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Assessing the Plausibility of the Expectations about Deep Brain Stimulation as Treatment for Depression

Leersum, C.M. van (2015) Assessing the Plausibility of the Expectations about Deep Brain Stimulation as Treatment for Depression.

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Abstract:Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is suggested to be an advantageous for the treatment of Parkinson’s as well as other disorders. The idea of DBS as a treatment for mental disorders, such as depression, has been taken up by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). In 2013 DARPA announced that they would conduct a study, launching a five year program in which they plan to invest more than 70 million dollar to perform research using DBS. DARPA sees DBS as a treatment and also as an opportunity to interact with the ‘healthy’ brain by electronic device implantation. Besides DARPA, several research groups perform clinical trials to investigate DBS as a treatment for treatment-resistant depression. The interest to extent the indication for DBS results in several expectations. There seems to be a problem with uncertainty and taken for granted expectations, but how should we deal with this? I have used an assessment developed to analyze the plausibility of expectations in three dimensions; technological feasibility, social usability, and desirability. The goal is to use this assessment to distinguish the plausible from the implausible expectations and design an ethical agenda to discuss the desirability of DBS for depression. “How to assess the desirability of current expectations about Deep Brain Stimulation as an emerging treatment for depression while avoiding speculative ethics?” I argue that the current expectations show DBS as a desirable technology for treatment-resistant depression. However, considering the three domains of technological feasibility, social usability, and desirability there are some difficult issues with these expectations, making them less plausible. Expectations such as a closed-loop-system or advancements induced by imaging are seemingly implausible for the time being. Therefore, I suggest that the most pressing issues we need to include in an ethical agenda for further discussions are brain region selection, patient selection, personality change, and quality of life.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:08 philosophy
Programme:Philosophy of Science, Technology and Society MSc (60024)
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