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April 3, 1972

Medical News

JAMA. 1972;220(1):17-26. doi:10.1001/jama.1972.03200010007003

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Two views of neurological surgery clash at meeting  Should neurological surgery be used to control violence and aggression?This volatile issue is involving the conservative field of neurosurgery with, of all things, New Left politics.The New Left's answer to the question is "Never!" Psychosurgery should be outlawed, as it is in Russia, these opponents say. Otherwise, they foresee a potential for massive abuse—the control of aggressive patients for political and social reasons.Some neurosurgeons say they recognize the potential dangers, but suggest that in certain, very special situations, surgery may offer the only chance for meaningful rehabilitation by controlling patients' rage and aggressive actions. Nonetheless, surgery should be performed only after all other treatment methods have failed, only after strict criteria have been met, only after extremely careful evaluation, and only on volunteers, the proponents say.The issue was hotly debated at the recent Houston Neurological Symposium convened