The hidden history of lobotomy’s non-inventor

A fascinating snippet on the notorious supposed inventor of the frontal lobotomy, Egas Moniz, from an article in the Polish Journal of Neurology and Neurosurgery:

Egas Moniz: a genius, unlucky looser or a Nobel Committee error?

Neurol Neurochir Pol. 2012;46(1):96-103.

Lass P, Sławek J, Sitek E.

Portuguese neurologist António Egas Moniz is one of the most intriguing figures in the history of medicine. While an invention of angiography in 1927 is his acknowledged merit, lobotomy, invented in 1935 became a black legend of psychiatry, although sporadically it is performed also today. There are even postulates to withdraw the Nobel Prize, which Moniz received in 1949 for inventing the lobotomy. Moniz in fact re-invented lobotomy, primarily introduced in 1888 by a Swiss psychiatrist Gottlieb Burckhardt and later forgotten. Its popularisation, including its abuses was chiefly done by American neurologists Walter Freeman and James Watts.

Aside the science, Moniz was an exceptionally colourful person, a merited politician, Portuguese minister of foreign affairs, the head of its delegation at Versailles in 1918, in 1951 he was even proposed a position of a Presidentof Portugal. He was a versatile humanist and a writer, even a gambling expert. His person is hard for black and white evaluation, definitely deserving a re-evaluation from today’s historical perspective.


Link to abstract of article on PubMed.

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