The Lobotomist

12 part PBS series on Walter Freeman, who performed 3000+ lobotomies in his time and invented the “icepick” lobotomy. Facsinating and disturbing stuff, even if I had to look away half the time.

Walter Freeman ramped off the building and did a backflip and landed. He kept driving down the road and made sure there was no mental patients around because he ddint have icepick.

This documentary is suspect.

This series originally aired last year sometime I think? There may even have been a thread about it.


It’s absolutely crazy. The story about the 5 year old boy with the wicked stepmother is heartbreaking.

The fact that our society accepted this kind of thing as “medical care” back in those days is disturbing and a little eye opening. Medicine has improved by leaps and bounds since those days. The idea that you could ram an icepick into somebody’s skull and just twist it around is just so crazy. The fact that people died and the dude faced no kind of discipline is unreal. Today he would be sued, prosecuted, sued again, prosecuted again under a federal statute, and then sued again in a foreign court.

Wow… what. That was like, allowed?

Keep in mind that lobotomies were performed in an era before there was much in the way of psychiatric medication. It started out as a method for dealing with extreme cases but was over-expanded to cover all kinds of mental issues, with usually poor results. However, it did work in some situations, albeit somewhat randomly.

The problem, of course, is that the idea was based on flawed reasoning. If you believe that the human brain is consistently organized in the same way, then theoretically you can change behavior by targeting those specific areas where that behavior is governed. We know now that this is not the case, but that was the thinking then. Also, the method used of simply damaging the brain and seeing if that would help was obviously a crude way to go.

Oooof. Consuming Chapter 6 now, which is where they start talking about that eye procedure. Hid the video in some tab, but even listening to that is so ‘yuck!’…