Psycho Surgery

Sunday, September 10, 2006

This is a bit off topic perhaps, but I thought it was really cool. Mental Illness is a big problem in the United States. A good many of the homeless people you see on the street are mentally ill. There are of course other people who are homeless. They are usually clean shaven, look nice, bag your groceries for you or help you find that power saw at Home and Garden, then sleep in their car at night. These people are the invisible working poor and homeless. the are in visible because when you see them you would never guess that they are homeless.

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.



At 11:15 AM, Blogger Josh Foreman said...

Wow, crazy. I've never heard of this. It is truly sad that our country can spend billions on worthless pork barrel, but can't scrape together the funds to create the institutions our weakest citizens need. I have an adult autistic sister and getting the funds to actually care for her is insane.

Psycho Surgery is also the title of a killer Tourniquet album from the early 90's. :)


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