Euthanasia in between shortening life and aiding death: past experiences, present challenges


  • Dietrich Von Engelhardt


Euthanasia refers to man's self image and his world's image; also to understanding sickness and death. In ancient times it meant an honorable and pleasant death and not the end of an active life. The art of death in the Christian Middle Ages was part of the art of life. And he, who understands life, must know death too. Nowadays, medical, psychological and sociological studies have lead to new knowledge about handling death and dying.

Death refers to different scopes: physical desintegration, social isolation, sadness of living and fear of death. Social death may happen before physical death and spiritual death before the soul's death.


Euthanasia, active life, death, desintegration, isolation.

Author Biography

Dietrich Von Engelhardt

Director Institut fur Medizin-und Wissenschaftsgeschichte, Medizinische Universität zu Lübeck, Deutschland.