Erotic Sensation Self-Stimulation Via Brain Implants

An interesting story has surfaced from a medical journal article first published in 1986. It concerned a woman who had some side-effects from a deep brain stimulation treatment for chronic pain.

Soon after insertion of the nVPL electrode, the patient noted that stimulation also produced erotic sensations. This pleasurable response was heightened by continuous stimulation at 75% maximal amplitude, frequently augmented by short bursts at maximal amplitude. Though sexual arousal was prominent, no orgasm occurred with these brief increases in stimulation intensity. Despite several episodes of paroxysmal atrial tachycardia [heart disturbance] and development of adverse behavioural and neurological symptoms during maximal stimulation, compulsive use of the stimulator developed.

At its most frequent, the patient self-stimulated throughout the day, neglecting personal hygiene and family commitments. A chronic ulceration developed at the tip of the finger used to adjust the amplitude dial and she frequently tampered with the device in an effort to increase the stimulation amplitude. At times, she implored her to limit her access to the stimulator, each time demanding its return after a short hiatus. During the past two years, compulsive use has become associated with frequent attacks of anxiety, depersonalization, periods of psychogenic polydipsia and virtually complete inactivity.

SF readers might be reminded of both Larry Niven's hardwired droud [1980] and wireless tasp [1970], as well as Michael Crichton's computer-controlled P-terminal implant [1972].

Medical tales of erotic stimulation of the brain via implants date from the 1960's; Niven thought of the tasp, which offered wireless stimulation, as early as anyone in sf - or anywhere else. He also thought of the ideal palliative measure - the timer.

Niven's description of current addiction from The Ringworld Engineers [1980] sounds accurate:

It was always a temptation to reset the timer. He'd done it routinely in the early years of his addiction. Neglect had made of him a skeletal rag doll, constantly dirty. Finally he had gathered what remained of his ancient dogged determination, and he had built a timer that took twenty minutes of nitpicking concentration to reset...

From Compulsive thalamic self-stimulation via Mindhack via Boing Boing. [Note to readers; my server logs indicate that hundreds of you clicked through to my droud article from a Boing Boing link, and yet none of you left me a note or submitted the story. Sheesh!]

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/17/2008)

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