LOBOTOMY   from the Greek lobos,
meaning lobes of the brain,
and tomos, meaning cut.

In England at the beginning of the nineteenth century there were, perhaps, a few thousand 'lunatics' in a variety of disparate institutions.
By 1900, that figure had grown to about 100,000.

In the 50 years between 1840 and 1890, the population of hospitalized mentally ill in the US grew from 2,561 to 74,000
patients. The number of mental hospitals, private and public, leaped from 18 in 1840 to 139 in 1880.

Facilities built with the best of intentions were over-crowded and getting worse, with no cures
on hand or in sight.

In the era before psychiatric drugs – when state institutions were over-flowing with mentally ill patients often living in snakepit conditions – hospitals, families, and the press were eager to embrace "miracle" cures like the "ice pick" lobotomy.

It was a doctor named Walter Jackson Freeman who stepped forward with this solution. Freeman's motto, "lobotomy gets them home," opened the door at state-run facilities.

Lobotomy is defined as a type of brain surgery that involves the removal of a portion of the brain. Doctors use an instrument called a leucotome. The open wire loop was retracted to cut the bundles of nerve fibers connecting the frontal cortex to the thalamus.

Freeman developed a quick and easy method of lobotomizing a patient:
the transorbital lobotomy, which involved thrusting a surgical knife through the eye sockets and “swiggl[ing] it around,” as Dr. Louis Hatcher, of Georgia, once so eloquently explained.

For his first transorbital lobotomies, Walter Freeman used an actual icepick from his kitchen. Freeman performed about 3,500 lobotomies during his career, of which 2,500 were his ice-pick procedure.

Out of 50,000 people who received lobotomies in the United States between 1949 and 1952, about 10,000 had transorbital lobotomies and the rest were prefrontal lobotomies.

Surgeons received fees as high as $1500 for the so-called miracle operation. U.S. newspapers reported that lobotomies were no more invasive than a visit to the dentist’s office.

Women were subjected to lobotomy more frequently than men. The available data shows that they made up 74% of cases from 1948-1952.

Lobotomized patients often acted very primitively when it came to sexual matters. Freeman advised spouses to enjoy the “exhilarating if unconventional experience,” though he also noted that learning self-defense techniques might come in handy.

One of the best-known women patients was a successful film actress from Seattle named Frances Farmer. Her story has been the subject of several films, as well as a song by Nirvana called "Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle".

Rosemary Kennedy, who's siblings included Robert (Bobby) above and JFK underwent a lobotomy in 1941 which left her incapacitated and institutionalized from 1949 until her death in 2005,was another.

Around 1950, protests to the lobotomy crystalized. It turned out that only 1/3 of the lobotomies worked. This fraction is equal to the number of patients that would get better on their own.

Be that as it may, an article in Wired magazine states that lobotomies were performed “well into the 1980s” in the “United States, Britain, Scandinavia and several western European countries.”

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