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Not a treatment option

Clearly brain damage isn't a treatment option for people struggling to kick the habit . . .

This line in yesterday's Washington Post story by Lauran Neergaard, Spot in Brain May Control Smoking Urge, caught my attention.

This morning I ran across it again, this time in today's New York Times story on the same news item. In the third paragraph of Benedict Carey's article In Clue to Addiction, a Brain Injury Halts Smoking (the same location, by the way, that I found it in Neergaard's piece) I came upon it in a slightly modified form:

While no one is suggesting brain injury as a solution for addiction, the finding suggests that therapies might focus on the insula . . .

What is this? I suspect, frankly, it was part of the press release/ news conference / announcement hoopla, and so reporters just stuck it in.

But it got me to thinking: Why not? Why not cut on the brain to remove the smoking urge?

The unquestioned rejection of such an idea got me to thinking again about Ashley X, the little girl whose parents OK'd that series of operations to keep her breasts small and her body from reaching its full growth, in order to make her easier to "care for."

The tabloid news craze that was Ashley has pretty much died down. But then parents-should-be-allowed-to-kill-disabled-newborns apologist Peter Singer has an op-ed article in today's New York Times about it.

The timing interests me: how come it wasn't published earlier, during the height of the Ashley controversy? Did Singer approach The Times about doing the piece, or did The Times contact Singer? I suspect the latter.

Frankly, the content of Singer's piece interests me less than the timing and the who-contacted-who. The argument is vintage Singer: "What matters in Ashley's life is that she should not suffer," he writes. "Beyond that, she is precious not so much for what she is, but because her parents and siblings love her and care about her. Lofty talk about human dignity should not stand in the way of children like her getting the treatment that is best both for them and their families."

I will leave it to those activists with disabilities who were immediately horrified upon learning of the Ashley Treatment to explain the fallacies in Singer's thinking, as they have so often done before.

What I am stuck with may be a much simpler problem -- although it continues to baffle me: Why is modifying the brain of "normal" people who have a smoking addiction so quickly called "brain damage" or "brain injury" as though it could in no circumstance be countenanced, and yet when the person is already disabled, like Ashley . . .

Well, you can finish the conundrum. It's beyond me right now. It will be interesting to see, though, if anything like a controversy emerges.


It is also interesting to me that the Ashley X piece that Laura Hershey and I submitted to Progressive Media (who place op-ed pieces in newspapers around the country) was rejected by them.

I, for one, have NOT seen an abundance of disability rights op-ed pieces on the issues related to Ashley X. Our disability voice is not getting out through the very limited mainstream channels available to us.

It seemed to me to be a current hot topic necessitating a community response.

I was also bemused by the damage the brain to eliminate smoking urge storiy. So, I finally posted a story on my blog on the Ashley Treatment, and the slippery slope.

I think we need to connect how dehumanizing medical perfection "solutions" are connected to civil rights and inclusion.

From my blog post...The Birds and the Bees and the Medical Politics of Perfection

Perhaps someday we can abort babies who would grow up to alergic to bees, or peanuts? We could eliminate asthma this way, too? Maybe, we could develop sophisticated tests that would detect bad attitudes? We could then abort any potential bigot? Eliminate selfish, uncaring, self-centered folks from even blighting this earth.

Now that is one way to fight against this idea of inclusion!

A similar event was remarked upon about 40 years ago when research revealed that a certain part of the brain, when frozen (or some such) stopped the tremors associated with Parkinson's Disease.

I don't think it was seriously cosidered as a palliative measure at the time.


Unrelated, but it's a news piece that I think should be spread around (and I have no idea how to do so, other than sharing the link with those in the advocacy community):

California senior living independently is fighting for the right to not be forced into a hospital-like 'assisted living' facility

As the article says, this has wide implications for people with disabilities in the USA, so I thought that it is pertinent...