Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Patholysis: Destroying Suffering.

So with all the terminology struggle that surrounds the "culture war" issues of abortion and assisted suicide, Thaddeus Pope makes us aware of Kevorkian's preferred term for what he did for more than 130 patients and ultimately went to jail for. Patholysis. The destruction of suffering. The term's been around for a while, notes Pope, but certainly hasn't made it into common language, even among those of us that watch end of life issues. Why?

Suffering has value to much of society. And I think this is the heart of the culture wars. Who suffers. A rape victim suffers a pregnancy. A teen female pays for having sex before marriage. A dying patient dies in pain. A mother of three who is abused by her husband suffers for the sake of her marriage and to keep her three children from being fatherless. Suffering is redeeming and reminds us of the unfairness of life, of the roles that we play in society, of God's awesome power, of Christ's pain on the cross.

A frank discussion of who should suffer - if anyone - and why would change the way we look at "culture war" issues. For this reason alone, Kevorkian's term has validity.

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Blogger william Peace said...

I suppose suffering does have some positive elements but it need not be tied to a belief in God or Christian beliefs. Another issue is the perception of suffering. Kevorkian for instance helped kill people that were not terminally ill and thought to have suffered enough. He was not some noble character but a man consumed by death. I for one would prefer to enhance every last minute of life we humans have. Sadly, this is expensive and not are all lives are valued. Hence I see no value in Kevorkian's "work" or terminology.

June 15, 2010 at 12:52 PM  
Blogger Ann Neumann said...

Thanks for writing, Bill. It's always great to hear from you. I think you and I are rather in agreement; you just have more caveats than I do. And I work hard to not see the positions as bifurcated but poly-furcated which is why, when I see someone (however good or bad they are painted) as possible of saying something valuable. Oh, and I most often fail to see suffering as defensible, particularly in a culture where it is already staunchly institutionalized. Patient autonomy and informed consent is paramount, therefor.

June 15, 2010 at 1:52 PM  
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