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MAKING THE MODERN WORLD
Stories about the lives we've made

module:Measuring the unmeasurable

An introduction to psychology

page:Psychosurgery

Psychosurgery is an extreme form of biological treatment.


Image from a MRI brain scan. picture zoom © TopFoto

The mode of action involves the cutting of neural tissue in the brain and was designed to alter the symptoms of severe psychological disorders. Psychosurgery is a treatment of last resort, used only in extreme cases when other treatment methods have failed and where, because of the disorder, the person is likely to cause harm to themselves or others.

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Studies of Psychosurgery

As recently as the 1990s, Psychosurgery was reported to be beneficial in some cases of severe anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorders (Beck and Cowley, 1990). Another key advantage is that Psychosurgical techniques reduce the risk of suicide in severe depression from 15 percent to one percent (Verkaik, 1995).

But Psychosurgery produces inconsistent outcomes. Behaviour change occurs in some individuals and not in others, so it is difficult to predict who will be affected and how. The main ethical problem with psychosurgery is that the procedures are irreversible because neural tissue has been destroyed.

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