Psychiatrists are the first to admit they don’t really understand what causes the mental conditions they have labeled as disorders. They also freely admit they don’t really know why a particular drug or surgery “works” but they continue to theorize and experiment endless on their patients.
Cycling back and forth between professional trends in brain surgeries, electric shocks and drugs they push forward any new technique that government funding and the public are willing to buy.
Currently a push is on for employing Deep Brain Stimulation to attack depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
The Mayo Clinic offers this definition: “Deep brain stimulation involves implanting electrodes within certain areas of your brain. These electrodes produce electrical impulses that regulate abnormal impulses. Or, the electrical impulses can affect certain cells and chemicals within the brain. The amount of stimulation in deep brain stimulation is controlled by a pacemaker-like device placed under the skin in your upper chest. A wire that travels under your skin connects this device to the electrodes in your brain.”
DBS has been used to help patients with Parkinson’s disease but it’s nothing one would undertake lightly. One such patient described the procedure.
“He shaved my scalp in five spots, numbed the spots with lydocaine, and then proceeded to screw 5 anchors into my skull using what looked and sounded like a screw gun from a construction workers tool box. All this was in preparation for the next day when they would be mounting two towers onto my head that would act as guides in inserting two probes into my brain.
The surgery would entail drilling two holes in my skull allowing two probes to be inserted deep into my brain. The probes would later be connected, by wires run below the skin, to a stimulator that would be programmed to send electrical signals to the probes.
The idea is that this is a long operation and you are conscious for much of that time and you have to lie still.
I had been told that the drilling of the holes is very loud, but it must have been done while under anesthesia because I was unaware of any cutting or drilling. It wouldn’t be until I left the hospital that I finally got to see the two rows of staples that were used to close up the two long slices in my scalp.
Two weeks later I was scheduled for my second surgery; implanting the stimulator in my chest and connecting it to the probes from the first surgery. This was done on an outpatient basis. I was under anesthesia the whole time. When I awoke the surgery was done.
The stimulator is about 3″ x 3″ by 1″ thick and is sewn into a pocket of skin. The batteries have to be changed every few years and it will require surgery when that becomes necessary.”
Thomas Schlaepfer is a psychiatrist from the University of Bonn Hospital and a leading expert in researching deep brain stimulation. He gives it to OCD and severely depressed patients who were not helped by psychotherapy, electroconvulsive therapy and psychopharmacology. This class of patient is labeled as having “extreme treatment resistance”.
He writes “The idea of holes drilled in the skull and electrodes placed deep into the brain is as a concept understandably frightening.”
Yes, by drilling some holes in the patient’s skull, DBS is likely to create some “treatment resistance” of its own.
Psychiatrists Enjoy Turning Up the Voltage
Dr. Peter Breggin of the Center to Study Psychiatry reported on a psychiatric abuse case using an early form of Deep Brain Stimulation around 1970.
The victim was Leonard Kille, an electronics engineer who fell into psychiatric hands during a marital dispute. His wife was having an affair and Leonard was having angry rages during arguments with her in which she denied it was happening. A psychiatrist referred him to psychiatrists Frank Ervin and Vernon Mark for neurological tests. They decided his jealousy was “paranoia” and that Kille was “uncontrolled” and “dangerous”. He was hospitalized and pressured by his wife and the psychiatrists to have a brain surgery as otherwise she would divorce him. He eventually submitted and received a remote control electrical device called a “stimoceiver” implanted into his brain. As “treatment” the psychiatrists could boost the voltage on some 80 or so electrodes imbedded on 4 wires they had implanted in his brain.
Ervin and Mark claimed their experiment a glowing success but Dr. Breggin found Kille to be “totally disabled, chronically hospitalized, and subject to nightmarish terrors that he will be caught and operated on again at the Massachusetts General Hospital.”
Kille’s wife left him after his surgery and married her lover.
Following another treatment from his electrodes, Kille was left permanently paralyzed from the waist down due to brain damage. The doctors turned his moods on and off at will using electrical stimulation.
Later another psychiatrist wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine, regarding Kille’s case that he felt “a haunting fear that men may become slaves, perhaps to an authoritarian state.”
Military Vets Labeled with PTSD – Guinea Pigs for Deep Brain Stimulation
Over at Massachusetts General Hospital, the largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, Emad Eskandar, is a neurosurgeon at the Center for Nervous System Repair.
” The brain is an electrochemical organ that can respond to both electricity and meds, so instead of prescribing milligrams of a substance, we can now prescribe milliamps for specific regions. The therapy gets right to the target. The downside is, of course, you have to undergo neurosurgery to get the implant.”
He’s part of a military funded program called Systems-Based Neurotechnology for Emerging Therapies (SUBNETS). This is an attempt by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to address problems veterans are having with depression, PTSD and substance abuse.
DARPA program manager Justin Sanchez said, “DARPA is looking for ways to characterize which regions come into play for different conditions – measured from brain networks down to the single neuron level – and develop therapeutic devices that can record activity, deliver targeted stimulation, and most importantly, automatically adjust therapy as the brain itself changes.”
The latest smart implants are responsive DBS devices that will monitor neuronal activity. When they detect unusual patterns, they’ll dampen those signals by stimulating the brain with electrical impulses. These implants will be programmed by MIT, Boston Univ. and Draper Lab.
They will operate 24/7 in “the living brain, measuring signals and intervening in real time.” “Physicians will be able to see data from the device right in their office.”
They plan to be ready for clinical trials in 3 to 4 years and the first subjects will be combat veterans.
The fact sheet put out by the Pentagon and Dept. of Veterans Affairs states they have been given $78.9 million dollars for this research and the purpose is “to develop new, minimally invasive neurotechnologies that will increase the ability of the body and brain to induce healing.”
No more screwing in head frames and drilling holes – they want some tiny device they can shoot into a soldier’s body in a split second and then remotely control his emotional moods and physiological state.
A Neuroscientist Stands Up to Fight Deep Brain Stimulation
Curtis Bell, is Senior Scientist Emeritus at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland and is writes that deep brain stimulation could easily be used to subdue people similar to the prefontal lobotomy which quieted down noisy prisoners or political foes.
“You could imagine such things being more sophisticated nowadays,” he says. “You wouldn’t need to damage all the frontal lobes if you could go to a specific nucleus and alter someone’s personality.”
Below is an oath he is calling for all Neuroscientists to sign:
“Pledge by Neuroscientists to Refuse to Participate in the Application of Neuroscience to Violations of Basic Human Rights or International Law.”
We are Neuroscientists who desire that our work be used to enhance human life rather than to diminish it. We are concerned with the possible use of Neuroscience for purposes that violate fundamental human rights and international law. We seek to create a culture within the field of Neuroscience in which contributions to such uses are unacceptable.
Thus, we oppose the application of Neuroscience to torture and other forms of coercive interrogation or manipulation that violate human rights and personhood. Such applications could include drugs that cause excessive pain, anxiety, or trust, and manipulations such as brain stimulation or inactivation.
Thus, we also oppose the application of Neuroscience to aggressive war. Aggressive war is illegal under international law, where it is defined as a war that is not in self-defense. A government which engages in aggressive wars should not be provided with tools to engage more effectively in such wars. Neuroscience can and does provide such tools. Examples include drugs which enhance the effectiveness of soldiers on one side, drugs which damage the effectiveness of soldiers on the other side, and robots that move, perceive, and kill.
As Neuroscientists we therefore pledge:
- a) To make ourselves aware of the potential applications of our own work and that of others to applications that violate basic human rights or international law such as torture and aggressive war.
- b) To refuse to knowingly participate in the application of Neuroscience to violations of basic human rights or international law.
This is an opportunity for scientists to stand up and refuse to create such devices under the guise of “learning about the brain” when their purpose is clearly a destructive one in the hands of psychiatrists and the military branches of the government.