A truly informative article from Annalee Newitz on io9:
If you thought that scene in Sucker Punch where the doctor gave lobotomies with an ice pick was artistic exaggeration — well, it wasn’t. That’s exactly how Walter Freeman, a popularizer of lobotomies in the 1940s, performed thousands of operations.
In the mid-twentieth century, the lobotomy was such a popular “cure” for mental illness that Freeman’s former research partner António Egas Moniz was awarded the 1949 Nobel Prize for Medicine for his role in perfecting the operation. Moniz and Freeman had a falling out after Freeman started using an ice pick-shaped instrument to perform up to 25 lobotomies a day, without anaesthesia, while reporters looked on.
Freeman’s crazy antics didn’t scare off potential patients, though: John F. Kennedy’s sister Rosemary got a lobotomy from Freeman, which left her a vegetable for the rest of her life.