By David Linden (auth.)
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Extra info for Brain Control: Developments in Therapy and Implications for Society
These types of very vivid experiences, which are however recognised as not corresponding to stimuli from the outside world, would be called pseudohallucinations today, External Control of the Brain 41 to distinguish them from the hallucinations of psychotic patients (and some epileptic patients during seizures). Penfield’s patients also reported experiences of déjà-vu during stimulation, which are characterised by the firm conviction of having experienced a particular situation before when it is actually not the case.
Many patients also develop psychiatric problems. Until the early 20th century medicine did not have much to offer patients suffering from epilepsy, but the introduction of barbiturates and more advanced anti-epileptic or anticonvulsant drugs brought about very good control of seizures – both acutely and in the long term – for the majority of epilepsy patients. Epileptic seizures arise when the delicate balance between inhibitory and excitatory circuits in a brain network is disturbed and activity can spread unchecked, and anti-epileptic drugs aim to stabilise the nerve cell membrane and shift the balance back to inhibitory activity.
The robbers seemed to have been coming at an angle from the left. 42 Penfield did not attribute this memory hallucination to an actual past experience of being threatened by robbers but to reading about this in the past. This seems to be the reproduction not of a real event, but of a fantasy or a dream drawn from the reading of a comic book. 42 Penfield did not entertain the alternative explanation that the patient was having a completely new emotional experience, for example, by forming associations between what he knew about robbers and visual images of familiar people.