Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Jarring Pun About People in Vegetative States

The New York Times today had a fascinating story that patients once thought to be in a permanent vegetative state may actually have vestiges of consciousness and the capacity to communicate. The very last sentence of the article, almost a throwaway, quotes a skeptical neurologist warning against equating brain activity and identity:
“Physicians and society are not ready for ‘I have brain activation, therefore I am,’ ” Dr. Ropper wrote. “That would seriously put Descartes before the horse.
Is it just me, or is this stupid pun in a medical journal about something with such profound ethical implications, not to speak of unfathomable suffering for those trapped inside paralyzed bodies -- so utterly inappropriate as to be beyond tasteless?

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