• Henk A. M. J. Ten Have
Part of the International Library of Ethics, Law, and the New Medicine book series (LIME, volume 8)


In 1969, the Dutch psychiatrist J.H. van den Berg published a booklet Medical Power and Medical Ethics (van den Berg, 1969). The author was professor of psychiatry at Leiden University. Immediately, this early critique of the increasing power of modern medicine became a best-seller, with 25 editions and translations in many languages. Van den Berg argues that the new technological capabilities of medicine had been counterproductive in many cases because they were guided by the traditional medical-ethical prescript to maintain, restore and protect human life. The book contains photographs, for example, of children with phocomelia and hydrocephalus and of a patient whose entire body below the lungs and stomach had been removed. These photographs convey the message that modern medicine applied every technique and intervention possible, without considering how the patients were benefitting from applications of medical technology. As long as medicine is dogmatically based on the moral principle of sanctity of life, medical interventions will only create harmful and cruel conditions for patients. Van den Berg argues that modern medicine should reorient itself, from preserving biological human life to sustaining meaningful personal life. As a phenomenological psychiatrist and disciple of one of the protagonists of anthropological medicine, van den Berg intended to criticize the current image of man in scientific medicine.


Palliative Care Slippery Slope Moral Justification Assisted Suicide Explicit Request 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York or Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2001

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  • Henk A. M. J. Ten Have

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