Archive for January 24th, 2008

Dr. Freeman’s Lobotomy

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

This story makes me sick to my stomach. A couple nights ago, I watched American Experience: The Lobotomist on Public Television. The procedure itself has a great deal of ick factor, but even more alarming is how Dr. Freeman was able to invent and then cavalierly practice his procedure without scientific method, or peer review, or even a surgeon’s license. From now through January 25th, 2008, you can ask questions in an online forum of people who appeared in the program, including Dr. Freeman’s sons, and the daughter of a woman who was apparently cured of her depression by lobotomy. Don’t let this opportunity get away!

lobotomy blueprint

photo by jylcat

Beginning with his private practice, Dr. Walter Freeman eventually performed lobotomy on thousands of mentally ill people in hospitals across the US without permission of the patients or consultation with their families. He performed his procedure on more than a dozen children, including one as young as four-years old. For ten years or more in the 1940’s or 50’s he was lauded by the press as having invented a cure for mental illness. A few patients experienced a miraculous recovery, but for many others it was trade-off. They became docile, emotionless and child-like, but there was no relief of their illness or restoration of their mental health. Some patients even died during lobotomy.

I guess what really made me sick to watch this television program was to realize that with the level of desperation I have experienced since my son has become severely ill with schizoaffective disorder, I would have absolutely gone along with a treatment like this one for my son, if I had been promised by “a man in a white coat” all that lobotomy was once touted to be.