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China's Controversial Brain Surgery To Cure Drug Addiction

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the than-a-bottle-in-front-of-me dept.

China 385

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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21st Century Lobotomies (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429209)

They worked out so well last time.

I'll auto-Godwin myself (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#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?

Re:I'll auto-Godwin myself (4, Informative)

MrHanky (141717) | about 2 years ago | (#42429563)

Most of the West, the U.S. included, was big on this kind of "experimentation" (i.e. lobotomies as a kind of medical treatment) a few decades ago. No need for Hitler here.

On a positive note, much of our current knowledge of how the human brain works comes from destruction of various kinds, either from intentional and misguided treatment or from strokes. The side effects are often interesting.

Re:I'll auto-Godwin myself (4, Insightful)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 2 years ago | (#42429635)

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

Re:I'll auto-Godwin myself (5, Informative)

WWJohnBrowningDo (2792397) | about 2 years ago | (#42429709)

The first transorbital lobotomy was performed in 1946, one year after Hilter's death.

Lobotomies stopped being routine in the 70's.

Re:I'll auto-Godwin myself (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429785)

The first transorbital lobotomy was performed in 1946, one year after Hilter's death.

  Lobotomies stopped being routine in the 70's.

Ha.

Explain the reelection of George W. Bush and Barack Obama then.

Re:I'll auto-Godwin myself (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429999)

Lack of alternatives.

Re:I'll auto-Godwin myself (0, Flamebait)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 2 years ago | (#42429619)

But isn't China now starting to get into the exact same "horrifying human experiments" thing ol' Adolf was big on?

Yes, I agree that the conditions at the Chinese labor camps known as "factories" are pretty horrible.

By the way, did that story about the "SOS" letter some Chinese labor camp worker stuffed into a product shipped to the US make it to Slashdot this weekend?

I suppose maintaining the supply chain for iPhones trumps the basic human rights of workers, but still, I would imagine the story would at least rate a mention here at Slashdot.

Re:I'll auto-Godwin myself (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429721)

Then submit the story and stop whining like a bitch.

Re:I'll auto-Godwin myself (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429699)

It isn't "China" - it's renegade Chinese doctors.

Re:21st Century Lobotomies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429667)

I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.

Re:21st Century Lobotomies (3, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 years ago | (#42429747)

They did work out well in the past. It's easy to call treatments of the past barbaric without perspective. Often those treated with labotomies would have spent the rest of their lives in strait jackets or worse if not for the treatment. If your drug addiction is going to kill you in the next 6 months is this treatment really that terrible? Granted, governments always take this sort of thing too far "he's addicted to MMOs!" etc...

Re:21st Century Lobotomies (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429807)

21st Century Lobotomies are mostly pharmacological and some are just as irreversible as the surgical.

Re:21st Century Lobotomies (1)

ntropia (939502) | about 2 years ago | (#42429825)

...and they were worth the Nobel Price [wikipedia.org] for the invention!

Re:21st Century Lobotomies (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | about 2 years ago | (#42429841)

They worked out so well last time.

An example was Oscar Levant.

The barber said he was going to open a butcher shop : "You mean you are going to close this one?"

"Elizabeth Taylor should get divorced and settle down.'

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/o/oscar_levant.html [brainyquote.com]

Is it worth? (5, Funny)

XiaoMing (1574363) | about 2 years ago | (#42429221)

is it worth being cured of addiction if, losing the addiction, we also lose part of who we are? Is it worth being cured of addiction if, losing the addiction, we also lose part of who we are?

is it worth reading slashdot, if, reading it means reading poorly edited summaries like these? Is it worth reading slashdot, if, reading it means reading poorly edited summaries like these?

Re:Is it worth? (4, Funny)

Cryacin (657549) | about 2 years ago | (#42429289)

I guess the person who wrote the summary was speaking from experience.

Re:Is it worth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429389)

Way to miss the joke. Jesus, Slashdot really is getting dumber...

Re:Is it worth? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429639)

Jesus here. Stop telling me what I already know.

Re:Is it worth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429845)

I don't like Timothy.

Re:Is it worth? (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | about 2 years ago | (#42429975)

is it worth reading slashdot, if, reading it means reading poorly edited summaries like these?

Yes!

Is it worth reading slashdot, if, reading it means reading poorly edited summaries like these?

No!

Side effect? (0)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 2 years ago | (#42429225)

Does it also cause people to type the same statement twice at the end of a question?

Re:Side effect? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429301)

More importantly - how do you condition killers when you rob them of their pleasure centers? That is why China will always depend on being a consumption economy and never win a World War Three, while America will always depend on the war economy and kick everyone's ass. Beacuse we love our pleasure, our petty neurochemical rushes.

America, fuck yeah...especially after watching the San Diego Chargers beat the Oakland Raiders earlier this afternoon! I couldn't have enjoyed that game and the beers I drank with it without my pleasure center.

Maybe America does it by having everybody diagnosed and medicated...or, they send them to study at the University of Arizona. Why are most American zombies University of Arizona alumni?

-- Ethanol-fueled

And (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429423)

Does it also cause people to type the same statement twice at the end of a question?

Cure For HP (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429237)

Hay Meg and the Boys.

There is a cure after all!

XD

Short term memory (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429247)

And is it worth being cured of addiction if, losing the addiction, we also lose part of our short term memory? Is it worth being cured of addiction if, losing the addiction, we also lose part of our short term memory?

Lost a Friend Yesterday (5, Interesting)

BoRegardless (721219) | about 2 years ago | (#42429249)

Couldn't control his drug issues. His birth mother was addicted.

Now he 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.

Re:Lost a Friend Yesterday (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429419)

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

Re:Lost a Friend Yesterday (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429439)

Oh I dunno, he probably really enjoyed those drugs.

Re:Lost a Friend Yesterday (2, Interesting)

Velex (120469) | about 2 years ago | (#42429481)

Never being able to feel satisfied again? Who the hell would want to live like that? Jesus. At least I was only circumcised so that I'd only feel pain from just my genitals and never pleasure. If my whole world were that way... christ, the things people like you would wish on other people is frightening.

How much moralizing did your friend have to put up with that only drove him to be more addicted rather than accepting he's addicted and choosing treatment. How much stigma was associated with "being committed" in his mind? For that matter, how many shitty, controlling people were in his life that he needed to escape into a drug. For that matter, WHAT drug. Alcohol? Cocaine? Cough syrup? Meth? Heroin? Weed? Ah, I see, it was just... drugs. Because every one I just listed is exactly the same.

At least in the mind of a puritan. I know people who moralize about using tylenol. I'm not kidding. I don't know if that's you, but come on.

If you haven't already, go read I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream.

Re:Lost a Friend Yesterday (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429543)

I think that is an extreme to go from addiction to never being able to feel satisfied. Could the treatment be overdone and prevent any pleasure at all? Probably, but I don't think that it is fair to jump to the conclusion that all vs none are your only 2 choices.

Re:Lost a Friend Yesterday (4, Insightful)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 2 years ago | (#42429663)

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.

Re:Lost a Friend Yesterday (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about 2 years ago | (#42429713)

Maybe Velex is a female and got to undergo the female circumcision? I'm also circumcised and I have plenty of fun with my equipment.

The possibility that the surgery was messed up is still possible, of course.

Re:Lost a Friend Yesterday (4, Interesting)

Velex (120469) | about 2 years ago | (#42429743)

Yes, something did go horribly wrong. Unfortunately, nobody's cared to understand non-obvious failure modes of that procedure. So, nobody thought that anything could go wrong when they decided to do it, at least not anything non-obvious that can not be corrected by further surgery. It didn't stop it from going wrong, though.

In fact, when I started estrogen HRT (I'm transgendered) I asked my doctor about it just to make sure I wasn't making some awful mistake. His theory was that it was only because it seemed that my brain was female, and he postulated that a female brain might not, to put it in slashdot speak, have the proper device driver for it all to work right. Unfortunately, nobody told my doctor that what happened to me is possible. I'm not even sure I'm faulting circumcision correctly, but what I do know is what I feel, that I'm circumcised, that problem is with the same body part involved in that, and that no other trans person I've met can corroborate my experience. (I would likely still be transgendered and seek estrogen HRT even intact--I believe that because there are intact trans women and I can't figure out what difference it would make anyway in that matter.)

What do I do about it, though? I guess I have to wait until they can grow me a new one from stem cells and replace it. I'm SOL in the meantime. Fortunately, I found other ways to satisfy myself, so all's not lost. I just may never be successful in giving my parents grandchildren.

I'm comparing this to circumcision to hopefully make readers think. Some may agree with circumcision but disagree with this brain surgery and vice-versa.

I only meant to raise the question of what can possibly go wrong and is it worth it to risk the occasional disaster when something less invasive and traumatic, like relaxed drug laws and treatment, might solve the problem just as well or even better.

Re:Lost a Friend Yesterday (1)

Guy Harris (3803) | about 2 years ago | (#42429949)

At least I was only circumcised so that I'd only feel pain from just my genitals and never pleasure.

I'm sorry your circumcision was so badly botched. It's probably too late to sue for malpractice, unfortunately.

Hey! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429501)

Would he have been better served to still be here w/o some "reward center"

Shouldn't that be "Would he have been better served to still be here w/o some "reward center".?

You seem to have trouble using your right and/or left hand. Let me fix that for you. It's a simple procedure.

Re:Hey! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429783)

I think you take the King Douche prize for this thread. All hail King of the Douche Bags.

Re:Lost a Friend Yesterday (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429599)

It's not like he's sad that he's gone.

That's just you.

Re:Lost a Friend Yesterday (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 2 years ago | (#42429741)

Would he have been better served to still be here w/o some "reward center". I don't know. I will never know.

I read somewhere within the past month that the traditional/popular notion of a pleasure center is not correct. According to whatever I was reading, it's more of an impulse/addiction center, and the pleasure/reward comes from several other parts of the brain working together.

The argument was something along the line that people or apes would repeat actions that stimulate the center, but it doesn't actually cause any pleasure.

Re:Lost a Friend Yesterday (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429789)

I'm sorry about your friend.

Re:Lost a Friend Yesterday (5, Insightful)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Lost a Friend Yesterday (3, Insightful)

jamesh (87723) | about 2 years ago | (#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...

Re:Lost a Friend Yesterday (1)

AdamHaun (43173) | about 2 years ago | (#42429823)

I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. There seems to be a shortage of compassion in the comments, so I just wanted to offer my condolences.

Re:Lost a Friend Yesterday (0)

Velex (120469) | about 2 years ago | (#42429955)

If you're referring to me, you'll have to excuse me for being unable to feel sorry for someone seeking to legitimize something so horrible as this brain surgery, and I'm suggesting that his friend may have killed himself regardless if he had been forced to undergo the surgery.

Shit happens. Let's not try to seek making life a living hell for others to try to bring back somebody who's already dead.

There are other places and ways he can grieve rather than publicly supporting something completely inhumane.

Birth control? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429267)

Does this work on all *addictions*?

I wouldn't mind losing part of who I am (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429269)

When it comes to a real problem a change in personality wouldn't be such a problem, but losing dopamine forever? Never to feel positive emptions again ever? I don't care who you are that's not worth it. Surely the reason people get addicted to begin with is they don't have enough dopamine and serotonin in their life for whatever reason.

Re:I wouldn't mind losing part of who I am (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429507)

I would think that this cure would end in either suicide or murderous rampage.

Re:I wouldn't mind losing part of who I am (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about 2 years ago | (#42429859)

If it's going to end in suicide they might as well just go back to doing bullet lobotomies.

Re:I wouldn't mind losing part of who I am (2)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 2 years ago | (#42429509)

I've heard that drug/alcohol abusers are all 'self-medicating' themselves, unknowingly trying to do what proper medication can achieve. We know so much more of how the brain works today, when properly diagnosed, and in conjunction with recovery programs, the odds of getting a normal life back are far higher than what they used to be. To paraphrase a Dr. McCoy quote, "Drilling holes in peoples heads is not the answer."

Re:I wouldn't mind losing part of who I am (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about 2 years ago | (#42429731)

've heard that drug/alcohol abusers are all 'self-medicating' themselves, unknowingly trying to do what proper medication can achieve.

Some, not all, I think. And 'proper medication' can't address everyone's problems yet(perhaps never).

But yes, the general answer is an individualized course of medical treatment is the most effective solution to these sorts of things. Surgery very rarely required.

Been There? (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 2 years ago | (#42429281)

"is it worth being cured of addiction if, losing the addiction, we also lose part of who we are? Is it worth being cured of addiction if, losing the addiction, we also lose part of who we are?"

I suspect that OP might have already had such an operation...

Lobotomy strikes back... (1)

niksakl (1281060) | about 2 years ago | (#42429287)

I suppose the surgeons were lobotomised prior to the surgery to handle the stress better, right?

Cue the Cybermen in 3.. 2.. 1.. (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | about 2 years ago | (#42429305)

Ready yourselves. You will be upgraded.

Seriously editors (4, Insightful)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Seriously editors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429335)

What happened to the story about Newscorp that was under this one? I've never seen a story be pulled like that.

Re:Seriously editors (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429377)

Does this really make you upset?

Re:Seriously editors (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429603)

Fix what shit?

Re:Seriously editors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429913)

The duplicate sentence?

Re:Seriously editors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429813)

or 631 characters

what did you do ?

cut n paste to a file then

wc file

Re:Seriously editors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429977)

wow. what the fuck. all this hostility for a missing capital "i" ?

captcha: brutal

Re:Seriously editors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429993)

As important as this is to you, thegarbz, the fact is the editors have basically zero incentive to fix little mistakes like these. The summaries are still readable and people keep right on clicking through. Even you, who seems to hate this quite a lot, clicks through and even posts comments. The valuable ad revenue continues to flow, even from haters like you.

So, why should they fix it? Sure, it is wrong, but if wrong is both cheap and profitable, what incentive do they have to be right? Your rants certainly aren't it.

Serious question (3, Insightful)

Firethorn (177587) | about 2 years ago | (#42429311)

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.

Re:Serious question (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | about 2 years ago | (#42429381)

I'm not convinced that addition has greater death than seizure.

Re:Serious question (1)

Velex (120469) | about 2 years ago | (#42429617)

I'd view it a bit the same as stomach stapling for weight loss

Agreed, but because I think it's the completely wrong approach and that it completely ignores the root cause. It's like using circumcision to treat urinary tract infections. There are plenty less-traumatic and less-invasive ways of achieving the goal. At least there may be a way to undo a stomach staple that I haven't cared to learn about. If things go horribly wrong after that piece of brain is flushed down a garbage disposal, how do you ever get it back? Or is suicide the option left for whoever you may wish this upon?

It probably isn't appropriate to bring circumcision into this thread, because brain surgeries like this are a whole world more revolting and horrific.

Would you want to be upgraded into a real-life Cyberman because somebody disagreed with one of your habits?

Perhaps the true horror here is the complete lack of empathy I find in comments like yours.

*sigh* I let myself be trolled by yet another Slashdot troll story.

Re:Serious question (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about 2 years ago | (#42429865)

It probably isn't appropriate to bring circumcision into this thread, because brain surgeries like this are a whole world more revolting and horrific.

I think I agree. Circumcision surgery is both less talked about and not nearly invasive enough for a comparison in my head. At least a stomach stapling requires cutting you open, and deals a bit with 'addiction'(to food in this case) and behavior modification(you can no longer eat the same as you did before with a stapled stomach). But I also look at it in the case of other brain surgeries - stopping seizures, for example. So I look at an example of brain surgeries, and and example of behavior modification surgery. It's not perfect, but I spent less than 5 minutes on it.

In many cases stapling involves removing a portion of the stomach - the only way to undo it is to stretch the stomach to allow it to grow back to it's former size.

Or is suicide the option left for whoever you may wish this upon?

The only reason I'd consider having this surgery as 'routine' is if it worked on a high percentage basis, with low side effects that were generally outweighed tremendously by the benefits, and even then I'd restrict it to cases where the addict is basically committing slowish suicide by their continued behavior.

Perhaps the true horror here is the complete lack of empathy I find in comments like yours.

I don't have much empathy at all. Come to me with a problem and I'll try to find a solution, not 'feel for you' about it. It's a family trait.

I am empathic enough that I seriously considered their probable quality of life before/after the surgery, the alternatives, etc... It's just that in my way of thought I have to express it logically.

Because off the extreme nature of the surgery, the only way I'd approve of it is if it's the only effective method found to enable extremely dysfunctional people to live (mostly) functional lives.

Like I said - it would have to have a high success rate, low rate of serious side effects, and at least have 'most' of the people who have it go latter in life 'It might of sucked in many ways; but I'm glad I had it done, because otherwise I'd have been dead by now'.

A small handful... (1)

ls671 (1122017) | about 2 years ago | (#42429343)

"A small handful of doctors in China are..."

Is "small handful" common usage in English?

Re:A small handful... (3, Funny)

queazocotal (915608) | about 2 years ago | (#42429355)

Even with the size of chinese doctors, I imagine one would be a large handful.

Re:A small handful... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429915)

Even more so now they're getting more meat in their diet.

Re:A small handful... (1)

retchdog (1319261) | about 2 years ago | (#42429519)

uh... yeah [google.com] .

Re:A small handful... (1)

ls671 (1122017) | about 2 years ago | (#42429773)

handful
Noun

        1. A quantity that fills the hand.
        2. A small number or amount: "one of a handful of attorneys".

In the context of the phrase, small was implicit since it obviously didn't fit in the hand. I would simply have written "handful".

A "small handful of sugar" would work although...

Re:A small handful... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429583)

The imperial "small handful" is equivalent to a Chinese handful.

Thanks, Minitrue! (5, Insightful)

Goaway (82658) | about 2 years ago | (#42429347)

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.

Re:Thanks, Minitrue! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429539)

Meanwhile, the US continues to execute school children. The procedure involves handing lethal guns to minors and letting them lose in elementary schools with some kind of frustration. The practice has been officially banned, but apparently continues nonetheless.

Re:Thanks, Minitrue! (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about 2 years ago | (#42429737)

Given that it's going on in a military hospital with the approval of the state for a limited research run, I'm for attributing it to China.

So.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429413)

They make people "Tranquil" to get rid of their addiction?

The deeper questions are: (3, Interesting)

tiqui (1024021) | about 2 years ago | (#42429421)

Are you truly who you think you are when you are addicted to drugs?

Are the pleasures a drug-affected brain feels to be equated with other forms of pleasure?

It would be one thing to wipe-out part of a healthy brain (thereby permanently altering it) like this but it might be another matter to make such a permanent change to a brain that has already had permanent, and negative, changes made by "modern chemistry". Of course, the presence of any pre-existing damage from drugs also raises questions of true consent. Not sure how I feel on this one, but given that this is on brains already affected by drugs the morals and ethics are a bit cloudier than they might otherwise be. Personally, I find the idea of depriving a person of the ability to experience pleasure both creepy and dangerous. Should we expect future headlines about "zombie" violence in China?

Re:The deeper questions are: (0)

Velex (120469) | about 2 years ago | (#42429683)

Which drugs are we talking about here? Some drugs, like meth, are "modern chemistry." Other drugs, like opium, alcohol, caffeine, weed, shrooms, etc, etc are as old as the hills.

For that matter, who are we to judge what form of pleasure somebody may experience or not? It also calls into question the term "addicted." What constitutes addiction, and when do we determine "addiction" is bad? SSRI-class drugs are highly addictive; I know that firsthand from quitting. They tell me sex is addictive, but I'm on slashdot so I wouldn't know lol. Cheesecake can be addictive, and so can caffeine.

Are we performing this horrific procedure on people simply because our own lives are miserable and we don't like that somebody found a way to be happy? Or is this a person who is unable to support themselves? Would this person be able to support themselves if not for whatever habit we want to correct by completely annihilating their ability to feel pleasure of any kind?

I agree with your conclusion. Creepy and dangerous.

Re:The deeper questions are: (1)

Stickerboy (61554) | about 2 years ago | (#42429981)

Which drugs are we talking about here? Some drugs, like meth, are "modern chemistry." Other drugs, like opium, alcohol, caffeine, weed, shrooms, etc, etc are as old as the hills.

For that matter, who are we to judge what form of pleasure somebody may experience or not? It also calls into question the term "addicted." What constitutes addiction, and when do we determine "addiction" is bad? SSRI-class drugs are highly addictive; I know that firsthand from quitting. They tell me sex is addictive, but I'm on slashdot so I wouldn't know lol. Cheesecake can be addictive, and so can caffeine.

Are we performing this horrific procedure on people simply because our own lives are miserable and we don't like that somebody found a way to be happy? Or is this a person who is unable to support themselves? Would this person be able to support themselves if not for whatever habit we want to correct by completely annihilating their ability to feel pleasure of any kind?

I agree with your conclusion. Creepy and dangerous.

Yes, this surgery is creepy and dangerous.

However, when you veer off into talking about addiction in general, you start conflating two very different phenomena: dependency and addiction. Dependency is the fact that if you stop using the substance in question, you will experience adverse effects. Stop drinking caffeine after you've become dependent, and you'll experience headaches. Etc. Addiction is a primary neurological disorder stemming from the way the reward/pleasure centers of the brain are wired. Addiction is not necessarily tied to a specific substance; more than likely, if an addict experiments around, there are multiple behaviors and/or substances that can fill their craving just fine.

There's a very simple litmus test that can tell you when a person needs to stop. Substance abuse is separated from mere dependency by the continued use of said substance despite clear harm or impairment from its use. A cigarette smoker that is tied to an oxygen tank because of COPD. A cocaine abuser that has cardiomyopathy and heart failure. An drinker that continues to drink despite brain damage and liver failure. These are more extreme but easy to think of cases of abuse in which they should have stopped a long time ago or gotten treatment.

Re:The deeper questions are: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429917)

Are the pleasures a drug-affected brain feels to be equated with other forms of pleasure?
Yes. Of course.

Well, just move the electrodes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429429)

to burn out the ethics, caring, honesty and empathy parts and you've got yourself a realtor.

Re:Well, just move the electrodes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429467)

Added bonus: they're already addicted to drugs!

Ned Flanders rules China? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429445)

This is what happens when Ned Flanders Rules [youtube.com] in China. Sorry for the crappy video. Only one I could find on short notice.

Might be worth trying on Republicans... (0, Flamebait)

rs79 (71822) | about 2 years ago | (#42429489)

...if we could find the gun and war center.

Re:Might be worth trying on Republicans... (-1, Flamebait)

PPH (736903) | about 2 years ago | (#42429565)

Located in the head of a very small penis.

F*%# that s&!@ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429513)

As someone struggling with addiction for 15 years whose life was/is basically almost completely ruined because of it, and who would give almost anything to be free of it, I'd rather die than go to those sort of lengths. Maybe I haven't _really_ hit rock bottom yet, but I think it's something you have to _overcome_, not have a doctor _cure_. Sure, ${VICE}ism _is_ a "disease", but that's not what they mean. Don't be a pussy, deal with your stuff, rot in a prison or die in an alley. This is life not a child's game.

Fear, avoidance and abstainance aren't necessarily the right educational approaches and forbidding/punishing users while tacitly enabling addiction isn't necessarily the right social approach either. The problem goes deeper and wider, yet is actually simpler, than most sheep realize. The powers that be, worldwide, make the most money keeping things just the way they are. BTW if anyone needs good drugs, investigate Silk Road. A little more expensive than getting in good with your local urban hustla but safer, more convenient and consistent. Use responsibly. Celebrate good times, don't use to cope with (or bring about) bad ones. That's the lesson. Master yourself it's the real challenge, climbing mount everest or inventing nanobots is tiddlywinks in comparison.

More not less (1)

AndyKron (937105) | about 2 years ago | (#42429547)

What we need are long electrodes into the brain to STIMULATE the pleasure centers.

ethics, schmethics. it's just outsourcing! (5, Interesting)

retchdog (1319261) | about 2 years ago | (#42429573)

Dr. John Adler, professor emeritus of neurosurgery at Stanford University, collaborated with the Chinese researchers on the publication and is listed as a co-author. While he does not advocate the surgery and did not perform it, he believes it can provide valuable information about how the nucleus accumbens works, and how best to attempt to manipulate it. “I do think it’s worth learning from,” he says. ” As far as I’m concerned, ablation of the nucleus accumbens makes no sense for anyone. There’s a very high complication rate. [But] reporting it doesn’t mean endorsing it. While we should have legitimate ethical concerns about anything like this, it is a bigger travesty to put our heads in the sand and not be willing to publish it,” he says. cite [time.com] .

A natural experiment (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429605)

From the time I was 12 until the time I was 48, I spent most of every day thinking about sex, and wanting it desperately, and sometimes even getting it. Then one day my sex drive...faded. I couldn't get it up any more, I couldn't get it off any more, and underneath all that, I didn't care about it so much any more. That incessant, gnawing hunger was gone.

I miss it terribly.

I've been to my doctors, and they've poked and prodded, and run this test and that test, and prescribed this pill and that pill, and with time and the right pills, some of it has come back, but it's not like it used to be.

I never got all that much sex, but it turns out that wanting it, and sometimes getting it, was a big part of what kept me going. Now that it isn't there, I've had to rethink some pretty basic things, like why I get up in the morning, and why I bother to do my job, given that I can't get what I really want any more.

Re:A natural experiment (1)

Krishnoid (984597) | about 2 years ago | (#42429919)

Now that it isn't there, I've had to rethink some pretty basic things, like why I get up in the morning, and why I bother to do my job, given that I can't get what I really want any more.

Futurama made this point [vimeo.com] as well. I'd think you have to reconsider:

  • whether its presence was always simply masking the absence of other motivations, and that the issue was always there, just hidden
  • how the presence or absence of involuntary physiologically-based wants/needs fundamentally advises your life choices, which you're already coming to grips with
  • if, in the absence of that want, you now have the freedom to choose your own motivations/wants [youtube.com] based on other criteria -- e.g., longer-term goals, personal principles, developing different or deeper skillsets, or anything else.

Your statement made me wonder if there's a parallel to be drawn with people who experienced actual chronic hunger due to physiology, emotional state, or environment, and at some point had that hunger quenched.

Good luck, and I hope you figure something out that gets you and your motivations back in sync.

Re:A natural experiment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429967)

Here's another one:

For reasons that would take too long to fully explain, it is practically impossible for me to get any female attention much less get laid. When I was a child my family moved to a place where there were few women to choose from and wealthy tourists would take up any surplus. I'm not much of a charmer or a looker and far from wealthy. Even prostitutes are hardly an option here, believe me I've looked into it.

So I have lived into my mid-20s as a virgin. In my teens through early 20s I had a normal sex drive - that is to say, I teetered on the verge of madness from the lack of a proper outlet or even a tangible target for my urges - but as I approached my mid 20s something odd began to happen. My sex drive went from a steady level to a pattern of spikes and dormancy, the length and extremes of which have been increasing over time. During dormant periods I'd wake up with a bit of a boner, jack it off and that was as far as my sex drive went for the day. During spikes, I'd wake up incredibly horny with a raging erection, jack it off but continue to think about sex and women all day long, then at night I'd need to orgasm twice to be satisfied after being so horny all day. Right now I'm going around 3 months between spikes that last about 2 weeks.

I much prefer the dormant periods, I can't get laid so what good is a craving for sex? The dormant periods are so peaceful and relaxed, I feel absolutely no need for sex most of the time, it's wonderful. The only thing that sometimes gets me down about it is that my ability to appreciate the female form is greatly diminished, but it's barely worth mentioning next to an unsatisfiable, all-consuming need for sex.

What is the difference? (2)

fred911 (83970) | about 2 years ago | (#42429659)

You can cure thievery by cutting off hands.

Re:What is the difference? (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 2 years ago | (#42429969)

yeah, well, that only works once.

This is madness. This is /. This is /. (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 2 years ago | (#42429715)

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? Is it worth being cured of addiction if, losing the addiction, we also lose part of who we are?"

- if asking that question twice in the summary gave the poster some sense of satisfaction, because nucleus accumbens was involved, then yes. Then yes.

No news (2)

srwood (99488) | about 2 years ago | (#42429771)

This has been tried for years even in the USA. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bilateral_cingulotomy The only scientifically validated results are for treatment of depression.

DPU's (1)

HippopotamusX (2628523) | about 2 years ago | (#42429805)

Near the beginning of World War II, psychologist Erich Fromm stated in Escape from Freedom that the nature of a dictatorial state was to amass the greatest number of depotentiated social units.

"we also lose part of who we are?" (2)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | about 2 years ago | (#42429843)

What if they were treating pedophiles instead of dopers?

Re:"we also lose part of who we are?" (1)

Tanuki64 (989726) | about 2 years ago | (#42429857)

I doubt the church, especially the catholic church would like it.

Not impressed by the results or the ethics (1)

eye_blinked (2775553) | about 2 years ago | (#42429853)

The success rate is not impressive and neither are the side effects. DBS at research stage is just as effective with fewer side effects because there is no wholesale destruction. Even conventional treatment has a good success rate and without these risks. This is nothing but unethical research in universities and hospitals performed by ambitious and unethical people experimenting on human beings. Add quack cash doctors exploiting desperate people and the disgusting mix is complete. Better article here: http://healthland.time.com/2012/12/13/controversial-surgery-for-addiction-burns-away-brains-pleasure-center/ [time.com]

You Fail It.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42429875)

Smith only serve numbers. The loos officers. Others about who can rant bombshell hit Why not? It's quick for the project. confirming the Else up their asses Be fun. It used
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