There has been much in the British news overnight about new research which proves that some people who are in a vegetative state can hear all that is occurring around them, and even communicate through their mind patterns.This proof throws up all sorts of ethical questions, and challenges the medical assumptions about mind and body - showing how little is known about this vast neurological field.
Hopefully, it will mean that patients who are in a locked-in state, or who could be, are treated with the consideration afforded to "awake" patients, and conversations around their bedside are discreet. Research in this field will surely accelerate, and it may even be that studies in telepathy conducted by people like Rupert Sheldrake will be expanded to include patients with head traumas.
My heart goes out, meanwhile, to the many families who will be wondering today if their relative was able to hear all that was said, decisions made about life and death, before their life support machine was turned off - and, of course, if the machine should have been turned off at all. Hopefully the number of such cases is few, but each one is tragic for all concerned, and dreadul to contemplate. Eventually they may be able to see that what they did was, at that time, the best they could do - and what more could they do than that?