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China Medicine Science

China's Controversial Brain Surgery To Cure Drug Addiction 385

Posted by timothy
from the than-a-bottle-in-front-of-me dept.
kkleiner writes "A small handful of doctors in China are using a highly controversial procedure to rid people of drug addiction by destroying a part of patients' brains. The procedure involves drilling small holes into the skulls of patients and inserting long electrodes that destroy a part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens. This area, often referred to as the "pleasure center" of the brain, is the major nucleus of the brain's reward circuit. Is it worth being cured of addiction if, losing the addiction, we also lose part of who we are?" The practice has been officially banned, but apparently continues nonetheless.
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China's Controversial Brain Surgery To Cure Drug Addiction

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 30, 2012 @08:47PM (#42429209)

    They worked out so well last time.

  • Seriously editors (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thegarbz (1787294) on Sunday December 30, 2012 @08:58PM (#42429307)

    FIX THIS SHIT!

    There's no more nice way to say it. This isn't a case of leaving the unit off a measurement, a simple typo, or even the ever so common case of a grammatical mistake a 10 year old could pick out.

    This is YOU timothy not bothering to read 111 words that you put in the summary, let alone edit them.

    Know what happens to me when I go to work and don't do any work, worse still I embarrass the company I work for? I get fired.

  • Serious question (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Firethorn (177587) on Sunday December 30, 2012 @08:59PM (#42429311) Homepage Journal

    The story sucks, but I have to wonder. We do some radical brain surgeries at times just to fix problems with seizures. At least in the long term addiction carries a higher incidental rate of death, lowered quality of life, and such than seizures.

    So I guess I'd have to say 'it depends'. I'd view it a bit the same as stomach stapling for weight loss -

    I'd need to know a heck of a lot more about the details of the surgery - primary effects, dangers, side effects, success rates, etc...
    Does it result in an unmotivated zombie, because there's no longer any reward for doing so much as life maintenance tasks? Can they still feel pleasure? Is it only being used on the most serious 'mental' addiction cases? I added mental because this wouldn't solve physical addictions to things like heroin, I think, but might help solve addictions to gambling, stealing, etc...

    Going by the article, it seems to only stop addictions 10% better than traditional methods, and is still well under half. 60% have serious side effects, so I'm going to go with 'nope, not worth it, keep looking'.

    As for 'losing who you are', well, even just day to day life you change. I'm not the same person I was a decade ago. Technically I'm not the person I was yesterday. If somebody wants to change, it might be worth it.

  • Thanks, Minitrue! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Goaway (82658) on Sunday December 30, 2012 @09:05PM (#42429347) Homepage

    The practice has been officially banned, but apparently continues nonetheless.

    Of course, we're not going to let that stop us from calling it "China's", as if it were some kind of official and mandatory procedure.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 30, 2012 @09:17PM (#42429449)

    Normally, I wouldn't Godwin myself like this.

    But isn't China now starting to get into the exact same "horrifying human experiments" thing ol' Adolf was big on? Only this time using what are currently considered "countrymen" for the task, rather than a group the government considers less-than-human and is actively attempting to exterminate?

    Or is that who they're ACTUALLY experimenting on in this case?

  • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmhNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday December 30, 2012 @09:41PM (#42429635) Journal

    Yep the rest of the world only stopped with the eugenics, forced sterilizations and routine lobotomies because Hitler made them uncool.

  • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmhNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday December 30, 2012 @09:46PM (#42429663) Journal

    if you were circumcised and can't feel pleasure from your penis then something went horribly, horribly wrong with the procedure. That's definitely not normal. I'm circumcised so I know what I'm talking about.

  • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Sunday December 30, 2012 @10:08PM (#42429797)

    Losing a friend because he made bad decisions is tragic, and cause for grief. Having a friend lobotomized because the government has decided youre making bad decisions is horrifying, and cause for outrage.

    There is a big difference between making bad decisions freely, and having the government decide that you are no longer fit to make your own decisions.

  • by jamesh (87723) on Sunday December 30, 2012 @10:26PM (#42429909)

    Losing a friend because he made bad decisions is tragic, and cause for grief. Having a friend lobotomized because the government has decided youre making bad decisions is horrifying, and cause for outrage.

    There is a big difference between making bad decisions freely, and having the government decide that you are no longer fit to make your own decisions.

    There is a grey area here Mr Black'n'White, and that's when your bad decisions hurt and kill other people. And I mean directly, not just like 'you shouldn't smoke because someone else will have to take care of you later on' and 'the hospital couldn't save your mother because they were busy dealing with an overdose', I mean because ice addicts are killing people in their violent rampages and other addicts are robbing people to feed their next hit. That's when it becomes the governments problem.

    And the whole definition of addition is that you are no longer fit to make your own decisions because your addiction is making them for you.

    I'm not quite sure lobotomy is the answer here, but it may turn out to be the best of the available options.

    I wonder if it's possible to just turn off that part of brain for a bit instead of destroying it...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 30, 2012 @10:44PM (#42429999)

    Lack of alternatives.

  • by Mr. Slippery (47854) <tms@infamo[ ]net ['us.' in gap]> on Sunday December 30, 2012 @11:05PM (#42430133) Homepage

    I mean because ice addicts are killing people in their violent rampages

    Citation needed.

    and other addicts are robbing people to feed their next hit. That's when it becomes the governments problem.

    ...which is a consequence of prohibition, which drives up prices, and not of the drug itself. How many alcoholics do you see robbing people to feed their next hit? Addicts committing theft is a government-created problem.

    And suggesting that the government has the rightful power to forcibly and irreversibly modify the brains of citizens is disgusting and despicable. You should be ashamed of yourself, sir.

  • by AdamHaun (43173) on Sunday December 30, 2012 @11:17PM (#42430187) Journal

    Mostly I was talking about the ACs, but let's talk about you. What BoRegardless said was:

    Now [my drug-addicted friend] is gone. Would he have been better served to still be here w/o some "reward center". I don't know. I will never know.

    This is not a statement of support. It is a statement of confused grief.

    After misinterpreting this as fervent support, you proceeded to speculate wildly about BoRegardless's motivations and his late friend's addiction, levy criticism based on that speculation, and recommend that he read a story about being trapped in a hellish existence where death is the only escape.

    In response to a person who just said that his friend had died. Yesterday.

    The article is talking about a surgery that is performed only in China, only for research purposes, and only with worldwide condemnation. The only debate outside of China is whether the results of that research should be published in respectable journals.

    Your comment did not address that debate. It will have zero effect on what happens in China. The only thing it does is attack and belittle someone who just lost a friend. In your zeal to put on a show of righteousness on the internet, you are stepping all over the real human being who is (metaphorically) right in front of you.

    To say that this lacks compassion would be an understatement.

  • Abuses (Score:5, Insightful)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Sunday December 30, 2012 @11:59PM (#42430391)
    Perspective? Lobotomy began with extremely careful scraping of the brain, meant to do the absolute minimum damage possible. Then some greedy quack in the USA took it to a ridiculous extreme, turning a nice young lady into a wheelchair-bound mess because her stuck-up family was worried about their social standing, and that soon degenerated into a procedure that should have been called a crime against humanity:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transorbital_lobotomy [wikipedia.org]

    If your drug addiction is going to kill you in the next 6 months

    There are no certainties about that sort of thing, but there is a certainty about the sort of brain-damaging lobotomy described in TFA: it is irreversible and destructive.

  • by Trillian_1138 (221423) <slashdot.fridaythang@com> on Monday December 31, 2012 @12:56AM (#42430611)
    Undoing some moderation, but wanted to chime in. I'm also a trans woman, and circumcised. As far as I can tell, my penis always worked fine. (Where 'fine' = 'got erect, ejaculated, functioned well enough for me to deposit sperm.') So far as I can tell, my being trans is unrelated to how well my genitalia does or doesn't function. Let me know if this responds to what you were curious about - I'd be happy to chat more.
  • by Immerman (2627577) on Monday December 31, 2012 @01:26AM (#42430711)

    Can't find it offhand, but there was an interesting TED talk a while back by a fellow who had received repeated ECT treatments. I forget the details, but the gist was that he had been a respected professor until he suffered a mental illness that sent his life spiraling into oblivion. When all the less radical treatments failed, ECT managed to fix the problem and he was able to rebuild his life. No argument that there have been some horrible abuses in the past, but it does seem that there are situations where it is in fact the best option available. As with *any* neurological treatment though, I think the consent of the patient is absolutely crucial - forcibly altering someone's mind without their consent seems to me to be about the worst form of rape imaginable.

  • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Monday December 31, 2012 @01:35AM (#42430753) Journal

    Actually I'd say they learned from the Japs, after all the Japs made the crazy Austrian look like a humanitarian when it came to human experiments. The worst part is unlike the Nazis we let most of the monsters left in Japan walk to get their data whereas with the Nazis we mainly went after the eggheads making rockets and jet engines, not the guys doing human testing.

    as for TFA we tried that kind of stuff before, it was called a lobotomy, made the symptoms go away alright and left a broken doll in place of a human being. We are talking about obliterating the pleasure center of the brain so they will NEVER feel pleasure again, i bet a good 70%+ end up committing suicide in 5 years or less. Hell it would be more humane to just take them out back and treat them with a 45cal to the back of the head.

  • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Monday December 31, 2012 @01:44AM (#42430773) Journal

    "Well I believe the puppet on the left shares MY beliefs, well I believe the puppet on the right has MY interests at heart...hey wait a minute, there is one guy controlling both puppets!"...Bill Hicks. The man has been gone more than 20 years and its even more true now than it was back then.

    I urge all of those who think "If only my party got control things would be better" to watch the truth about voting [youtube.com] and ask yourself some simple questions like : How many decades have been people voting for less government intrusion? less war? Less handing out billions to third world thugs? hell how many years have we been complaining and voting about the horribly broken borders? the corruption? the influence of lobbyists?

    At the end of the day you can NEVER change a corrupt system by working within that system, why? Well the answer is obvious, its corrupt! That would be like handing a petition to some corrupt police force demanding they stop taking bribes...why would they care what you think? Like pro wrestling its all kayfabe and thanks to the revolving door between the corps and government today's senator will be tomorrow's lobbyist so by voting him out all you are doing is giving him a pay raise while letting someone else get a shot at the money!

  • by Vintermann (400722) on Monday December 31, 2012 @05:14AM (#42431305) Homepage

    It's no coincidence that the Nazis bought eugenics into disrepute. If they hadn't done it, someone else would have done it. Because eugenics is inherently corrupt.

    The thing is, the presumption with eugenics is that you know which genes are good or bad. But owing to our nature, as big selfish sacks of genes, there is no decision we are less objective about. Me setting myself up as judge about which of other people's genes are good and bad is simply corrupt, nepotism of the worst sort (and a literal sort, too: the word came from a pope who gave favors to his nephews, possibly illegitimate sons).

    There's no getting away from it, either. Even if there should come an alien race or an AI or something, which for some reason had no personal stake in which genes survived, why should we listen to them? They would still make a value judgement in deciding what traits are desirable or not, and there's no plausible reason we should defer to that.

    If you let yourself do transparently selfish and hypocritical stuff like making value judgments on other people's genes, of course it becomes easier to do it in other ways too. Once you've elevated yourself to judge and jury of humanity already, what's stopping you from making a few other horrible decisions? Eugenics and nazism are fundamentally related. You have to be evil to justify eugenics, and if you justify eugenics you turn evil. Your alternate history world with eugenics but no nazism is a self-contradicting pipe dream.

  • by quantaman (517394) on Monday December 31, 2012 @06:25AM (#42431489)

    Would he have wanted to live if he never found any joy in living ever again?

    Speaking for myself (who doesn't have a drug addition), hell yes.

    Sure it's a reduced quality of life from ideal, but it's still life. Besides, there's a reason it's referred to as the "pleasure centre" and not the pleasure centre, the brain isn't that neatly divided, I'm sure they can still feel some kind of pleasure, and have other forms of satisfaction in life, but that particular reward mechanism won't function (at least not in the same way).

  • by TFAFalcon (1839122) on Monday December 31, 2012 @07:26AM (#42431651)

    But if you think about this it's actually a pretty lousy argument. It makes your conception the most important fact in history. Think how many other IFs you could justify just to make yourself happen. 'If your mother hadn't been raped, you wouldn't have happened. If your father hadn't had one of his balls shot off you wouldn't have happened. If Hitler hadn't existed your parents wouldn't have met. If Nagasaki hadn't been bombed the celebration of the end of the war would have been a day later so you wouldn't have happened,.......' Once you start thinking like that EVERYTHING that happened becomes a good thing, since it resulted in the miracle of YOU. So why not look at it without such selfish thought. If your parents filtered out that gene, they would have had the child without that gene. That's it.

  • by eugene ts wong (231154) on Monday December 31, 2012 @02:31PM (#42434411) Homepage Journal

    Moderators, please mod him up as informative. Here is the take away paragraph.

    Early data suggests that a period of approximately two years of intermittent treatments may be required to attain the goal of long-term abstinence from narcotics and stimulants for many patients. The majority of patients treated with Ibogaine remain free from chemical dependence for a period of three to six months after a single dose. Approximately ten percent of patients treated with Ibogaine remain free of chemical dependence for two or more years from a single treatment and an equal percentage return to drug use within two weeks after treatment. Multiple administrations of Ibogaine over a period of time are generally more effective in extending periods of abstinence. It is noteworthy that twenty-nine of the thirty-five patients successfully treated with Ibogaine had numerous unsuccessful experiences with other treatment modalities.

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