The Lobotomist: A Maverick Medical Genius and His Tragic Quest to Rid the World of Mental Illness
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Other Available Formats: Hardcover
Walter Freeman believed that "the despair of psychiatric illness demanded a decisive, drastic remedy." And that remedy was lobotomy, "cutting the neural connections in the prefrontal regions of the brain," a practice that these days, writes Jack El-Hai in The Lobotomist, "seems so obviously wrong." Freeman performed nearly 3,500 lobotomies and "aside from the Nazi doctor Josef Mengele . . . ranks as the most scorned physician of the twentieth century." And yet, "many of the era's most important medical figures . . . lent support to Freeman's work." Nor did he intend to cause harm. "I had to recognize," writes El-Hai, "the persuasive evidence that at times he acted in the best interests of his lobotomy patients, given the limitation of the medical environment in which he worked and the perilous nature of scientific innovation." (Washington Post Book World, March 18, 2007)