November 16, 2005

The icepick lobotomy doctor -- a little too " stubborn" and "impervious to criticism."

The "King Lear in medical garb" who lobotomized 3,000 persons, including some as young as 4 (to nip schizophrenia in the bud) and some for nothing more than youthful sullenness (the stepmom said he didn't want to take a bath and turned the lights on during the daytime).

UPDATE: Here's the link to the NPR audio reviewed at the original link.

36 comments:

Jacques Cuze said...

Suddenly the notion of asking random strangers for their unused medications seems a whole lot less crazy. (by comparison.)

Real American Genius of Lobotomies, We Salute You! (He may not have been an american, I had to click away from the article with the photo of the eyeball lobotomy.)

L. Ron Halfelven said...

My choice of simile would be "Josef Mengele with better press".

flounder said...

I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.

Tim Sisk said...

Horrible.

Meade said...

I wonder if Joseph P. Kennedy ever felt regret over what he had done to his daughter out of his need to maintain his status and prestige before the public.

Or was he one of those personalities who are unable to feel empathy or to stand self-criticism?

Ann Althouse said...

Flounder: The first person I ever heard say that was Tom Waits. I think it was in the 1970s -- maybe early 80s. On some talk show.

Icepick said...

Lobotomy, lobotomy, lobotomy, lobotomy!
DDT did a job on me
Now I am a real sickie
Guess I'll have to break the news
That I got no mind to lose
All the girls are in love with me
I'm a teenage lobotomy

Slugs and snails are after me
DDT keeps me happy
Now I guess I'll have to tell 'em
That I got no cerebellum
Gonna get my Ph.D.
I'm a teenage lobotomy

Icepick said...

Meade, I'm not really familiar with the particulars, but isn't it possible that Joe K thought he was doing the right thing? It does seem like it was at least a somewhat accepted medical practice for a while.

Which is yet another reason I don't trust doctors or the psychiatric and psychology professions. Except when I do. Now where did I put that Soma?

Goesh said...

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest comes to mind. Then there was electroconvulsive therapy, the ol' shock treatments, applied for depression and other ailments. I read somewhere this 'procedure' is still used on rare occasions.

Ann Althouse said...

We all need to think about the powerful drugs that replaced lobotomies and shock therapy. Just because there's no horror on the outside for us to see doesn't mean we're more civilized today.

Icepick said...

I was feeling sick
I was losing my mind
I heard about these treatments
From a good friend of mine
He was always happy
Smile on his face
He said he had a great time at that place.
Gimme gimme shock treatment.
Peace and love is here to stay
And now I can wake up and face the day
Happy happy happy all the time
Shock treatment, I'm doing fine.


The Ramones: Good for every occasion! Well, every occasion that involves severe emotional damage, anyway.

Icepick said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Meade said...

Icepick: As I understand it, one of the particulars was that Joseph K. had the operation performed without the consent of his wife, the daughter's mother. Also, his reason for having his daughter lobotomized was to protect the Kennedy family from public embarrassment as Rosemary had reached puberty and was beginning to act upon her sexual urges. Imagine that.

Come to think of it, try googling Althouse + Rosemary Kennedy or Althouse + Lobotomy. I think I first read about it on this blog but I could be mistaken.

Ann Althouse said...

Meade: You're right. I linked to the NYT obituary. Key paragraph:

"In 1941, Joseph Kennedy was worried that Rosemary's mild mental retardation would lead her into situations that could damage the family's reputation, and he arranged for her to have a lobotomy. She was 23."

Dave said...

Goesh: As I recall, they did perform a lobotomy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, in addition to the other "treatments."

Meade said...

" I linked to the NYT obituary."

Scanning the web to bring us ephemera of cultural relevance and fascination -- just one more reason I'm compelled to visit this blog regularly.

reader_iam said...

Frances Farmer, anyone?

And boy, Jessica Lange did a good job in a film about Farmer. Haven't thought about that movies in years.

You're dead on, Ann. Right out of college, I worked at a private social services agency and carried caseload of people with mental illness. This being 20-odd years ago, the meds issue was even more iffy than today, and of course the whole wave of deinstitutionalization was relatively new.

Wow, was THAT job ever an eye-opener.

Ann Althouse said...

My horror of psychotropic drugs set in decades ago when I saw a group of mental patients being herded. They were all shuffling along clumsy. I said, innocently, "Why do they all walk like that?" Someone told me. Drugs are bad people! Don't take anything you don't absolutely have to. The natural state is presumptively better. And yes, I'm like my glass of wine.

Goesh said...

Boy oh boy, if a self-proclaimed herbalist ever had a ready made podium, this is it...... St. Johns Wort for wintertime blues, etc. etc. Don't scoff! My urologist uses Saw Palmetto. Nyah!

Smilin' Jack said...

Ann Althouse said...
...They were all shuffling along clumsy....And yes, I'm like my glass of wine.


Hmmm...looks like your attention to grammar and syntax is slipping...some Ritalin might help....

EddieP said...

In the past, there've been a couple of commenters to this blog that seem to have had their brains scrambled. At the time, I thought they were really vile twisted people, obviously I was wrong and for that I apologize. It now appears as though their lobotomies were poorly performed.

You don't suppose that old Joe had Rosemary and Teddy both done do you?

vbspurs said...

You don't suppose that old Joe had Rosemary and Teddy both done do you?

Ahh, a sad topic enlivened by a waspish remark. Good show.

As for Rosemary, as Icepick and Lmeade have mentioned, old Joe wanted to nip Rosemary Kennedy's suddenly violent and sexual nature, so he followed the advice of the day, and had her lobotomised.

And why not:

The man who invented the lobotomy procedure, Egas Moinz, was recognised later by a Nobel Prize in Medicine...

This Rosemary topic has always intrigued me.

It's obvious by her physiotype she was not a typical Down Syndrome baby.

And though slow compared to her siblings, she didn't have the pathology of autistism either.

But there was definitely something wrong with her, and to think, just a generation later, instead of being lobotomised, she just would've had shock therapy treatments...like allegedly her sister-in-law, Jacqueline Kennedy, did.

Cheers,
Victoria

XWL said...

"And yes I'm like my glass of wine"

It's a simile not a typo.

(and a possible contest, how is Prof. Althouse like a glass of wine?)

(and is she the glass, or is she the wine?)

And directly poking people's brains through their eye socket does sound very medieval and not mid 20th century.

But it was seen as effective and did mollify people who were violently schizophrenic.

But then, bleeding, emetics, and the like were viewed as effective treatment for a variety of ails in their times, too.

vbspurs said...

(and a possible contest, how is Prof. Althouse like a glass of wine?)

A fruity wine, nutty and mischievous.

Hints of clove around the edges, aged to perfection in squirrel caskets.

No bitter aftertaste, as many wines prior to Woodstock have.

Saveur Grade: 8 out of 10. 9 if she had produced a sketch of Ginsburg as Ruth Buzzi.

Cheers,
Victoria

Icepick said...

XWL wrote: And directly poking people's brains through their eye socket does sound very medieval and not mid 20th century.

Actually, this method sounds more like late 20th or early 21st century, not medieval. Know anyone who's ever been scoped? Knee? Gall bladder? I had my gall bladder taken out with three small incisions instead of having my whole abdomen cut open.

... Warning: Gruesome Description of Cranial Surgery Ahead...

Which reminds me of some sort of cranial surgery I saw on Discovery once. (I think it was Discovery. Maybe TLC or some other pseudo-ed channel.) In order to get to the frontal lobes, they made incisions along the forehead and down the side of the face, and basically peeled the person's face down, leaving the skull exposed. They then used a small saw to remove the a section of skull from the eye sockets, back almost to the earhole, and across the top. Later, they showed the person being put back together. That makes an icepick through the eye seem like small potatoes.

I watched for awhile, as fascinated by how disturbing I found the procedure as I was by the operation itself. This whole procedure was more disturbing than some of the executions that have become public recently.

Tim Sisk said...

When I wrote, "Horrible" I had in mind how cavalier the doctor was with brain surgery--demonstrating with a carpernter's hammer for instance like he was running a side-show.

And while it is unfair to judge medical techniques with what we know today, I can't imagine anyone every convincing me to allow them to stick "an icepick" into my child's head and scrambling the brains around. Especially if they are just "morose".

And Ann, you're starting to sound a little Tom Cruisey with your psychotropic drug diatribe (though I do worry we over-medicate).

To borrow and alter from the Negro College Fund, "A mind is a terrible thing (to screw around with)".

Ann Althouse said...

I wrote: "My horror of psychotropic drugs set in decades ago when I saw a group of mental patients being herded. They were all shuffling along clumsy. I said, innocently, "Why do they all walk like that?" Someone told me. Drugs are bad people! Don't take anything you don't absolutely have to. The natural state is presumptively better. And yes, I'm like my glass of wine."

Are there enough mistakes in that? It should be "clumsily." And "Drugs are bad, people." Without the comma, it's absurd! And it should be "I like my glass of wine" not "I'm like my glass of wine." Now I really have to worry about the drugs I took yesterday, which were absolutely necessary, but still "bad people."

Icepick said...

Now I really have to worry about the drugs I took yesterday, which were absolutely necessary, but still "bad people."

Ladies and gentlemen, you have just observed the birth of a new meme. Congratulations, Ann!

peter hoh said...

Congress is bad people.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Some wines are dispensed in boxes.

Professor Althouse *is* the box.

Tutorialbase said...

dont know..too myany choices

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Undecided said...

The abuse is all relative. If you circumcise your male infant, then you've "sexually" abused him for life. If you dock your dogs tail for esthetic reasons, you deserve coccygeal pain every time you sit down. When you frequently feed your kids sweets, coke, or kool-aid, you are setting them up for a lifetime of sugar cravings, obesity and diabetes, not to mention tooth decay. If you steal your kid's inheritance, you should be boiled in oil. If you icepick your kid's brain ... Is this for real or is it a bad dream?

vbspurs said...

Congress is bad people.

*LOL*

OTOH, Ann is good people.

Cheers,
Victoria

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healthprosperitylife said...

He should have treated his patients the way he wanted to be treated!