Thursday, November 15, 2012
History of frontal lobotomy in the United States, 1935-1955.
The history of frontal lobotomy is a dramatic chapter in the development of medical treatment. Based on experimentally induced lesions in primates, lobotomies were introduced as procedures designed to modify the affect and behavior of hospitalized mental patients. Within 10 years, variations in surgical techniques were numerous, and the treatment was an accepted alternative in many hospitals in the United States. Patients on whom the operation was performed had a variety of diagnoses, including schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and affective illness. With the introduction of neuroleptic medication and behavior and milieu therapies, this surgical treatment for the emotional component of psychiatric illness fell into disuse. As its legacy to medicine, frontal lobotomy provided neuroanatomical information from which contemporary biological theories of behavior developed.