||Susan M. Recinella, Clinical Psychologist for mentally ill adults, and
Catholic Lay Minister to Families of the Executed|
When Healers Turn Into Killers – Part II
By: Dale Recinella
In our last installment we addressed the perilous consequences of turning doctors into the agents of death.
Making doctors the state’s killers is the “easy fix” being touted by some to the U.S. Supreme Court as it considers the constitutionality of lethal injection.
After noting that it would be totally inappropriate to compare U.S. capital punishment to the horror of the Holocaust, we looked at the historical record of compromises that paved the way for German doctors to be turned from healers into killers. We can learn a great deal from the common threads between current efforts to employ our doctors as killers and the techniques used in the Third Reich. The historical record, as reconstructed and summarized in Robert J. Lifton’s book The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide, merits another look. This time we set our gaze on the mechanics employed to manipulate compliance from the people at large.
The two most glaring components of the Nazi mechanics employed to manipulate compliance with medical killing from the people at large were deception and secrecy. Misleading the public was so core to the success of medical killing that Lifton calls the process a “bureaucracy of medical deception.”
Given the medical cover-up of killing, every death certificate had to be falsified. The key principle employed was medical credibility … Skill at this falsification process was an important part of the “medical experience” of the killing doctors. [Emphasis in original.]
Just as a bureaucracy of deception is essential to state medical killing, so too the essential shadow partner to medical deception is secrecy. When the objective is deception and the means are secrecy, the state must get rid of the witnesses. Even early in its programs, witnesses were a constant problem for the Third Reich.
In spite of the elaborate cover-up at every level and the pledge to eternal secrecy taken by all involved in the killing, at several of the killing centers outsiders were received and, on some occasions, permitted to witness the killing of patients.
Today the deception is made as to whether the person suffered during the killing. As a society, we appear to be somewhat comfortable with killing so long as medical professionals assure us that the killing is not too painful.
This strange modern proclivity has played itself out in the area of abortion through battles against showing pictures of the dismembered baby in the womb. Such pictures are condemned as “barbaric” and “offensive.” The attack against showing the pictures of what is being done is waged simultaneously with defending the barbaric and offensive practice itself. The hideous dismemberment of the child in its mother’s womb is to be kept a secret. If there are no pictures, there are no witnesses.
The same marriage of deception and secrecy surrounds modern day executions made by the killing state. When botched lethal injections have been reported by the press, it has not been unheard of for the killing state to produce press releases with medically false information blaming the botched execution on the person who was killed. When that information is shown to be ludicrous, it has not been unheard of for the killing state to insist that there really was not any problem with the execution—even though it had already explained why there was a problem.
The killing state expects everyone under its control to fall in line. The problem is witnesses: the representatives of the press and those persons watching whose livelihood and pensions are not under the control of the state. The killing state that has gained control of its doctors must eliminate the witnesses. That is exactly what the new lethal injection procedures in some of our states provide. If any problem starts to occur during a state killing, the curtains to the execution chamber are to be closed so that there will be no witnesses.
And the state level courts have yawned and signed off on this.
First published: The Florida Catholic, January 25, 2008
© 2008 Dale S. Recinella & The Florida Catholic.
Used with permission. All rights reserved.
No further reproduction or republication without prior written permission.
I Was In Prison
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This ezine is targeted for people involved in prison ministry or in stopping the death penalty, we think you will find helpful information for people who are undecided about capital punishment, for those who have never experienced the inside of a jail or prison, and for those who feel called to participate through prayer and adoration.
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Dale S. Recinella
, Catholic Lay Chaplain, Florida Death Row and Solitary Confinement
Susan M. Recinella
, Clinical Psychologist for mentally ill adults, and
Catholic Lay Minister to Families of the Executed