Taken to the Limits: Pain, Identity and Self-Transformation
Winslade argues that it is morally and legally impermissible to violate a competent patients right to refuse medical treatment. Through examples such as Dax Cowart, Winslade suggests that one should have the right to choose or refuse treatment rather than being forced to endure unwanted pain. Although he accepts the idea that Dax’s family members, doctors, and lawyers wanted to preserve Dax’s life for the possibility of a brighter future, Winslade firmly believes that Dax’s requests shouldn’t have been ignored. I will highlight both the physical and psychological transformations experienced by Dax, the doubt felt about the quality of his future life, the treatment and ignorance of his desires, and how his relationships were affected by the tragedy. Then, I will give multiple reasons of why I agree with Dr. Winslade’s argument and provide concrete recommendations for how to improve this ethical issue.
When trying to identify Dax Cowart, Winslade offers insight on the meaning of physical life and emotional death. He suggests that Dax lost much more than his sight, hearing, and hands after suffering deep third-degree burns covering over 65% of his body. Not only did this horrific tragedy seriously damage and destroy his physical appearance, but his identity as Donald “Donnie” Cowart was symbolically diminished as well. Although he survived the incident, Dax was emotionally distraught over the fact that he would forever be dependent on others. The fire engulfed him – it took his independence and freedom and left him as a burden onto others. Because of this, “he did not die. And yet he did” (Winslade 116). In changing his name from Donald to Dax, a psychological transformation was exposed. He was no longer the carefree, happy, young man that he was before the accident. He transformed into a dark, suicidal, human who was alive in form but not in spirit.
This helplessness left Dax in a cycle of...
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