3 – He Had His Daughter Lobotomized & Didn’t Tell His Wife
Joseph Kennedy did many questionable things in his life but forcing his daughter, Rosemary, to have a lobotomy in 1941 was one of the worst. Rosemary was a playful and energetic girl but became more rebellious and ill-disciplined as she neared adulthood. Rosemary was prone to the occasional violent mood swing and would routinely sneak out of the convent in Washington D.C. where she was educated. As well as falling short of the high standards of family, Joseph believed that Rosemary’s recklessness could damage the political ambitions of his sons.
Although Rosemary was diagnosed as mentally handicapped at the time, it is far more likely that she was depressed. With the right medical expertise, it would have been possible to calm Rosemary down and help her enjoy a fruitful life. Instead, the ruthless Joseph wanted her out of the picture for good, so he authorized a lobotomy. She was only 23 years old at the time and was being forced to undergo a dangerous and relatively unknown form of âtreatment.’ As at November 1941, only 80 lobotomies had been performed in the United States, 80% of them on females.
Dr. Walter Freeman used âbefore’ and âafter’ photos of people who had apparently undergone the procedure. There is every chance that Freeman lied about the pictures, but it was enough to persuade Joseph to give his consent. Dr. James Watts carried out the procedure with Freeman in attendance. Rosemary was strapped to a table, numbed with Novocain, and mildly sedated because she needed to be conscious during the surgery so she could respond to Watts’ commands. The front of her head was shaved, and the two doctors operated on her frontal lobe. The surgeons asked her to sing âGod Bless America’ and estimated how far to cut based on her response. When she became incoherent, they had gone far enough.
Just like that, any spark of intelligence Rosemary possessed was extinguished. The terrible procedure was an utter failure as the unfortunate woman’s intelligence was reduced to the level of a two-year-old. Rosemary was now incontinent and unable to speak or walk properly. She became the archetypal âmadwoman in the attic’ and was kept out of sight. Even Joseph’s secretary said that Rosemary’s name was never mentioned. With this âproblem’ out of the way, Joseph could now help one of his sons become President. He had the influence, and he certainly had the wealth; not all of which was gained legally.