Ending Depression With a Push of a Button, But Only For a Moment

Both fascinating and fanttastic

Longreads

In the introduction to her story on deep-brain stimulation for Pacific Standard, Sarah Scoles tells the story of Liss Murphy, a woman with treatment-resistant depression—in her words, a “sepsis of the soul”—who saw deep-brain stimulation as her last opportunity to live a normal life. The moment doctors turned on the stimulating current was a life-changer. But then they had to turn it off.

The doctors installed the electrodes and turned them on.

For Murphy, the moment was astonishing. A warmth surged through her. Everything felt lighter, clearer. But then those sensations stopped. The doctors had cut the current so that they could finish wiring the circuit, close her cranium back up, and insert the permanent pulse generator into her chest

After the surgery, Murphy spent a few days in recovery, and then the doctors sent her home. She would need to heal for three weeks, they told her, before…

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