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Psychosurgery: Lobotomy and Deep Brain Stimulation

Brain ScanLobotomy and Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) represent the two bookends of psychosurgery’s fall and rise. Since the Nobel Prize was won in 1949 for the findings on which the lobotomy was based, it has been mostly downhill for the procedure.

More generally, surgical intervention for mental illness – psychosurgeries – have been shunned for some time. But with the advent of DBS, psychosurgery is making a come-back. DBS involves direct electrical stimulation using electrodes implanted in the brain. The procedure has been shown to be very effective in the treatment of severe depression.

In this article in The Guardian, David Beresford describes his experiences of DBS as a treatment for his advanced Parkinson’s – for which it is also effective. A welcome side-effect he describes is a substantial lift in mood to the extent that he has experienced bouts of uncontrolled laughter.
The Guardian
Radio 4 programme about psychosurgery

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