25 Petrifying and Brutal Facts About Lobotomies

Lobotomy, also known as leucotomy, is a neurosurgical operation that involves severing connections in the brain’s prefrontal lobe. Doctors first began manipulating the brain in the late 1880s in an attempt to calm patients.

Swiss physician Gottlieb Burkhardt removed parts of the cortex from the brains of patients with auditory hallucinations and other symptoms of schizophrenia, noting that it made them calmer. However, the procedure led to the death of one patient with another committing suicide. Regardless, it is considered one of the most barbaric procedures ever used on people with mental illnesses.

Unfortunately, lobotomies were widely performed for more than two decades as a treatment for schizophrenia, manic depression, and bipolar disorder, among other mental illnesses. This happened because when the procedure was invented there were no beneficial ways to treat mental illness.

People were looking for “pretty desperate” kinds of intervention. Thankfully, with the rise of pharmacology and various medications, lobotomies are no longer a common practice. These are 25 Petrifying and Brutal Facts About Lobotomies. 

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5

Ironically, when Rosemary died in 2005 she was the fifth of the Kennedy children to die but the first to die of natural causes.

The KennedysSource: psychcentral.com, Image: Wikipedia
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During the mid-1950s a new antipsychotic drug made lobotomies obsolete as a common practice; its name was Thorazine.

antipsychotic drugsSource: psychcentral.com, Image: Wikipedia
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Thorazine was at first regarded as a “chemical lobotomy.” Although the results were not always conclusive, at least a person could simply stop taking the drug. A lobotomy, on the other hand, is irreversible.

chemical lobotomySource: psychcentral.com, Image: Wikipedia
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Despite the catastrophic side effects lobotomies had on their patients, Dr. Freeman would call a lobotomy “successful” if the patient was no longer agitated. Keep in mind that most of the patients who survived had to be retaught how to use the toilet and how to walk but according to Dr. Freeman that was just a minor detail.

Dr. FreemanSource: psychcentral.com, Image: Wikipedia
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An excellent account of the effects of lobotomy, and of the ethical implications of it as a procedure, can be found in Ken Kesey’s novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which was made into a film in 1975, for which Jack Nicholson won the Best Actor award.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest 1975Source: psychcentral.com, Image: whatculture.com

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