(Sister question to this question)


I really like the Anime A Certain Scientific Railgun (it is superior to Index, deal with it). In it a certain character ("Railgun") has the ability to control and generate electricity (and thus magnetism). She has a character, "The Queen", that she hates. This character has the ability to control peoples' minds. Not Railgun's though . . .


Railgun controls electricity. She sends a jolt into her brain and she stops the mind control in its tracks. Her powers are telekinetic, so this assumes she is conscious while mind controlled so she can activate her ability. This has no bearing on the question, but I figured I would weed out some renouncement of premise. She can quite literally restart her brain. That brings us to . . .


Could you defeat mind control by shocking yourself in the brain?


To narrow it down:

  • I am not sure if the character in the book could alter memories or thoughts, so you can assume mind control to mean body control via the brain. No thought or memory altering allowed. Bonus points for answers that address these now somewhat obvious plot holes though.
  • Ignore that other psychics/telekineticists may be able to use their powers. Railgun is special in that she is the point of this question.
  • The mind control is based on controlling the electrical impulses in the brain, but bonus points to other forms of mind control this can defeat.
  • It has to be one shock to the head and the mind control is dead. No, and I mean absolutely NO continuous interference with the mind control. This is very important because . . .
  • Shocking your brain hurts citation needed. Would the human brain be able to withstand such a shock intact? How many damage would it do if performed by, e.g., a telekinetic vs. a guy with a car battery and a questionable biology certificate from the learning annex?
  • $\begingroup$ Down voters want to explain? The question was vetted in the sandbox but I am open to improving it. $\endgroup$
    – Jake
    Apr 26, 2018 at 1:18

1 Answer 1


I gave an answer to your other question, and it's my considered opinion that electrical control of the brain is insufficient to control an individual. So the question is somewhat moot - controlling the electrical impulses of the brain will not result in mind control, so disrupting that control will not solve anything because there was no problem.

That being said...

A qualified Yes

Assuming that you handwave the way the brain works to make it purely electrical, disrupting the electrical functioning of the brain is something we've done lots of.

Essentially, by delivering an electric shock to the brain, you induce an artificial seizure. Muscles spasm, and neurons fire in an uncontrolled cascade that generally results in both a loss of coherent thought and of consciousness. I cannot imagine any control method withstanding that.


  • Losing consciousness doesn't exactly leave you in a spectacular position to do something about whatever situation you've been mind-controlled into.
  • Seizures are not fun. They tear muscles, break bones, and result in a lot of pain after the fact.
  • Assuming it's relatively inexpensive in terms of time and preparation for the mind-controller to use their technique, they can just do it again once your brain is back to functioning normally. You have to repeatedly injure yourself, all they have to do is reboot their Control Device.

Delivering an electrical shock to the brain will almost certainly result in damage - ECT often results in amnesia, lowered mental capacity, trouble retaining new memories - the list goes on. More precise, electrode-like induction of seizures would doubtless be better, but the individual's ability to induce electrical currents doesn't necessarily mean that a) they know anything about neurosurgery, or b) that they can find the spot in their own brain that they need to stimulate without looking.

My overall advice would be to remove both the science based and reality check tags from the question, because both common sense and science are stacked against it.

  • $\begingroup$ Science based and reality check are appropriate for both questions, seeing as I give a premise, ask if it is realistic and if science supports it. No is a perfectly reasonable and acceptable answer (especially given the tag wikis). No need to be mean about it. $\endgroup$
    – Jake
    Apr 26, 2018 at 2:04
  • $\begingroup$ ECT is archaic & barbaric. Simply because it fries the brain. There are many modern treatments that "control the body" by delivering tiny electric impulses into the brain. Deep Brain Stimulation is one, and it does, in a certain way effect "body control". I would imagine that if you know what parts of the brain to jolt, you could override a person's own control and take over. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Apr 26, 2018 at 2:11
  • $\begingroup$ @elemtilas - I don't disagree that it's both archaic and barbaric. But the question was whether the brain can be zapped with electricity and what the effects would likely be. ECT is a well-documented example of that being done. (And of the consequences of doing so.) $\endgroup$
    – jdunlop
    Apr 26, 2018 at 17:52
  • $\begingroup$ I don't disagree! Since the question involves the character shocking one's self, I gathered that an ECT-level of juice probably would not be what the OP is looking for! Since the brain can easily handle DBS level shockage, perhaps there is some hope for a quasi-pseudo-scientific-fantastic explanation for what these superheroes are doing! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Apr 26, 2018 at 20:52

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