Psychiatric Disorders

Some research in BCI is being directed towards “curing” psychiatric disorders, such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). However, this is a controversial practice due to the autonomous path it implies. In some cases, OCD can actually be a large burden on a person’s life, causing them to have nervous habits that could be harmful to their health. These patients could benefit from BCI treatment, but not every case is this severe. Some people diagnosed with OCD are not affected beyond being exceptionally organized, but other cases result in debilitating anxiety and overly repetitive behavior that can negatively affect a persons every day life. So how can doctors decide which cases require treatment and which are just personality traits? Currently, medication is being given to patients in the form of anti-depressants, attention medication, anti-anxiety, and others, so is this much different from a more permanent solution to the same problems? Although most of these drugs require a prescription, many doctors do not hesitate to give them to patients who believe they are in need, and even still, they are available through illegal trade. Could BCI treatment of these disorders help prevent illegal drug trade and abuse? Furthermore, if a doctor does not deem a case worth treating, should a patient be allowed to request the treatment if they want it anyway?

Since one of the major issues people have with Brain-Computer Interface technology is that it implies that humans are becoming autonomous and less humanistic, the idea of changing someone’s personality is extremely debatable. Most people would argue in favor of BCI use for replacing a limb or controlling a wheelchair, but when it comes to an ailment that is only questionably worth addressing, not everyone will agree. If people start getting too comfortable with the idea of BCI being used for psychiatric issues, could it potentially lead to changing personality traits of people who want it? If so, then it leads to the same fear of autonomy that cause people to be reluctant towards accepting the technology in the first place.

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Questions to ask yourself regarding BCI for Psychiatric Disorders:

Should BCI be used to cure psychiatric disorders?

Should patients be allowed to request the surgery if they weren’t prescribed it? If not, is it fair to deny someone treatment if they want and can afford it?

Links to Additional Information

Wired.com Article on Brain-Machine Interfaces

Ethics of Brain Computer Interfaces Under Scrutiny in UK

One Response to Psychiatric Disorders

  1. Wow that was strange. I just wrote an incredibly long comment but
    after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr…
    well I’m not writing all that over again. Regardless,
    just wanted to say excellent blog!

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