Surgery of the mind and mood: A mosaic of issues in time and evolution

A. Chris Heller, Arun P. Amar, Charles Y. Liu, Michael L.J. Apuzzo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


THE PREVALENCE AND economic burden of neuropsychiatric disease are enormous. The surgical treatment of these psychiatric disorders, although potentially valuable, remains one of the most controversial subjects in medicine, as its concept and potential reality raises thorny issues of moral, ethical, and socioeconomic consequence. This article traces the roots of concept and surgical efforts in this turbulent area from prehistory to the 21st century. The details of the late 19th and 20th century evolution of approaches to the problem of intractable psychiatric diseases with scrutiny of the persona and contributions of the key individuals Gottlieb Burckhardt, John Fulton, Egas Moniz, Walter Freeman, James Watts, and William Scoville are presented as a foundation for the later, more logically refined approaches of Lars Leksell, Peter Lindstrom, Geoffrey Knight, Jean Talaraich, and Desmond Kelly. These refinements, characterized by progressive minimalism and founded on a better comprehension of underlying pathways of normal function and disease states, have been further explored with recent advances in imaging, which have allowed the emergence of less invasive and technology driven non-ablative surgical directives toward these problematical disorders of mind and mood. The application of therapies based on imaging comprehension of pathway and relay abnormalities, along with explorations of the notion of surgical minimalism, promise to serve as an impetus for revival of an active surgical effort in this key global health and socioeconomic problem. Eventual coupling of cellular and molecular biology and nanotechnology with surgical enterprise is on the horizon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)SHC921-SHC934
Issue number6 SUPPL.
StatePublished - Jun 2008


  • Depression
  • Functional history
  • Medical imaging
  • Minimally invasive surgery
  • Neuromodulation
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Phychiatry
  • Psychosurgery
  • Stereotaxy
  • Vagal nerve stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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