Deep brain stimulation enhances control and restores valued personality characteristics
Questions related to what constitutes personality, and how those conceptualizations interface with notions of self, identity, and autonomy, have fascinated psychologists, philosophers, and ethicists for hundreds of years. Since 2008, several studies have asserted that deep brain stimulation (DBS) results in patients’ loss of control, particularly related to undesired personality changes. Inherent in this argument is the thesis that DBS negatively impacts patients’ identity, autonomy, and personality. Our lab has relied on empirical methods to examine questions related to control in patients who undergo DBS to treat motor symptoms. Our data refute the claims that DBS results in a loss of control. We rely on the American philosophical tradition of pragmatism to conduct our work, particularly the emphasis on different ways of knowing, including the perspectives of various disciplines as well as different stakeholders in understanding, studying, and ultimately implementing practices based on good data.