Get Deep Brain Stimulation, Become Johnny Cash Fan For Life? Seriously, This Happened

We all knew that music can have a profound effect on our well-being — I'll admit it: Third Eye Blind's "Semi-Charmed Life" can lift me out of the lowest of lows — but one guy has proved just how pervasive this can be. A male Netherlands patent suffered from OCD for 46 years, and received treatment in the form of deep brain stimulation — and became a die-hard Johnny Cash fan as a side effect. Not to mention, his OCD symptoms were significantly reduced.

The case, which was published in the May issue of Frontiers of Behavioral Neuroscience , sheds light on yet another extraordinary facet of neuroscience. The man is identified as "Mr B," 59, a Dutch man with very rigid musical tastes. He had been a Dutch music, Rolling Stones, and Beatles fan practically his whole life, and only a modest fan at best. But that all changed after DBS.

So what exactly is DBS? Deep brain stimulation is the implanting of electrodes in certain parts of your brain, which generate electrical impulses to counterbalance abnormal impulses. The electrodes are controlled by a pacemaker-like device placed under your skin on your chest. Besides OCD, DBS is used to treat Parkinson's disease and essential tremor, and is being studied to also treat epilepsy, Tourette syndrome, and major depression.

According to the authors, Mariska Mantione and Martijn Figee of the University of Amsterdam’s psychiatry department and Damiaan Denys of the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, the electrodes placed in Mr. B's brain targeted the nucleus accumbens, which controls pleasure and fear. Within six weeks, Mr. B's anxiety started to wane and he started to feel happier and more confident. He even started to refer to himself as "Mr. B II," a new and improved version of himself. Then, about a half year after his DBS treatment, he heard a song that changed his life.

One day while listening to the radio, Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" came on. Mr. B was instantly hooked. From then on, he listened exclusively to Johnny Cash and started collecting all of his CDs and DVDs. Gone were the days of Dutch music and "Hey Jude." The guy was enraptured by the Man in Black.

The study authors wrote in the journal:

He had been listening to the radio, when he coincidentally heard "Ring of Fire" of the Country and Western singer and experienced that he was deeply affected by the song. Mr. B. started to listen to more songs of Johnny Cash and noticed that he was deeply moved by the raw and low-pitched voice of the singer....
When listening to his favorite songs he walks back and forth through the room and feels like he finds himself in a movie in which he plays the hero’s part. He reports that there is a Johnny Cash song for every emotion and every situation, feeling happy or feeling sad and although Mr. B. played almost simply and solely Johnny Cash songs for the following years, the music never starts to annoy him.

Anyone who's heard Johnny Cash would agree that the singer's distinct deep, quivering voice is one of the most poignant in music history. And Mr. B's assessment that there is a Johnny Cash song for every emotion and situation is pretty astute. Take a look at our spectrum of feelings — so many feelings! — as represented by Johnny Cash songs.

1. Loving With Abandon

JohnnyCashRingofFire on YouTube

2. Cautiousness


3. Regret

Hank Hamm on YouTube

4. Nostalgia


5. Knowing You Deserve Better

PeterRabbit59 on YouTube

6. Heartbreak

JohnnyCashVEVO on YouTube

7. Accepting Your Fate

JohnnyCashVEVO on YouTube

Image: Wikipedia Commons