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The Ulysses Contract

Decent Essays
The ethics behind the “Ulysses Contract” has been a controversy for centuries. The idea of giving consent for a future self, who is less capable of making a correct decision, is apparent in both literature and in medicine. While the “Ulysses Contract” is prevalent across our society many still debate whether an initial consent is more important than a rash decision made under influence. Although it is debated heavily, a decision made with a free and calm mind should be irrevocable compare to a rash decision.
The term “Ulysses Contract” derives from Homer’s epic “ The Odyssey”. Its name originates from Ulysses (Odysseus in Greek) and his encounter with the Sirens. When Odysseus and his crew were journeying home, the witch, Kirke, prophesied
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J.S is a 24-year-old male schizophrenic who has been taking antipsychotic medication for years and his disease progressed to a point where he was diagnosed with tardive dyskinesia from neuroleptic medication. When he was place under a less powerful drug he went under an episode of psychiatric illness as he was “squatting in the corner of his room, smearing feces, spitting on himself, refusing to eat, and burning himself with matches”. This force him and his therapist to consider experimental programs and signed consent forms for treatment with experimental drugs. However, when J.S went on the experimental medication he regressed back into his condition and refused drugs. At first, the researchers thought the Ulysses contract was binding but later, with legal counsel, they back down and stopped J.S’s medication. At the time, PADs had little legal standing (they weren’t officially legalized until 1991) so J.S’ decision, while he was mentally unstable, revoked his initial decision.
There are many similarities and differences between J.S’ scenario and Odysseus’. In Odysseus’ case, he was certain that the Sirens will bring death if his crew did not listen to his decision. In J.S’ scenario, however, he was given experimental drugs that neither the researcher nor J.S could foresee the consequences. Both Odysseus and J.S made decisions are made with their best-interest in mind to save themselves from having to make a
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