Whose Planet Is It Anyway?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Dr. Frankenstein can help with those pesky obsessions...

If you're in a mood to be creeped out by modern technology, you can find an article on the psychiatric use of electrical devices in the March 2006 issue of the IEEE Spectrum. (Not related in any way to Spectrum Magazine; it's a publication of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.)

The article describes experiments that involve targeted electrical stimulation of various parts of the nervous system. This is now being tested in the treatment of severe depression as a replacement for the much more primitive practice of electroconvulsive shock therapy. Devices similar to pacemakers are being implanted in patients' bodies.

Apparently the psychiatrists want to expand beyond the treatment of depression and to use these devices in the lucrative and ever-expanding universe of other "disorders," as the article indicates:

"For a variety of reasons, including the large number of potential patients and the accumulated knowledge of how the disease works, depression is the primary target of most of these technologies. But some of these methods are already showing great promise for treating such other mental maladies as bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and bulimia."

This is really scary stuff for autistics and anyone else who may be seen as having socially undesirable obsessions (as opposed to "normal" obsessions like football).

Anybody want to bet the biomed crowd will be implanting thought control devices in children's brains 10 years from now?



  • Also scary to me that shock therapy is considered a treatment of choice for autistic people who show increased trouble with certain aspects of movement with time (of which I'm one). I certainly don't want it, but I'm afraid if I turned up immobile in the wrong situation, I'd get it.

    By Blogger ballastexistenz, at 11:33 AM  

  • Could we implant these devices in slow drivers to speed them up?

    By Blogger John Best, at 3:35 PM  

  • The idea behind this "treatment" reminds me of a (hilarious) episode of Cheers, in which Cliffie gets himself fitted with a shock device, and is accompanied by a behavior analyst to activate it every time he says something stupid or obnoxious. It was funny, but let's leave ideas like that on TV sitcoms.

    Comment on the new website - I liked the graphics on the old site better, but it wasn't interactive, couldn't leave comments, so this is better.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:10 PM  

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