Learning from Deep Brain Stimulation: The fallacy of techno-solutionism and the need for ‘regimes of care’

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12 Citations (Scopus)


Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is an effective treatment for the debilitating motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders. However, clinicians and commentators have noted that DBS recipients have not necessarily experienced the improvements in quality of life that would be expected, due in large part to what have been described as the ‘psychosocial’ impacts of DBS. The premise of this paper is that, in order to realise the full potential of DBS and similar interventions, clinical services need to be arranged in such a way that these psychosocial dimensions are recognised and managed. Our starting point is that the psychosocial effects of DBS ‘in the field’ present us with analytically-useful disruptions: they disturb and foreground deeply held assumptions relating to the individual, health and its treatment, and which in a crude form manifest as the myth of technological solutionism within health care. Drawing on scholarship in medical sociology and Science and Technology Studies (STS), we argue that DBS brings to the fore the relational dimensions of personhood, and demonstrates the emotional and social turmoil that can result if the relational dimensions of personhood are ignored by clinical services. In light of this, we argue that DBS should be implemented within a regime of care. Drawing on ethnographic research of a paediatric DBS clinical service, we provide an example of a regime of care, and conclude by reflecting on what other DBS services might learn from this paediatric service.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363–374
Number of pages12
JournalMedicine, Health Care and Philosophy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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