martes, 7 de febrero de 2017

The astonishing witness of locked-in patients | MercatorNet

The astonishing witness of locked-in patients

The astonishing witness of locked-in patients

The astonishing witness of locked-in patients

Despite their terrible disability, they are satisfied with life
Michael Cook | Feb 7 2017 | comment 1 

A totally locked-in patient who participated in the Swiss study   
The craze for Marvel superheroes encourages us to think that just being human is too easy. We need to exceed the limitations of our frail bodies by adding superpowers – breathing underwater, eternal youth, colossal strength, regeneration, flying, spinning spider webs and so on.
Of course, that’s just comic book stuff, but the same dynamic is at work in the Olympic goal of going "Faster, Higher, Stronger". It’s a facet of the homage we pay to “autonomy”, a key value of contemporary Western culture. If our autonomy is diminished, we are diminished as human beings. Our happiness is deemed to be proportionate to our autonomy.
But medicine offers a competing narrative – that less might sometimes be more.
Nothing illustrates this better than that rare condition, Locked-In Syndrome (LIS). Most people first learned of it after reading the international best-seller, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, or watching the film of the same name. Jean-Dominique Bauby, the editor of the French edition of Elle, suffered a massive brain stem stroke while driving. When he woke up, he was completely paralyzed, apart from the upper eyelid of his left eye. But within two years he had written his book, which exudes a remarkable joie de vivre. He composed this by blinking when an assistant said a letter. Even in translation his prose was dazzling:
“[M]y mind takes flight like a butterfly. There is so much to do. You can wander off in space or in time, set out for Tierra del Fuego or for King Midas's court. You can visit the woman you love, slide down beside her and stroke her still-sleeping face. You can build castles in Spain, steal the Golden Fleece, discover Atlantis, realize your childhood dreams and adult ambitions.”
Bauby’s condition, terrible as it may seem, is not the worst way of experiencing LIS. He seems to have had “classic LIS” and retained some eye movement. Other patients retain some voluntary movement. But then there is “total LIS” in which the patient is immobile, fully conscious and unable to communicate.
Until now. A paper published last week in PLOS Biology by a Swiss research group describes a computer interface that can decipher the thoughts of LIS patients. Four with total LIS were able to respond "yes" or "no" merely by thinking the answers. A non-invasive brain-computer interface detected their responses by measuring changes in blood oxygen levels in the brain.
The results have overturned previous theories that people with complete LIS lack the goal-directed thinking necessary to use a brain-computer interface and are, therefore, incapable of communication. It could even mark the abolition of complete LIS as we now know it
Here is the interesting part.
Contrary to expectations, the question "Are you happy?" resulted in a consistent "yes" response from the four patients. It was repeated over weeks of questioning, so it was no fluke. The lead author, Niels Birbaumer, added:
"We were initially surprised at the positive responses when we questioned the four completely locked-in patients about their quality of life. All four had accepted artificial ventilation in order to sustain their life, when breathing became impossible; thus, in a sense, they had already chosen to live. What we observed was that as long as they received satisfactory care at home, they found their quality of life acceptable."
This study marks a big step forward in communicating with people with LIS, but it is not the first to report that such patients are satisfied with their lives. A 2003 study in the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation of about 30 Americans with LIS found that about half had never considered euthanasia and half had considered it but rejected it. The authors commented, “Clinicians may not appreciate that quality of life often equates with social, rather than physical interaction, and that the will to live is strong.”
Clearly, it is possible for people to reach deep within and find happiness even with the most severe disability imaginable – if they are supported by family and friends. What is important is not to project our own fear of total disability onto the patient. As the authors of the American study wrote: “[We} call into question the assumption among some health care providers and policy makers that severe disability is intolerable. This prejudice is not inconsequential. Biased clinicians provide less aggressive medical treatment and/or influence family and friends (in ways not appropriate to the situation).”
In a sense, the experience of LIS patients raises important questions about autonomy? What if we don’t need autonomy to be happy? What if all we need is love?
Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet.
- See more at:


In today's MercatorNet Thomas Lickona, the Director of the Center for the 4th and 5th Rs (Respect and Responsibility) at the State University of New York at Cortland, has written a very practical guide for parents and teachers about guiding children away from pornography and towards love.
He makes the very positive observation that there is good news in the fight against pornography. Educators are focusing more on character education, researchers understand better its addictive qualities, and more therapists are acknowledging that it really is a problem. 
But obviously there is a long way to go, as pornography is ubiquitous and ever more explicit and violent. It still is not on the radar of most politicians and policy-makers. It should be. A democratic society needs citizens who respect other people and refuse to treat them as objects. A pornogrified democracy is not going to be the kind of democracy our grandparents grew up in.

Michael Cook 

The astonishing witness of locked-in patients
By Michael Cook
Despite their terrible disability, they are satisfied with life
Read the full article
Battling pornography: strategies for home and classroom
By Thomas Lickona
The good news is that media literacy and character development can protect kids.
Read the full article
Why you should think twice about swapping online privacy for convenience
By Carissa Véliz
Businesses and government institutions must enable us to enjoy privacy online more easily
Read the full article
Not safe. Never safe. Victorian panel on assisted suicide gets it horribly wrong
By Paul Russell
How can you make killing safe?
Read the full article
Struggling woman with dementia euthanised in Netherlands
By Michael Cook
Relatives had to hold her down so that the doctor could give the lethal injection.
Read the full article
Hollywood’s hypocrisy on immigration
By Michael Cook
No wonder Americans fear Mexicans. They watch American movies
Read the full article
Star of Deltora:  Book 2
By Jane Fagan
Britta struggles to complete her quest.
Read the full article
The large countries shrinking the fastest
By Shannon Roberts
By 2300 some may cease to exist.
Read the full article
Best friends forever?
By Joanna Roughton
The logic of caring for your own elderly parents gets more compelling.
Read the full article

MERCATORNET | New Media Foundation 
Suite 12A, Level 2, 5 George Street, North Strathfied NSW 2137, Australia 

Designed by elleston

New Media Foundation | Suite 12A, Level 2, 5 George St | North Strathfield NSW 2137 | AUSTRALIA | +61 2 8005 8605 

The astonishing witness of locked-in patients

No hay comentarios:

Publicar un comentario