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My lobotomy: a memoir

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A gut-wrenching memoir by a man who was lobotomized at the age of twelve.

Assisted by journalist/novelist Charles Fleming, Howard Dully recounts a family tragedy whose Sophoclean proportions he could only sketch in his powerful 2005 broadcast on NPR’s All Things Considered.

“In 1960,” he writes, “I was given a transorbital, or ‘ice pick’ lobotomy. My stepmother arranged it. My father agreed to it. Dr. Walter Freeman, the father of the American lobotomy, told me he was going to do some ‘tests.’ It took ten minutes and cost two hundred dollars.” Fellow doctors called Freeman’s technique barbaric: an ice pick–like instrument was inserted about three inches into each eye socket and twirled to sever connections from the frontal lobe to the rest of the brain. The procedure was intended to help curb a variety of psychoses by muting emotional responses, but sometimes it irreversibly reduced patients to a childlike state or (in 15 percent of the operations Freeman performed) killed them outright. Dully’s ten-minute “test” did neither, but in some ways it had a far crueler result, since it didn’t end the unruly behavior that had set his stepmother against him to begin with.

“I spent the next forty years in and out of insane asylums, jails, and halfway houses,” he tells us. “I was homeless, alcoholic, and drug-addicted. I was lost.” From all accounts, there was no excuse for the lobotomy. Dully had never been “crazy,” and his (not very) bad behavior sounds like the typical acting-up of a child in desperate need of affection. His stepmother responded with unrelenting abuse and neglect, and his father allowed her to demonize his son and never admitted his complicity in the lobotomy; Freeman capitalized on their monumental dysfunction. It’s a tale of epic horror, and while Dully’s courage in telling it inspires awe, listeners are left to speculate about what drove supposedly responsible adults to such unconscionable acts.

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ISBN:
9780307381262
9781400125364
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Grouping Information

Grouped Work ID84589044-7cd6-6d65-1012-e9415e7045b1
Grouping Titlemy lobotomy
Grouping Authorhoward dully
Grouping Categorybook
Grouping LanguageEnglish (eng)
Last Grouping Update2020-09-20 03:38:09AM
Last Indexed2020-09-20 03:56:33AM
Novelist Primary ISBNnone

Solr Details

accelerated_reader_point_value0
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auth_author2Fleming, Charles.
Heller, Johnny.
authorHoward Dully
author2-roleFleming, Charles.
Heller, Johnny.|Narrator
hoopla digital.
author_displayDully, Howard
available_at_catalogCentral
detailed_location_catalogCentral
display_description

A gut-wrenching memoir by a man who was lobotomized at the age of twelve.

Assisted by journalist/novelist Charles Fleming, Howard Dully recounts a family tragedy whose Sophoclean proportions he could only sketch in his powerful 2005 broadcast on NPR’s All Things Considered.

“In 1960,” he writes, “I was given a transorbital, or ‘ice pick’ lobotomy. My stepmother arranged it. My father agreed to it. Dr. Walter Freeman, the father of the American lobotomy, told me he was going to do some ‘tests.’ It took ten minutes and cost two hundred dollars.” Fellow doctors called Freeman’s technique barbaric: an ice pick–like instrument was inserted about three inches into each eye socket and twirled to sever connections from the frontal lobe to the rest of the brain. The procedure was intended to help curb a variety of psychoses by muting emotional responses, but sometimes it irreversibly reduced patients to a childlike state or (in 15 percent of the operations Freeman performed) killed them outright. Dully’s ten-minute “test” did neither, but in some ways it had a far crueler result, since it didn’t end the unruly behavior that had set his stepmother against him to begin with.

“I spent the next forty years in and out of insane asylums, jails, and halfway houses,” he tells us. “I was homeless, alcoholic, and drug-addicted. I was lost.” From all accounts, there was no excuse for the lobotomy. Dully had never been “crazy,” and his (not very) bad behavior sounds like the typical acting-up of a child in desperate need of affection. His stepmother responded with unrelenting abuse and neglect, and his father allowed her to demonize his son and never admitted his complicity in the lobotomy; Freeman capitalized on their monumental dysfunction. It’s a tale of epic horror, and while Dully’s courage in telling it inspires awe, listeners are left to speculate about what drove supposedly responsible adults to such unconscionable acts.

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ils:.b18178285BookBooks1st ed.EnglishCrown Publishers, c2007.x, 272 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.
hoopla:MWT10756514eAudiobookAudio BooksUnabridged.EnglishTantor Audio, 2007.1 online resource (1 audio file (540 min.)) : digital.
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subject_facetDully, Howard, -- 1948-
Frontal lobotomy -- Patients -- United States -- Biography
Patient
Personal Narratives
Psychosurgery
Psychosurgery -- Patients -- United States -- Biography
Psychosurgery -- United States -- Personal narratives
title_displayMy lobotomy : a memoir
title_fullMy Lobotomy A Memoir
My lobotomy : a memoir / Howard Dully and Charles Fleming
My lobotomy : a memoir [electronic resource] / Howard Dully and Charles Fleming
title_shortMy lobotomy
title_suba memoir
topic_facetBiography & Autobiography
Dully, Howard
Family & Relationships
Frontal lobotomy
Medical
Nonfiction
Patient
Patients
Personal Narratives
Psychosurgery