These early surgeries called into ethical question whether any brain surgery should be done for the purpose of improving mental performance. One group of patients for whom brain surgery was unquestionably necessary had certain types of epilepsy characterized by uncontrolled, recurrent seizures that involved both halves of the brain.
Surgery to cut the connection between the brain halves and thus control or minimize the seizures resulted in a great deal of "left brain, right brain" research, identifying which half of the human brain appeared to "control" which types of activities.
Electroencephalography, a technique for recording the electrical activity of the brain, enabled researchers to pinpoint trouble spots characterized by too much or too little brain activity. More precise surgical techniques developed in the s resurrected the debate over excising portions of the brain to control behavior and mental performance. Again, people with certain types of epilepsy responded positively to the removal of small, precisely measured amounts of brain tissue. Their seizures were minimized or eliminated altogether with few or none of the tragic effects of the early frontal lobotomies.
As more sophisticated imaging techniques such as CAT scans, magnetic resonance imaging, and PET scanning were developed, brain mapping became more precise. Some medical researchers suggested building on the techniques used with epileptic patients to remove snippets of tissue from the area of the brain thought to control aggression in order to make prison inmates less likely to re-peat their crimes.
Pharmaceuticals such as Prozac were developed to enhance and manipulate brain chemistry, opening the debate still wider concerning the ethics involved in physically manipulating the brain. Much of the debate involves defining both medical and scientific ethics and the rights of individuals. For example, ethicists question what traits are part of an individual's core personality that should not be tampered with?
Who determines what behaviors are "normal" or abnormal? To what degree are variations in brain chemistry and personality characteristics necessary for each person's best intellectual and creative development?
Many great artists and writers like Edgar Allen Poe and Vincent Van Gogh had problems with depression and other mental disorders. Would the world have lost their genius if such surgeries and medications had been available during their lifetimes? Is it right to deprive a person of the benefits such surgeries could bring the individual at the supposed cost of creative genius?
What could be the unforeseen consequences of attempts at intellectual and behavioral engineering using chemical and surgical techniques? And what of the human subjects who undergo such procedures? What are their rights? How able are they to make informed decisions regarding such treatments and the necessary experimentation that precedes their widespread use?
Keyes' Flowers for Algernon was ahead of its time in holding these issues up to scrutiny. No doubt the scientists responsible for Charlie's surgery have good intentions.
They want to fulfill the wish of Charlie's mother to remove the stigma from learning disabilities and mental disorders by eliminating the disorder — in effect, forcing Charlie through surgery to become like everyone else or better.
He regularly participates in laboratory tests involving Algernon—a smart mouse who had undergone the same surgery; whereas before the operation, Charlie was not able to even complete it, as the time goes on, he defeats Algernon, showing gradually increasing results. He remembers a lot of painful details from his childhood; realizes that what he considered a friendly attitude was actually bullying and humiliation; discovering this, he realizes that people are not so smart as he believed they were.
Charlie falls in love with Alice, but realizes that he cannot be with her. He reads a lot, attends university, and soon discoveres that he is smarter than professors, whom he admired and almost worshiped.
At the same time, he faces the feeling that professor Nemur and doctor Strauss do not recognize his humanity and self-sufficiency; Charlie sees that they treat him as their creation, refusing to admit that the previous, mentally-retarded Charlie Gordon was also a human individual. Nemur and Strauss take Charlie to New York to a conference for which they plan to introduce him and Algernon as proofs of their scientific theory. Charlie, however, escapes from the conference, taking Algernon with him, and hides in a rented apartment.
There he meets a girl, Fay; after several dates, they have sex, and start a relationship. At the same time, Charlie continues his studies, and keeps remembering different horrible events from his past. However, in the end, he realizes that Fay is interrupting him from his research, so he decides to return to the lab.
There he learns that the results of the brain surgery he had undergone are reversible; moreover, the patients degrade at horrific rates, and end up in a mental condition even worse than before the operation. Charlie buried him near the lab. Gradually the negative changes become more and more obvious. Charlie forgets names and events, and understanding the meaning of books he enjoyed reading so recently has now become impossible for him. Desperate, he starts a relationship with Alice, but not for long—the degradation of his personality makes living with him complicated, and although for some time, he remains at the intellectual level of an average person, Alice is finally forced to leave.
Charlie ends up as a completely degraded person. In his last report, in a P. Is English your native language? What is your profession? Student Teacher Writer Other. Academic Assignment Writing an Essay. Writing a Research Paper.
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- Flowers for Algernon Flowers for Algernon, written by Daniel Keyes, is a book that is an emotional roller coaster. This book includes science that one day might not be fictional but may come true and will be able to be used on people who have intellectual disabilities in .
Although protagonist Charlie Gordon is an adult, Flowers for Algernon is a coming-of-age story with which both children and adults readily identify. As his intelligence increases, he must confront emotional, social, and ethical issues previously beyond his understanding. Flowers for Algernon study guide contains a biography of Daniel Keyes, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.
Flowers for Algernon Essay At first “ Flowers for Algernon ” was written as a short science fiction story in Its author, an American writer Daniel Keyes, received one of science fiction’s highest honors, the Hugo Award, for the best story that year. ”Flowers for Algernon,” written in by Daniel Keyes, has rightly become one of the most well-known fantasy novels in world literature. Originally written as a short story, the story of Charlie Gordon—the main character of the book—had later been rewritten in the form of a novel, which helped the author to fully disclose personalities of the main .