From Library Journal
The author of several best sellers, including The Road Less Traveled (which at last count has been on the New York Times Best Sellers list for 687 weeks), Peck here discusses a complex and timely matter?euthanasia. Peck wants to address the "spiritual" aspects of the decision, which he feels have been ignored in this too-secular world. He's taken on a huge task: to define physical and emotional suffering, to come up with guidelines for considering physician-assisted suicide, and to foster further dialog by society as a whole on these issues. This is not a book of answers; Peck instead encourages discussion about "learning through dying," what a soul consists of, and choosing hospice care when it's clear the end is near. Peck is a wonderful writer, engaging, intelligent, and full of stories from his long psychiatric practice; as usual, he takes on big issues with seriousness, sensitivity, and balance. Highly recommended.?Barbara O'Hara, Free Lib. of Philadelphia
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Peck, very productive of late, may never have written a timelier, more cogent, more fluently readable book than this one. He believes that no current ethical-legal issue is more important than euthanasia and that there is not enough discussion of and even contention over it. He presents and considers the medical, spiritual, and social issues of euthanasia. Medicine, though it has finally conceded that "pulling the plug" on the terminally ill is a moral accession to the naturalness of dying, has yet to grant the necessity of fully relieving physical pain--that is, even to the point of eventually lethal doses of painkiller--and has barely begun to acknowledge hellish emotional pain as a condition from which suicide may be a wholly natural release. Spiritually, Peck insists that suicide done out of the individualistic desire to control one's life and to deny one's God-given soul must be discouraged, for life is a learning experience that ought to be fully realized, even through suffering. Yet Peck cites circumstances in which assisted suicide seems morally justified (one great strength of the book is the cases from which Peck educes the complexities he discusses--all of them real, drawn from his and other physicians' practices). He concludes, however, that at present society isn't spiritually strong enough to legalize physician-assisted suicide, which is perhaps the greatest reason that euthanasia must become the subject of a great and completely open debate, one that he has masterfully and engagingly begun. Ray Olson
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