The Atlantic

Can Electrically Stimulating Your Brain Make You Too Happy?

When doctors can directly access patients' cerebral reward networks, someone has to decide just how good people should feel.
Source: Bernadett Szabo / Reuters

It is a good question, but I was a little surprised to see it as the title of a research paper in a medical journal: “How Happy Is Too Happy?”

Yet there it was in a publication from 2012. The article was grappling with the issue of how we should deal with the possibility of manipulating people’s moods and feelings of happiness through brain stimulation. If you have direct access to the reward system and can turn the feeling of euphoria up or down, who decides what the level should be? The doctors or the person whose brain is on the line?

The authors were asking this question because of a patient who wanted to decide the matter for himself: a 33-year-old German man who had been suffering for many years from severe OCD and generalized anxiety syndrome. A

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