Essay Questions On Flowers For Algernon

The surgery that Charlie undergoes in Flowers for Algernon is purely fictional, although surgical techniques in the treatment of the mentally ill were being used at the time that the novel’s action takes place.

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Their seizures were minimized or eliminated altogether with few or none of the tragic effects of the early frontal lobotomies.

As more sophisticated imaging techniques such as CAT scans, magnetic resonance imaging, and PET scanning were developed, brain mapping became more precise.

Many great artists and writers like Edgar Allen Poe and Vincent Van Gogh had problems with depression and other mental disorders.

Would the world have lost their genius if such surgeries and medications had been available during their lifetimes?

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.

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 what of the human subjects who undergo such procedures? How able are they to make informed decisions regarding such treatments and the necessary experimentation that precedes their widespread use?

Keyes’ Flowers for Algernon was ahead of its time in holding these issues up to scrutiny.


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