Episode 488: Walter Freeman Pt 2
American neurologist Walter Jackson Freeman had refined Moniz’s procedure and developed a non-surgical procedure that could be performed in a doctor’s office, which he called a transorbital lobotomy.
Freeman’s procedure involved inserting a medical instrument similar to an icepick into the patient’s orbital socket to sever the neural connections, without requiring surgery, hospital stays, and long recovery times. Touted as a quick, easy, and painless solution to everything from general malaise and occasional depression to schizophrenia and aggressive behavior, the procedure a go-to solution for the very complex psychological problems that have affected countless people for centuries. Unfortunately, while the procedure was effective for a small number of those who received a lobotomy, it was used indiscriminately, often without consideration for the increasingly disastrous outcomes.
Today we talk about the tragic and disastrous lobotomy on Rosemary Kennedy and thousands more that occured after it.
El-Hai, Jack. 2005. The Lobotomist : A Maverick Medical Genius and His Tragic Quest to Rid the World of Mental Illness. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Press.
Kaye, Hugh. 2023. The dark history of gay men, lobotomies and Walter Jackson Freeman II. April 25. Accessed July 19, 2023. https://www.attitude.co.uk/culture/sexuality/the-dark-gay-history-of-lobotomies-and-walter-jackson-freeman-ii-419069/.
Lenz, Lyz. 2017. The Secret Lobotomy of Rosemary Kennedy. March 31. Accessed July 18, 2023. https://www.marieclaire.com/celebrity/a26261/secret-lobotomy-rosemary-kennedy/.
National Public Radio. 2005. Frequently asked questions about lobotomies. November 16. Accessed July 18, 2023. https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5014565.
—. 2005. 'My Lobotomy': Howard Dully's journey. November 16. Accessed July 18, 2023. https://www.npr.org/2005/11/16/5014080/my-lobotomy-howard-dullys-journey.
New York Times. 1939. "Front brain 'rules' thoughts on future." New York Times, April 8: 6.
—. 1947. "Personality shift is laid to surgery." New York Times, December 14: 51.
Prentice, Claire. 2021. "Lobotomy: The brain op described as ‘easier than curing a toothache’." BBC News, January 30.
2008. American Experience: The Lobotomist. Directed by Public Broadcasting System. Performed by Public Broadcasting System.