At the age of forty-six, philosopher and university professor Helmut Dubiel was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. In the early stages of his sickness, fearing censure and ostracism, Dubiel did his utmost to conceal his condition. But when his symptoms became too obvious to camouflage, he was obliged to admit defeat and decided to undergo deep brain stimulation surgery. Following this operation, Dubiel found himself in possession of a peculiar power: with little more than the flick of a switch he was able to choose between a personality defined as irascible and maudlin and the lucid, quick-thinking academic he had always been.
In this fascinating book, Dubiel describes the course of his illness with a philosopher’s aplomb, ennobling his personal experience with intellectual flair and scientific insight as he makes connections between his own medical drama and some of today’s most significant global tendencies.
Above all, Deep In the Brain describes a battle: the battle between the inclination to give up, to view oneself as dead to the world, and the force necessary to reinvent oneself and rise above one’s illness. Devoid of self-pity, Dubiel vanquishes his illness by using it as a source of philosophical reflection on the twofold nature of modern medicine, the meaning of success and acceptance, and the true nature of that capricious creature we call “I.”
Helmut Dubiel studied German literature and philosophy at the universities of Bielefeld and Bochum. He was a visiting professor at UC Berkeley and New York University from 1998 to 2002, before returning to his position as professor of sociology at the University of Giessen, where he has taught since 1992. In 1982, at the age of forty-six, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.