Psychiatric euthanasia and the ontology of mental disorder

Maung, Hane Htut (2021) Psychiatric euthanasia and the ontology of mental disorder. Journal of Applied Philosophy, 38 (1). pp. 136-154. ISSN 0264-3758

Full text not available from this repository.


In the Netherlands and Belgium, it is lawful for voluntary euthanasia to be offered on the grounds of psychiatric suffering. A recent case that has sparked much debate is that of Aurelia Brouwers, who was helped to die in the Netherlands on account of her suffering from borderline personality disorder. It is sometimes claimed that whether or not a mentally ill person’s wish to die is valid hinges on whether or not that wish is a symptom of the person’s mental disorder. This article addresses the philosophical problems raised by this claim, with a specific focus on the diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. After considering descriptivist and causal conceptualizations of mental disorder, I argue that the current approach to borderline personality disorder in psychiatry precludes the possibility of dissociating the wish to die from the disorder. I then examine the implications of this analysis for the question of whether or not the request for voluntary euthanasia in the case of borderline personality disorder can be considered valid. Ultimately, I conclude that the inability to dissociate the wish to die from the disorder does not invalidate the wish in the case of borderline personality disorder.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Journal of Applied Philosophy
Uncontrolled Keywords:
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
31 May 2022 10:10
Last Modified:
21 Sep 2023 03:16