Identity Theft, Deep Brain Stimulation, and the Primacy of Post-trial Obligations

Joseph J. Fins, Amanda R. Merner, Megan S. Wright, Gabriel Lázaro-Muñoz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Patient narratives from two investigational deep brain stimulation trials for traumatic brain injury and obsessive-compulsive disorder reveal that injury and illness rob individuals of personal identity and that neuromodulation can restore it. The early success of these interventions makes a compelling case for continued post-trial access to these technologies. Given the centrality of personal identity to respect for persons, a failure to provide continued access can be understood to represent a metaphorical identity theft. Such a loss recapitulates the pain of an individual's initial injury or illness and becomes especially tragic because it could be prevented by robust policy. A failure to fulfill this normative obligation constitutes a breach of disability law, which would view post-trial access as a means to achieve social reintegration through this neurotechnological accommodation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34-41
Number of pages8
JournalHastings Center Report
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2024


  • deep brain stimulation
  • disability rights
  • identity theft
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • personal identity
  • research ethics
  • traumatic brain injury
  • Humans
  • Identity Theft
  • Deep Brain Stimulation/methods
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder/therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Philosophy
  • Health Policy


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