Friday, 20 April 2012

The Lobotomist - Radio 4 programme

This as expected was shocking. For starters the ‘pioneers’ were thrilled that there was now a ‘cure’. This was psychosurgery. Muniz (left), one of the key mutilators, won..a Nobel Prize.
He equated the structure of the brain to the structure of the psyche (something medical modellers still do today) and thought by cutting fibres he would be cutting obsessions.
In 1935 the claim was that 1/3 ‘greatly improved’, 1/3 ‘improved’ and 1/3 ‘ no worse’. Well...
The most controlling and abusive psychiatrists took it up with gusto – including William Sargant, and Wiley McKissick. The latter almost had a production line going and performed over 3ooo lobotomies. On ‘trou- blesome’ patients.
The operations caused fits, infections, apathy, double incontinence and irrevers- ible damage. ‘I’ve cracked, haven’t I?’ said one lobotomized person afterwards.
A talking head said on the programme:’they were doing the best they could considering what they knew about the world’.......It’offered salvation’. Well, if salvation was apathy and fits and complete loss of personality, I’ll go with the opposite. There was a provoking coda that talked of what we will look back at in 50 years about how we ‘treated’ people in distress. I think a lot of today’s apparent ‘remedies’ (ECT for starters) will be found deeply wanting, and often dangerous.

No comments:

Post a Comment