top of page

Reviews & Media Coverage

By: Philipp Kellmeyer, M.D., Ph.D., M.Phil., Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics

"In its scope, scholarly ambition, and humane vision, Rights Come to Mind is one of those rare works and may conceivably become an instant classic on the ethics of brain injury and disorders of consciousness… The substantial intellectual grace and deep humanity that pervade every part of the book are a testimony to the scholarly excellence and exceptional academic generosity of its author. The clarity of analysis and argument makes it also an important work of contemporary critical scholarship—in the best Kantian sense of Kritik (in English,“critique”) as the illumination, examination, and delineation of concepts. Overall, the narrative virtuosity of Professor Fins reminds one of the great cinematographers who are able to find depth and meaning in both close-ups and wide-angle panoramic shots … Rights Come to Mind marks a major milestone in the contemporary scholarship on the ethics of disorders of consciousness, in the narrative approach to medical ethnography, and in patients’ rights advocacy. It is safe to predict that it will become a work of reference and reverence for everyone who is interested in these topics for many years to come.”

By: Diego Gracia Guillén, M.D., Ph.D., EIDON

"Joseph Fins has made contributions (to bioethics) of the utmost importance. It is enough to cite two, his works… on clinical pragmatism and on the other, efforts to improve and dignify the care of patients at the end of life … The title of Rights Come to Mind expresses the book’s fundamental purpose: to denounce the way people suffering from prolonged loss of consciousness have been treated … This recently published volume is situated in line with that fundamental interest of Fins to dignify the lives of persons afflicted with grave or terminal illness … For Fins, the right to recover lost consciousness is a moral imperative, and consequentially a fundamental right of being human…the book ends with that call to action.”

By: Walter Glannon, Ph.D., The American Journal of Bioethics

"Rights Come to Mind is a compelling discussion of the actual lives of patients at the edge of consciousness, as well as the experiences of those caring for them. The book is a valuable resource for anyone interested in the medical, social, and personal dimensions of severe brain injury and resulting disorders of consciousness. Those directly and indirectly affected by these disorders, and indeed all of us, are indebted to Fins for presenting and assessing these dimensions in an informative, thoughtful and humane way.”

By: Grant Gillett, MBchB, DPhil, The Hastings Center Report

"Fins moves quickly beyond the profit and loss columns of conventional health care costs to invoke rights to adequate assessment and rescue, to a rehabilitation program adaptable to a variable time course of recover, and to being treated as a human being with (potentially but not always actually) a voice ... We should take up the responsibility to reveal a world of human experience into which many of us, despite ourselves, may one day find ourselves plunged. It behooves us to listen to that voice and add our own, crying in the wilderness for those who cannot find themselves there.”

By: Marshall R, Kapp, J.D., M.P.H., Care Management Journals

"A fascinating new book by Weill Cornell Medical College physician and medical ethicist, Joseph Fins….Fins carefully illustrates through the stories he tells that predicting the course of any of the disorders of consciousness is not a binary, definitive-cure-versus-quick-death matter; instead, the existence, extent, and rate of each person’s recovery varies along a continuum that often includes multiple gray zones. If we listen carefully to the characters and plots revealed in this book’s biographical sketches, then, the radical question that Fins forces us to address is precisely what, if any thing, we should be doing with the MCS population … Taken seriously, the central message of Rights Come to Mind is a profoundly disruptive one for certain parts of the health care system, and that fully is the book’s intent… This important book on neuropalliative ethics will properly shake up settled understandings and attitudes held toward a largely neglected but worthy segment of our population and, over time, is likely to inspire significant changes in how long-term care is provided and paid for when consciousness, and the potential for human connection that it offers, may be severely impaired but not extinguished.”

Severe Brain Injury: patients at the edge of consciousness

“Indeed, it keeps me up at night, worrying about a class of people, in the shadows of their own cognition, whom society  has forgotten, abandoned in nursing homes.” - Dr. Joseph Fins 

Inner Life

A New Book By Bioethicist Dr. Joseph Fins Explores The Rights of The Minimally Conscious


Bring them back

Untold thousands of patients misdiagnosed as vegetative are actually aware. Theirs is the civil rights fight of our times

The New York Academy of Medicine

Author's Night: "Rights Come to Mind: Brain Injury, Ethics, and the Struggle for Consciousness"

American Association For Justice

Patient Rights and Ethical Dilemmas

Yale Law School

Two Solomon Center Visiting Faculty Release New Books

Houston Chronicle

Advocating for brain-injured patients who are minimally conscious

Education Update Online

Review of 'Rights Come to Mind'

Review by Jacob M. Appel MD JD

Houston Chronicle

We can rewrite script for some brain injuries

Cambridge University Press

Joseph J. Fins, the author of RIGHTS COME TO MIND, answers questions about how patients with severe brain injuries fit into our modern debates about advancing medicine, the right to care, and the right to die.

Columbia University

Brain Injury, Ethics, and the Struggle for Consciousness: A Conversation with Dr. Joseph Fins

Wesleyan University

Joseph J. Fins '82, M.D., F.A.C.P.: Rights Come to Mind

Wesleyan University

Fins ’82 Discusses the Treatment of Brain Injury Patients and His New Book

Neurology Today

Bookshelf: Bridging Two Cultures — Science and the Humanities — in Caring for Brain-Injured Patients

New Scientist

Show me you’re there: Ethical dilemmas of minimal consciousness

Weill Cornell Medical College

New Book Illuminates the Importance of Recognizing Consciousness in Patients with Severe Brain Injury and Why it Matters

Harvard Medical School

Rights Come to Mind: A Conversation with Joseph J. Fins

Cornell Chronicle

New book examines consciousness in brain injury patients

Georgetown University

Rights Come to Mind Brain Injury, Ethics, and the Struggle for Consciousness

Dana Foundation

Neuroethics Seminar Series: Seeing Consciousness

Please reload


The 2016 Daniel W. Foster, M.D.
Visiting Lectureship in Medical Ethics

“Disorders of Consciousness and Neuroethics: Why Rights Must Come to Mind”

The annual Daniel W. Foster, M.D., Visiting Lectureship in Medical Ethics brings distinguished medical ethics scholars to the UT Southwestern Medical Center campus to present and discuss the challenging moral issues in biomedicine.

The 7th Interdisciplinary and Interfaith Conference About Palliative and End of Life Care

This conference seeks to promote a better understanding of what palliative care is; to explore model approaches in different settings; to share best inter- and multi-disciplinary clinical and policy practices; and to foster professional reflection and sharing. 

2016 Award Recipients

Dr. Mary Ann Quaranta Distinguished Palliative Care Ethicist Award

Joseph J. Fins, MD, MACP

Marialuisa Ferrari Lectureship for Life
Houston Methodist Hospital 

In this lecture, Dr. Fins will build on the clinical distinction between vegetative state and minimally conscious state (MCS) where a patient can experience pain and suffering. He will address the tangled history of brain injury and the right to die in America; why patients in the minimally conscious state are marginalized; and how evolving therapeutics might help bring some patients with disorders of consciousness back into the nexus of family and community.

bottom of page