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Changes in Personality Associated with Deep Brain Stimulation: a Qualitative Evaluation of Clinician Perspectives


Thomson, CJ and Segrave, RA and Carter, A, Changes in Personality Associated with Deep Brain Stimulation: a Qualitative Evaluation of Clinician Perspectives, Neuroethics pp. 109-124. ISSN 1874-5490 (2021) [Refereed Article]

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DOI: doi:10.1007/s12152-019-09419-2


Gilbert et al. argue that the neuroethics literature discussing the putative effects of Deep Brain Stimulation on personality largely ignores the scientific evidence and presents distorted claims that personality change is induced by the DBS stimulation. This study contributes to the first-hand primary research on the topic exploring DBS clinicians’ views on post-DBS personality change among their patients and its underlying cause. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with sixteen clinicians from various disciplines working in Australian DBS practice for movement disorders and/or psychiatric conditions. Thematic analysis of the interviews revealed five primary themes: 1) types, frequency and duration of personality change, 2) causes of personality change, 3) impact on patient and family, 4) communication, comprehension and awareness, and 5) management. Clinicians described a variety of personality changes in Parkinson’s disease following DBS including irritability, impulsivity and impaired decision-making. The frequency of personality change seen in patients varied amongst clinicians, but changes were overwhelmingly transient. Clinicians considered both DBS stimulation and additional factors (response to treatment, disease pathology, pharmacological changes) as inducing personality change. For DBS patients with major depressive disorder, a restoration of pre-morbid personality was associated with alleviation of illness. Considerations for future research of personality change following DBS include selecting suitable tools for quantitative examination and developing a common language between the scientific and ethics communities. Clinical implications including recommendations for the informed consent process for patients and families and clinicians’ management of personality change are discussed.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Deep brain stimulation. Personality. Identity. Self. Neuroethics. Surgical trials
Research Division:Philosophy and Religious Studies
Research Group:Applied ethics
Research Field:Medical ethics
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Ethics
Objective Field:Bioethics
UTAS Author:Thomson, CJ (Dr Cassandra Thomson)
ID Code:155551
Year Published:2021
Web of Science® Times Cited:14
Deposited By:Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre
Deposited On:2023-02-28
Last Modified:2023-03-08

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