• "Freeman performed the first transorbital lobotomy on a live patient in 1946. Its simplicity suggested the possibility of carrying it out in mental hospitals lacking the surgical facilities required for the earlier, more complex procedure (Freeman suggesting that, where conventional anesthesia was unavailable, electroconvulsive therapy be used to render the patient unconscious). As early as 1944 an author in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease remarked that "The history of prefrontal lobotomy has been brief and stormy. Its course has been dotted with both violent opposition and with slavish, unquestioning acceptance." Beginning in 1947 Swedish psychiatrist Snorre Wohlfahrt evaluated early trials, reporting lobotomy to be "distinctly hazardous to leucotomize schizophrenics," "still too imperfect to enable us, with its aid, to venture on a general offensive against chronic cases of mental disorder," and that "Psychosurgery has as yet failed to discover its precise indications and contraindications and the methods must unfortunately still be regarded as rather crude and hazardous in many respects." In 1948 Norbert Wiener, the author of Cybernetics, said: "...prefrontal lobotomy ...has recently been having a certain vogue, probably not unconnected with the fact that it makes the custodial care of many patients easier. Let me remark in passing that killing them makes their custodial care still easier." Concerns about lobotomy steadily grew. The USSR banned the procedure in 1950. Doctors in the Soviet Union concluded that the procedure was "contrary to the principles of humanity" and that it turned "an insane person into an idiot." Numerous countries subsequently banned the procedure, including Yugoslavia, Germany and Japan, as did several U.S. states. Lobotomy continued to be legally practiced in controlled and regulated U.S. centers and in Finland, Sweden, Norway (2,005 known cases), the United Kingdom, Spain, India, Belgium and the Netherlands. In 1977 the U.S. Congress created a National Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research to investigate allegations that psychosurgery—including lobotomy techniques—was used to control minorities and restrain individual rights. It also investigated the after-effects of surgery. The committee concluded that some extremely limited and properly performed psychosurgery could have positive effects. By the early 1970s the practice had generally ceased, but some countries continued small-scale operations through the late 1980s. According to a report by the International Graphoanalysis Society (IGAS), between 1980 and 1986 there were 70 lobotomies performed in Belgium, 32 in France, 15 per year in the United Kingdom and several cases performed for the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Prevalence: Quantitatively, most lobotomy procedures were done in the United States, where approximately 40,000 persons were lobotomized. In Great Britain lobotomies were performed on 17,000 people, and the three Scandinavian countries had a combined figure of approximately 9,300 lobotomies. Scandinavian hospitals lobotomized 2.5 times as many people per capita as hospitals in the United States. Sweden lobotomized at least 4,500 people between 1944 and 1966, mainly women and including young children." Source and further information:

Copyright 2023, Wired Ivy, LLC

Answerbag | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy