A Research Project by Tamara Schwertel
The project deals with deep brain stimulation (DBS) and its meaning as a technical implant. Drawing on the situational analysis by Adele Clarke et al. (2018), I focus on different situations that involve DBS, which span from the initial implantation of the device to regular calibration appointments later in the therapy. My research question is, how patients become and stay patients with DBS. Therefore, I conducted interviews with different involved actors in the therapy process and I also analyze a range of documents (ethnographic notes, advertisement, historic material, user manual, scientific papers). I am using different perspectives including historical, practical and ethical emphases. Firstly, there will be a genealogical and medical history focus on how DBS could become a legitimate standard therapy and which discourses are influencing it today. Based on this, the second and main part I will analyze how DBS is constructed differently for movement disorders and psychiatric illnesses. Furthermore, the part will assess the circumstances and decision-making processes preceding the implantation. Here, different forms of subjectivation in the use of DBS are of particular importance. Therefore, I focus on patient’s learning process in handling their DBS and the development of different subject positions. Finally, I will address political and ethical questions surrounding DBS.
Author: Tamara Schwertel