The Hastings Center coordinated teams of physicians, nurses, public health experts, philosophers, theologians, politicians, health care administrators, social workers, and lawyers in fourteen countries to explore these issues. In this volume, they articulate four basic goals of medicine — prevention of disease, relief of suffering, care of the ill, and avoidance of premature death — and examine them in light of the cultural, political, and economic pressures under which medicine functions. In reporting these findings, the contributors touch on a wide range of diverse issues such as genetic technology, Chinese medicine, care of the elderly, and prevention and public health.
The Goals of Medicine clearly demonstrates the importance of clarifying the purposes of medicine before attempting to change the economic and organizational systems. It warns that without such examination, any reform efforts may be fruitless.
Mark J. Hanson is the associate for ethics and society at the Hastings Center.
The co-founder and former president of the Hastings Center, Daniel Callahan is currently the director of international programs for the Hastings Center and author of The Troubled Dream of Life, Setting Limits: Medical Goals in an Aging Society and What Kind of Life?: The Limits of Medical Progress (Georgetown University Press).
Daniel Callahan helped invent the field of bioethics more than forty years ago when he decided to use his training in philosophy to grapple with ethical problems in biology and medicine. Disenchanted with academic philosophy because of its analytical bent and distance from the concerns of real life, Callahan found the ethical issues raised by the rapid medical advances of the 1960s—which included the birth control pill, heart transplants, and new capacities to keep very sick people alive—to be philosophical questions with immediate real-world relevance. In this memoir, Callahan describes his part in the founding of bioethics and traces his thinking on critical issues including embryonic stem cell research, market-driven health care, and medical rationing. He identifies the major challenges facing bioethics today and ruminates on its future.
Callahan writes about founding the Hastings Center—the first bioethics research institution—with the author and psychiatrist Willard Gaylin in 1969, and recounts the challenges of running a think tank while keeping up a prolific flow of influential books and articles. Editor of the famous liberal Catholic magazine Commonweal in the 1960s, Callahan describes his now-secular approach to issues of illness and mortality. He questions the idea of endless medical “progress” and interventionist end-of-life care that seems to blur the boundary between living and dying. It is the role of bioethics, he argues, to be a loyal dissenter in the onward march of medical progress. The most important challenge for bioethics now is to help rethink the very goals of medicine.
At twelve, Howard Dully was guilty of the same crimes as other boys his age: he was moody and messy, rambunctious with his brothers, contrary just to prove a point, and perpetually at odds with his parents. Yet somehow, this normal boy became one of the youngest people on whom Dr. Walter Freeman performed his barbaric transorbital—or ice pick—lobotomy.
Abandoned by his family within a year of the surgery, Howard spent his teen years in mental institutions, his twenties in jail, and his thirties in a bottle. It wasn’t until he was in his forties that Howard began to pull his life together. But even as he began to live the “normal” life he had been denied, Howard struggled with one question: Why?
There were only three people who would know the truth: Freeman, the man who performed the procedure; Lou, his cold and demanding stepmother who brought Howard to the doctor’s attention; and his father, Rodney. Of the three, only Rodney, the man who hadn’t intervened on his son’s behalf, was still living. Time was running out. Stable and happy for the first time in decades, Howard began to search for answers.Through his research, Howard met other lobotomy patients and their families, talked with one of Freeman’s sons about his father’s controversial life’s work, and confronted Rodney about his complicity. And, in the archive where the doctor’s files are stored, he finally came face to face with the truth.
Revealing what happened to a child no one—not his father, not the medical community, not the state—was willing to protect, My Lobotomy exposes a shameful chapter in the history of the treatment of mental illness. Yet, ultimately, this is a powerful and moving chronicle of the life of one man.
Originally published in 1993 by Simon and Schuster.