Becoming more oneself? Changes in personality following DBS treatment for psychiatric disorders: Experiences of OCD patients and general considerations

PLoS ONE 12 (4):1-27 (2017)
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Does DBS change a patient’s personality? This is one of the central questions in the debate on the ethics of treatment with Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS). At the moment, however, this important debate is hampered by the fact that there is relatively little data available concerning what patients actually experience following DBS treatment. There are a few qualitative studies with patients with Parkinson’s disease and Primary Dystonia and some case reports, but there has been no qualitative study yet with patients suffering from psychiatric disorders. In this paper, we present the experiences of 18 patients with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) who are undergoing treatment with DBS. We will also discuss the inherent difficulties of how to define and assess changes in personality, in particular for patients with psychiatric disorders. We end with a discussion of the data and how these shed new light on the conceptual debate about how to define personality.



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Author Profiles

Sanneke De Haan
Tilburg University
Erik Rietveld
University of Amsterdam
Martin Stokhof
University of Amsterdam