A Message from Our Founder and Director
Author: Stacy Gallin    Published: January 21, 2016    1 Comment

Every Voice Counts
Author: Stacy Gallin    Published: February 3, 2016    2 Comments

2016 Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) National Solidarity Week for Compassionate Patient Care
Author: Lynn White    Published: February 8, 2016    5 Comments

Please Welcome the Newest Member of our Advisory Board
Author: Stacy Gallin    Published: February 18, 2016    2 Comments

Survivor's Testimony Revealed
Author: Stacy Gallin    Published: March 15, 2016    4 Comments

#NeverForget: Holocaust Education in the Digital Age
Author: Stacy Gallin    Published: April 14, 2016    2 Comments

70 Years Later: Violations in Human Subject Research Ethics
Author: Stacy Gallin    Published: June 29, 2016    2 Comments

MIMEH Mourns the Passing of Elie Wiesel
Author: Stacy Gallin    Published: July 2, 2016    3 Comments

Second European Meeting on Nazi Medicine
Author: Stacy Gallin    Published: September 14, 2016    2 Comments

MIMEH Goes to Washington
Author: Stacy Gallin    Published: October 8, 2016    4 Comments

Celebrating MIMEH's First Anniversary
Author: Stacy Gallin    Published: October 25, 2016    1 Comment

Author: Stacy Gallin    Published: November 29, 2016    2 Comments

Thank You: A Letter from MIMEH's Director
Author: Stacy Gallin    Published: December 29, 2016    2 Comments

Pharmacist of Auschwitz
Author: Stacy Gallin    Published: January 14, 2017    5 Comments

Freedom, Justice and Liberty for All
Author: Stacy Gallin    Published: January 16, 2017    6 Comments

Medicine and the Holocaust in Medical Education: International Holocaust Remembrance Day
Author: Stacy Gallin    Published: January 27, 2017    1 Comment

The Evils of Dehumanization
Author: Stacy Gallin    Published: March 17, 2017    2 Comments

MIMEH and University of Colorado to Host Yom Hashoah Program
Author: Stacy Gallin    Published: April 15, 2017    0 Comments

Lectures on Inhumanity: Teaching Medical Ethics in German Medical Schools Under Nazism
Author: Stacy Gallin    Published: April 18, 2017    2 Comments

Global Bioethics Initiative Summer Institute
Author: Stacy Gallin    Published: April 20, 2017    2 Comments

Week of Remembrance Events
Author: Stacy Gallin    Published: April 28, 2017    3 Comments

A Boy from Bustina
Author: Stacy Gallin    Published: May 4, 2017    5 Comments

Announcement of the Department of Bioethics and the Holocaust of the UNESCO Chair of Bioethics (Haifa)
Author: Stacy Gallin    Published: June 8, 2017    1 Comment

The Second International Conference on Medicine in the Holocaust and Beyond
Author: Stacy Gallin    Published: June 8, 2017    1 Comment

A Message from MIMEH's Director
Author: Stacy Gallin    Published: August 18, 2017    0 Comments

Eva Mozes Kor: A Survivor, An Activist, An Inspiration
Author: Stacy Gallin    Published: September 17, 2017    0 Comments

View "Holocaust, Genocide and Contemporary Bioethics" panel on GrassRoots Community TV
Author: Stacy Gallin    Published: September 17, 2017    0 Comments

Misericordia University Launches Center for Human Dignity in Bioethics, Medicine and Health
Author: Stacy Gallin    Published: September 27, 2017    0 Comments

World Bioethics Day 2017
Author: Stacy Gallin    Published: October 19, 2017    0 Comments

Panel - 70 Years after Nuremberg: What Have We Learned?
Author: Stacy Gallin    Published: November 26, 2017    0 Comments

Kristallnacht Lecture - Dr. Tessa Chelouche
Author: Stacy Gallin    Published: November 26, 2017    0 Comments

The Evils of Dehumanization

Author: Stacy Gallin    Published: March 17, 2017    2 Comments

"The Dark Psychology of Dehumanization, Explained" 


Brian Resnick


People often wonder how the evils perpetrated during the Holocaust could have occurred. Specifically, questions regarding the medical community's involvement in the labeling, persecution, sterilization and eventual mass murder of millions of people have continued to plague scholars and lay people alike.  While it is impossible to provide an accurate answer to this question, when I lecture on this topic I often point to two distinct processes that may have made it easier for healers to become killers. 

Dehumanization can be defined as "the process of depriving a person or group of positive human qualities." A more colloquial way to describe the process is that certain groups of people deem other groups of people as "less than."  Less than what, you may ask?  That depends on the situation.  As this article points out, dehumanization can come in varying forms and strengths. I will leave it to Mr. Resnick to describe these aspects of dehumanization and will focus my comments solely on dehumanization as it pertains to the Holocaust. During the Holocaust, the process of dehumanizing inferior elements of the population (i.e.; mentally and physically disabled, Jews, Roma, political dissidents) was taken to such a degree that these groups were no longer considered people at all.  They were "less than" human.  In fact, they were even considered "less than" animals.  This is the reason why despite the very strict laws banning vivisection, experimentation on prisoners in concentration camps was not only permitted, but encouraged.  Under Nazi medicine, experimenting on live animals was unethical, however experimenting on Jews- who were considered pathogens infecting the health of the German nation- was not only ethical, but a means to improve the future of society.

Combining dehumanization with medicalization paints a more complete picture of the transformation within medicine in Nazi Germany.  Medicalization, or "the process by which human conditions and problems come to be defined and treated as medical conditions, and thus become the subject of medical study, diagnosis, prevention, or treatment" helped turn theory into practice. Again, to put it in colloquial terms, dehumanization and medicalization can be seen as two sides of the same coin.  Dehumaniziation provides the theoretical justification for medicalization.  Medicalization provides the means for dealing with dehumanized groups.  Fritz Klein, a Nazi physician, offered a concise version of this argument when he stated, “Of course I am a doctor and I want to preserve life.  And out of respect for human life, I would remove a gangrenous appendix from a diseased body.  The Jew is a gangrenous appendix in the body of mankind” (Lifton, 2000, p. 29).  

The Maimonides Institute for Medicnie, Ethics and the Holocaust believes in the basic dignity of all people.  In our opinion, the act of dehumanization is not only unethical, but can lead society down a very dangerous path.  Mr. Resnick's article is enlightening because it shows that despite our horror at the abrogation of ethics that took place during the Holocaust, some of the foundational theories that led to these medical transgressions continue to exist and thrive in modern society.  How will society deal with dehumanization moving forward?  How can we ensure that dehumanization is not used as the foundation for murder and genocide, as it was during the Holocaust?  Understanding and exploring the history of dehumanization- as well as medicalization- can help provide ethical guidelines to ensure that "Never Again" is more than just a rallying cry.


Comment posted by Rabbi P on 5/12/17 at 1:35 PM
This question is so incredibly important. So often we talk about others in "us" and "them" terms. The current climate in America especially has us suspect those around us. Ultimately we all come from the same source and we need to see that each person has a divine spark that gives them life and makes them unique. Unless we see others as having that spark, we risk seeing them as other and inhuman. That has been the downfall of humanity throughout our existence.

Comment posted by Wilhelmina W on 7/17/17 at 9:32 PM
Kneodwlge wants to be free, just like these articles!

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