Sorry to any of the followers of my blog that have been waiting for a new entry. I have been moving house recently and I am also a terrible procrastinator. I am working on a couple of long form posts, which I hope to release soon. In the meantime, I have just typed up some of my thoughts to post on Reddit, and decided to make it a blog post instead given that it has been so long since I last published. I intend to develop these ideas a little further in posts to come, in my more rigorous, long-form style.
The right to die is one of the most contentious topics in contemporary society, and may be the final frontier in civil rights or individual rights.
As the law currently stands, the state is allowed to actively interfere in cases of suicide, and in order to justify this, they typically claim that suicidal people have judgement that is severely compromised due to something called “mental illness”, and therefore need the state to act in loco parentis in order to rescue these people from their own thoughts.
But what is mental illness? It isn’t an objective scientific category. It is a term used to describe human psychological suffering. The threshold for when psychological suffering becomes a pathology is arbitrarily defined and constantly shifting. And when you get diagnosed with a mental illness, instead of identifying some kind of pathogen causing an objectively observed pathology, all that psychiatrists do is give a label to the type of suffering that you are experiencing. So that would be a bit like going to the doctor because you have a sore leg, and being diagnosed with a “sore leg”. Psychiatry isn’t anywhere close to finding the biological bases for the vast majority of these pathologies that they have invented to justify taking away people’s rights, and this ability to label people as mentally unwell has been abused in the past in order to oppress various different marginalised groups such as homosexuals and women who dared to defy gender norms.
In many parts of the world, deviating from the most prevalent religion locally is seen as a form of sickness as well, although the main difference between places with strict blasphemy laws and the western approach to suicide prevention is that the enforcement of the blasphemy laws tends to be overtly punitive, whereas suicide prevention tends to be dressed up in the guise of compassion through a process of gaslighting the individual into believing that the way they perceive the world is distorted and warped. You can prevent suicide by presuming the individual to be mentally ill, and because mental illnesses are not diagnosed through the process of objective testing, they are also unfalsifiable. Therefore, if you are presumed to be depressed because you are suicidal, there is no test that you can have administered in order to prove that you aren’t in fact depressed. And this is one major reason why expanding assisted suicide is seen to be treacherous, because there would be no way of effectively screening out those who are “depressed” due to the lack of any way of objectively testing someone for it, let alone any way of objectively determining how “depressed” a rational person can be based on a given set of life circumstances.
But the same driving force undergirds both the blasphemy law and the suicide prevention initiatives, and that is the desire to protect a shared cultural narrative. If the Pakistani government could prove that Allah was the one true God and Mohammed his only messenger, then there would be no need for such heavy handed enforcement against those who denied that fact. It would just be trivially obvious that those who denied the faith were delusional and not to be taken seriously, in the same way that Western governments do not feel threatened enough by flat earthers to actually start imprisoning them, let alone sentencing them to death, for their beliefs.
It is my contention that suicidal people are summarily discredited as “mentally ill” because our society has no way of proving the objective value of life (or what kind of risks and harms are an acceptable price to pay for the putative rewards on offer), and therefore our belief that life is valuable can easily come under threat from those who choose to reject life. It used to be the case that suicide was a crime here in the UK, and those who attempted suicide and failed would be punished by the law for their crime. Since the Suicide Act in the 1960s, we’ve started treating suicide as an act of desperation performed by someone who was seriously mentally unwell. Although this is supposed to be more compassionate, it is in fact, in my opinion, even more insidious than making attempted suicide a crime punishable by law, because once you are presumed to be insane, you lose your legal standing as a competent adult; a standing which it is impossible ever to recover due to the unfalsifiable nature of the “illness” that you have been diagnosed with (or even merely presumed to have).
I believe that the reason that any attempt to introduce legalised assisted suicide draws an outcry from disabled groups is not because these people truly believe that they will be coerced into dying, but because it invalidates their belief that life is worth living, which is a position based in faith, rather than in evidence. The same can be said of those who work 40+ hours a week in demeaning jobs and barely have time to catch their breath before getting back on the same old treadmill to nowhere. Those people want to believe that there is more to life, and that life is a gift…but their circumstances and prospects for the future do not seem to bear that out, so they can stake their convictions on nothing more than mere faith.
Regardless of whether one is enjoying life now, there was a virtual eternity of time which passed prior to one’s birth during which one had absolutely no qualms about the lack of conscious sensation or opportunities to experience pleasure. And if one accepts that consciousness resides in the brain and cannot survive death, then the same will be true of the eternity of non-existence that follows on after death. If this is true, then if one is not having a good time, then why would it not be rational to cut one’s losses as early as possible, given that one will not be able to regret that choice after death?
My thesis is that this argument is so compelling that there is no way to effectively refute it, and the only course of action is to pre-emptively silence its proponents by stigmatising people who might be inclined to invest their own welfare in such a philosophy as being mentally disturbed and in need of paternalistic care from the state. Since no self-respecting adult wishes to lose their entitlement to be perceived as a competent and rational member of society, this forms a powerful disincentive against speaking out for their right to full bodily autonomy, which would entail demanding that the state desist from actively interfering in their plans to terminate their existence in the most efficient and safe way possible.
I believe that many people do sincerely believe that life is inherently valuable, and that the compassionate thing to do is to prevent suicide. However, I also believe that there is a subconscious awareness of the futility of life that is immanent within the shared consciousness of mankind and that this is the major driving force in the prevention of suicide.
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existentialgoof – 3rd January 2022