Research Prizes

Naam:
Els van Wijngaarden
Year:
2017
PhD dissertation:
Ready to give up on life. A study into the lived experience of older people who consider their lives to be completed and no longer worth living.

Supervisor: Prof. dr. C. Leget, Prof dr. A. Goossensen
Nomination: University of Humanistic Studies


Report by the Selection Committee
This dissertation examines a highly explosive theme, the phenomenon of a ‘fulfilled life’, in a balanced, lucid and sensitive way. The author researches the scientific context within which this phenomenon is written about. Drawing on interviews, she explores the factors that influence older people who wish to end their lives. She complements this empirical research in an interesting and thorough manner with an overview of existing provisions on the one hand, and external criticism on the other. In her research the author links various academic disciplines and fields of research, such as phenomenology, the psychology of medical studies and ethics. Her combination of individual histories, social structure and moral reflection makes this a finely balanced study. Moreover, this is the world's first study to put forward empirical arguments in the discussion on rational suicide, which to date has largely been a theoretical debate. The jury was impressed by the qualitative analysis and hopes that the work will prove exemplary in future debates on this important social issue.

Biography
In 2009, Els van Wijngaarden (1976) graduated cum laude in Religious Studies at VU University Amsterdam with a specialisation in (non-denominational) spiritual counselling. From 2007 to 2016, she has worked as a lecturer in ethics and existential counselling at two universities for applied sciences in bachelor and post-bachelor programs. In 2012, she was awarded with a NWO Doctoral Grant for Teachers, allowing her to conduct research into the lived experiences of older people who considered their lives to be completed, at the University of Humanistic Studies. In 2016, she defended her thesis titled Ready to give up on life: A study into the lived experience of older people who consider their lives to be completed and no longer worth living. Besides, she wrote a book for the general public titled Voltooid leven: over leven en willen sterven. Since October 2016, she works as a researcher for the research company Tao of Care and as lecturer and researcher at the University of Humanistic Studies.