Contact us to put your banner here

In Joey Ramone’s famous words “Guess I’ll have to break the news/ that I got no mind to lose”*, that is precisely the result of almost all medical records on performed lobotomies. The procedure mainly consists in purposefully causing damage to the brain tissue, particularly the frontal lobe, in an effort to remedy the ‘bad connections’ in the brain that were thought to be responsible for mental patients’ ‘bad behavior’. And sure, the surviving patients seemed to be a lot more peaceful afterwards, so peaceful in fact, that many were either left completely incapable of leading a normal life, while others committed suicide and one patient eventually ended up killing his doctor in return.

 

“The surviving patients seemed to be a lot more peaceful afterwards, so peaceful in fact, that many were either left completely incapable of leading a normal life, while others committed suicide and one patient eventually ended up killing his doctor in return.”

 

What initially inspired physicians to pick up scalpels and just chisel away at brains was the miraculous survival of 25-year-old Phineas Gage who had managed to shoot a blunt forty-three-inch-long iron into his head, while working on clearing a pile of rocks off of the construction path of some railway tracks that were in the process of being set down. Although the bar had gone all the way through the skull and out the top of his head, the rod piercing the left part of his face and past the back of his left eye socket, Gage remained conscious and quite chatty all the way to the hospital. The man recovered, but his once cheerful personality was now gone. His state did worsen over time and he finally died in 1860.

Still, many (pseudo)surgeons felt inspired to treat their patients to similar procedures. Dr. Egas Moniz, credited for inventing lobotomy in 1935 (for which he was given a Nobel Prize!) had falsely reported the great benefits of his treatment, in spite of his patients’ worsening states: increased temperature, vomiting, bladder and bowels incontinence, which were backed by general states of apathy and lethargy.

 

“Dr. Egas Moniz, credited for inventing lobotomy in 1935 (for which he was given a Nobel Prize!) had falsely reported the great benefits of his treatment, in spite of his patients’ worsening states.”

 

Italian psychiatrist Amarro Fiamberti even developed the technique of accessing the frontal lobes through the eye sockets with the help of an orbitoclast that was basically a slightly modified ice pick, which would have been swiftly inserted into the patient’s eye socket with the help of a hammer. His preferred method, though, was that of doing it simultaneously in both eye sockets. Let that image sink in for a moment.

The practice has subsided only as recently as the 1950s. This is largely due to the advancement of antipsychotic and antidepressant drugs that proved much more effective in alleviating mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, depression and manic disorders, while in time (thankfully!), being homosexual and just plain unruly have been finally taken off the list of mental illness’ symptomatology.

 

“Nowadays, lobotomy is still performed, in cases where all other treatments have failed the patient. But rest assured, “it’s a much more elegant procedure. You’re not going in with an ice pick just monkeying around” says Dr. Baron Lerner.”

 

Nowadays, lobotomy is still performed, in cases where all other treatments have failed the patient. But rest assured, “it’s a much more elegant procedure. You’re not going in with an ice pick just monkeying around” says Dr. Baron Lerner, medical historian and professor at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York. I’ve never felt this assured in my entire life…

 

* Lines from The Ramones’ Teenage Lobotomy

 

O.T.P.

Sources: The Accidental Scientist (2013), Journal of Neurosurgery (thejns.org), livescience.com.