Psychosurgery Essay

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Development of Psychosurgery From the Early 1800’s Was psychosurgery, also known as brain surgery and neurosurgery, safer before the year 2000 or after? First off, what is psychosurgery? Psychosurgery is surgery on the brain in order to treat a psychotic or mental disorder. In order to treat the patient part of the brain has to be destroyed or expunged. Psychosurgery is generally used to treat severe depression and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Since the 1800’s, brain surgery was slowly approaching the world. It began with a Swiss psychiatrist, Gottlieb Burckhardt. In the 1930’s a Portuguese neurologist, Antonio Egas Moniz, continued Burckhardt’s work, following the procedure of leucotomy. Leucotomy is the surgical procedure of cutting white nerve fibers within the brain. Within the same period in the United States, neuropsychiatric, Walter Freeman, and neurosurgeon, James Watts, conceived the standard prefrontal procedure. They later named their technique “lobotomy” ( In the 1940’s curiosity of psychosurgery increased, despite the fact that it meant a great chance of death. This surgery also caused permanent damage with personalities. By the end of the decade, up to 5,000 psychosurgical operations were being done annually in the U.S. Going into the 1950’s, the use and thought of psychosurgery diminished, due to new drugs and the awareness of long term damage caused by the surgeries. During the 1960’s and 1970’s psychosurgery became the subject of escalating public concern and debate, concluding in the US with congressional hearings. Mainly divisive in the United States was the work of Harvard neurosurgeon, Vernon Mark and psychiatrist Frank Ervin,... ... middle of paper ... ...mall minority of neurologists supports the use of very precise surgical techniques to produce small abrasions in defined areas of the brain to treat rare cases of severe mental illness such as life-threatening depression or impaired anxiety or obsessions. However, there is little need for such procedures today. Antipsychotic and antidepressant medications are the treatments of choice for treating mental disorders. Mainstream medicine now classifies psychosurgery as an experimental procedure, and many rules exist to protect patients who might be subjected to it. The majority of mental health professionals believe that psychosurgery is either never justified or should only be considered as a last resort, to be reserved for the most extreme cases of untreatable mental disease when all other therapies have failed (
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