They Affect the Person, but for Better or Worse? Perceptions of Electroceutical Interventions for Depression Among Psychiatrists, Patients, and the Public

Robyn Bluhm, Emily Castillo, Eric D. Achtyes, Aaron M. McCright, Laura Y. Cabrera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Responding to reports of cases of personality change following deep brain stimulation, neuroethicists have debated the nature and ethical implications of these changes. Recently, this literature has been challenged as being overblown and therefore potentially an impediment to patients accessing needed treatment. We interviewed 16 psychiatrists, 16 patients with depression, and 16 members of the public without depression, all from the Midwestern United States, about their views on how three electroceutical interventions (deep brain stimulation, electroconvulsive therapy, and transcranial magnetic stimulation) used to treat depression might affect the self. Participants were also asked to compare the electroceuticals’ effects on the self with the effects of commonly used depression treatments (psychotherapy and pharmaceuticals). Using qualitative content analysis, we found that participants’ views on electroceuticals’ potential effects on the self mainly focused on treatment effectiveness and side effects. Our results have implications for both theoretical discussions in neuroethics and clinical practice in psychiatry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2542-2553
Number of pages12
JournalQualitative Health Research
Issue number13
StatePublished - Nov 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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