Sunday, January 15, 2006

Hottentot elderly

The Hottentots are a semi-nomadic African tribe who were one of the numerous social groups worldwide who engaged in a fairly common form of euthanasia directed at older people. The custom was to leave feeble or mentally incompetent elderly people in a remote place where they would either starve to death or be killed by wild animals. Like many other societies around the world (including some west coast American Indian tribes) the Hottentots could not support disabled people, and, with a migratory way of life, had to abandon those who could no longer perform work or move with the group. Extensive documentation of worldwide practices of this and other forms of euthanasia dates back at least to 1922, in the research reported by the distinguished American psychologist, G. Stanley Hall, in his book Senescence.
Pratty, J. "No Roles for the Elderly," in Aging, Goldstein, E. C., ed. Vol. 1, Art. 7. Boca Raton, Fl.: Social Issues Resource Series, Inc., 1981.
Russell, C. H. Good News About Aging. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1989.


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