Monday, March 13, 2023

Psychiatric Euthanasia and Mental Illness Suck

By Meghan Schrader

Meghan is an autistic person who is an instructor at E4 Texas at the University of Texas (Austin) and a EPC-USA board member.

Article: Euthanasia for children and bullying (Link).
Psychiatric euthanasia is homicide/suicide, full stop. However, lest anyone think I’m judging people who would like to use psychiatric euthanasia as a suicide method, allow me to say that I “get it.”

I’m feeling pretty good/stable now, but allow me to note that psychosis/mania/agitated depression really sucks. In my past these symptoms have included:

  • Total inability to eat, drink, take care of myself or respond to my environment in any way,
  • The stars on my bedroom ceiling “moving” even when I knew that they were not, 
  • My clothes turning different colors in the mirror even though I knew that they were not changing color, 
  • Perceiving a strong odor of death, like there was a rotting corpse in the house, 
  • Feeling like I should strip off all my clothes and run around in public screaming, even though I had enough self awareness not to do that, 
  • Paranoia, 
  • Hearing a voice predicting my torments in Hell and graphic visions of Hell, 
  • Perceiving that God hates me & that I am going to Hell anyway so I might as well just “end it all.”  
  • Feeling that I live in a parallel dimension or that there might be a portal to the other dimension in my closet, 
  • Believing that I am a terrorist, 
  • Feeling that there were other forces in charge of my body, 
  • Believing that I was going to be locked up in solitary confinement for the rest of my life, 
  • Believing that I have murdered people, 
  • Believing that I have done various other horrible things that my family says I did not do.

I would not wish those experiences on Osama bin Laden. I completely understand why someone prone to experiencing something like that who can feel themselves sliding into another episode would reason, “Hey, you know what? Yes, shoot me up with poisonous chemicals. Stop the planet; I want off!”

The problem with this approach is that giving some people what they may want causes human rights abuses for other people. For instance, MAiD providers are arguing that it’s possible to assess the competency of mentally ill and intellectually disabled people under guardianship. Do the proponents really believe that this policy won’t lead to situations where consent for euthanasia is grey, or is never given? 

Another disturbing recommendation is that people confined to psychiatric institutions for six months should be assessed for MAiD. Do the proponents not understand how easy it would be to push psychiatric patients in that direction? And of course people in those places want to leave any way they can, and would consent to euthanasia just to get the heck out of there. Is it really just to put people with psychiatric problems in that position so that other people can use euthanasia to stop their suffering? I don’t think that it is.

That doesn’t mean that we can’t do other things to empower and support people who are living with severe mental illnesses. We can streamline the process of providing support for people with mental illnesses who are living on their own, such as via Assertive Community Treatment programs. We can provide tools for people with various disabilities to have other empowering forms of autonomy, like access to education, employment, housing and peer support. We can improve the depiction of disabled people in popular culture, so that disabled people have empowering models to imitate. We can teach our disabled children about disability history, so that they can grow up knowing that they are members of a community that has successfully fought oppression many times. But, as things stand now, euthanasia is an ugly consequence of the disabled community’s fourth
class citizenship.

1 comment:

Tershia said...

I would call all the various assisted suicide groups MURDER INCORPORATED. We are living in the devil’s playground where evil is now called ‘good’ and good is called ‘evil’.
But there will be consequences for evil-doers.