Department or Program


Second Department or Program



Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) presents a serious global health concern. Despite improvements in MDD treatment, the rates and overall societal burden of this debilitating disorder continue to increase. Moreover, approximately one third of depressed individuals are resistant to traditional psychotherapeutic and psychopharmacological treatments. The urgency to find alternative treatments has led to further exploration of brain stimulation therapies, such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and deep brain stimulation (DBS). Research demonstrates the potential these therapies have to effectively alleviate depressive symptoms. However, although rare, these treatments can have concerning side effects. These side effects appear to threaten personal identity, raising both clinical and theoretical concerns. In this thesis, I explore nature of MDD from a neurological and phenomenological lens, discuss theoretical understandings of the self, and closely examine how MDD influences patients’ personal identity. Additionally, I provide an in depth explanation of the administration, efficacy, and side effects of ECT and DBS as MDD treatments. Lastly, I make two arguments stemming from clinical and theoretical perspectives. First, from the clinical perspective, it is necessary to continue researching and refining these brain stimulation therapies given compelling evidence of their antidepressant effects. Second, the theoretical perspective is practical in that it can uncover and explain personal identity issues patients face, and can explain how events, such as receiving ECT or DBS, can be incorporated into personal identity. Moreover, the theoretical perspective directs future research and medical practice, and overall demonstrates how potential threats to personal identity can be prevented or at least diminished.

Level of Access

Restricted: Campus/Bates Community Only Access

First Advisor

Koven, Nancy

Second Advisor

Dacey, Mike

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages



Available to Bates community via local IP address or Bates login.