Sunday, September 10, 2006
The people we think of as "homeless", the ones who look like Hell and talk to themselves are almost always suffering from a combination of mental illness, addiction, and abuse. That's because someone had the bright idea of letting all of the mentally ill patients out of the hospitals to fend for themselves, which brings us to today's topic: medication. If a person has for instance Schizophrenia and takes their meds, they can be pretty much cured. No paranoia, no voices, no hallucinations. The problem is that the illness impairs judgment, similar to how being drunk does. So the people may try to stop using the meds and "feel" fine, when really they are quickly deteriorating into insanity. next thing you know they are on the street, and often end up in jail where they become the victims of abuse, both by the criminals there, and by a system that was set up to punish people, not help them with mental illness.
So the problem is how to get these people to regularly take their meds so that they wont hurt themselves or others and can be free from these debilitating diseases. That's where "psycho surgery" comes in. Its a new technique where they implant electrodes into the brain and these send permanent signals to make the brain work right. its a similar idea to a pacemaker that helps your heart to beat right, or even to wearing glasses that help your eyes see right. So you get the effect of taking medicine, without the problem of always needing to take it, which can also be a big financial burden on a person if they always need to get expensive medicine their entire life.
So far it is a very new technique, only around 80 people in the US have had it. But it has already helped people suffering from severe depression or OCD where they cannot even leave the house and made them able to be normal again. Scientists see a possibility of not only treating mental illness but also addiction, which is huge since addiction is one of the hardest things to cure.