AIMS: To identify characteristics of the public health policies of four Nordic countries concerning how they present the causes of ill health, the best ways to deal with these causes, and where to place responsibility; additionally, to investigate whether there is a common Nordic policy.
METHODS: Analyses of recent public health programs in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden.
RESULTS: Focus is on either, or both, individual behavior and living conditions as causes of ill health; the remedies are classical liberal as well as social democratic policies. None of the programs is consistent with either ideological strand; each has its peculiar combination of interpretations and policies. The Danish program is the most liberal focusing on behaviors and individual's choices; the Norwegian program is the most social democratic or social liberal focusing mostly on the social and physical environment and the politicians' responsibility to improve the population's health. The Swedish and the Finnish programs lie between those of Denmark and Norway. The Finnish and Norwegian governments stress their responsibility for the health of the population.
CONCLUSIONS: No common Nordic political approach to public health exists. All programs contain contradictory policies and ideological statements with differences regarding the emphasis on individual behavior versus choice and living conditions and political responsibility. The policies are not entirely predictable from the political stance of the government; national differences seem to play a role.
Previous research has indicated that opposition toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trangender (LGBT) rights remains prevalent among Western populations. In this article, we investigate the determinants of anti-gay attitudes among adolescents in two liberal democracies, Belgium (n = 6,330) and Canada (n = 3,334). The analysis indicates that hostile feelings toward LGBT rights are particularly widespread among boys, while the effects of socioeconomic status and parental education remain limited. Various religious denominations proved to have a strong and significant negative impact on tolerance, with especially high scores for Islam. Religious practice, too, contributes to a negative attitude toward LGBT rights. The consequences of these findings with regard to tolerance for gay rights among Islamic youth in Western democracies are discussed.
The author critically examines the majority judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada in Rodriguez v. Canada (A.G.) and concludes that the judges in the majority have adopted a legislative public policy mandate rather than carrying out a judicial function that accords with established canons of Charter interpretation and analysis. The author contends that the majority read section 7 of the Charter as enshrining the sanctity of life as an intrinsic, abstract societal value necessary to protect the ill and the vulnerable and not as an expression of the individual's entitlement to autonomy against the State. She also contends that the majority's section 1 analysis was unduly deferential not only to the Canadian Parliament but also to the legislatures of the majority of Western democracies. This came at the expense of considering the legislative pattern of abandoning laws against suicide, the common law respect for individual autonomy and quality of life regarding refusal of and withdrawal from medical treatment, and the widespread lax enforcement of laws critical of the majority's reliance on "slippery slope" reasoning, which subordinated Ms Rodriguez's Charter rights to apprehend wrongdoing by the medical profession and the presumed best interests of society as a whole. The author recommends that legislators who address the question of assisted suicide look to methods of regulating access to assisted suicide that reflect respect for individual dignity under the Charter at the end of life, and reject any reading of the majority judgment that suggests that legislators are free to regulate or to proscribe assisted suicide according to abstract notions of the sanctity of life, pragmatic views of the public good, or the false consciousness or perceived vulnerability of the terminally ill or disabled.
This paper focuses on the intertwinement of society and the psyche as a consequence of 70 years of Communist rule and the trauma of its collapse in the 90's. The trauma had profound effects on the psyche. An empirical study that was carried out in 1996/1997, which compared the personality structure of adolescents from Russia and Austria, and a research dialogue in 1999, has been re-evaluated in the light of current political events. One aim that we had was to find out whether we could discover characteristic personality features, resulting from the Communist totalitarian society in Russia, as well as from the trauma of its collapse. This led to the development of the concepts of the "impersonal self" and the "denial mode". The Russians seemed to be frozen in a protective shell with "flat" affects. They were anxious, conflict avoidant, and somewhat lost. Ideas about missing adolescence and the importance of privacy are discussed. Society was shown to not only have intruded into the individual psyche, but also into the members of the intercultural research team in the form of projective identification. The importance of the interaction between society and the individual as a basic psychoanalytic concept dating back to Freud is elaborated. Finally, considerations pertaining to mental health and democracy are presented.
The Danish Council of Ethics...believed that the brain-death criterion should not be accepted without public education and debate. Following the introduction of a spectrum of educational and related activites, a Gallup poll found that 98% of the survey population was aware of the debate over brain-vs-heart criteria and that 80% favoured the adoption of a supplemental brain-death standard... This raises the fundamental question of decisionmaking in pluralist democratic societies, of the limits of democratic involvement in such choices, and of the role of bodies like the Danish Council of Ethics... It must be part of the mission of a governmental bioethical body to use its peculiar expertise to teach and to lead -- to build a popular consensus out of confusion. But in doing so, such a Commission will be steering a dangerous course....