When is deep brain stimulation a medical benefit, and what is required for consent?

S.R. Nyholm, S.M. Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


Hübner and White argue that we should not administer DBS to psychopathic prisoners. While we are sympathetic to their conclusion, we argue that the authors’ two central arguments for this conclusion are problematic. Their first argument appeals to an overly restrictive conception of individual medical benefit: namely, that an individual medical benefit must alleviate subjective suffering. We highlight cases that clearly constitute individual medical benefits although there is no relief of subjective suffering. The second argument depends on an overly restrictive conception of the sort of motivation needed to ground consent to a medical procedure. It is also too quick to treat it as unproblematic to consider psychopaths as fully competent. We argue that this view overlooks certain kinds of internal motivation. It also overlooks the possibility that after successful activation of underactive brain-regions, a former psychopath might become a better representative of his or her “true self.”
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)150-152
Number of pages3
JournalAJOB Neuroscience
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Oct 2016


  • deep brain stimulation
  • medical benefits
  • consent
  • the self
  • the true self


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