Living with Spinal Cord Stimulation: Doing Embodiment and Incorporation

Lucie Dalibert*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Seen as contributing to human enhancement, implanted technologies have recently been receiving a lot of attention. However, reflections on these technologies have taken the shape of rather speculative ethical judgments on hyped technological devices. On the other hand, while science and technology studies and philosophy of technology have a long tradition of analyzing how technological artifacts and tools transform and (re-)configure our lives, they tend to focus on use configurations rather than the intimate relations brought about by implanted technologies. Even the cyborg has lost some of its hermeneutic power as it has been detached from its material grounds, becoming a discursive entity. In this article, I reclaim the importance of materiality and explore how people live (and learn to live) with spinal cord stimulation (SCS), which is a type of neuromodulation technology. Implanted in bodies and seemingly out of sight, this technology does not cease to matter. Embodiment and incorporation are crucial for people to live well with SCS. Embodying the neuromodulation technology entails groping processes in which gestures are central and an increased intimacy with one's bodily materiality. Incorporating it is highly relational and entangled with the bodies of loved and distant ones, humans and nonhumans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)635-659
Number of pages25
JournalScience Technology & Human Values
Issue number4
Early online date8 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016


  • neuromodulation technologies
  • bodies
  • materiality
  • intimacy
  • embodiment
  • incorporation


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