Research Project for University of Bristol

Dear all, 

I am a student at the University of Bristol in my final year studying Geography. For my final year dissertation due by the end of March i have picked the topic: "How is the ‘natural’ human influenced by the cybernetic enhancement of the pacemaker?". 

For this research project, i require a first hand experience from individuals like yourselves who have had pacemakers inserted. The only requirement is one must have had the pacemaker for at least 3 years. These number of years was chosen in order to minimize any sensitivities given that this is a delicate subject for some. 

The interview questions are about understanding their interpretation of having a pacemaker, how it has affected/or not affected your lives, the timescale of acceptance and so forth. If you are intersted in this, please contact me via my email address: where i can send you a document with the interview questions on so that you are fully aware of them. 

Finally, I want to reiterate that i am aware of the sensitive subject, and have therefore previously emailed your moderator of this page, showed him the consent form, information sheet and interview questions. As a result he has kindly agreed to my posting on this forum today.


If you have any questions and/or would like to know more information please do email me:



From geography to pacemakers

by Gemita - 2021-01-06 07:28:24

Hello Laura,

I would be interested to know why you chose the topic "How is the ‘natural’ human influenced by the cybernetic enhancement of the pacemaker" ?   For example do any family members have pacemakers ?

My pacemaker experience is less than three years (by a few months) so I will be unable to participate in your study, but I do wish you every success with your dissertation

I too don't qualify

by crustyg - 2021-01-06 10:40:57

Not sure that I qualify for cybernetic enhancement, either.

Sounds like a dissertation topic intended for Psychology undergrads to me, but then what would I know?

Pity, you might have had a lot of fun working through my answers...

Gemita /Crusty

by IAN MC - 2021-01-06 11:21:31

You amateurs ......  you have a pacemaker for a couple of years and you both think your views on cybernetic enhancement are of some value ! !

I have replied to Laura and will happily share my opinions  with her. 

Have patience, one day your day will come.


PS   What does  "cybernetic"  mean ?

Guilty as charged, Ian

by crustyg - 2021-01-06 12:08:08

Especially when I realised that all of the really great Psychology studies didn't announce what they were.  Of course it's not a Geography dissertation.  Doh!

Should have been quicker - have a Psych grad in the immediate family...  and a Lawyer, and a Doctor... and several Journalists for when it goes wrong.

Oh to reach your level of understanding and maturity Ian

by Gemita - 2021-01-06 12:14:14

Cybernetic = Science concerned with the study of systems of any nature which are capable of receiving, storing and processing information . . . does that sound about right . . . but I had to look it up ??!! 

Ian yes we have a long way to go to catch you up and yes, you know the saying "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing", well I have it in abundance.  Oh to be your age, experienced, well informed, perceptive on all matters - shall I go on ?


Not sure if I would want to participate unless we get some more info from the original post here

by jds66 - 2021-01-06 14:50:47

I would qualify, 9 years, 2 devices now. But, someone out of the blue showing up with a geology major wanting pacer insights writing a dissertation does not seem to add up too much with me. 

I want to see some more clarity from the original poster, Laura Scott. Way too out of the blue to give me comfort giving some information, while not essential to protecting my identity, essential to sharing my experiences to someone outside of the community with no known buy in thus far beyond writing a paper totally not related to her major. 

Need more info Laura, you may gain more respondants with some more info of the "Why" of your mission. We are all generally somewhat older here (well, most over 40 at least), we tend to be skeptical of intent when it is not fully spelled out.


by AgentX86 - 2021-01-06 19:31:11

What jds66 said, in spades!


by Laura Scott - 2021-01-07 03:55:10

Thank you all for your responses.

I am now going to attempt to answer some of your queries and questions.

Referring first to the word ‘cybernetic’ chosen in my research question. Cybernetic comes from the word ‘cyborg’ defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “Cyborg a person whose physiological functioning is aided by or dependent upon a mechanical or electronic device.”

This introduces a degree of Philosophy rather than Psychology into the question. It is completely fair enough to find it strange that a Geography degree can encompass a question of such sort, however throughout my studies, I have focused primarily on human geography, and have had modules of Philosophy, ‘More-than-human’ studies, as well as the conventional social and political geography. Geography is all encompassing and does refer to and intertwine with other fields of academia.

This adds to why I chose this topic and particularly the word ‘cyborg’. Often in academic literature which I have come across, cyborg is often referred to as robotic, and described as the sort of science fiction character, ‘Frankenstein’, we all know so well. Recently, however Donna Haraway uses the word to bring into question the traditional boundaries which we know so well, such as nature versus artificial or in this case, human versus cyborg. Taking her ideas and confronting the classic science fiction unfair representation of how people like yourselves, as well as those with external prosthetics are depicted, I want to show how living with pacemakers can/does or does not affect your daily lives and perhaps also your sense of self and that it is not as simple as science fiction has us believe. This is the essence of my research; giving living, everyday humans with additional machinic devices a voice.

Furthermore, I chose this topic as I am a keen runner, and I began to question how such devices, or enhancements, would affect and question performance. It was necessary for me to really focus in on one and that is when I chose the pacemaker. My grandfather has had one for over 10 years, so I this topic is not completely foreign to me. 

I can further assure you that i am completely aware of the sensitivity of this topic. I had previously emailed your moderator and he agreed that this was a respectable and official enough research project to be posted here. If you send me an email, i can show you the full information sheet, the consent form (proving total confidentiality and anonymity with the additional option of whenever, for no reason given, having the right to essentially 'drop out'). 

I do hope this clarifies some of your concerns, and if you have any further questions, please do not hesitate.  


by Gemita - 2021-01-07 05:20:21

Thank you for your full response which will hopefully go a long way to reassuring members that you are a real person, genuinely looking for assistance.  

Your statement . . . "I want to show how living with pacemakers can/does or does not affect your daily lives and perhaps also your sense of self and that it is not as simple as science fiction has us believe. This is the essence of my research; giving living, everyday humans with additional machanical devices a voice" sounds like an excellent theme to me.  

I hope you have enrolled your grandfather into your study and he is giving you some important feedback too?  I will email you in case you find yourself short of responders since there may be questions I can answer with some degree of authority even though I may "still be an amateur" in terms of pacemaker age (a few months short of 3 years).   My Italian hubby also has a pacemaker, implanted same year as mine, so you have two potential recruits!

Let's be clear here - there is NO cybernetic enhancement with a PM/ICD/CRT-x

by crustyg - 2021-01-07 09:48:55

There was a thread about this a while back.

There is no magical setting that could/does permit an EP-doc to enhance any patient with the currently licensed PMs and related devices.  All the licensed devices do is, where possible, allow people to get back to where they were before (and not always that) or make the most of what their physiology already provided, but which, due to some processes or other, was denied them.

Yes, there *is* a big mental/emotional impact of having a device inside you, but for most of us this impact is heavily associated with the loss of control.  Apart from accepting a GA for an operation, there are no other aspects of medicine where you get exactly what the Doc prescribes and there is nothing that you can do to change it, or reject it.  Just pause and think about that for a moment or two.  You can choose not to take the medication that your Doc prescribes - hell, we have very good data in the NHS about prescriptions issued that are never even dispensed/filled, let alone actually taken/ingested.  You can choose not to have the operation, you can have many procedures under local or regional anaesthesia, but once that PM is inside you, there's NOTHING that you, the patient, can do to change how it controls you.  You can ask, plead, cajole, beg, but ultimately you get what they give you - even if it's the wrong model of PM.

Cybernetic enhancement - rubbish!  There's clear evidence of too much Marvel comic reading here, and Magical Thinking.  You want to know about athletic performance enhancement, then read about EPO and blood doping, l-carnitine supplements etc.  Simply driving up someone's HR is a short-cut to SCD.  Look up Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome - they get into trouble really quickly during an attack - in their teens and twenties.  More physiology reading, fewer comics.

</rant>  <wry grin>

It's still a great Psychology study though - could rank with the greats, like Milgram. And I *am* happy to have contributed...

[Edited] I was wrong in one respect: there *IS* a group of PM patients who have a cybernetic enhancement - those with congenital complete heart block.  Until paced, they have never reached anything like their physiological potential, so for them a PM is a little like being a new person.  I'm sure that some of the CCHB contributors here will have already made this point.  Otherwise I stand by my earlier assertion.


by Laura Scott - 2021-01-07 13:43:13

Hi again,


Thank you for the input from many individuals either here or per email.

I would first like to clarify a few pointers which have been bring brought to my attention. 

My argument was rather than science fiction is NOT an accurate representation of the real-life circumstances In addition, the word cyborg taken up by Science fiction therefore is NOT appropriate term to use as i agree, it is impersonal and insensitive to the ontological effect brought on by the pacemaker itself on the individual's sense of self and mental health. 

Further, i agree Ian, it does not enhance your physcial capabilities like other atheletic performance enhancements, but there is an argument that it enhances your life experience prior to having the pacemaker implanted/inserted/fitted (whichever word suits your experience of it best). Again, this is debated in academia and would make for an interesting conversation topic too. The body modification versus enhancement argument. 

Thank you also for the point made about the 'lack of control' over the PM once it is inserted/implanted/fitted. I will give that a further think.




by AgentX86 - 2021-01-07 18:16:08

Would you consider someone with a tooth implant a cyborg?  Such implants make chewing more natural.  That's pretty much what PMs do, make the heart's job more natural.  As Crusty so crustily said, they don't enhance anything.  I'd ague even his example of congenital CHB being an example of enhanced performance, isn't correct.  The PM simply returns them to that of a "normal" person, as the best case.  They aren't enhanced beyond the natural.

No "you will be assimilated' going on here. ;-)

You know you're wired when...

Jerry & The Pacemakers is your favorite band.

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