Book: The Lobotomy Letters

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The Lobotomy Letters: The Making of American Psychosurgery

Mical Raz, laboratory associate in the history of medicine

(University of Rochester Press)

The rise and widespread acceptance of psychosurgery is considered one of the most troubling chapters in the history of modern medicine. By the late 1950s, tens of thousands of Americans had been lobotomized as treatment for a host of psychiatric disorders. Though the procedure would later be decried as devastating and unscientific, many patients, families, and physicians reported veritable improvement from the surgery; some patients were even considered cured.


“The Lobotomy Letters” describes why this controversial procedure was sanctioned by psychiatrists and doctors of modern medicine. Drawing from original correspondence penned by lobotomy patients and their families as well as from the professional papers of lobotomy pioneer and neurologist Walter Freeman, the book reconstructs how physicians, patients, and their families viewed lobotomy and analyzes the reasons for its use.


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