My wife and I initially went there because we wanted to see Tim Peake’s spacecraft which was newly installed in the museum the day before. I have written a separate post which covers my thoughts in relation to that exhibit. This post concerns a different exhibit we spotted quite by chance – the quite terrifying and macabre Euthanasia Machine.
This item (see picture) sits in a small glass case and is not something you would generally notice unless like my wife and I, you like to ensure you see everything in a museum and not just the star attractions.
From what I could make out, the machine itself consists of three vials of lethal chemical which are in turn released into one large vial which is intravenously connected to the user’s blood supply. The user has to correctly answer four questions, and at each correct answer one of the chemicals is added to the large vial. The fourth question if answered correctly releases the large vial into your blood stream and you die!
In the museum, it didn’t tell you what the four questions are but I now know the fourth question to be, “If you press this button, you will receive a lethal injection and die in 15 seconds – Do you wish to proceed?” I can only assume the previous three questions are geared towards making sure you are in the right state of mind to make such a momentous and horrendous decision. And you should know that this machine has been used in earnest, especially in Australia where it was developed by Doctor Philip Nitschke although it is now banned.
My wife and I pondered what the questions might be and how desperate you must be to want to be hooked up to this machine, and to have to go through the torment of answering them, each time getting nearer to your immediate death.
Later that day, I wondered how such a machine might work for people addicted to alcohol and what questions it might then ask.
The aim of the alcohol machine would be to get people to question why they want to carry on drinking, and consider how meaningless an exercise it is pouring a poison down your throat day in and day out simply because you don’t believe you can live or cope without it.
I imagined the vials containing neat whiskey, vodka and gin and being connected likewise straight into your vein thereby cutting out the intermediate stage of taste, smell and any pretense of enjoyment.
Question one might be: “Do you really want to blur your thinking, muddle your brain, lose your faculties and induce a hungover state you will regret?”
Question two: “Do you really want to continue living as you are, dependent on alcohol despite how much you convince yourself you are in charge, and as miserable as you often are because of what drink has done to you?”
Question three: “Do you really want to deprive your loved ones of the joy of sharing many years of your life by dying early purely because you decided to press the final button?”
Question four: “If you press this button, you will receive an injection of four mixed alcohol spirits and give up all hope of escaping the life you lead and wish to change – Do you wish to proceed?”
I can’t think of anything that would induce me to press the buttons to accept that injection of alcohol, and I think had I been connected to such a machine when I was a drinker it would have made me think long and hard about what I was doing to myself and to others.
Next time you have an alcoholic drink, try and imagine the alcohol entering you through a machine like I have described, instead of from a glass. Would you still want it? If not, why not? What is so special about the alcohol in the glass as opposed to the alcohol through the machine? If it is the taste, why not try a nice tasting drink that doesn’t contain alcohol? Is it because you believe you need it to relax and be happy, because if that is the case why are you even considering quitting?
What would your own four questions be if you were asked to develop a machine like this to help stop people drinking. Please share your ideas and thoughts.