December 14th, 2013
Cosmetic Neurology: The antithesis of psychoanalysis
Anjan Chatterjee, M.D.
University of Pennsylvania
In the wake of our improving abilities to treat the impaired nervous system, we are also learning how we might improve the functioning of the healthy nervous system. We can modulate our motor, cognitive, and affective systems in ways that potentially enhance us. Pharmacological enhancements are used widely in some circles and their use is likely to increase. Newer non-invasive stimulation techniques also have the potential to be used as enhancements. If we can make people “better,” should we? Neuro-enhancements raise deep ethical concerns about safety, compromised character, distributive justice, and coercion. Despite the ethical quandaries that arise, prohibition of enhancements is not a viable option. The role of health-care providers is likely to change in this approach to patients, which is the antithesis of what happens in psychoanalysis.