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An Interview with Pascal Landa on Early Life, Some More (Part Two)

July 8, 2019

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 20.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Sixteen)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: July 8, 2019

Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2019

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 4,037

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract 

Pascal Landa is the Founder and President AAVIVRE (Association qui Accompagne la Volonté des Individus a Vivre selon leur Ethique – Association that Accompanies the Will of those wishing to Live according to their personal Ethics). He discusses: early life, or his superhero origin story, some more.

Keywords: AAVIVRE, dying with dignity, early life, euthanasia, France, religion, right to die, Pascal Landa.

An Interview with Pascal Landa on Early Life, Some More: Founder and President AAVIVRE (Association qui Accompagne la Volonté des Individus a Vivre selon leur Ethique – Association that Accompanies the Will of those wishing to Live according to their personal Ethics) (Part Two)[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

Pascal Landa: To backtrack a little bit. While I was the President of AAVIVRE, which I founded five years ago, I wrote two booklets. One is a new self-deliverance booklet in which I explain clearly, with all the precautions and so forth, about life being precious, that how, if one wants to end his life, he can do it easily, safely and with no investment. It is not difficult to do that.

I detail what we call “the plastic bag method” originally promoted by Dereck Humphry. It is the method where you inhale your own carbon dioxide which puts you into a deep coma and in a matter of generally less than an hour, kills you. The advantage of that is that everybody can get a plastic bag. Everybody can get a scarf to put it around your neck for comfort and scotch tape to make sure it is held in place. Everybody can take sleeping pills, which you do beforehand so that you are sure to sleep throughout the process.

The nice thing about it is when you take the bag off the person’s head, he looks like he is just gone to sleep and had an easy death. What is most important about that method is that most people are horrified about it, and that is essential because of those people who are horrified are clearly not people who are in a phase of their life where they are facing the fact that their life needs to end.

If you are facing, either through pain, or loss of consciousness, or knowing that you are going to be completely debilitated, you are no longer worried about the plastic bag. You are worried about being sure to end your life. I only sell the book to people who are members of an association affiliated to the World Federation of Right to Die with Dignity and any profit is used to finance the movement.

I have observed that experience myself many times while accompanying people. Frankly, the fear that you have of not being able to breathe is not right at all. You breathe easily. You are breathing your own carbon dioxide, but you are breathing and there is NO suffocation. You go progressively. First, you go into sleep because you have taken the right number of pills to go long-term into deep sleep. Then your breath becomes shorter and shorter until you are into a deep coma and you die.

That is good for people who can still manipulate things enough to be able to do that process, but it is not good for those people who are paraplegics, who are unable to physically handle their own lives. Therefore, the law is still needed for those who want or need to be assisted. In the last 35 years, I have spent probably 25 years saying we need a law called “the right to die with dignity law”.

Finally today, I have become aware that we were going the wrong path for legislation. We were going the wrong path because the opponents to our movement oppose us on two principles. The first principle is that a society of persons is a contract between people who live together. One of the foundation stones of that contract is, “Thou shalt not kill.” If we want a law that says we can kill, we are obviously stepping into the mouth of the wolf who is then able to say, “This is not the right way to go.”

However, there is a good way to go. The good way to go, as far as I am concerned, and particularly in Southern European mentalities, which are emotional rather than rational. Latins are a different type of society than the puritan, rather logical and strict mechanical societies that we know in America, in Australia, in England. In France and in Italy and in Spain, the mentality is such that- and it is not just playing on words. It reveals the real basic issues that rule those societies.

The right path is to write a law for the irreversible medical acts. Know that in France, one specialist out of two every year, gets attacked in court. One generalist out of ten, every year, gets attacked in court. All of that is because the powers of the medical profession have been trying to sell us the idea that medicine is a science, which it is not.

Medicine is not a science by the simple fact that drugs that operate on you and drugs that operate on me are going to act differently. We are, each of us, individuals. We are, each of us, different. So the act of medical caring is not just a mechanical process of distributing drugs or operating. It is primarily a human adaptation and accompaniment process. We know that psychology also plays a large part of human well-being or not well-being. Thus medicine is an art.

If we understand that medicine is an art, then we cannot guarantee the results. If we cannot guarantee the results, then we need to have a process when we do a medically irreversible act. A codified process for the amputation of an arm, a leg, the extraction of part of a liver, the extraction of whatever it is, the replacement of a heart ….something that irremediably changes a person’s life.

Several things qualify an “irreversible medical act”. One is that the person is going to change his life fundamentally, for the rest of his life. We need social accompaniment, but a doctor is not a social worker. We need a social accompaniment of that process. We need to guarantee that a diagnostic of the doctor is a good diagnostic. That means that we need to have a second opinion that confirms the first opinion. “This is what is going on and this is what the problem is.”

The third thing is we need to be able to offer, as a professional medical practitioner, a large set of solutions. One is to do nothing. The other is to amputate. The third is to try to treat with drugs but with the risk of having gangrene and dying. Et cetera.

One of the options that doctors often must face is there is that there are no treatment issues to your problem. I am thinking of sicknesses such as those in which you die of suffocation because your lungs cannot do it anymore, which are terrible deaths, or those in which you cannot control the pain anymore because drugs do not work. Despite all the false data and the statements of lobby paid researchers, we know that about 5% – 6% of painful situations cannot be dealt with at end of life. In those situations, one of the options must be assisted medical dying.

Who are we to say when is the right time to say, ‘Deciding to die is the right option?” I am sure you would not want me to tell you when it is the right option for you. I can tell you that I do not want you to tell me what the right option for me. In fact, I want to protect you so that you can also decide that until every single cell in your body is dead, you are alive, and you want medical treatment. That is fine for you. But it is not fine for me.

Me I want the law to state that in a medical process of the irreversible act, that if a certain protocol is followed that guarantees all of the protection of the individual, then we should be in a situation where I can ask for medically assisted dying, and you, the doctor, can give me that prescription or do the actual injection if I choose it. That must be one of the options for care at end of life.

This is what happens in Switzerland. When you go to Switzerland, you provide a medical record that shows that you are in a terminally ill situation of one way or another. It doesn’t have to be terminally ill in the next six months. It just must be terminally ill. But remember, life is a terminal illness. We are all going to die. If we are in a situation where that is the case, and if the patient is not mentally disturbed, and is capable of making concious decisions, then he can choose to have a doctor prescribe a death giving cocktail, but only the patient can “open the valve” or drink the substance. It does not work for those who cannot even move a finger.

I am thinking of, for example, the young man who says, “She has left me. Life is no longer worth living because my sweetheart has left me,” or vice versa. Those kinds of situations are psychological situations where the person has not the required perspective to decide to die. We need, as a responsible society, to be able to determine those cases. Yet we must also be able to say, “You have the right to decide what is a life worth living and what is a life not worth living.” Only a well-codified process can allow this.

You should be able to die with your friends around you. I know a lot of people who like to play cheerful, joyful music. I have friends who said to me, “Pascal, I want you to drink champagne on the day of my death because it is the end of my life and I think everybody should celebrate the fact that I have had a good life.”

To make a long story short, I think that is one of the rights that we will have to recognize, and it is being recognized by more and more people. Unhappily, there’s a lot of issues with the way it is being recognized. For example, in America, they want you to sign off a list of situations in which you say you want to die. That is stupid. The one thing we know is that we do not know when or in what context with what situation we are going to die.

In the French law today, we have been able to get the right for terminal sedation under specific circumstances, and more importantly, the right for a person to say that he is not willing to accept certain types of medical treatment. That includes force-feeding and all treatments that do not pertain to his total recovery. But you can never anticipate, so anticipated directives, as we call them, are just a philosophical statement to guide the persons around you as to how you would like to end your life.

The real key is having somebody who is your person of confidence, a person with whom you have talked and who is going to be a valid person to talk with for the medical profession because the medical profession facing somebody dying has got a huge problem. The huge problem is that he can act like a professional, but he is being asked to make decisions as if he was the person. These are two different roles that require a dialogue and cannot be assumed by a single person.

What he needs is he needs a person to talk to. Often, the patient is no longer able to communicate correctly. What he needs is for the patient to have named somebody who is a person of confidence, who has his full confidence, and who is able to adjust the patient’s will to the real situation.

The real situation could be a car accident and to find yourself in a coma. Do we decide, because you marked on the questionnaire, “I do not want artificial respiration”, that we should decide to let you die? Even though if we give you artificial respiration for three weeks or even two weeks, you’ll be able to recuperate fully and then he’ll be able to live? NO!

We need to have somebody who is fully conscious, fully aware of the person’s wishes and desires, of course, and who can speak for the person. That seems to me more important than anticipated directives.

We must avoid, also, the bad path that codifies what the medical professional one has to do the multiple response questionnaire. Do you want us to do this? Do you want us to do that? Do you want us to do this?” That is ludicrous because the situation is in constant evolution. Those questionnaires only pertain to things that are black and white, but life is not black and white. Life is always specific to the individual, specific to the case at a moment in time.

Exchange and participation are essential. We know, for example, that a person going to see a doctor, when the doctor talks with him and has an exchange, he has 30% more chance of recovery than a person who doesn’t talk to his doctor because medical care is a mutual trust space between a practitioner who knows medical practices and a patient who knows himself. We also know that it reduces costs by 30%, as well, which is an impressive amount.

Last, of all, I think one of the important things we need to keep in mind is that end of life today represents somewhere between 60% and 80% of all medical expenses during your whole lifetime. That means that the end of life is big business for some people. We cannot let financial big business interests be above concerns for that a person that is supplicating that he wants to end his life because he has had enough, enough of suffering, enough of mental torture, enough of seeing those around him suffer, et cetera.

As a responsible society, we also must remember that a person who is in a situation of sickness or end of life, has tremendous pressures from external sources, the wife that tells the doctor, “I want you to keep him alive by all means because as long as he is alive, I am getting my pension. The day he dies, I get nil.” Or the kids who say, “Speed him up. I want to get that inheritance. I can use the money dads got better than he does. Look at what condition he is in.” I just gave examples, but there are millions of motivations.

As a responsible society, we must have a law that saves the individual from torture by the medical industry. End of life people today are test grounds for lots of medications. That is not acceptable unless the person says it is okay but often, they never ask the person or omit this experimental aspect for a proposed treatment.

Today in France, 30,000 people die because doctors, mostly by compassion, help them die. Even that is not acceptable because, first of all for 1% or 2%, we question the fact that is the right decision, but more important, is that they never asked the opinion of the person concerned, and there is no reason we should allow this, it’s like playing “god”. When you do not have the agreement or request of the person, it is called murder. If you ask the person and the person wants it, it is called assisted dying and compassion. Two different concepts.

The other reason is that as a society, we cannot let the medical profession be attacked permanently because people think that medicine is a science and not an art. If we develop a the protocol that protects the medical profession, we’ll find more and more medical professionals having human compassion, human interest in their patients, and doing their job which is helping us to live as well as we can, as long as we can, and in a state that is compatible with an individual’s will to live.

I think I have covered the three basic subjects. My own personal life is not interesting in all this except to say that perhaps I started this movement when I was 30, replacing my father as president of the association in France, and that I have done a successful IT career as an international director of IT while continuously being an active member of the right to die with dignity movement in France and internationally.

That shows that I am not interested in glamour. I just want that law, some day or another, to be enacted. I wrote a book on how to write your personal directives and how to designate the person of confidence so that people can read that book and know how to do that because it seems to be a difficult thing for people to do. It is a book written in French and if you turn the book around, it is in English because I am both a French and English speaker.

I think I have covered the law in France today. In 2005, the law allowed recognition for anticipated directives and the fact that a person you choose “personne de confiance” (person you trust) could be more important than the family as advice for the medical profession.

In 2016, it reinforced the law and said, “Directives are now an obligation for the medical profession and the person of trust is still an advisory, but a much more an important advisory than it ever was stated before.” Otherwise, the law used to say, “We cannot kill people. We can just put them in terminal sedation.” The 2016 law said, “Terminal sedation, the doctor does not have to wake up the patient regularly to check that he is not killing him.”

But terminal sedation today, as practiced in France, can take one day to one month, depending on the state of health of the individual. We think that is totally unacceptable. It is unacceptable for the individual because we cannot say that he is not suffering. It is unacceptable for the family and those around them because we know that they are suffering. We can see it clearly.

There’s still a long way to go but I think this road must pass through a protocol for irreversible medical acts and not a law for directing doctors on how we can kill people when they choose it. That will neither be accepted by the doctors, nor by the religious people, nor by the basic community, even though 90% of the French citizens all say, since about 30 years now, that they want legislation for the right to die with dignity.

Dying is not an easy thing. I am in the middle of writing a book on how you live the best way the last part of your life. Living at the end of your life is a tremendous adventure. At the end of your life, one of the things that happen, whether we like it or not, is you can no longer lie to yourself.

All our lives, we can lie to ourselves, and say, “Life, it is going to continue. I am not going to die,” or any other lies that we do for ourselves, but the one thing that you can no longer do when you are nearing death is you can no longer lie to yourself. That is a period when you can do a lot of progress in your own mentality and on your own awareness of life.

It is too bad you do not do it beforehand. So many people would rather act like the ostrich and keep their heads in the sand until the moment arrives. That is not acceptable, for me. If somebody else wants to live that way, I have no objections. A corner stone of the right to die movement is: We are not asking that others live the way we want to, we are just asking that we be able to live the way we want.

We defend also the person that wants to live until the last second of the last cell that survives in his body. One of the things that I wanted to do at one point was to attacked the state because in today’s life, today’s scientific community knowledge about organisms and their way of living, we are able to grow meat, we are able to grow skin, we are able to grow organs, we are able to create stem cells out of any other cell in the body. We can now, very recently, replace parts of the DNA. In fact, we could say that we shouldn’t ever let anybody die. We could keep a body alive forever. Is living being just a body and the cells that function? We do not think so.

An important issue that is being raised today by the right to die with dignity movement is what is the real meaning of life? Is the real meaning of life having cells that are alive or is the real meaning of life that of being conscious, being able to love, being able to have emotions? Those are the real questions that we must deal with as a society.

Do you have any other questions?

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Founder and President AAVIVRE (Association qui Accompagne la Volonté des Individus a Vivre selon leur Ethique – Association that Accompanies the Will of those wishing to Live according to their personal Ethics).

[2] Individual Publication Date: July 8, 2019: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/landa-one; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2019: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Pascal Landa on Early Life, Some More (Part Two) [Online].July 2019; 20(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/landa-two.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2019, July 8). An Interview with Pascal Landa on Early Life, Some More (Part Two)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/landa-two.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Pascal Landa on Early Life, Some More (Part Two). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 20.A, July. 2019. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/landa-two>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2019. “An Interview with Pascal Landa on Early Life, Some More (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 20.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/landa-two.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Pascal Landa on Early Life, Some More (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 20.A (July 2019). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/landa-two.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with Pascal Landa on Early Life, Some More (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 20.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/landa-two>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with Pascal Landa on Early Life, Some More (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 20.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/landa-two

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Pascal Landa on Early Life, Some More (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 20.A (2019):July. 2019. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/landa-two>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Pascal Landa on Early Life, Some More (Part Two) [Internet]. (2019, July 20(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/landa-two.

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In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

 

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