Tony Judt on motor neuron disease

There’s a very interesting video of distinguished historian Tony Judt talking about motor neuron disease, life, and euthanasia up about a week or so ago at The Guardian website. The article is entitled “One of the worst diseases on the Earth”, taking a line from the interview itself. It isn’t embeddable right now (so far as I can tell), but the link to it is right here.

There’s a lot that comes up in the short time that it runs: frank self-revelation from Judt about his own life prospects and how he views them; the interplay between rational consideration of one’s own future, existing values, and euthanasia as an option; how decisions about one’s self and care for others are entwined; the felt need for personal choice and autonomy as one’s body loses more and more of its capacity to facilitate choice and autonomy; the various reinforcements and tensions between allowing for the diversity of views that one might adopt about one’s own case and developing policies that aim to support that diversity but, if the past is a guide to the future, typically won’t

I found Judt’s statement, around 2.30 – 2.45, when talking about end-game prospects, to the effect that NO ONE would want to live like that, referring to the prospect of being able to respond to others only with eyeblinks, while in the very next sentence (with the help of video editing) allowing that there is a lot of variation in how people view their own lives, to be interestingly juxtaposed. Especially since that statement starts the description of what no one would want to live like with “sitting in a wheelchair …”. For many from the chair itself, I suspect that this will seem anywhere from naive to offensive, even though there will be many who agree with Judt’s overall point here.

h/t to Steve Drake at Not Dead Yet, for directing traffic to the more recent Guardian story by Charlotte Raven, “Should I take my own life?”, which led me in turn to the Judt interview. NDY will likely write something up about the Raven story shortly.

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