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The practice of surgical intervention for the treatment of psychiatric disorders has a rich and fascinating history. Arguably dating back to more than 7 millennia ago, neurosurgery for psychiatric disease is shrouded in stigma, being widely portrayed in the media (almost invariably negatively). The first such procedure to be performed in modern history was conducted by the Swiss psychiatrist Gottlieb Burckhardt in 1882. The landscape of neurosurgery for psychiatric conditions has shifted constantly since, guided by new developments in neuroscience and surgical technology. In this article, we outline the salient events in the story of this field.

Original publication




Journal article


World Neurosurg

Publication Date





327 - 334


Deep brain stimulation, Functional neurosurgery, Psychosurgery, Trepanation