Authentic Self and Last Resort: International Perceptions of Psychiatric Neurosurgery

L. Y. Cabrera, C. Courchesne, M. Bittlinger, S. Müller, R. Martinez, E. Racine, J. Illes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Psychiatric neurosurgery has resurfaced over the past two decades for the treatment of severe mental health disorders, with improved precision and safety over older interventions alongside the development of novel ones. Little is known, however, about current public opinions, expectations, hopes, and concerns over this evolution in neurotechnology, particularly given the controversial history of psychosurgery. To fill this knowledge gap, we conducted a study with eight focus groups in Vancouver and Montreal (Canada; n = 14), Berlin (Germany; n = 22), and Madrid (Spain; n = 12). Focus group texts were transcribed and analyzed using qualitative content analysis in the language local to each city, guided by the theoretical framework of pragmatic neuroethics. Findings indicate that participants across all cities hold concerns about the last resort nature of psychiatric neurosurgery and the potential impact on the authentic self of patients who undergo these procedures. The views captured serve to advance discussion on the appropriate timing for psychiatric neurosurgery, promote sound health policy for the allocation of this resource, and foster scientific literacy about advances for mental health internationally.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-161
Number of pages21
JournalCulture, medicine and psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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