Depression is a natural human state of emotion, resulting from past traumatic experiences, neurological misfiring, or simply nothing at all. While a state of depression produces devastating life inhibiting results, the temporary experience enforces humility and contributes a piece to what our species consider “human”. An inconsistent state of happiness tends to produce more sensation than a constant state of euphoria.
Depression, for those who have experienced it, depends entirely on the individual. There are many different cases and levels of severity. Some people will avoid experiencing depression at all costs, others use it as a fuel to improve, the unfortunate lose the willingness to go on. Many lives are lost everyday to suicide due to an incurable consistent depression. What if this human emotion could be regulated? What if it was entirely eliminated? Would the human race still be able to experience the full spectrum of human emotion?
Dr. Francis Collins now aims to eliminate depression using an internal brain implant, which acts similar to a pacemaker, delivering electrical impulses deep into the brain, where depression occurs. These electric impulse’s goal is to “reset” the depression circuit, according to his report.
Dr. Collins’s experimental contraption uses “Precision Deep Brain Stimulation”, and uses implanted electrodes to produce electricity which regulates the human brain. The system can “recognize” specific patterns of brainwaves associated with depressive behaviors, and regulate the electric impulses.
While previous clinical trials have existed, so far, Dr. Francis’s “precision approach” has been implanted into one patient, a 36-year old woman, who suffered from consistent depression throughout her life. More studies are currently underway.
Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS)
According to the Lancet, At Tulane University in New Orleans, Robert G. Heath established the Department of Psychiatry and Neurology in 1949, where he remained until 1980. “During this time, brain electrodes were implanted into more than 50 patients to investigate the physical manifestation of human emotion—particularly pleasure and reward—and its role in psychiatric conditions.” the Lancet article reads.
As Heath’s experiments began to take alternative form, eventually they began to raise ethical concerns.
Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) involves the surgical implanting of electrodes into the brain, similar to those used in lab rats. These electrodes are connected via an insulated wire, connecting to a neurostimulator implanted under the skin. The neurostimulator regulates the electronic impulses being sent deep into the brain. This experimental technology has been known to produce life altering side effects, including change in human behavior and total change in personality. The change is not always to the patients liking, and unpredictably dependent upon the patient.
There have been other medical uses for Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) such as Parkinson’s disease, and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), among other ailments. Deep Brain Stimulation is even described on parkinsons.org, stating it was first approved for the disease in 1997. Severe neurological and alarming personality changes have occurred in many of these patients following DBS treatment. In some cases, patients have stated they have become “complete different people”. This change, is not always a positive. Are the long term neurological risks worth the medical benefits?
According to the National Institutes of Health, “NIH’s Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® (BRAIN) Initiative. A team, led by Edward Chang, a neurosurgeon at the University of California San Francisco’s (UCSF) Epilepsy Center, discovered while performing DBS that the low mood in some patients with epilepsy before surgery was associated with stronger activity in a “subnetwork” deep within the brain’s neural circuitry. The subnetwork involved crosstalk between the brain’s amygdala, which mediates fear and other emotions, and the hippocampus, which aids in memory.”
What risks are associated over time, with implanting electrodes into your brain, and sending electric impulses?
DBS, is considered by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to be “minimally invasive”, despite it requiring brain surgery. As noted in the NIH website, the risks associated with Deep Brain Stimulation include:
- bleeding of the brain
- infection of the brain
- bleeding of the brain tissue
- swelling of the brain tissue
- hardware “malfunction”
- hardware “eroding”
- surgical maintenance required
- temporary “pain”
- tingling sensations
- behavioral changes
- balance problems
- speech problems
These effects generally occur from mechanical stress of the device, but are ‘generally’ reversible.” state the NIH.
What advantages exist, if any? “DBS involves minimal permanent surgical changes to the brain” states the National Institutes of Health. The device can be removed, and can be adjusted externally. In many cases there is some form of relief to the conditions involved in the experimentations.
Who funds Deep Brain Stimulation research? The National Institutes of Health (NIH) established the Brain Initiative in 2013. Some of the largest investors in electrode implant brain research include many familiar names such as:
- Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)
- Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA)
- National Science Foundation (NSF)
- United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA)
Could this technology change the emotional stability of humanity? Or, could it control it? Would regulating human emotion create a further reliance on technology? The deeper our bodies become entwined with cutting edge biotechnology, the more susceptible humans become to encountering error, or requiring maintenance. Will future biotechnology render humanity completely reliant on the iatrarchy that creates it?
As seen with coronavirus vaccinations, and other medical innovations, what begins with severely high risk patients, ultimately extends to the greater population as the window of eligibility opens its demographic. Should average human emotion be confined to an artificial state? Would the artificial control of depression detach humanity from compassion and remorse?
As biotechnology continues its rise humanity finds itself more reliant on experimental contraptions developed for an initial condition. Big Pharmaceutical companies hold the power (through self funded clinical trials), to convince organizations like the CDC and the FDA to approve their inventions for wider eligibility to target to a larger market, increasing company profit.
Is DBS mind control just another tool to be weaponized by the federal government and scientific community, or does it provide medical benefit? Could this technology be wirelessly accessed externally and manipulated? Who decides what condition is considered “depressed” enough to received a medical brain implant? Could neurological implants be mandated in those deemed “depressed” by the federal government? What negative consequences could arise with electric impulses being supplied deep into the brain, and what are the long term effects?
Has the divide slowly begun between humans and future cybernetic organisms?