Eugenics casts a long shadow over contemporary genetics. Any measure, whether in clinical genetics or biotechnology, which is suspected of eugenic intent is likely to be opposed on that ground. Yet there is little consensus on what this word signifies, and often only a remote connection to the very complex set of social movements which took that name. After a brief historical summary of eugenics, this essay attempts to locate any wrongs inherent in eugenic doctrines. Four candidates are examined and rejected. The moral challenge posed by eugenics for genetics in our own time, I argue, is to achieve social justice. (+info)
Proceedings of the International Symposium on Torture and the Medical Profession.
... The main topic of this publication is the involvement of professional medical doctors in the course of torture in, generally speaking, the following ways: 1. Medical scientific knowledge and experience is used in the design of the methods and techniques of torture, for example pharmacological torture; 2. Doctors teach the torturers/perpetrators regarding the practical application of these methods; 3. Doctors actively participate in carrying out torture and in executions in relation to the death penalty; 4. Doctors are present -- "passive" -- during the implementation of torture (in more than sixty per cent of cases) for example monitoring the clinical condition of the victim in order to prevent death; are present when the death sentence is carried out, and then write out death certificates. Many of these are later shown by forensic documentation to be false.... This supplement is based on an international symposium, Torture and the Medical Profession, which was held at the University of Tromso in June 1990.... (+info)
Nuremberg and Tuskegee: lessons for contemporary American medicine.
The activities of German doctors during the Nazi regime are well known and documented. They include efforts at eugenic sterilization and euthanasia, gruesome medical experimentation, and contributions to genocide. The German medical profession embraced the Nazi ideology of racial superiority. Nazi doctors enthusiastically perverted traditional medical mores of viewing each patient as a full individual towards a misguided sense of protecting the racial well-being of the nation from the perceived threat of certain groups of people. Similarly, some 20th-century American physicians engaged in activities prompted by a misguided sense of patients' worth as individuals. This essay will examine the ethical problems of Nazi medicine and ethical missteps in the United States in the context of challenges for contemporary physicians, particularly the way in which we refer to our patients. (+info)
Huntington disease and the abuse of genetics.
Huntington disease, one of the longest established and most serious human genetic disorders, has been the subject of considerable abuse during the present century in relation to the application of genetic knowledge, most notably in Nazi Germany but also in other countries. This disorder provides a valuable example of how abuses in the past need to be recognized and confronted, if we are to avoid their recurrence in relation to new molecular and computing techniques in genetics. (+info)
Origin of corpses received by the anatomical institute at the University of Jena during the Nazi regime.
During the Nazi regime (1933-1945), the anatomical institute at the University of Jena received 2,224 corpses, of which approximately 200 originated from executions. The available data clearly suggest that a large portion of these 200 executed persons must be considered victims of Nazi crimes. Approximately an equal number of bodies were delivered from state nursing homes and mental institutions in the state of Thuringia during the same time period. The available data suggest that it is highly likely that many of them were victims of decentralized "euthanasia" programs. The remains of many prisoners of nearby labor camps, mostly from Eastern Europe, are listed in the body register at the institute as well. A group of anatomists and historians has investigated the institute's association with Nazi crimes. Apart from documenting the association, the aim of the investigation is to clarify the whereabouts of the corpses. In particular, it must be ascertained that none of the specimens publicly displayed in the anatomical collection of the Friedrich Schiller University originated in the context of Nazi crimes. (+info)
Human dignity in the Nazi era: implications for contemporary bioethics.
BACKGROUND: The justification for Nazi programs involving involuntary euthanasia, forced sterilisation, eugenics and human experimentation were strongly influenced by views about human dignity. The historical development of these views should be examined today because discussions of human worth and value are integral to medical ethics and bioethics. We should learn lessons from how human dignity came to be so distorted to avoid repetition of similar distortions. DISCUSSION: Social Darwinism was foremost amongst the philosophies impacting views of human dignity in the decades leading up to Nazi power in Germany. Charles Darwin's evolutionary theory was quickly applied to human beings and social structure. The term 'survival of the fittest' was coined and seen to be applicable to humans. Belief in the inherent dignity of all humans was rejected by social Darwinists. Influential authors of the day proclaimed that an individual's worth and value were to be determined functionally and materialistically. The popularity of such views ideologically prepared German doctors and nurses to accept Nazi social policies promoting survival of only the fittest humans.A historical survey reveals five general presuppositions that strongly impacted medical ethics in the Nazi era. These same five beliefs are being promoted in different ways in contemporary bioethical discourse. Ethical controversies surrounding human embryos revolve around determinations of their moral status. Economic pressures force individuals and societies to examine whether some people's lives are no longer worth living. Human dignity is again being seen as a relative trait found in certain humans, not something inherent. These views strongly impact what is taken to be acceptable within medical ethics. SUMMARY: Five beliefs central to social Darwinism will be examined in light of their influence on current discussions in medical ethics and bioethics. Acceptance of these during the Nazi era proved destructive to many humans. Their widespread acceptance today would similarly lead to much human death and suffering. A different ethic is needed which views human dignity as inherent to all human individuals. (+info)
Flashbulb memories and posttraumatic stress reactions across the life span: age-related effects of the German occupation of Denmark during World War II.
A representative sample of older Danes were interviewed about experiences from the German occupation of Denmark in World War II. The number of participants with flashbulb memories for the German invasion (1940) and capitulation (1945) increased with participants' age at the time of the events up to age 8. Among participants under 8 years at the time of their most traumatic event, age at the time correlated positively with the current level of posttraumatic stress reactions and the vividness of stressful memories and their centrality to life story and identity. These findings were replicated in Study 2 for self-nominated stressful events sampled from the entire life span using a representative sample of Danes born after 1945. The results are discussed in relation to posttraumatic stress disorder and childhood amnesia. (+info)
Jewish pediatricians in Nazi Germany: victims of persecution.
The plight and fate of German Jewish pediatricians during the Nazi period in Europe has not received much attention, yet the narratives of the victims still resonate today and they deserve to be remembered. The stories of two women serve as examples of the fateful turns taken by the lives of many German Jewish pediatricians between 1933 and 1945. The two women, Dr. Luci Adelsberger and Dr. Lilli Jahn, illustrate both the ordeals endured and the disparate ways the Nazi policies ultimately spared or ended lives. (+info)