Jack El-Hai, the biographer of surgeon and early lobotomy enthusiast Walter Freeman is interviewed on ABC Radio’s In Conversation.
El-Hai has written The Lobotomist: a maverick medical genius and his tragic quest to rid the world of mental illness, that follows Freeman’s life, and the history of psychosurgery – the use of brain surgery to attempt to treat mental disorder.
Freeman is now a controversial character, and many see his enthusiasm for doing literally hundreds of lobotomies as verging on abuse of vulnerable patients, whereas Freeman himself argued that his was an effective treatment for otherwise untreatable people.
One of Freeman’s most notable lobotomy patients was Rosemary Kennedy, sister of JFK – an episode El-Hai describes as “one of the worst” in Freeman’s career.
Realaudio or webpage of In Conversation on Walter Freeman.
Link to New Statesman review of El-Hai’s book.
Link to the book’s website with first chapter online.