The first modern lobotomy performed to cure mental illness occurred in 1935. Further experimentation by a psychiatrist, Dr. Walter Freeman, resulted in a 10-minute method that separated the frontal lobe by accessing the brain with an ice pick by way of the eye sockets. The results were incredibly random. Some patients claimed to feel cured of mental illness after having the procedure, while others were left in a state of passiveness, regression or neurological devastation that required around-the-clock care for the rest of their lives.
Freeman hyped lobotomies as a cure not only for mental illness but also headaches and misbehaving children. Freeman traveled the country, performing lobotomies wherever and whenever he could. He performed the haphazard surgery so quickly that he once lobotomized 25 people in a single day [source: NPR].
The procedure peaked in usage sometime in the 1950s and tapered off shortly after that, due to serious misgivings among the medical and psychiatric community, as well as the emergence of psychoactive drugs that alleviated many of the symptoms of mental illness Freeman claimed to be able to cure. After lobotomizing around 2,500 people, Freeman retired and died five years later [source: NPR]. His final patient died of a brain hemorrhage after being lobotomized.
To read more about bizarre medical myths, see the next page.
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