Happiness on Demand. Lone Frank. The New York Book of Review.
Twelve years ago, a ﬁfty-nine-year-old Dutchman checked into an Amsterdam hospital to have two small electrodes implanted in his brain. The patient, “Mr. B,” had a forty-year history of severe obsessive-compulsive disorder. Neither drugs nor therapy had helped, and he was prepared to try an experimental treatment called deep brain stimulation (DBS). Powered by neurostimulators placed under the skin, the implanted electrodes would deliver regular ﬁve-volt electrical pulses to a region of Mr. B’s brain called the nucleus accumbens (...) Until the electrodes were implanted Mr. B had no particular interest in music, least of all country music. If he listened to music, it was usually the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, or Dutch rock bands. Six months after the DBS began, however, Mr. B had a transformative moment: he heard Johnny Cash’s song “Ring of Fire” on the radio. From then on, Mr. B listened to Johnny Cash and nothing else. In the journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, his doctors wrote, “When listening to his favorite songs he walks back and forth through the room and feels like he ﬁnds himself in a movie in which he plays the hero’s part.” (...)