficial during short-term use. Vitamins are important to many bodily functions. Research suggests two vitamins are especially useful for easing symptoms of depression:. Learn about the ones that have shown some promise, and ask your doctor if any are right for you. Il pensiero del piacere: Epicuro, testi morali, commentari , Genoa: La Quercia.

Delattre, Daniel and Jackie Pigeaud eds. Les epicuriens , Paris: Gallimard. Very rich collection of texts in translation. Hessler, Jan Erik, Epikur: Brief an Menoikeus , Basil. Best commentary on this epistle. Inwood, Brad and L. Gerson, Translation of principal sources. The Epicurean part is also published separately.

Konstan, David trans. Laursen, Simon, Leone, Giuliana, Splendid edition with major introduction on simulacra and related questions. Long, A. Excellent collection of sources, with Greek text in volume 2, arranged by topic. Millot, C. Obbink, Dirk, Philodemus De pietate , Oxford: Clarendon Press. Sedley, David, Smith, Martin Ferguson ed. Stern, Jacob trans. Taylor, C.

Usener, Hermann, Leipzig: Teubner. Most complete collection of fragments. Verde, Francesco, Epicuro Epistola a Erodoto. Rome: Carocci. The best edition of this fundamental work. Good chapters on Epicurean epistemology, physics, psychology, and ethics. Dated but still useful. Clay, Diskin, Gigandet, Alain and Pierre-Marie Morel eds. Giovacchini, J.

Gordon, Pamela, Hossenfelder, Malte, Epikur , Munich: Beck. Jones, Howard, The Epicurean Tradition , London: Routledge. Durham: Acumen. Highly readable and philosophically engaging introduction. Pesce, Domenico, Saggio su Epicuro , Bari: Laterza. Rist, John, A good survey.

Jewish Death and Mourning 101

Epicuro , Rome: Carocci. Warren, James ed. Wilson, Catherine, Physics Cambiano, Giuseppe, Furley, David, Still fundamental. Giannantoni, Gabriele, Inwood, Brad, Konstan, David, Souffrin eds. Vrin, pp. Masi, Francesca Guadalupe and Stefano Maso eds. Epicurus on Eidola. Morel, Pierre-Marie, Universitaires de France. Psychology Armstrong, David, Gordon and David B. Suits eds. Armstrong, David, Fitzgerald ed. Diano, Carlo, [—42]. Scritti Epicurei , Florence: Leo S.

This is an updated version of D. Brill, Ethics Annas, Julia, Excellent overview. Alberti, Antonina, Barigazzi, A. Cooper, J. Die epikureische Ethik , Berlin: Akademie-Verlag. Purinton, Jeffrey S. Pleasure Annas, Julia, Cooper, John M. Gosling, J. Taylor, Nikolsky, Boris, Wolfsdorf, David, Death Alberti, Antonina, Lesses, Glenn, Mitsis, Phillip, Rosenbaum, S. Warren, James, Epistemology Asmis, Elizabeth, Everson, Stephen, Die epikureische Erkenntnistheorie , Berlin: Akademie-Verlag.

Konstan, David, a. Lee, Edward N. Machamer and R. Turnbull eds. Manuwald, A. Die Prolepsislehre Epikurs , Bonn: Habelt. Schofield, J. Barnes and M. Burnyeat eds. Tsouna, Voula, Language Atherton, Catherine, Brunschwig, Jacques, Verlinsky, Alexander, Englert, Epicurus on the swerve and voluntary action , Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy , 8: — Bignone, Ettore, Bobzien, Susanne, Englert, Walter G. Greenblatt, Stephen, This is more a book about the reception of Lucretius than about Epicurean physics as such.

Russell, Daniel Charles, Justice Armstrong, John M. Denyer, Nick, Goldschmidt, Victor,

A Pleasurable Cure for Death A Pleasurable Cure for Death
A Pleasurable Cure for Death A Pleasurable Cure for Death
A Pleasurable Cure for Death A Pleasurable Cure for Death
A Pleasurable Cure for Death A Pleasurable Cure for Death
A Pleasurable Cure for Death A Pleasurable Cure for Death
A Pleasurable Cure for Death A Pleasurable Cure for Death
A Pleasurable Cure for Death A Pleasurable Cure for Death
A Pleasurable Cure for Death A Pleasurable Cure for Death

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