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Hyping deep brain stimulation in psychiatry could lead to its demise

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 13 August 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e5447
  1. Marwan I Hariz, professor of functional neurosurgery, UCL Institute of Neurology, Queen Square, London, UK,
  2. Gun-Marie Hariz, associate professor of occupational therapy, Department of Community Medicine and Rehabilitation, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
  1. Correspondence to: M Hariz m.hariz{at}

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is 25 years old. The technique as we know it today was introduced to treat parkinsonian and essential tremor in 19871 (notwithstanding that a team from Southampton had already reported deep brain stimulation in the treatment of the tremor of multiple sclerosis in 1980).2 The introduction of stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus in the treatment of advanced Parkinson’s disease in 1995,3 and of the pallidum for dystonia in 1999,4 heralded an era of intense clinical and research activity leading to the establishment of the technique in the current surgical treatment of these movement disorders.

The first reports of use of the technique in neuropsychiatry also appeared in 1999: a report on stimulation of the thalamus for Gilles de la Tourette syndrome was published in February,5 and in the anterior internal capsule for obsessive compulsive …

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