Raz looks at the letters sent between arch-lobotomist Walter Freeman and the many families he affected through his use of the procedure.
Contrary to the image of the ‘evil surgeon who didn’t care about the harm he was doing’ many patients and families gave warm and favourable feedback on the effects of the operation.
Even some very worrying details about the post-operative results are recounted in glowing terms. Freeman had every reason to suspend his disbelief.
What it does illustrate is how a damaging and useless treatment could be perceived as helpful and compassionate by Freeman and, presumably, other doctors because of how docility and, in some cases, genuine reduced distress were valued above the person’s self-integrity and autonomy.
An interesting and challenging article.
Link to ‘Interpreting lobotomy – the patients’ stories’.