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|Psychological perspectives on euthanasia and the terminally ill: an Australian Psychological Society discussion paper.
|APS Australian Psychological Society
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|The subject of euthanasia is a recurrent theme in public debate and one with significant psychological implications. This discussion paper is designed to assist in rational consideration of euthanasia from a psychological perspective, without itself taking a position on the debate. It first addresses definitional issues and summarises common arguments in favour of and against euthanasia, which cover ethical, legal, technical and spiritual domains. We note the paucity of research bearing on these arguments. Australian and overseas research, focusing on attitudes towards euthanasia and on the relationship of depression to attitudes, is reviewed. The current legal situation in various States and Territories in Australia is outlined, with particular attention to some psychological considerations which arose in relation to the short-lived Northern Territory Rights of the Terminally III Act (1995). We analyse some of the multiple potential influences on the decision making of a person contemplating euthanasia, which result in the need for carers to examine their own attitudes and feelings. Finally, we identify some of the possible roles for psychologists in regard to the euthanasia debate, including research, assessment, therapy and advocacy. We end with a call for psychologists to become more informed about and involved in this important social policy issue.
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