Why are advocates of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia so pessimistic about the emotional well-being of the sick and handicapped? Why do they think that the negative emotions of the sick and handicapped are beyond the range of normal comforting and also beyond the range of mental health treatment?
Our culture has embraced the idea of professional help for psychological problems. Professional consultation and therapy are frequently proposed as the solution for a wide variety of problems. However, our culture’s very limited vision of therapy is contributing to pessimism about the dying and the handicapped.
Our popular culture is still spinning out the implications of the Freudian preoccupation with the experiences of the growing young person. Our culture, using its own unique interpretation of psychological theories, seems to believe that traditional morality, parental authority, and sexual repressiveness were at the heart of psychological difficulties, and is experimenting with a new kind of culture designed to avoid those difficulties. According to Sykes (1995), new curricula in some elementary schools train children to identify sexual feelings as early as kindergarten (pp. 167–169). Parents are taught that they should allow their children to develop on their own and not try to mold them according to their own ideas. Coming out of all this, we have a society whose image of mental health is the image of a young, sexually attractive and uninhibited individual, liberated from the influence of his or her parents.
The model of therapy held by our culture is a long relationship between