Dear Psychology 101 Students:
One of the most disturbing chapters in the history of modern treatment of the mentally ill is the introduction and practice of the Prefrontal Lobotomy. This procedure involved various surgical techniques, each designed to cut off communication between the front lobes and the emotion center of the brain. Now considered "quack" medicine, more than 35,000 of these operations were performed by the late 1950s, on people of all ages, and for a host of mental, emotional, and social adjustment issues.
CLICK HERE to watch a PBS special (separated into several parts) entitled "The Lobotomist," about the most famous proponent of the operation, Walter Freeman.
CLICK HERE to watch the same video, but in streaming format (without the segmentation). Just click the "close" link in the advertisement to get the video to play. I'm not sure how long that link will be active, so I'll leave the previous link in this post as well.
CLICK HERE if you would like to learn more about Freeman and his infamous "Icepick Lobotomy" procedure. The web site contains information, images, and most importantly an audio recording (see link at the top of the page) originally aired on National Public Radio (NPR). It is narrated by Howard Dully, a man who underwent the procedure at the age of 12 at the behest of his step-mother. Dully's narration and subsequent writings on the matter are as touching as they are horrifying.
Freeman is a controversial figure, and I must warn you that the PBS report above can be a bit disturbing for the more sensitive among us, so do not feel you have to visit the site or listen to the report. For the rest of you, please know that the American Medical Association and the APA no longer endorse this procedure (or any lobotomy procedure).