psychosurgeon /suy'koh serr"jeuhn/, n.psychosurgical /suy'koh serr"ji keuhl/, adj.
/suy'koh serr"jeuh ree/, n.
treatment of mental disorders by means of brain surgery. Cf. lobotomy.
[1935-40; PSYCHO- + SURGERY]

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Treatment of psychosis or other mental disorders by means of brain surgery.

The first such technique was the prefrontal lobotomy. Fairly common from the 1930s through the 1950s, lobotomy reduced neurotic symptoms such as agitation and aggressiveness but also left patients apathetic and with a limited range of emotions; it has since been largely replaced by the use of tranquilizing and antipsychotic drugs (see psychopharmacology). A form of psychosurgery developed more recently involves the placement of tiny lesions in specific areas of the brain and has little effect on intellectual function or quality of life; it has been used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder and occasionally cases of severe psychosis.

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      the treatment of psychosis or other mental disorders (mental disorder) by means of brain surgery.

      The first such technique was developed by a Portuguese neurologist, António Egas Moniz (Egas Moniz, António), and was first performed by his colleague, Almeida Lima, in 1935. The procedure, called lobotomy or prefrontal leukotomy, was based on experimental studies demonstrating that certain mental symptoms induced in chimpanzees could be modified by cutting brain fibres. Moniz's original procedure consisted of cutting two openings in the skull, one on each side above the temple, and then severing the nerve fibres connecting the thalamus with the frontal lobes of the brain. Lobotomies are no longer performed.

      Psychosurgery that involves much less extensive areas of the brain has come to be generally regarded as a radical procedure to be followed only after all other forms of treatment have proved ineffective and the patient remains severely distressed or tormented by illness; since the introduction of antipsychotic medications and tranquilizing agents, the condition of only a very few patients has warranted such a drastic measure. In the 1930s, '40s, and '50s psychosurgery was performed on patients who showed chronic agitation and severe distress, aggressiveness, impulsivity, violence, and self-destructive behaviour. Patients frequently exhibited a reduction of such symptoms after the surgery, but they also exhibited reduced drive and initiative, increased apathy, and, in general, reduction in the depth and intensity of their emotional response to life. Radical psychosurgery of this type is almost never used now because of these undesirable effects.

      Psychosurgery that involves the placement of tiny lesions in specific areas of the brain and that has virtually no effect on intellectual function or the so-called quality of life has also been developed. These techniques are used in cases of obsessive-compulsive (obsessive-compulsive disorder) behaviour and occasionally in cases of severe psychosis. This form of neurosurgery is also used in the management of chronic pain, such as that caused by damage to the nervous system (nervous system, human) or that associated with terminal cancer.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • psychosurgery — psy·cho·surgery …   English syllables

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