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Walter Freeman: The Lobotomist

Walter Freeman is a name infamous among mental health advocacy circles. The psychiatrist was the innovator of the transorbital lobotomy, and became a staunch advocate for its use in “treating” the mentally ill. The transorbital lobotomy is a brutal procedure in which a thin metal pick is punched through a patient’s orbital cavity and into the brain’s frontal lobe. Once inserted, the physician then manipulates the tool to sever a portion of the brain. Patients, obviously, were never the same. Most experienced difficulty thinking, personality problems and dulled emotions. Some became crippled with uncontrollable seizures. A few died from the procedure.

Freeman, undeterred, toured the United States in a van dubbed the “lobotomobile”, stopping to train surgeons at state hospitals. Thus, lobotomies were inflicted upon the nation’s most vulnerable: troubled children and adults, the indigent and disabled.

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