[MCAT] Voluntary death

The voluntary death by which a man puts an end to intolerable suffering is really an act of redemption.

Ernst Heinrich Haeckel

Write a unified essay in which you perform the following tasks. Explain what you think the above statement means. Describe a specific situation in which the voluntary death by which a person put an end to intolerable suffering would not be an act of redemption. Discuss what you think determines the choices of voluntary death in the face of human suffering.

From Barron’s MCAT 2008


Haekel believes that a man enduring intolerable suffering can be salvaged or rescued by voluntary death. Here, the term “redemption” may even carry the meaning of fulfilling what’s obligated of the suffering man, as if the right to end his life is his to redeem.

Whether or not a person has the right to end his own life is a dilemma faced by policy makers and medical professionals world wide. If a terminally ill patient suffering from metastatic cancer, who understandably suffers from intolerable pain, wishes to discontinue the life-supporting treatments, it may seem cruel and unreasonable to deny his request. In this case, his loved ones may agree that the suffering man should be salvaged from his needless pain.

However, if a patient suffering from an intolerable pain, say an amputation of a limb, is expected to recover from it, then the voluntary death is not an act of redemption, but of escape. Although his life would be compromised by his injury, he can still lead a productive and fulfilling life. Choosing to end his life to avoid the suffering and struggle is not only cruel to his loved ones, but also irresponsible to himself, because, although the suffering may be intolerable, it is not meaningless in this case.


Ran out of time here… but what the heck

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4 thoughts on “[MCAT] Voluntary death

  1. well it was a really good start..i actually want to read more and made it past the first 2 sentences w/o being bored…
    a bit concerning to have only written 3 paragraphs in half an hour tho…

  2. lol… yeah I know. I’m in trouble… hey! don’t you tutor English? Hm…. XD
    The term “redemption” completely destroyed me. I actually had to go to the dictionary. If there’s a term like this on the actual MCAT essay I have to write, well, let’s just say bye-bye med school 😦

  3. 😛 yup good to read up on dictionary but I think it’s really awesome that you’re writing so many essays!! training up!

    umm I hope you don’t mind me commenting on all your essay entries… I just find intellectual discussion very engaging.

    this question actually made me first think of euthanasia, and then I interpreted it differently like… someone sacrificing him/herself to end the suffering of another person since this statement didn’t say the suffering had to be that person’s. In this case, it would be an act of redemption. but how often are there such cases, and I would have the same argument as you that it would be pretty escapist and one of the last resorts.

  4. Haha… how is YOUR training coming along? Been reading up them journals? Or are you too full all the time from all of those awesome meals? XD

    Are you kidding? I love to have comments, especially to these essays!!! Now that I know someone is actually interested in them, I have a ton more motivation to write them 😀

    Euthanasia, that’s the word. Man, I need to beef up my vocab.

    I didn’t realize that this question can be interpreted that way… this makes “redemption” somewhat more sensible, although I still don’t quite see how euthanasia relates to redemption.

    Am I right to understand “redemption” as giving someone that he or she deserves? I can “redeem” my coupon… or the dictionary says “The payment of an obligation”

    Maybe the statement suggests that it is an obligation for one to end another person’s intolerable suffering. I think this would be more easily discussed than the original statement.

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