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date: 29 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

I discuss ethical issues relating to interventions other than intracranial surgery and psychopharmacology for psychiatric disorders. I question the distinction between “invasive” and “non-invasive” techniques applying electrical stimulation to the brain, arguing that this should be replaced by a distinction between more and less invasive techniques. I discuss electroconvulsive therapy (ECT); it can be a relatively safe and effective treatment for some patients with depression. I consider transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and transcranial current stimulation (tCS); the classification of these techniques as non-invasive may lead to underestimation of their risks. I discuss how placebos can justifiably be prescribed non-deceptively and even deceptively in clinical settings. An analysis of neurofeedback as the neuromodulating technique most likely to promote autonomy/control for some conditions follows. Finally, I examine biomarkers identified through genetic screening and neuroimaging; they might contribute to more accurate prediction and diagnosis, more effective treatment, and possibly prevention of psychiatric disorders.

Keywords: invasive techniques, non-invasive techniques, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), transcranial current stimulation (tCS), placebos, neurofeedback, biomarkers

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