In Japan, there has been no neurosurgical treatment for psychiatric disorders since the 1970s. Even deep brain stimulation (DBS) has not been studied or used for psychiatric disorders. Neurosurgery for psychiatric disorders has been thwarted by social taboos for many years, and psychiatrists today seem to simply ignore modern developments and therapies offered by neurosurgery such as DBS. As a result, most patients and their families do not know such “last-resort” options exist.
Historically, as in other countries, frontal lobotomies were widely performed in Japan in the 1940s and 1950s, and some Japanese neurosurgeons used stereotactic methods for the treatment of psychiatric disorders until the 1960s. However, in the 1960s and 1970s such surgical treatments began to receive condemnation based on political judgment, rather than on medical and scientific evaluation. Protest campaigns at the time hinged on the prevailing political beliefs, forming a part of the new “left” movement against leading authorities across a wide range of societal institutions including medical schools. Finally, the Japanese Society for Psychiatry and Neurology banned the surgical treatment for psychiatric disorders in 1975. Even today, Japan’s dark history continues to exert an enormous negative influence on neurosurgery for psychiatric disorders.