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Tragically, these early techniques were crude and removed too much brain tissue, leaving many patients in a worse state than they were before the surgery.These early surgeries called into ethical question whether any brain surgery should be done for the purpose of improving mental performance.
For example, Ken Kesey’s 1962 novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, made into a movie in 1975, explores the treatment of the mentally ill during the decades following World War II.
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.
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.
And we can wonder whether, as Charlie surpassed the people around him in knowledge and intelligence, he would have ultimately led a happier and more productive life had the surgery been as successful as expected.
Quality of life issues have become even more important than the mere fact of life as more and more people debate which level of life is worth living, and whether the resources exist to maintain life at a certain level or end it when it is no longer “productive.” Charlie’s story reminds us of the value of goodness and honesty and friendship, and that these qualities can be found in anyone, regardless of how intellectually intelligent a person is.
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 characters and make the plot complete.
The novel is written in the form of laboratory reports, written by Charlie on his own behalf.
In a time when diversity, conformity, and individuality seem to war continually with each other in our culture, Charlie speaks to the right of each individual to be valued and respected for the per-son he or she is rather than for expectations of what that person could become.
”Flowers for Algernon,” written in 1966 by Daniel Keyes, has rightly become one of the most well-known fantasy novels in world literature.