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dr. steven mentor
Evergreen Valley College, San Jose, California email@example.com abstract The emerging transdisciplinary ﬁeld of consciousness studies merges transpersonal psychology with recent brain studies. In this paper, I argue that this new discipline must come to terms with the rhetorics of control in the history of brain research. I establish parallels between the discourses of lobotomy and psychosurgery, Electrical Stimulation of the Brain (ESB), and cybernetics, using the work of Jose Delgado, Norbert Wiener, and Bernard Wolfe. The rhetoric of social control remains a shadow side of brain research, of the popularization of brain science, and of attempts to apply such research. keywords: lobotomy; psychosurgery; consciousness studies; cybernetics; electrostimulation of the brain (ESB). I come to the ﬁeld of consciousness studies from a neighboring transdisciplinary land: the land of technology studies. Thus it comes as no surprise to learn that the disciplinary body of consciousness studies (CS) is itself a kind of Frankenstein, with organs and limbs taken from cognitive science, neurobiology, transpersonal psychology, and several other traditional academic areas. Joseph A. Goguen, the editor in chief of the Journal of Consciousness Studies, names the disciplines of “psychology, philosophy, physics, sociology, religion, dynamic systems, mathematics, computer science, neuroscience, art, biology, cognitive science, anthropology, linguistics, and more”(Goguen 2006). In addition, like the study of technology, the study of consciousness is both very old, and radically new, especially given the acceleration of knowledge in the post-World War II era. This is evident in descriptions such as the following, advertising the University of Arizona’s 2007 “Consciousness: The WebCourse”: New scientiﬁc ﬁndings offer tantalizing glimpses into the ultimate mystery of consciousness. Brain imaging has made it possible to observe some of the
Anthropology of Consciousness, Vol. 18, Issue 1, pp. 20–50. ISSN 1053-4202, © 2007 by the American Anthropological Association. All rights reserved. Please direct all requests for permissions to photocopy or reproduce article content through the University of California Press’s Rights and Permissions website, http://www.ucpressjournals.com/reprintinfo/asp. DOI: 10.1525/aoc.2007.18.1.20
the machinery of consciousness
physical brain correlates of both conscious and unconscious processes. How does that affect our understanding of the millennial traditions of meditation and other subjective explorations of our own experience? How does it affect the fundamental “I-Thou” perspective, in which one conscious being encounters another one? How does it change scientiﬁc and philosophical debates? In Consciousness: The WebCourse we will take a neo-Jamesian approach to consciousness, embracing all three classical approaches: Personal, Intersubjective, and Scientiﬁc. In Phenomenology Labs we will explore personal experiences of dreams, perceptual illusions, feelings of knowing, emotional highs and lows, the ﬂeeting present and unconscious inﬂuences. We will also look at the second person perspective, what it means for an “I” to encounter a “Thou.” Finally, we will explore recent brain studies of higher states of consciousness. [University of Arizona Consciousness: The WebCourse, accessed Feb. 1, 2007] As in my own ﬁeld, the heady promise of using cutting-edge scientiﬁc discoveries (brain imaging, 3-dimensional tomography, and the like) to help answer previously intractable questions (What does it mean to be human? Sentient? Does this knowledge lead to any solutions for the myriad problems facing humans in collectivities?) is part of the energy that enlivens the new disciplinary body. No more two cultures; instead, the use of science and rationalism, merged with the older cultures of the humanities reﬂecting on our lives, to both plumb and improve on human consciousness. In an article on consciousness studies at Goddard College (this volume), Francis X. Charet and Hillary S. Webb raise a number of questions about the uneasy ﬁt of elements within consciousness studies. In particular, they mention the tensions between transpersonal, engaged models of CS, and more traditional materialist views of consciousness and its study, including the “explanatory gap” that appears between ﬁrst (transpersonal) and third person (scientiﬁc) approaches to the study of consciousness. Using Gadamer, Turnbull, and Turner, they offer a “disciplined pluralism” as an alternative to the “empiricist colonization of spirituality” by an exclusive reliance on scientiﬁc methodologies. But there is another, shadow side to the newest transdisciplinary efforts to boldly go where no human has gone before, to plumb the neurophysiology of the brain and establish the lines between neurons and the noetic. This shadow side is the connection between a previous rhetoric of consciousness studies (cybernetics), and two elaborations of cybernetics’ ambitious program for studying communication and control in human consciousness: the short, unhappy, highly publicized history of lobotomy, and the equally fraught, but less wellknown, history of early brain research, as exempliﬁed by the work of Jose Delgado. For modern consciousness studies to avoid this pitfall, it must attend to the politics of consciousness, including the rhetorics of promise and control implicit in the language and funding of brain research.
anthropology of consciousness 18.1
In my work on the social history of cybernetics, I identify some patterns of “cyborg rhetoric” laid down in the very ﬁrst texts of ﬁrst-wave cybernetics. In the postwar (that is, post-World War II) world of more “intelligent” and complex machines, humans are often seen as machine-like and as abject, problematically conscious, while machines are represented as quasi-human, capable of sensing, deciding, and becoming conscious (Mentor 2004). As Western science begins to talk of machinic intelligence and augmenting human consciousness with an array of prosthetics, an unlikely discourse — that of lobotomy — haunts many of these texts. This shadow technology names several anxieties, in particular, a growing popular mistrust of Big Science and its potential for abuse, not only in medicine but in the area of technologies of social control. The original “promise” of lobotomy, its origin in Nobel-Prize winning science, and its eventual failure parallel in uncanny ways the promise and failure of much of the early cybernetic project of mapping consciousness. I want to argue here that this early history is relevant to consciousness studies now.
lobotomy: consciousness and the ice pick Although a revisionist history of lobotomy is sure to be written, the “official history” is now ensconced in textbooks such as Pinel’s Biopsychology. Lobotomy was a “rogue” and pseudo-science, which somehow escaped the normal scientiﬁc and medical safeguards for a time. It turned many innocent patients into vegetables and victims, even though its practitioners were never a large number. And ﬁnally, it was debunked and discredited, and remains a cautionary tale, the thalidomide of surgery.1 In addition to its status as poster child for bad science, lobotomy reveals many of the rhetorical moves which underlie other more respectable areas of consciousness studies and brain research. From the start, the desire for controlling behavior resides in brain research and its funding. Modern narratives of lobotomy’s history (Valenstein 1986; Sabbatini 1997; Breggin 1982) trace the origins of modern attempts to surgically treat the brain to 19th-century scientists. From the start, understanding the mind, and controlling behavior, are linked. Friederich Golz, in 1890, cut the neocortex of dogs and found that the animals were “more tame and calmer than the unoperated ones” (Sabbatini 1997; see also Valenstein 1973:266–267).2 Within two years, Gottlieb Burkhardt was attempting the same operations on schizophrenics as supervisor of a Swiss asylum. Sabbatini reports the results in a neutral way; the operations “seem to work,” but it is hard to know for certain since some of the patients die, and the resultant criticism of Burkhardt convinces him to set aside his project. This is how Sabbatini structures his article: the scientists who observe are seen as fathers moving forward in a direct line of knowledge that continually promises control over aggression and behavior. The tension here is between containment
those at the end of the line. many of whom were suspicious of the treatment’s science. rhetorics of social control that circulate within larger discourses of eugenics and punishment). Nineteen thirty-six also was the ﬁrst year for lobotomies in Brazil and the United States. based on Fulton and Jacobsen. Freeman coined the term prefrontal lobotomy. The time gap between this iteration of research and application is similarly short. tools. the naming of new tools and procedures. and of all the organs. the horriﬁc conditions of state insane asylums particularly dovetailed nicely with the promise of lobotomy. but the science behind the promises was still at the research and data-gathering stage. the development of crucial collateral technologies of neurosurgery. the Portuguese doctor and neuropsychiatrist Antonio Egas Moniz “proposed to cut surgically the nerve ﬁbers which connect the frontal and prefrontal cortex to the thalamus. So the 1930s work of Carlyle Jacobsen and John Fulton on chimps appears to show that the brain is susceptible not only to the reduction of aggression (Jacobsen) but also to the production of neurosis and aggression (Fulton). Moniz won the Nobel Prize for his work. This notion of an ensemble of conditions. Freeman sold his procedure in countless visits to insane asylums and psychiatric clinics. if not always of human beings. the notion of a patient with diminished abilities who could nevertheless return home as a safe. And often.the machinery of consciousness 23 of such research as restorative (we will make the insane sane and functional again) and other possible meanings of the research (asylum inmates as research subjects. and proved adept in using press coverage of his treatments to gain acceptance among colleagues. In addition. a structure located deep in the brain. and James Watts. which had been the subject of several exposes in the press. He was able to report results by 1936. a neurosurgeon. all meant that new procedures became possible. including detailed description of results. and procedures leading to radical promises for restoring organ function is central to the notion of the cyborg. leukotomy came to be known as prefrontal lobotomy and was associated with Walter Freeman. In the United States. only two years later than the initial and unreplicated American experiments. which is responsible for relaying sensory information to the cortex” (Sabbatini 1997). including socially important control over emotions. the brain lends itself most to metaphors of control over many other functions. and wide circulation of individual success stories in the press. and the aggregation of information about the physiology of the brain. To those who had read of the ﬁlth and violence of conditions in state institutions. the ability to move forward with “last chance” procedures (the doctors and patients have exhausted all other possible therapies) leads to new data that then accelerates the improvement of procedures and technologies. a physician and neurologist. the miniscule set of results was fattened by the standard scientiﬁc processes. In both countries. anesthesia. non-aggressive person was seen as a potential blessing. which promised so much to the hopeless. and asepsis. .
The Death and Rebirth of Lobotomy The next stage of lobotomy would see conﬂict between Watts and Freeman over Freeman’s desire to make lobotomy a nonsurgical procedure. Freeman is shown to be someone who develops procedures based on very little: reading Moniz’s paper.000 lobotomies were performed worldwide. and sometimes faint at the “production line” of lobotomies assembled by Freeman. but as a tool of larger social control. As Sabbatini represents it. and then hearing about an Italian procedure which simpliﬁed the cutting of the lobe by going through the roof of the eye orbits. [Sabbatini 1997] From 1939 to the end of the Fifties. with 18. and then Freeman would swing it to sever the prefrontal lobe. in both Valenstein and the Sabbatini article. the procedures as careful. Freeman and the popular press recapitulates many of the main themes of cybernetics: the brain as a machine that can be understood and which can be “worked on”. technical scientiﬁc processes with research behind them and evaluative methods built in. and a lack of basic scientiﬁc evaluation. And the notion of new frontiers means that often the good of the patient and the good of knowledge seem to insist that other boundaries—the boundary of a patient’s body. however. lobotomy seemed poised to become not simply a means of controlling the behavior of a few deranged institutionalized patients. a rhetoric of both last chance and the expectation of miraculous effectiveness aligned with the previous successes of the sciences involved.1 The discussion of brains in Moniz. with no need to intern the patient in the hospital. more than 50. which could be inserted under local anesthesia by tapping it with a hammer. that even seasoned and veteran neurosurgeons and psychiatrists would not stand the sight of it. Though there was compelling evidence for the ineffectiveness of lobotomy. This would take no more than a few minutes. This “trans-orbital” lobotomy could be done in a psychiatric hospital by nonsurgeons in a nonsurgical setting.” Instead of a leucotome. more lobotomies were performed between 1949 and 1952 than in all the years previous. which required a surgical trepanning. The procedure was so ghastly. or of their right to consent—must also be breached. The ice pick would perforate skin. bone and meninges in a single plunge. subcutaneous tissue.24 anthropology of consciousness 18.3 . Freeman traveled across the country from hospital to hospital teaching the procedure.000 in the United States between 1939 and 1951. a line of scientists who represent the progress of the science and the pioneering fathers. and indeed. the scale of the research or the size of the sample. With Moniz getting the Nobel Prize in 1949. In fact. [Freeman] invented in 1945 a much quicker and simpler way: the so-called “ice-pick lobotomy. The articles do not typically include dissenting voices. he used a common tool to break ice.
who saw with horror that Freeman was putting a scalpel into the hands of low-level physicians and even medical student interns in uncontrolled settings. The history of lobotomy is a history of applications for controlling aggression. and the blurred line between experiment and therapy all are passed on. and a large-scale study excoriating the practice. lobotomy and the cybernetic study of consciousness are explicitly contrasted. some of the ﬁrst to turn against the procedure were surgeons like Watts. within the nascent science of psychosurgery. the parallels between the crude science of lobotomy. with as yet unblemished track records and so inﬁnite promise. with a 30 percent rate of horrendous collateral effects on personality). it took not only the opposition of surgeons and concerned physicians. Wiener devotes a chapter of his 1948 book Cybernetics to psychopathology. as from father to son. Then he proceeds to write as though the analogy between brains and computers may well be accurate: machines have ways to remedy problems. are telling. Brennan identiﬁes a third wave of psychosurgery in the 1990s (Breggin 1995). Indeed. and the relatively more sophisticated sciences of cybernetics. by having separate parallel mechanisms checking each operation (redundancy). unlike in cybernetics. emerge. Despite lobotomy’s abysmal results (30 percent improvement rate at best. crucial allies turned against the procedure just as it was gaining legitimacy in other ways. He begins by acknowledging that he is not an expert in psychiatry and that scientiﬁc knowledge of brain and nervous system function is not competent to truly theorize pathologies. Each wave recirculates apparently dead or delegitimized rhetorics of control. in the early 1970s. and related psychosurgical techniques. championed by the who’s who of 1950s science during the Macy Conferences and after. the ethically questionable research. where the main players continued to use similar language and analogies.4 Cybernetics and lobotomy The family resemblance between lobotomy discourse and cybernetics can be seen in some of the writings of the “father” of cybernetics. and by allowing for searching mechanisms to detect errors and correct them without signiﬁcant delay. The notion of control embedded in lobotomy is undercut by the loss of control over its procedures. the rhetoric of social control of aggression and violence. Thus. Lobotomy was succeeded by psychopharmacology. promoted by scientists who became isolated from their colleagues. In one early text. In fact.the machinery of consciousness 25 One important reason for the death of lobotomy was Freeman’s move to remove it from the protective authority of the surgeon. but the development of new technologies (drug therapies like Thorazine and electroshock treatment). but the strategies of legitimization. both worldwide and in the United States. a second wave of lobotomy. Norbert Wiener. to dislodge lobotomy as a legitimate medical practice (see Valenstein 1986). When he moves from automatic . shaped to ﬁt the historical and cultural concerns of the moment.
“We can hardly expect” important messages in the mind to have one mechanism. the last word is given not to human bodies and selves per se. which is the mental vicious circle that obsessive messages pursue. moving from circulating short-term memory and ultimately dominating long-term memory. “There is nothing surprising in considering the functional mental disorder as fundamentally diseases of memory.5 Thus the cybernetic language of mental disorders challenges the materialism of the time (which assumed that disorder comes from lesion. Interestingly. That is. physical trauma) and instead substitutes information-system metaphors as an alternative explanation. pharmacological treatment and psychotherapy.26 anthropology of consciousness 18. . and so on. In other words. the brain probably works” with redundancy. Wiener sets up the “cure” for disorders by suggesting that when machines malfunction. allow for increasingly easy acceptance of the brain-computer analogy: “It is conceivable and not implausible (that nervous systems have similar elements). Yet his main objection is not to such interventions per se. as it is to the crudeness of the action. the former to deal with shorter-term reverberations in the system. He even suggests that traumas like paresis may cause material effects. not due to tissue destruction but by “secondary disturbances of traffic.” he has cleared the last hedge-hurdle. to the sacredness or status of their boundaries. Let me remark in passing that killing them makes their custodial care still easier” (Wiener 1948:148). though of course hedging continues throughout the discussion. and ﬁnally disconnect the broken part of the machine. like increasingly smaller hurdles. probably not unconnected with the fact that it makes the custodial care of many patients easier. but to the theoretical possibility of combining shock. then shake or shock the machine. it is much more probable” that they operate like computers. and does not get at the more cybernetic issue. where even the most violent surgical interventions have no purchase. as only makes sense given the paucity of information about the brain-mind in 1948. his hedges. functional equivalents of lobotomy are certainly approved within Weiner’s .1 telephone exchanges to the brain.” as the injured nervous system-telephone system reroutes messages. His famous pronouncement on psychosurgery runs. . taking alternative routes via an “internuncial pool. All this is contrasted to his vocal opposition to lobotomy. which simply damages-disables function. When Weiner writes. “It [prefrontal lobotomy] has recently been having a certain vogue.” Readers of current computer magazines will recognize the similarity of this rhetoric to the analogy of “the (Inter)Net is like the brain” with a more sophisticated model of packet-switching standing in for the now quaint model of the 1950s telephone switchboard magically working without a human manually “connecting” remote users. humans ﬁrst clear the machine of all information. “Like the computing machine. then it is “improbable” that mental messages operate from end to end and “. the latter to access long-term memories from where such vicious circles may be reestablished. gets overloaded.
the healing of troubled souls. are repressed or marginalized as aberrant moments in an otherwise careful and constrained gathering of knowledge. The second is the way the dystopian moment of lobotomy and psychosurgery haunts the language of “communication and control” so central to cybernetics. But motive can be unbundled from use. and social control. still an unknown though not an unknowable object of scientiﬁc scrutiny in 1952. Vonnegut 1952). the telos of the study of the mind as a cybernetic system. not bloody butcher’s knives. the human mind and the human being as a communicating entity is no longer separated by an unbridgeable gulf from the machines that humans have made. And the newer brain techniques are explicitly connected. and is lobotomy’s successor. the earth was replaced by the sun as the center of the universe. but instead evolved from them (Darwin). instead. a reorganizing. is. the human mind. that lead up to lobotomy are exactly those that allow for cybernetic program studies of how the mind may or may not be like a circuit. takes its place not as the apex of human organism but in a sequence that includes automatic . also Ellison 1995. even as he quite rightly rejects the practice of lobotomy in his own time. humans were no longer separate from animals. (Mazlish 1993:1–20) This displacement of the human mind is not speciﬁcally argued by Wiener. The motive for this research. ESB and a vision of mind as analogous to computers. the types of procedures.the machinery of consciousness 27 rhetoric. quite the contrary. Though Wiener speciﬁcally condemns lobotomy and distances cybernetics from its practice. and behaviorism as rhetorical machines chugging away within new environs. but radio controls. the way science stories. a removing. But in his writings. rewiring the insides. cybernetics. using new technologies (see Wolfe 1987 . Cybernetics. reprogramming the machine. The ﬁrst is the social construction of science. even psychotic systems. No more cutting the connection. like lobotomy therapy: the ﬁxing of bad brains. second. As Bruce Mazlish has it. like lobotomy. elaborate pharmacologies. third. Several of the best novels of the 1950s understood this link between lobotomy. and ﬁnally. below. There are two senses in which I want to talk about cybernetics as haunted by psychosurgery and lobotomy. via Wiener. he is on record denouncing it. to the promise of better control of the state and society as admittedly sick. prompting a sea change in the way humans thought about their place in the universe (Copernicus). off-balanced. not telephone switchboards. Cybernetics both installs the same rhetoric of social control as lobotomy. the release of the black butterﬂies of depression and aggression from the mind. the heritage of social engineering. via cybernetics’ constant assertion that governments too are cybernetic systems. there is a cutting. humans were not even in control of their minds and psyches (Freud). and the era of the cyborg. There is no lobotomy in Wiener’s cybernetic program. the research. First. Wiener is the father of the Fourth Great Discontinuity in human thought. eugenics. point toward the control of humans with new machines.
psychology and consciousness. working to help people and the state “control” the aggressive and the anxious. modern computing devices. employ spies. Written at the same time as Wiener’s Human Use of Human Beings (HUHB). its opaque mystiﬁed place inside the skull. and all the subsequent operations of technology are then applicable: repair. a wide range of scientiﬁc disciplines: engineering. in which some have lopped off their arms as a way of “disarming” humans forever. and so on. Culture. antiaircraft systems that meld man. deletion. Wolfe links cybernetics and lobotomy speciﬁcally. especially the projects that came of age just before and during World War II: electrical engineering. and so on. Wolfe connects the notion of a technological imperative (computers and computerized war. but will demand the collaboration of. and psychosurgery. He sees cybernetics as the central ﬁgure that holds together a vast collection of scientiﬁc projects. will not only be useful to. was a doctor and lobotomist in the prewar society. mathematics. gun and math into a learning circuit. Doing the Limbo: A literary critique of cybernetics Wiener asserts that cybernetics. physics. vie for control over parts of the earth that contain the raw materials for these new weapons. turns out in Limbo to be essentially a process of lobotomy for most civilized citizens. and so on. rearrangement of parts. atomic technology and atomic power for automated manufacturing. Both sides hide this new “war out of peace” development from each other. Einsteinian physics. Martine. Many current descriptions of consciousness studies mimic this transdisciplinary reach and include similar far-reaching goals for human and social improvement. misinterpret the writings of cyberneticists. once the mind has been removed from its obscuring organic narrative. The main character. Wolfe’s savage parody of ColdWar America and its psychotic rhetoric of social control through science imagines a post-atomic war world. that process that supposedly frees us from the animal and mere survival. augmentation.28 anthropology of consciousness 18. as the study of control and communication in animal and machine. crucially. and. making them cyborg warriors. For Wiener. and naming Wiener and cybernetics in both the afterword and in the text. the aftermath simply repeats the Cold War logic that has not been blown up. Bernard Wolfe’s 1952 novel Limbo is a meditation on the connection between cybernetic extensions of limbs. Since both the Soviet Union and the United States have survived the war. chemistry. biology. That is. advances in medicine and lobotomy-prosthesis techniques) with a decidedly psychoanalytic explanation for how this technological imperative takes the form it does. . as a technology for communication and control. and performs a cultural critique of science that still resonates today.1 telephone switchboards. psychology. the amputations lead to new technologies that allow humans to use potent military prostheses. probability. it can be seen more accurately. Consciousness turns out to be a central problem for industrial society as much as for preindustrial social and political dysfunction.
there was primitive brain surgery. Armed with this knowledge. who was both critical of much of modern research. and that reproduces the repressive power arrangements of less technological societies? This dilemma mirrors the dilemma of Norbert Wiener. of the paralyzed against the berserk. whatever myth they have created to (as Levi Strauss deﬁned it) enable imaginary solutions to real problems. but is inspired by murderous venom. before there was “civilized” culture with its elaborate social controls aided by technology and elaborate bureaucracies. . the son of the lobotomist Martine carries on the next phase of a human science and cybernetics: he stops the lobotomies because the studies indicate they are not effective. to pretend they are not men but gods . In the novel. upon which he hoped to base his new science. for Wolfe. there was sacriﬁce. Wolfe uses lobotomy to tell a story about the essential futility of cutting away parts of human nature. They cut off many of their human qualities. Wolfe is at pains to critique passivism-paciﬁsm as a bogus solution to human violence and aggression. before there was amputation. it is in the nature of a technological parable. . Figuratively. “real” psychology that ﬁnds a social role for . he critiques the practice of mandunga (a primitive lobotomy) in the language of psychoanalysis: This village is built on a lie. the only physicist who worked on the atomic bomb during the war and opposed it afterward. and the main plot in which Martine is a surgeon ambivalent about the lobotomies he is trained to perform—is the mediating term between the two discourses. research). Before there was lobotomy. not a help—it calls itself therapy. Robert Oppenheimer. The lie is that the healthy ones are without aggression. And it also calls to mind the Ur-story of the modern scientists’ dilemma: the story ﬁrst and foremost of J.the machinery of consciousness 29 lobotomy—both the framing story of the “primitive” tropical island that uses Martine’s high-tech lobotomy to replace previous social controls. there was “primitive” culture with its elaborate social controls aided by proto-technologies and hierarchies. The myth of a pre-lapsarian society simply shows how powerfully humans need to believe in a prior wholeness of selves and society and obscures for Wolfe the answer to the key questions: Why war? Why repression and psychic amputation? Why sexual malaise? Why technological advance that doesn’t seem to advance basic human psychic needs. and yet also dependent on such research for information about human body and mental systems. lobotomy is the central trope for all sorts of amputations humans make in order to construct themselves in whatever ideal image their culture has constructed. It is a punishment. Mandunga is the aggression of self crippled men disguised as gods against those who cannot cripple themselves the same way. both literally (it is a technology used in service of psychiatry and social control) and ﬁguratively. [Wolfe 1987 (1952):394] In this analysis. and to replace it with a series of terms: real science and knowledge (statistics.
and imagined co-existence. Like Wiener. we end up with the same tension. they both want to apply another knife to another area: that is. replete with raw materials. All represent attempts to use control systems and technologies (including social technologies) to impose an inhuman use of human beings in the service of a false “peace. the abandonment of timeless primitivism for the change-ﬁlled times of the modern. over which we have so little control and with which we have such little communication. But the central theme of Limbo is that it is our psychic technology. and humans the victims of their own machinic accomplishments (not only the computer. the younger people on the third-world island.” Wolfe has his primitive-modern character Rambo (i. more aggression is needed. postulated in Francis X. do not trust the happy imperialists with the prostheses. one of rationalized systems of social control). in the story. The men who pretend to be gods in the village simply anticipate those same men in hypertechnological. . though that plays a central role. not the knives of the butcher. rule based on science and logic and a sense of history and historical progression. what is sickness and what is only being different. far from being antithetical to other “cybernetic” approaches. and. Also. the knife of the new knowledge (cybernetics. and use our knowledge to help the sick to know themselves so they will no longer be so sick. is simply coextensive with the latter. in preparation for the future war they say has been abolished. taking the weapons of the soon-to-be-oppressor and defending oneself with them is appropriate and a sign of the health of the society.1 aggression. implies Wolfe in 1952. but the ability to perform psychosurgery. and indeed of the more central issue of social control and communication. If we trade out Wolfe’s use of the post-Freudian Bergler’s psychology for transpersonalism. cybernetic societies. but even more. discover they have buried caches of prosthetic weaponry.6 The ending to Limbo can be read as a fable of third-world resistance to ﬁrstworld aggression. the overall impact of technology becomes. to decide what is health—how much sickness a healthy village can allow. spying on them. Charet’s description of modern consciousness studies (this volume). atomic powered. psychoanalysis) to the social and cultural mind of human societies. After the ﬁrst industrial revolution. and in addition the kind of world created by cybernetic manufacturing and cybernetic language. This means: the knives of knowledge. in Limbo. to build weapons of mass destruction. the steamroller.30 anthropology of consciousness 18. For some societies.” [Wolfe 1987 (1952):400] This is a very different way of framing the problem of lobotomy. not less.. Wolfe allows that there might be a place for the knife of knowledge inside the head of a human. Lobotomy.e. Rimbaud) make a speech in defense of a new kind of cutting: We must learn now to be psychiatrists. that is the real danger.
The subsequent events bear out the fear of a seemingly autonomous technology—the rise of military computers that start and autonomously run a war based on cybernetic military policy objectives. This fear of powerful cybernetic or machinic systems controlling. psychology. no anxiety. there is no “human” without technology. and automated nuclear arsenals. . with Strategic Air Command jets constantly in the air and the popular press alive with stories of supercomputers and their role in the future. what have you. only then can they begin to join history—without supplementary arms and legs. is the little machine that runs the big ones. Wolfe quotes large sections of Wiener on lobotomy from Cybernetics to support the idea that lobotomists were indeed acting in the absence of real information. and in Limbo. But as Wolfe writes in various places in his text. of the cyborg. brain. that draw on histories of brain and mind research. Technology. In these narratives.” turns on or off a huge steam engine. In Limbo. and technologies. [Wolfe 1987 (1952):401] Humans make technology a juggernaut or steamroller because they need to blame technology for the anxiety-producing changes it allows and invites. and communication-control. Wolfe rejects the notion that humans must somehow escape technology in order to gain authenticity or to regain control over consciousness: Men shrink from the machine only at the expense of full humanness. Yet ultimately. In case the reader in 1952 might not be convinced by a ﬁctional account. including brain research. with much less relative “power. is the Frankenstein’s monster. all the allegories of social prosthetics.the machinery of consciousness 31 This is why rhetorics of mind. must operate within a political body controlled by those who control this organ. until they free themselves from the backbreaking drudgery of primitive labor they have no time to carve skylights in the skull. the technological brain turns on the creators and attempts to amputate the human elements. and thus it is no more possible to excise the evil in technology than it is to excise the evil in the human mind. war-making scripts. no budding prefrontal lobes. are the “weird sister” of cybernetics. though these attempts are themselves simply what military programmers have already built into their apocalyptic war machines. consciousness. All the other prostheses must operate in a body controlled by this organ. using humans as components in a hideously efficient war machine. much as a governor valve. prosthetics. Martine writes that technology has escaped human control and is crushing the human beneath the force of the machinic. and amputating or murdering the humans who titularly run them is ubiquitous now. constructing. or consciousness. blamed for the excesses of its creator. and the social technologies that stem from and haunt these. But in 1952. and of consciousness studies. this conjunction of technology and war must have seemed particularly close. no anticipation.
especially postwar science. at least at ﬁrst.7 Loss of Control in the Deﬁnition of Control Early in Human Use of Human Beings. In the science of Limbo. When I control the actions of another person. Thus by “control. The second drive dovetails with the ﬁrst: lobotomy proceeds not for the patients but for the society. with a humble example: In giving the deﬁnition of Cybernetics in the original book. and information is subject to entropy and disintegration. the assurance that our signal has indeed gone through and been processed by a human or mechanical receiver. [Wiener 1954:16] From here. he goes on to discuss this metaphor: that messages and commands are (like) information. I impart a message to him.32 anthropology of consciousness 18.1 What makes Limbo more than just a cliched exercise in the “scientists are godpriests” trope is Wolfe’s acknowledgment of two powerful drives for scientists that explain bad science like lobotomy (and much else that goes as good science). I classed communication and control together. either by the society or voluntarily. as Martine does. [Wolfe 1987 (1952):400] Wolfe’s novel does work that many social critics of science do now. Why did I do this? When I communicate with another person. as a legitimization of the need of the scientist for psychic normality and control. lobotomized. allow scientists to study the living brain and evade the social constraints on such work (constraints that must have been very powerful as word of Nazi experiments began to circulate in the postwar world). Lobotomy isn’t an aberrant moment in science. including cybernetics and the pursuit of knowledge of the mind. .” Wiener the cyberneticist means the control over loss of entropy. as a technology of social control. His perspective is that advanced science. and although this message is in the imperative mode. any ambivalence about the downsides or abuses of such research is amputated. and even deeper. by the scientists themselves. communication and reception of messages. if my control is to be effective I must take cognizance of any messages from him which may indicate that the order is understood and has been obeyed. I communicate a message to him. This permission works even when the scientist has scruples. One drive is for knowledge: lobotomies. Furthermore. the technique of communication does not differ from that of a message of fact. is parallel to primitive cultures in the technologies of ritual and social control. and when he comunicates back to me he returns a related message which contains information primarily accessible to him and not to me. and so performs “pure” research on animals. Wiener attempts to illustrate the central metaphor of cybernetics. the study of the control.
the mind and neurophysiology. Using this metaphor also helps guide research. the “scientiﬁc” controlled use of the cybernetic metaphor promised to open up important new ways to study human consciousness. increase the local organization of information. as well as to create new sophisticated machines capable of complex communication and action. . including Gregory Bateson and Margaret Mead. . of the retention of meaning in semantics by the complex system of “internuncial pools” in the “terminal machine” called the human mind. one reason to word his example in just this way is to prepare us for the dominant metaphor of cybernetics—humans and machines can be seen as communication systems that. to escape the controlling aims of the libertarian scientist. and notions of control. from unconscious homeostatic processes to verbal language. but also into the neurophysiological mechanisms in humans that receive and send information of various kinds. and thus decrease entropy locally.” (Porush 1985:56) Wiener’s metaphors exhibit both the “controlled” use proper to “science” and the tendency of modern science. As Porush points out.called human use of human beings “retains a chilling ambiguity that characterizes the potential of the metaphors proposed by cybernetics to promote the techniques of human manipulation and control.the machinery of consciousness 33 Clearly. of mechanical and human activity by negative feedback loops and transmission mechanisms. One example is Wiener’s use of cybernetics to understand modern politics: A sort of machine a gouverner is thus now essentially in operation on both sides of the world conﬂict. even when . Cybernetics is concerned not simply with communication. . but with effective communication. In addition. [this is] the growing military and political mechanization of the world as a great superhuman apparatus working on cybernetic principles. . that is. insofar as they receive and use information. can go very wrong. this version of Wiener’s so. For Wiener and his fellow cyberneticists. even when not directly under the inﬂuence of funding from the military (which most cybernetic programs used) and thus militarized agendas about and relative to consciousness. we need to know as scientists what man’s nature is and what his built-in purposes are. this concept of information and entropy allows the cyberneticist to bring the rigorous controls of physics (applicable to systems like radar and telecommunications) to the admittedly messy and inexact domain of human communication and consciousness. . while this has powerful explanatory power for a variety of machines and prostheses. not only into the construction of learning machines. although it does not consist in either case for a single machine which makes policy. control—of the body’s processes by homeostasis. . in the decontextualized language of cybernetics. . In order to avoid the manifold dangers of this . but rather of a mechanistic technique which is adapted to the exigencies of a machine-like group of men devoted to the formation of policy . But the study of mind as machine.
The work of Jose Delgado and others as interventions into the control of the brain provides another historical example of the dark side of the studies of consciousness. that is. And a further analogy is perhaps relevant to modern consciousness studies. just as the Bomb engendered its “positive” cover story as atoms for peace. available for technologies of control. Though lobotomy was a hot political topic. this rhetoric of promise and extrapolation have a politics. Again the putative promise of brain research is continually articulated as the promise of controlling violence and other antisocial emotions.34 anthropology of consciousness 18. a station on the way to more knowledge. but also at the ways in which his work is framed and reframed in popular science books and articles. systems thinking would evolve techniques for thinking and acting in the political world that would be superhuman. Based on cybernetic understandings of systems. more than humans could control. Modern science thus contributes not only the atomic bomb. Halacy manages to rewrite the history so that it is. like other medical practices.” Indeed. like the Thalidomide examples in both books. another popular science author. Wiener rightly saw that beyond dangerous machines. cut . science writer D. In 1965. original emphasis] This prophetic paragraph from The Human Use of Human Beings reveals the double-bind mechanisms of scientiﬁc cybernetics. the understanding of the atom. and this is also true of other contemporaneous attempts to conduct brain research and plumb the mysteries of the mind. again independent of whether or not the research is funded by the military. [Wiener 1954:18. and yet Wiener the citizen of the republic was as pessimistic about the uses of the new research of cybernetics as many were about the uses of the new atomic technology. As with the bomb. but since it has lost its place in the march of progress. Bull: The Politics of Brain Research The rhetoric of control is everywhere in lobotomy and the “science” that underpins it as a practice. By the time David Rorvik. just as lobotomy and brain research used the promise of restorative therapies to mask more sinister agendas of control. is writing in 1974. with the early successes balanced against some unfortunate “negative personality traits. so too modern consciousness studies must take care not to become the transpersonal cover for newer and more effective forms of control. it is the unmarked category of neutral scientiﬁc experiment.1 we must wield this knowledge as soldiers and statesmen. Wiener the scientist could applaud the research. In this section I look not only at the writings of Delgado. but also the science of the brain. the whole history of lobotomy is summed up in the new knowledge that the frontal lobes contain essential elements of biological intelligence. and we must know why we wish to control him. H. It has been delegitimized. lobotomy is no longer a respectable narrative to place in a chapter on brain research. Halacy places lobotomy at the end of the historical narrative. it is banished.
From the dramatic display of speciﬁc motor controls (monkeys induced to freeze using permanent electrodes. Both Halacy and Rorvik describe electronic stimulation of the brain. After all. elaborates on the links between his often outlandish experiments and the larger questions of brain research. humans holding their arms out rigidly). Delgado’s work is focused on the potential of such studies in the physiology of consciousness for controlling antisocial behavior and our anxieties and conﬂicts. ESB. Delgado comments that his electrode-implanted animals behave like “electronic toys”.the machinery of consciousness 35 out of the body of history. Both deploy Jose Delgado as a central player in the drama of the future brain. empty promises. centered on the use of electrical signals to evoke responses in the brain. Delgado’s research interests. . how does our sensorium work? From the start. due to the alternative to surgical brain medicine: electricity. if we do not “copy” and respond to external stimuli. the language of Delgado’s experiments moves quickly into speculation about questions of social control. His earliest work was with cats. and . regardless of its failure and status as a cautionary tale of hype. could lead to an epistemological abyss. to buttress a modern seventies version of consciousness studies and the dream of controlling our mind(s). as a crucial knowledge-gathering technology likely to produce future brain connectivity and even solve the age-old problem of human violence. like Fulton’s. then . . social control. a collective scientiﬁc “we” can still move seamlessly from lobotomy to future artiﬁcial brains. Dr. undeterred by the scientiﬁc debacle that was lobotomy. Delgado’s research at Yale took place over the 1950s and 1960s. he focuses speciﬁcally on rage as his example of psychological manifestations that do not depend solely on external stimuli. Much of his work involved the improvement of electrode technology. The success of electrostimulation of the brain (ESB) in producing such emotions— and vivid memories and sensations of smell—via electrode. however. José Delgado was a Spanish medical doctor who studied with famous histologist Ramon y Cajal after the Spanish Civil War. technology. thus discovering where the brain’s different control centers are and how they work. The formula for constructing scientiﬁc history and promise is. but later he did experiments with monkeys and humans. The promise of such control is buttressed by Delgado’s intense descriptions of his experiments. And Rorvik uncritically links Delgado and ESB research with biofeedback and meditation.9 Delgado’s 1969 book Physical Control of the Mind: Toward a Psychocivilized Society. and questionable consent protocols. even though it is a cautionary tale about interventions into the brain. and the different and contradictory rhetorics justifying such research. partly due to his friendship with John Fulton. We are textually “watching” these experiments on humans.8 He came to Yale in 1946 and joined the department of physiology in 1950. but the experiments themselves focused on control—both the control the brain has over the body and the control that one can induce externally.
From individual abjection. with the timing of a horror ﬁlm. . the notion of control here has been radically denatured and estranged (Rorvik 1970. just as we readers are feeling on safer ground. not about the patient’s head being drilled but about the bulky immobile consoles and the problems that arise when “deranged individuals” tried to rip the electrode out. The reader and writer move back and forth across the line of identiﬁcation. as we notice the possibility of some signiﬁcant damage to “the” brain (not our brain any more) and so we “look forward” in both senses (temporally and with anticipation) to control without implanted electrodes. Naming the monkey “Bruno” in fact intensiﬁes the abjection. a control that would also get at deeper brain structures.1 thus implicated in the proceedings. and other functions. And yet. after the abject description of brain drilling. is terriﬁc. and the scientists begin controlling the rotation of the wrist and forearm. and suddenly “we” are solving our problems of insomnia. solar cells for freedom from plugs. and the electricity is turned on for fractions of a second. the experimenters—and we achieve a more “natural” human-machine symbiosis with smaller stimulators as backpacks or collars. . of loss of control. Delgado 1969). X-rays lead to geometric calculation. the charting. In fact. but this social abjection is contained as the potential for abuse in all technologies. as one’s body is both treated as a machine and as an animal for experimentation. meanwhile recording everything on a LINC-8 digital computer. the metal skullcap. air is injected into the cerebrum. The point of view in both Delgado’s writing and in Rorvik’s text about ESB moves back and forth across this line. the reader is put into a strange position. of stroke and paralysis. and then to anesthesia so that “small burr holes are drilled into [the] skull at appropriate points. The electrodes are permanently ﬁxed. we move to a nightmare society of control. . the bringing back of treasure and knowledge. movement of the arm. If he or she identiﬁes with the patient. even wigs and hats that naturalize the ever-smaller units (Rorvik 1970:183–184). Delgado’s “electronic toy” becomes one’s self. ending with a vision of the brain stimulated by a combination of electricity.36 anthropology of consciousness 18. with small spikes entering the scalp.” (1969:183) As the steel electrodes are guided through the holes (painlessly because the brain has no sense of feeling. the abjection is what produces the promise. The intense invasion of some bodies and minds is necessary for the pioneering. more experimentation rears up: scientists permanently attach an acrylic platform to a paralyzed monkey’s skull with screws. a guinea pig. or stereotaxic machine. the writing goes on to discuss concerns . It shifts to encouraging the point of view of the experimenter and of we humans who will use this knowledge when. of space travel. In the agentless language of science. though possibly not painlessly for some readers). The evolution discussed here is in technology: the machines. then the sense of abjection. And point of view swings back again to the experimenter. is attached. of extremity. When the monkey begins to control simple switches and thus “control” the machine that controls his own movements.
“the boss had reasserted his authority and the other animals feared him as before” (Delgado 1969:164). among other examples). and in fact installs a peaceful facial expression on the boss. he moves quickly from inhibiting an individual animal to the social “pacifying possibilities” of ESB. and control. He describes this work in Chapter X. Into the “autocratic social structure of a monkey colony” with its “boss” monkey and submissive members. In another experiment. eliminates his aggressive behavior. In his chapter. to move from mapping the brain quickly to gaining control of it. and general inhibition. he used both implanted electrodes and remote radio control of the brains. as seen in IVF. Within ten minutes of cessation of ESB. Delgado introduces a variety of ESB.the machinery of consciousness 37 radiation. as they are for “science. .” thus “maintaining a peaceful coexistence within the whole colony” (Delgado 1969:166). Stimulation stimulates the researcher. science. Ali.10 In contrast to the political threat of government control is the benign use of ESB by sociology to control the antisocial. she began to block his attacks on her and other members of the colony. When such research is combined textually with phenomena of the body. a risk easily countered by the pioneer-explorer rhetoric. One experiment applies stimulation to the boss monkey’s brain for ﬁve seconds once a minute for an hour. and electrical stimulus of the caudate nucleus can defuse fearful and aggressive behavior of chimpanzees like Carlos. Delgado is able to produce sleep. The risk here is deﬁned as risk of abuse. Sleep can “inhibit” the aggression of a rhesus monkey. all testify to dangerously naive notions of society. This “abolishes” the social domination of the male.” and in many ways he makes clear the otherwise hidden and obscured discursive relays of science. ultrasonics. . and lasers. “Inhibitory Effects in Animal and Man” (1969). the question of bypassing the body is limited to electric anesthesia and the problems of humans addicted to pleasure control the way they are addicted to drugs or sexual desire. by a combination of neurosurgery and electronics” (Delgado 1969:166). like pain and pleasure. a lever in a cage triggered a ﬁve-second stimulation of the illtempered chief monkey. and the inevitable plot of promise. Delgado’s experiments are designed as much for press and mediation. “the old dream of an individual overpowering the strength of a dictator by remote control has been fulﬁlled .” the ease with which animals and “defective” humans are abjected (sealed off from “normal” humans by a line that is crossed regularly in the history of science. for startling iconography and drama. When a female monkey named Elsa learned to press the lever. In Delgado’s work with primates. the role of scientiﬁc journalism and popularization in the extension of certain regimes of science. . In this case. The frisson of the monstrous in the vivid descriptions of procedures is rescued from sadism or cruelty by the telos of science and the roll call of future applications. The simplistic notions of the role “sociology” or “psychology” would play in contrast to “government. look “straight at the boss.
and despite their containting metaphors and rhetoric. Film shows that the bull stopped because. But when Dr. also asserted in Delgado’s own writing: Dr. the boss monkey. without wires. quoted in Valenstein 1973] The accounts of this experiment are almost always accompanied by grainy black and white photographs that show Delgado himself in the ring. Yet it doesn’t take.1 Delgado’s most famous experiment occurred in a bull ring. Contrary to the protestations in Halacy. Delgado’s work from the beginning is linked to a notion of “control” that moves quickly from charting areas of the brain. and other global crises in order to suggest that brain . Reﬂection should show that a neural pathway controlling movement. not nature per se. Delgado implanted a radio-controlled electrode deep within the brain of a brave bull. or the grumpy chimp). it was forced to turn around in the same direction. The vision in Physical Control of the Mind begins with evolution and humanity’s ever-increasing control over its environment. The New York Times article on the experiment captures the generalizations. It was as placid as Ferdinand. the aggressive rhesus. is the most reasonable explanation of the bull’s behavior (or for that matter. this experiment is said to show both remote motor control and “behavioral inhibition of the aggressive drive” (Delgado 1969:168). and not some modiﬁcation of aggression. an impulse went into the bull’s brain and the animal would cease its charge. sending a signal to a battery powered receiver attached to the bull’s horns. [Rensberger. the bull’s naturally aggressive behavior disappeared. Control is the context. Delgado asserts that we now “evolve” within a technoculture. to see serious problems in this and many of Delgado’s experiments. a brain surgeon. Delgado pressed a button on a transmitter. pollution. After several stimulations. while being stimulated. The bull is unquestionably large.11 These same massive leaps are made in Delgado’s many experiments on “radically free” humans. Delgado cites atomic war. well. Delgado’s book laying out his notion of a “psychocivilized society” shows how quickly the arguments for restorative therapies likely to emerge from ESB are really the “front group” rhetoric.38 anthropology of consciousness 18. a stalking horse for the more “visionary” uses of ESB. And in both the popular press and in Delgado himself. a variety bred to respond with a raging charge when it sees any human being. and then the bull’s head turns away from the scientist-matador as the electricity kicks in. to the signiﬁcance of this technology for social control of deviance. with another man sitting up on the fence. where “radically free” means they are able to be stimulated remotely. Rorvik and Valenstein that technologies like ESB were unlikely to become authoritarian controls. and is still well known. and we are in danger of acting like automatons if we cannot discover why we act the way we do. to puppetmaster-like manipulation of animals and humans. The photo sequence shows the beginning of a charge.
(2) These mechanisms may be detected. social relations. (3) Predictable behavioral and mental responses may be induced by direct manipulation of the brain. but accepts the obvious fact that the central nervous system is absolutely necessary for any behavioral rnanifestation. where before there were blind automatic responses in those humans. or we scientists-others. not those of others. It plans to study the mechanisms involved. analyzed. brain implantation and remote telemetry of humans sometimes (and mostly) without their consent take an honored place beside the rest of our technical and intellectual development. [Delgado 1969:67] The slippage in this rhetoric regarding agency. can learn to produce predictable behavior in “the brain. ESB might be “a disturbing threat to human integrity” and this threat is developed almost with sadistic speciﬁcity: In the past. abstract thought. Fidelity to our emotional and intellectual past gives each of us a feeling of transcendental stability—and perhaps of immortality—which is more precious than life itself. Humans learn to directly manipulate their own brains. and by public opinion. and the most reﬁned artistic creations. and sometimes substituted for by means of physical and chemical technology. His body could be tortured. In the long lens of evolution. can then substitute intelligence and purpose in some other humans. and so substitute in ourselves purpose for blindness. Scientists. and his behavior could be inﬂuenced by environmental circumstances. But the other voice in Delgado’s book is clearly designed to reply to critics—not present in the text or mentioned. including perceptions. by emotions. Of course. His research is based on the assumptions that: (1) There are basic mechanisms in the brain responsible for all mental activities.” located somewhere other than the crania of those who manipulate. or some others. is rather stunning. it is possible to read this reﬂexively. but he always had the privilege of deciding his own fate. (4) We can substitute intelligent and purposeful determination of neutonal functions for blind. Yes. but voiced in abstract—who might have concerns regarding the implications of such experimentation.the machinery of consciousness 39 research may lead to a greater level of intentional control over our lives and actions. emotions. who does what. we humans. of dying for an ideal without changing his mind. the individual could face risks and pressures with preservation of his own identity. his thoughts and desires could be challenged by bribes. The “brain” mechanisms are responsible for activity. scientists can detect and even substitute for these mechanisms. . inﬂuenced. This approach does not claim that love or thoughts are exclusively neurophysiological phenomena. automatic responses.
The real question isn’t whether we ought to map and learn to control the brain. what kinds of control we ought to consider normative. In experiments. ESB holds more promise for being selective than crude electroshock and promises to be more efficient than the slow process of standard psychatry. Personality is not an intangible. the use of drugs such as energizers and tranquilizers. are purposefully included and shaped: The mind is not a static. one can develop the clarity and strength to make “therapeutic decisions related to psychic manipulation” (Delgado 1969:218). but the dynamic organization of sensory perceptions of the external world. scientists must acquire the “moral integrity and ethical education” now lacking in their training. however. [Delgado 1969:214-215] ESB offers the potential to annihilate personal identity. has a reﬁned efficiency. and what abusive. correlated and reshaped through the internal anatomical and functional structure of the brain. ﬂexion of the hand evoked by stimulation of the motor cortex cannot be voluntarily avoided. Delgado phrases the criticism so that he differentiates between extreme control and “the prospect of any degree of physical control” (Delgado 1969:214). crediting others’ work. The individual is defenseless against direct manipulation of the brain because he is deprived of his most intimate mechanisms of biological reactivity. the third term. [Delgado 1969:215] The family to which ESB rightfully belongs includes a host of normative techniques: psychoanalysis. As science seems to be approaching the possibility of controlling many aspects of behavior electronically and chemically. Destruction of the frontal lobes produced changes in effectiveness which are beyond any personal control. except that in Delgado. With this education. but rather. but a ﬂexible process in continuous evolution. the application of insulin or electroshock. inborn entity owned by the individual and selfsufficient. the institutions that construct cyborgs. Culture and education are meant to shape patterns of reaction which are not innate in the human organism. and being “civilized” towards colleagues. affected by its medium. Delgado asserts that beyond simply acquiescing to outside inﬂuences over scientiﬁc research. and to control the innermost thoughts and emotions purposefully. they can then develop the necessary convictions to go beyond grant money. they are meant to impose limits on freedom of choice. Of these. Delgado’s subsequent vision of the brain reads almost as a pastiche of postmodern views of identity with the rhetoric of evolution. which has the added problem of patients .40 anthropology of consciousness 18. and thus control the directions of participant evolution. and. for example. immutable way of reacting. electrical stimulation of appropriate intensity always prevailed over free will.1 New neurological technology.
Individuals are pictured as coming before science with real illnesses. impulsive behavior. and because psychiatric treatment had failed. Replace individual rights with citizens. They asked speciﬁcally that electrodes be implanted to orient possible electrocoagulation of a limited cerebral area. “What is the future? Only jail or the hospital? Is there no hope?” This case revealed the limitations of therapy and the dilemma of possible behavioral control. and of IVF treatment (see Mentor 2004). a patient in a state mental hospital approached Dr. She was an attractive 24-year-old woman of average intelligence and education who had a long record of arrests for disorderly conduct.” a mother and daughter desperate to cure the daughter’s abnormal sexual deviance: In the early 1950s. they wanted lobotomy. and the actual desired result. would it be ethical to change her personal characteristics? People are changing their character by self-medication through hallucinogenic drugs. Medical knowledge and experience at that time could not ascertain whether ESB or the application of cerebral lesions could help to solve this patient’s problem.the machinery of consciousness 41 withdrawing cooperation. and the willingness to take risks in order to acquire both the promise that technoscience holds out. Delgado uses. and doctors’. and induce ﬁghts. and then . Hannibal Hamlin and me requesting help. desperate and suffering. and if that wasn’t possible. ﬂirt. and antisocial or abnormal humans who are not institutionalized. The rhetoric of extreme cyborg biomedicine is always the “last chance” of IVF or lobotomy. both the patient and her mother reacted with similar anxious comments. as an example of the dilemma facing physicians sensitive to the ethical issues of “control. asking. but do they have the right to demand that doctors administer treatment that will radically alter their behavior? What are the limits of individual rights and doctors’ obligations? [Delgado 1969:217] This is exactly the rhetoric of lobotomy (which Delgado admits was too aggresively applied). she and her mother urgently requested that some kind of brain surgery be performed in order to control her disreputable. She had been repeatedly involved in bar brawls in which she incited men to ﬁght over her and had spent most of the preceding few years either in jail or in mental institutions. Supposing that long-term stimulation of a determined brain structure could inﬂuence the tendencies of a patient to drink. The patient expressed a strong desire as well as an inability to alter her conduct. obligations with the obligations of leaders of a society. mental patients who are antisocial or abnormal. and surgical intervention was therefore rejected.12 And the family of bodies to which such efficient practices will be applied is equally diverse: patients suffering with diseases stemming from brain dysfunction like epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease. When this decision was explained.
a magnetic tape recorder. . scientists. which included the military and the intelligence agencies. Delgado’s “completely free patients” are free from the constricting wires of their therapy and experimentation. involving mental institutions. and the Office of Naval Research (1968). suffering individual using ESB easily shifts to the courage to dream of a society without violence. last chances. the space program. . and time-lapse photography. linking this with an EEG ampliﬁer for remote measurement of EEG. transducers. the AEC. so that the patient is “continuously available. thermistor. and extremity. day and night. This picture contrast sharply with the notion of different stakeholders in research projects. Delgado’s crowning moment. But a key technology. and thus important data. connected to a receiver-stimulator. . Delgado then constructed an RF transmitter for generating a pulse of electricity remotely.” The electrodes are assemblies of skull plugs. and the like. technologists. Delgado is unique in some ways. Air Force 6571st Aeromedical Research Laboratory.” which is small enough to be taped to head bandages or even worn under a wig. Delgado calls the radio simulation and EEG telemetry a “stimoceiver. contacts. and the intelligence community. research universities.1 insert the rhetoric of emergency. It seems likely that the arguments he uses. S. is mentioned in his paper “Intracerebral Radio Stimulation and Recording in Completely Free Patients. Delgado’s work certainly involved the technologies of electrodes. and you have a pretty clear idea of the social implications of this research. He was indeed unafraid to make his views on control public. With this system in place. Scientists want to gather data and get access to humans. the military.42 anthropology of consciousness 18. Frankenstein but rather the articulation. It is likely that Delgado’s desire to gain access to money and patients. and the attitudes toward patient consent he holds.” (Delgado 1969). of a network of discourses and practices in the United States. The political implications of ESB are masked in the rhetoric of individualism. which nestled comfortably within the similar views of his patrons. U. Brain New World Machines: The Stimoceiver The courage necessary to make difficult decisions about whether or not to control an abnormal. a microphone mounted in the room with the subjects. all with selﬁsh interests. S. the military wants techniques for both building up and breaking down the minds of soldiers. Public Health Service. hospitals want scientists who bring in grant money and who do cutting edge work in promising ﬁelds. Delgado here “reports instrumentation used and clinical application in four patients with psychomotor epilepsy in whom electrodes had been implanted in the temporal lobes.” funded by the U. are not the extremes of a Dr. the technologies he pursues. by an important player. was linked to his political ideology. patients want to live in the republic of promise that modernity and modern science seems to represent. for brain exploration . Based on similar work with monkeys and chimpanzees.
An amazing amount of space in the report is given to the possible electrical interferences and problems in operating the stimoceiver. related to an increase in the number and duration of 16-cps bursts. According to Breggin (1995).” Many assessments of Delgado. legitimizing rhetoric. . the stimoceivers of the future will beneﬁt from microminiaturization and from batteryless instruments which could be permanently implanted. . and in observing the resultant behavior. Psychiatrist Frank Ervin and neurosurgeons Vernon Mark and William Sweet are mentioned in Valenstein (1973) as colleagues of Delgado and published a paper with him on intracerebral radio stimulation in 1968. odd feelings. deep. This includes “spontaneous. and Delgado’s ideas of a NASAsized government program in brain research and control were never taken up. In addition. But the article focuses on things like the complete interruption of the patient’s ability to speak. in 3. as a “cerebral pacemaker. It speciﬁcally links this ability to produce behavior with animal studies regarding the inhibition of assaultive behavior and the modiﬁcation of “drives.the machinery of consciousness 43 The four subjects were not told of the nature of the experiment.” Other effects included “pleasant sensations. concentration. and the dream of political applications of this work to social control. super relaxation. and a member of the private foundation that funneled the government funds to Mark and Ervin” (Breggin 1995).”13 Finally. . One could argue that Delgado’s program as set out in Physical Control is simply the misguided attempt of a biologist to venture outside his ﬁeld. as well as the far-right leaning implications of his rhetoric in Physical Control of the Mind and elsewhere. co-author. and indeed of several of his colleagues at this time. brief periods of aimless walking around the room [that] coincided with an increase in high-voltage sharp waves” and “psychological excitement . Yet the links we can visibly see in Delgado between brain research. elation. Mark and Ervin received funds from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) for experiments in psychosurgery for violence control. Sweet was director of neurosurgery at the Massachusetts General Hospital. feelings of faintness and fright. since these links are often occluded or absent from the public record. and other responses” (Delgado 1968).to 5-minute intervals. and then looking at photography and conversation transcriptions in order to correlate patterns of electrical activity and behavior. reception of Physical Control was tepid at best. After all. thoughtful. which consisted of remotely pulsing the individual with electricity. rage. Or were they? Three of Delgado’s colleagues provide an insight into how rhetoric is made material. colored visions. Ervin was also receiving Department of Justice funding for his work on genetic factors in violent crime. Sweet “was involved as a supporter. are doubly valuable. laud his work in technology while deploring the lack of evidence and the overgeneralization of his conclusions. Mark was head of neurosurgery at Boston City Hospital.
mobilized a powerful coalition of “civil rights.” They called for large-scale studies of the inner city to “pinpoint. William Sweet said mass violence might be touched off by leaders suffering from temporal seizures of the brain” (Breggin 1995). society can provide medical treatment which will transform him into a responsible well-adjusted citizen. . Sweet made a pitch for the electrical stimulation of surgically implanted electrodes as a method of calming violent people. “if slum conditions alone determined and initiated riots. . that implies that methods (including their own surgical and remote-stimulation techniques) for controlling violence in society are not only necessary but are capable of being developed using present technologies. Violence and the Brain. Mark. with a controversial program of lobotomy at Vacaville Prison in California and cites a California neurosurgeon: The person convicted of a violent crime should have the chance for a corrective operation.” (quoted in Breggin 1995). diagnose. Mark and Ervin went on to write a 1970 text. In 1968. anti-psychiatry. and minoity groups” that proved much more effective than previous opposition to psychosurgery. Valenstein (1986) connects the Mark and Ervin text. and especially to America’s urban uprisings” (Breggin 1995). Sweet and Ervin asked. why are the vast majority of slum dwellers able to resist the temptations of unrestrained violence? Is there something peculiar about the violent slum dweller that differentiates him from his peaceful neighbor?” Mark. framed as a civil rights issue. unemployment and substandard housing” as a cause of urban violence. Nobel Prize-winning endeavor—providing a solution to worldwide mayhem. [Valenstein 1986:286]. In particular.000. Each violent young criminal incarcerated from 20 years to life costs taxpayers perhaps $100. Valenstein points out that the debate that ensued. . Sweet and Ervin went on to suggest that this “peculiarity” was “brain dysfunction.1 In a 1967 letter entitled “Role of Brain Disease in Riots and Urban Violence” in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Breggin’s language mirrors the language of Delgado. they claim that 1970 technologies of EEG recordings can identify areas of the brain that ﬂare during aggressive episodes of dys-control.44 anthropology of consciousness 18. they asserted in print that “brain dysfunction” was “equally important” to “poverty. due to their brain damage. and treat those people with low violence thresholds before they contribute to further tragedies. Breggin notes as well that “in testimony on civil disorders before a New York State legislative committee in 1968 . and the 1967 letter. . Tens of millions of Americans might be violence prone.14 The resurgence of political aims of social control of violence with scientiﬁc research in the 1990s includes the assertion of a genetic basis to crime. For roughly $6000. they estimate. a year in which they were experimenting (with Delgado) on implants. Mark and Ervin “must have felt they were on a heroic. and the . and that the “trouble spot” can then be removed with current psychosurgical techniques. .
and the same ethical issues regarding what can be done to whom. which funded ESB and other brain-control experimentation. on sites devoted to victims of mindcontrol experiments. One crucial area for the development of an ethical consciousness studies. and 24. remain. 9. will be followed for eight years. are everywhere on the Internet. Gray. brain research is justiﬁed based on highly . I want to emphasize a continuum of rhetoric of control in brain research. 6. this volume). and to government military projects like Project Artichoke and MK-Ultra.the machinery of consciousness 45 ability to identify such predispositions. 15. eightyear. must be developing a consciousness of historical discourse of brain. such as Tulane. $96-million “Program on Human Development and Criminal Behavior. aggression.000 people will be studied. usually historically speciﬁc. were contravening basic elements of the Nuremberg convention and common-sense notions of informed consent. 12. psychological. deﬁcits among citizens. it is easy to speak in terms of brave new worlds and 1984 fears. Instead of so-called conspiracy theory. mescaline) that offered little scientiﬁc knowledge and resembled the infamous Tuskegee experiments more than a search for healing applications or ways to protect our soldiers (Mohr and Gordon 2003. Yale. and a number of other. and a skewing of research and of rationales for experiments in favor of results that appear to beneﬁt this or that problem in cultural methods of control. Such descriptions of Delgado. This discourse consistently connects brain research with dreams of social control of violence.” funded by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the MacArthur Foundation. the Cold War changed the face of American science with its radical intrusion into any and all areas of brain research. A total of 11. Nine groups of subjects. see also Marks. simply in the service of the state. scientists were working closely with the military on secret research that radically compromised scientiﬁc ethics. and brought together in MK-Ultra Nazi scientists who had been doing the most horriﬁc experiments on concentration camp victims. In addition. in their own way. and that researchers like Heath and his associates at Tulane were involved in drug experiments (LSD-25. In particular. starting prenatally and at ages 3. and the constantly revised promise of brain research for human good. The project will “link key biological. there is the large-scale. 21. Cornell. Indeed. or worse. then. to choose just one scientist. But even when scientists were in not literally in the pay of these military-scientiﬁc networks—as in the case of lobotomy and some other psychosurgeries—the same pressures to frame their work in the language of control. Again and again. one parallel to the rhetoric of promise and medical beneﬁts I’ve shown in popularizations of science is the rhetoric of science as simply Frankensteinian. 18. mind. It is clear that at some schools. with American scientists who. and social factors that may play a role in the development of criminal behavior” and search for “biological” and “biomedical” markers for predicting criminality (Breggin 1995). and Harvard. If we look back at the histories of brain and mind research from the earliest days.
We can dismiss lobotomy as a horrifying mistake that took place in a dark time in scientiﬁc history. See Sabbatini 1997. it is the sad focus of wing-nut conspiracy theorists who dominate the net discussion. and in so doing bring a “small d” democracy to both current states and current brain research. Any study of consciousness must address the politics of such research. “there never was any reliable evidence of brain pathology” that would provide a strong rationale for psychosurgery. Breggin 1982. suggests that only an active attention to the circulation of such rhetorics of control. 4. and the research regimes and political programs which deploy them. and as such was part of a longer discussion of environment vs. this surgery was led by presumed functional abnormalities in regions of the brain. those who hold such positions in favor of controlling blacks. 2. He lists . active or dormant. early work was motivated by interests in psychiatry. in perhaps one of the most chilling descriptions of medical procedures I have ever read. homosexuals. We can distance ourselves from the proto-fascism of writers like Delgado. In addition. the “violent” or criminal. In 1947 the Columbia-Greystone project documented the paucity of positive results from lobotomy as well as evidence of many lobotomies performed without even a systematic psychiatric evaluation. as it has haunted the development of the state. and by the potential for relieving suffering individuals. Looking at the three waves of psychosurgery. though in vastly smaller cases with (supposedly) more stringent protocols. saying. 2002. scientists don’t make good political scientists necessarily. well. where early surgeries by Burkhardt (1891) and Ludwig Puusep (1910) took place. But the historical evidence. Both psychosurgery and thalidomide are in current therapeutic use. even restless children. or those who use such rhetorics to ﬁnd funding and support for massively intrusive and often violent experiments in psychosurgery. organically based origins of psychiatric makeup. I believe that the rhetoric of social control and state interest in minding the minds of its citizens is a virus that. Instead. From the start. will help modern consciousness studies gain a degree of control over its shadowed past. notes 1. experiments masquerading as therapies based on research. We can focus on the more superﬁcial critiques of brain research—its military funding necessarily makes it evil. and the location of such early research in state hospitals. 3. 264–9. 1973. intelligence.1 dubious notions of control. surveys the world practice of psychosurgery in 1971. as embedded in the discourse of researchers still cited in textbooks and the popular press. But see Breggin. and so on. Two other consistent factors are the power of animal experiments to support surgical experiments on humans. See Valenstein. has haunted brain research from the start. any attempts to understand the mind scientiﬁcally will have potentially destructive uses.46 anthropology of consciousness 18. and it is a chicken-and-egg question about who beneﬁts more.
” a wide range of behaviors labeled “aggressive. see Gusterson 1998. Bateson’s later work Steps to an Ecology of Mind.000 times a day. Italy. Freeman nominated Moniz for the Nobel Prize. including Gregory Bateson and Margaret Mead. Japan. 6. . West Germany. Cajal modiﬁed the Golgi stain method to produce the ﬁrst clear visualizations of the retina. 9. Spain.” The lesson from his eight page overview (355–363) is that lobotomy is used to treat radically different “diseases” which turn out to be culturally embedded: homosexuality and sexual deviation. Delgado names Cajal as a mentor. Fulton critiques Freeman and Watts’ radical (prefrontal) lobotomy in favor of “restricted operations” to differentiate between lobotomies for depression. Thailand and India target large number of children as candidates for surgery. and pain relief.the machinery of consciousness 47 “Canada. Japan. agoraphobia. Breggin comments. A Neurophysiological Analysis. and “unmanageability”in institutional settings. Norway. “Again and again. schizophrenia. quoted in Bartas and Ekman 2001). 7. Denmark. 5. as opposed to a continuous network of ﬁlaments. Rats wired for pleasure learn to press the stimulating lever in an experiment by James Olds of McGill University. and reason would make man the true master of creation. Cajal’s gift lay as much or more in applying technology as in designing experiments. feelings. All three men were supporters of psychosurgery. then destroys the brain’s overall capacity to respond emotionally. the “scientiﬁc” controlled use of the cybernetic metaphor promised to open up important new ways to study human consciousness. In an example of the completed circle. France. Thailand. Sweden. Moniz heard of Fulton’s work with chimps (completely removing the frontal lobes of their brains) at a conference in London. restlessness and hyperactivity in children. In his 1951 book Frontal Lobotomy and Affective Behavior. Australia. we will ﬁnd this phenomenon—that the psychosurgeon picks out the symptom that he wants to focus upon. Cajal is considered the founder of modern neuroanatomy. These photomicrographs allowed Cajal to theorize that the nervous system is made up of billions of separate nerve cells. One of the common concerns of mapping the brain is that humans will become sybarites. See Bentivoglio 1998. and spinal cord in 1888. For a fascinating vision of this process in nuclear weapons scientists. and inspiration: “Sixty-ﬁve years ago. depression. For a more complete version of Bergler’s theories. with the youngest in Japan aged four. olfactory “disorder. is based on his understanding of cybernetics.” frigidity and promiscuity. Cajal said that knowledge of the physiochemical basis of memory. an important text in consciousness studies. Finland. At this same conference was Walter Freeman. see Bergler 1949. 8. and the world’s leaders in 1971. even thought. See Valenstein 1973:273–274. In Physical Control of the Mind: Toward a Psychocivilized Society. 10. that his most transcendental accomplishment would be the conquering of his own brain” (Delgado 1969:xix. neurosis. some press the lever 5. in order to “cure” the symptom” (Breggin 1982:356). Switzerland. For Wiener and his fellow cyberneticists. Like Delgado. India. The same Fulton whose work led to Moniz’s interest in leucotomy. the mind and neurophysiology. England and the United States. as well as to create new sophisticated machines capable of complex communication and action. cerebellum. OCD.
See Valenstein 1973. April 20. and the adjoining side is ﬁlled with a solution of hydrozoan. 98–102. Electronic document. See also Pinel. especially 245–263. gas is released and its pressure pushes the drug to be injected through the chemitrode.html [12 March 2007] . . Each iteration of brain research claims that its methods are more precise.html. Valenstein points out that most neurosurgeons believed psychosurgery should not be performed on violent persons. Administration of chemicals is performed with a specially designed ‘chemitrode pump. For a discussion of this study and its critics. 15–16.cabinetmagazine. Peter R. Center for Study of Psychiatry and Psychology.com/ ritalinconﬁrmingthehazards.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/articles/cajal/index. “equipped with mutilated electrodes attached to ﬁne tunings. When a current is passed through the latter compartment. Breggin. where he quotes Valenstein and invokes Morgan’s Canon.48 anthropology of consciousness 18.php.’ . Electronic document. 1998. 13. citing signiﬁcant improvement in 70–80 percent of patients and virtually no impairment due to cingulotomy (a form of psychosurgery). http:www.org/issues/2/psychcivilization. [which] consists of two Incite compartments separated by an elastic membrane. New York: Grune and Strattion.1 forsaking sleep. Psychocivilization and Its Discontents. also Valenstein 1980. and also that studies conducted by the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research were generally favorable. Magnus and Fredrik Ekman 2001. even sexual intercourse. drink. One side is ﬁlled with synthetic spinal ﬂuid or any other solution to be injected. 11. 12. . Marina 1998 Life and Discoveries of Santiago Ramón y Cajal. food.breggin. Nobel Prize Foundation. while maintaining the rationales and rhetoric of the previous research.” 14. See especially the rhetoric behind the “new” psychosurgical procedures of the early 1970s and again in the 1990s in Breggin 1995. [28 January 2007] Bentivoglio. The Psychosurgery Debate. http://nobelprize. forming assemblies called ‘chemitrodes’ which are permanently implanted into the brain. the rule that the simplest interpretation for behavior should be given precedence. [2 February 2007] Bergler. Edmund 1949 The Basic Neurosis: Oral Regression and Psychic Masochism. references Bärtås. Another type of stimoceiver was the radio injector. Cabinet Magazine 2 (spring). 2002 Conﬁrming the Hazards of Stimulant Drug Treatment. see Valenstein 1986:284–290. Delgado and Robert Heath of Tulane apply this research to humans. http://www.
New York: Holt. [University of Washington] Mohr. (Originally published in the Congressional Record.1995. Jr. 22 to April 9. Electronic document.B.S. http://www. Porush. New York: Vintage. R.the machinery of consciousness 49 1995 Campaigns Against Racist Federal Programs by the Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology.html. eds. 24. Rinehart and Winston. http://www. Mazlish. Louisiana State University Press. http://cseclassic. Gordon 2001 Tulane: The Emergence of a Modern University. PowerPoint presentation: University of California San Diego. 1972. Journal of African American Men 1(3):3–22. Washington. David 1985 The Soft Machine. Electronic document. Edward Kennedy’s Subcommittee on Health. Jan. Edwards. [1 February 2007] Delgado. and Joseph E. University of Arizona. U.arizona. 1945–1980. Feb. Bruce 1993 The Fourth Discontinuity: The Co-Evolution of Humans and Machines. . [28 January 2007] 1982 The Return of Lobotomy and Psychosurgery. Jose 1969 Physical Control of the Mind: Towards a Psychocivilized Society. 1948–1985. In Psychotechnology: Electronic Control of Mind and Behavior. 1965 Cyborg: Evolution of the Superman. Schwitzgebel.. New York: Methuen.breggin.ps.S.com/campaignsagainst.S. New York: Harper and Row. DC.) Ellison. Reprinted with a new introduction in Psychiatry and Ethics: Buffalo. Schwitzgebel and Ralph K. Mentor. Robert L. Government Printing Office. Prometheus Books. E1602-E1612.ucsd.edu/~goguen/pps/csencsl. Joseph 2006 Consciousness Studies. 1968. 2007. Steven 2004 A Dissertation for Cyborgs: The Birth of a Technoscientiﬁc Monster. Halacy. New York: Harper and Row. U. ed. Ralph 1995 Invisible Man.edu/.consciousness. Goguen. Delgado.) Center for Consciousness Studies 2007 Consciousness: The WebCourse. 1973. Clarence L. (Reprinted from The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 147 . Senate. Jose 1973 Intracerebral Radio Stimulation and Recording in Completely Free Patients. Electronic document. First reprinted in Quality of Health Care: Human Experimentation—Hearings Before Sen. New Haven: Yale University Press. Hugh 1998 Nuclear Rites: A Weapons Laboratory at the End of the Cold War. [1 February 2007] Gusterson. Berkeley: University of California Press. 1982.. D.pbreggin.
P. David 1970 As Man Becomes Machine: The Next Step in Evolution. 1971. Freeman. or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine. Wolfe. Brain and Mind Magazine.carleton. H. Bernard 1987  Limbo. Renato M. Wiener. Revised edition. 1997 The History of Lobotomy. E. New York: Carroll and Graf. Rorvik. San Francisco: W.50 anthropology of consciousness 18. MA: MIT Press. June. New York: Pocket Books. Norbert. Kurt. New York: Da Capo. Sabbatini. 1954 Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetic and Society. Thomas.. Sept. Gordon. Vonnegut.edu/~vestc/lobotomy. 12. Quoted in Brain Control: A Critical Examination of Brain Stimulation and Psychosurgery. Electronic document.1 Rensenberger. New York: WileyInterscience. The True Story of Secret CIA Mind Control and Medical Abuse. 1948 Cybernetics. Boyce 1973 New York Times. New York: Basic Books. Valenstein. 1986 Great and Desperate Cures: The Rise and Decline of Psychosurgery and Other Radical Treatments for Mental Illness. New York: Bantam. public. 1973 Brain Control: A Critical Examination of Brain Stimulation and Psychosurgery. Valenstein. 1952 Player Piano. 1989 Journey Into Madness. Elliot. Elliot. Valenstein. Cambridge. 98.html. ed. 1980 The Psychosurgery Debate. New York: MacMillan. June 2004. . 1973. New York: Wiley-Interscience. E.
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