Saturday, November 18, 2006

Survivor recounts lobotomy at age 12
Procedure once considered legitimate medical treatment
By A. Chris GajilanCNN

(CNN) -- Howard Dully was 12 years old when he was told he was going to the hospital for some tests.

"I remember having big black swollen eyes one day and staying in the hospital for a few days because apparently I had an infection," recalls Dully, now 57, who lives in San Jose, California.
That's all Dully can remember of the transorbital or "ice pick" lobotomy performed on him more than 40 years ago.

Many in the medical community consider lobotomies barbaric by today's standards, but there was a time when the procedure was an accepted treatment for those suffering from severe mental illness.

Throughout the 1930s, '40s and most of the '50s, the main route of treatment for most of these patients was to keep them institutionalized in often filthy, deplorable conditions until they got better on their own. Many remained for years, even decades.

Then came the lobotomy. It was first performed in 1935 in Portugal by Dr. Egas Moniz, who later would win the Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine for the technique.

Neurologist Walter J. Freeman quickly brought the lobotomy to the United States, first performing it in 1936. A few months later the procedure made the front page of The New York Times with the headline "Surgery Used on the Soul Sick."

"The medical treatments were not effective, and it was an advanced step over what was previously available," says Dr. Robert Lichtenstein, a neurosurgeon who performed lobotomies for treatment of severe pain.

Lobotomy was a welcome treatment based on the premise that symptoms of mental illness were caused by faulty connections between the frontal lobes and another part of the brain -- the thalamus. The idea was that severing those connections and regrowing them could treat symptoms of the mental illness.

"It wasn't a case of removing sections of the brain or cutting out pieces, it was severing particular neural pathways," says Jack El-Hai, author of "The Lobotomist," a biography of Freeman.

At the time, it was practically the only effective treatment for severe depression, schizophrenia, suicidal tendencies and other mental disorders.

Tens of thousands had lobotomies

Over the years, lobotomies were done on about 40,000 to 50,000 people in the United States in mental institutions and hospitals, El-Hai says. About 10,000 of those procedures were transorbital or "ice pick" lobotomies, as Freeman himself referred to the procedure. (Doctors used a long, ice pick-like device inserted above the eye through the thin layer of bone, penetrating into the brain's frontal lobe.)

Freeman performed about 3,400 transorbital lobotomies himself, according to El-Hai; many others were done by psychiatrists trained by Freeman as he traveled across the country.
While the older, far more invasive prefrontal lobotomy involved anesthesia, then drilling into the skull, the transorbital lobotomy was performed in 10 minutes without any major incisions. According to El-Hai, Freeman performed an all-time high of 24 lobotomies in one day in West Virginia.

"The transorbital one could be done much more economically and quickly, and it was worthwhile to do it that way," Lichtenstein said.

According to estimates in Freeman's records, about a third of the lobotomies were considered successful. One of those was performed on Ann Krubsack, who is now in her 70s.
"Dr. Freeman helped me when the electric shock treatments, the medicine and the insulin shot treatments didn't work," she said.

Krubsack said she endured schizophrenia for eight years until she had her lobotomy in 1961.
But the majority of patients did not do well -- some died, many were paralyzed and in the cases in which patients were well enough to leave the hospital after the procedure, many were left childlike and devoid of personality.

"What did success mean in [Freeman's] mind? Mainly it meant getting out of the hospital, and these people who returned home from the hospital came home with severe disabilities from their lobotomies," El-Hai says.

Doctors opt for nonsurgical procedures

Finally in 1954, Thorazine, an antipsychotic medication, became available in the United States, and fewer lobotomies were performed as doctors opted for nonsurgical treatment.
But Freeman disagreed with the new trend and continued to perform lobotomies after most of the medical community considered the procedure obsolete.

"He began advocating lobotomies for patients like Howard Dully who, if they had psychiatric disorders at all, were not seriously ill, and he began advocating it as an early intervention," El-Hai says.

According to medical records, Freeman diagnosed Dully as a schizophrenic -- a diagnosis that would not have held today, Dully's current doctors say.
Dully was lobotomized before any other treatment or medication was tried.

Now an adult, Dully has one question for Freeman: "Why did you go that far when it was plainly evident to the rest of the world that it was not a good thing? Why did you continue?"

Dully says he will never know what his life would have been like if he hadn't had the surgery. "I think I'm intelligent enough now," he says. "I probably would have been as intelligent enough then. But what specifically have I lost that I'm not capable of doing mentally, I can't answer that."

In 1967, Freeman performed his final lobotomy on a patient who died from a brain hemorrhage. He was never allowed to operate in another hospital again and died of cancer in 1972.


susan140922 said...

I feel many Psychiatrist should take their own medication, for many of them are subscribed as a trial and error basis and more error than anything else. I feel many Psychiatrists don't even understand that many mental illnesses are the results of vitamin and mineral deprivation, for many people don't eat right or have such allergies that they cant. been there, and will tell you I as misdiagnosed for 11 years. It should not have happened, but I am finding many Dr's are quite ignorant about what Mental illness really is.its a Physical illness and should always ben seen as that first!! And many times a Thyroid condition is not even diagnosed and there are millions that suffer from that but its always overlooked. Its a shame that Dr's cant even understand that NO two persons brains or minds will have the same amount or the same exact kinds of neurotransmitters in their brains/ chemicals flowing in their bodies at the same time and there is no such thing as normalcy, for you cannot dictate what is normal for the whole population on one observation and especially 15 minute observation and some few blood test to see if a person is mentally ill or not!!And I will bet many of the medciations that are handed out like candy today will be seen as a waste of time and will probably look just as evil as a Lobotomy is nwo. And many of these so called medications that are prescriptive medications will probably will cause just as many problems down the line for people who have been manipulated to take Just as dangerous as a Lobotomy!! Maybe more so since they distrupt the chemical in the brain ...for I know they have affected my ability to think and casued me to get into trouble with the law because when I was taking one drug,oen after another too. And I could not even process any new information and have stopped sleeping permanently, for the drug I was on affected the way my thyroid processed information and now it has caused me other problems, but will they admit to their stupidiity? I think not!!Many Drs are so pathetic to dole out such psychotropic drugs as candy when they are not even sure of a diagnosis, for psychology is NOT even an exact science but they dole out antidepressants and antipsycholotics to students like its candy!! And they wonder why they kill. Its because these drugs prevent their brains from processing and understanding, so they cant reason. believe me, these drugs should be banned!!For they are just as bad as a lobotomy!!They cause people to kill under their influence. When will they figure it out?

susan140922 said...

I think Psychiatrist or psychologist should not be allowed to have a private office because it sets up the clients to be molested and manipulated. For it is was what happened to me. This psychologist I saw sent her secretary away and then proceeded to violate me in many ways. I did not know what to do and so we watched her and was trying to figure it all out and could not process it and this shrink had us arrested for harassment because we called her on the phone after this happened to us, trying to understand it. She was mean to us and said, "You know where yo can go". Had no idea what she was even taking about.
This happened while we were under the influence of a prescribed drug. But we did not think a phone call was a crime, but because of that arrest we were arrested again for what they said was a violation of the order, even though we were trying to find a relative. Long story short, this email we had was for this relative, and we did not know this therapist was this relative. For she denied being that person, who we have not seen for years, but we wrote her and she did not want to hear from us. I believe because she was ashamed of her relatives, her father. and Did not want to have any relative of her fathers as a client let alone a relative. Long story short, she had us arrested for the email.

what we learned was that you don't give persons like us drugs, for all they did for us was make it more difficult for us to process anything. we had enough problems before we saw this psychologist and now having a criminal record because she had us arrested for calling her on the phone; and she did give us permission, but after she violated us and kicked us out, she did not want to have anything to do with us, so she concocted that we were harassing her just because we saw her in public. And just because we were not going to be controlled by her, she caused us even more stress , which almost killed us. And because of the medication, and a thyroid problem which we did not even know we had, because we were misdiagnosed, we lost all our ability to think and process. And was why we did not fully understand her responses to us. We still don't know why she kicked us out when she was the one to hurt us. But it took getting off all the crappy medication , changing or diet and seeing many Dr's before they found out we had a thyroid problem which added to the inability to process .Because we could no longer sleep at all. Where as before when we were seeing her, we could sleep but not a full night sleep every night. Its why we went to see her in the first place. But when we did not answer her stupid questions as to why we were seeing her she decided to kick us out thinking we were laying games with her, we were not!

we tried to get an advocate but could not get anyone to help us get one,and now were not sure what to do to stop being harassed by this shrink. yes we call her a shrink because we felt all she wanted to do is control our behavior and not allow us to think for our self. She was very well as over analyzing our behavior but not her own

What we did learn eventually was this person got into psychology because of her own issues with her alcoholic perverted Father which I learned was traumatized to the ninth degree and she has become so controlling of people around her , that they runaway, like her both daughters did. When she cant control people she has them arrested.

What I did not understand was ...why did she throws a temper tantrum?And why did she get violent with me, for all I was going to do was share a poem with her, hoping she would remember me, if she was this relative. But I was shocked by her behavior when she treated me as a homosexual, and fondled and hugged me. I was mortified and frozen and afraid. She was always in a trance like state after a very short time of my talking, almost as if I put her to sleep, and she would not respond to me. she could not even remember it, for she was in such a trancelike stupor, when she "touched me" and then she got violent with me when I could not respond. I just froze,and so been trying to understands it all along. and it has frustrated me so. To the point of getting into trouble trying to work it all out in my mind.

I felt she had many unresolved issues. When she did hug us and fondle me, we tried to break away from her , but it was hard, for she held us tightly and for more than 10 minutes, and we became very afraid of her that I froze. Now what do I do? She has made us appear as a criminal when she was the one that stressed us to the max and harassed and even stalked us to our new Therapist.

Now how do we clear our name? What can we do? What I have done was made an efforts to stay away from ALL therapist since, now and forever, for we no longer trust them!!! For I find we have to stay in control all the time and that is the best way for us to do it, to stay away from them totally!!

The lesson I learned was best to stay away from them, for I learned all they do is want to control YOUR life, not help you, but make ones life worst.

What we cant understand was how this shrink was possible to get a license from the APA and allowed to afflict others especially, since she had so many unresolved issues of her own mental health? How can a person get a license who has mentally ill issues? Or even get a degree in this profession when they have such mental problems?How do they get a license to treat people when they cant even manage their own children and have such unresolved issues and so unstable that they throw a temper tantrum.

The one good thing that came out of it though was, after I got arrested we at least found a real Dr, one Psychiatrist that really did listen to us and she sent us for many test that were of concern to us. She actually listened to us. But that is one out of how many? I know I have seen a lot of psychiatrist and psychologist and not one besides this Dr really listened to us and sent us to get tested for the things that really bothered took 11 years before we learned why we could not sleep. It was our thyroid and we had a deviated septum and sleep apnea. and also reflux. We then started to break down how we could sure each one and gradually we have begun to sleep again. But because of all the time it took, it took its toll on us and we almost died last year when we got a tooth infection. all because of a wrong diagnosis!! NOW were able to sleep, but still dealing with the issue of probation, which to me was really caused by the first therapist that did not care to really listen to Us, but just manipulated us to keep coming back to take advantage of us. I feel good therapist don't need to manipulate us. But the first one did we felt because she had her own issues that were not resolved. I think such therapist should not be given a license, for it gives them a license to harass their clients. I felt more than manipulated and violated. I felt it denied me the help and made my life worst than if I had never seen a therapist. But she was able to manipulate us to return when she could not rightly diagnose us. she should have been more understanding and took us to see someone else when she realize her mistake, but instead she stalked us and wonder why we kept wanting to figure it all out. Then she abandon us and struck back at us when she realize she made a msiatek with us. and then she fired her secretary to cover her mistake up. Abandoning us in the process and almost killing us too. Now we just want closure on the probation, but wonder if we will be able to file a complaint with the BBB or the APA? Does anyone know, for we feel this person should not be affecting lives as she has ours. and we want to make sure she does not do it to anyone else. Can someone help me, for my own lawyer even violated us by being friends with the therapist . Would be nice if we had an advocate but have not found one yet. Could someone help us? if so email us at thank you.