Mercy killing in neurology: The beginnings of neurology on screen (II)

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid

Abstract

The history of Neurocinema includes neuroethics, and this theme was first used in 2 films released in the 1940s in both Germany and the United States. Ich Klage An (I Accuse) is about “terminal” multiple sclerosis in a young woman and the decision to determine one's own fate. The protagonist anticipates becoming “deaf, blind, and idiotic” and asks her husband to administer a toxic drug dose, which he does. The film disturbingly suggests that the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis is tantamount to a death sentence. Ich Klage An (1941) played during the medical murders era (“Aktion T-4” program) but has few references to National Socialism, except for judges with Nazi emblems on their robes making a brief Nazi salute and a jury chamber with a bust of Hitler. Party leadership agreed that the film made a deep impression, but the intended effect on the viewing public is largely unknown. An Act of Murder (1948) involves another young woman with an inoperable brain tumor. When her condition worsens during a trip, her husband deliberately crashes the car, killing her but surviving himself. A subsequent trial finds that she died of an overdose rather than the crash. The trial judge dismisses the murder charge, but the film argues the morals of mercy killing. These films came out during the Nazi euthanasia program and founding of the Euthanasia Society of America in 1938. The choice of neurologic disease by these filmmakers and scriptwriters to defend euthanasia is remarkable.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles