Persuasive bodies: Testimonies of deep brain stimulation and Parkinson's on YouTube

John Gardner, Narelle Warren, Courtney Addison, Gabby Samuel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Contemporary publics actively engage with diverse forms of media when seeking health-related information. The hugely popular digital media platform YouTube has become one means by which people share their experiences of healthcare. In this paper, we examine amateur YouTube videos featuring people receiving Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) for the treatment of Parkinson's disease. DBS has become a widely implemented treatment, and it is surrounded by high expectations that can create difficulty for clinicians, patients and their families. We examine how DBS, Parkinson's disease, and DBS recipients themselves, are delineated within these YouTube videos. The videos, we demonstrate, contain common compositional and stylistic elements that collectively represent DBS as a technological fix, and which accentuate the autonomy of the DBS recipient. The relational, interpersonal dimensions of chronic illness, and the complex impact of DBS on family dynamics, are elided. We therefore shed light on the means by which high expectations regarding DBS are sustained and circulated, and more generally, we illustrate how potentially powerful representations of medical technologies can emerge from the intersection of social media platforms, afflicted bodies and patient narratives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-51
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Science & Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Chronic illness
  • Digital health
  • Narrative
  • Neurostimulation
  • Social media
  • Technology

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