Bioethics Blogs

Rights Come to Mind Brain Injury, Ethics, and the Struggle for Consciousness

Cornell medical ethics professor Joseph Fins has published Rights Come to Mind Brain Injury, Ethics, and the Struggle for Consciousness.

Through the sobering story of Maggie Worthen, and her mother, Nancy, this book tells of one family’s struggle with severe brain injury and how developments in neuroscience call for a reconsideration of what society owes patients at the edge of consciousness. 

Drawing upon over fifty in-depth family interviews, the history of severe brain injury from Quinlan to Schiavo, and his participation in landmark clinical trials, such as the first use of deep brain stimulation in the minimally conscious state, Joseph J. Fins captures the paradox of medical and societal neglect even as advances in neuroscience suggest new ways to mend the broken brain. 

Responding to the dire care provided to these marginalized patients, after heroically being saved, Fins places society’s obligations to patients with severe injury within the historical legacy of the civil and disability rights movements, offering a stirring synthesis of public policy and physician advocacy.

1. Decisions
2. The injury
3. Coming to terms with brain injury
4. The origins of the vegetative state
5. A shift since Quinlan
6. Maggie’s wishes
7. Something happened in Arkansas
8. From PVS to MCS
9. Leaving the hospital
10. Heather’s story
11. Neuroimaging and neuroscience in the public mind
12. Contractures and contradictions: medical necessity and the injured brain
13. Minds, monuments, and moments
14. Heads and hearts, toil and tears
15. What do families want?
16. Deep brain stimulation in MCS
17. Mending our brains, minding our ethics

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.