Thursday, February 4, 2010

It Staggers the Mind

As medical science deciphers more and more mysteries of the human brain, some horrifying truths are being revealed. The latest is that some people who have been labeled as existing in a vegetative state are actually aware of their surroundings and capable of thought. Sophisticated machines are making it possible to actually see brain activity; even responses to yes and no questions. Persons who have no control over their bodies or movement of any kind can mentally respond to suggestions to picture their homes or to react to other inquiries. I'm horrified by the thought of how many hundreds of thousands of people throughout history have been conscious when those around them believed the opposite. It wasn't that long ago that scientists discovered that comatose patients can be aware. With so much debate over end of life decisions, could this new technology make it possible for someone like the late Terry Schiavo to have decided her own fate? I was appalled that total strangers were insisting on one course of action over another. Naturally her loved ones are loath to remove life support and allow nature to take it's course. So Terry lay there month after month, year after year, everyone hoping she would eventually wake up. Is it possible that prolonging her life was pure and utter torture for her? If my body could no longer support my life I would choose death, whether or not my mind was still active. Even if science were to come up with a way to transplant brains into robotic bodies, I'd say no thanks. It's a matter of quality over quantity. Am I crazy to think this way?

1 comment:

Alex said...

even if she were conscious it's hard to imagine the loneliness and frustration that would come of years of not being able to communicate with people or move. i too would not choose to live like that. I always thought her husband did an extremely difficult but ultimately right thing, and it's too bad it turned into a political circus.