16 Medical Practices That Doctors Thought Were Good
16 Medical Practices That Doctors Thought Were Good

16 Medical Practices That Doctors Thought Were Good

Steve - November 24, 2018

16 Medical Practices That Doctors Thought Were Good
An Orbitoclast, as used in transorbital lobotomy procedures. Wikimedia Commons.

1. Lobotomization robbed an individual of their personality, commonly resulted in crippling and permanent brain damage, and was often performed without the consent of the patient

A lobotomy, or leucotomy, is an irreversibly and invasive neurosurgical surgery involving the severing of connections to the prefrontal cortex of the human brain. Designed to decrease the symptoms of mental disorders by “reducing the complexity of psychic life”, the true horrific cost of the lobotomy was an individual’s capacity for personality, self-awareness, or spontaneity, described, supposedly positively, by Walter Freeman as “surgically induced childhood” resulting in an “infantile personality”; at best, the operation rendered a person severely brain-damaged, with a restricted intellectual and emotional understanding for the rest of their lives, whilst many others were permanently hospitalized and some committed suicide or died as a direct consequence of the procedure.

Developed by Portuguese neurologist António Egas Moniz, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1949 for his “discovery of the therapeutic value of leucotomy in certain psychoses”, the first such operation took place in Lisbon in 1935 on mentally ill patients without their knowledge or consent; the technique was gradually refined to avoid the need for formal surgery with the creation of the transorbital lobotomy, enabling the procedure to be carried out via the eye socket. Targeted at long-term suffers of mental illness, especially women, in the United States alone an estimated 40,000 people were forcibly lobotomized, with a further 17,000 such procedures in England, of which the overwhelming majority were non-consenting women; among these, Rosemary Kennedy, sister of JFK, was one of the first Americans to unwillingly undergo the prefrontal lobotomy at the age of 23, resulting in her permanent institutionalization due to crippling brain damage until her death in 2005.


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