Lobotomy Inventor Could Lose Nobel

Between the 1930s and the 1970s, lobotomies actually helped about 10% of the people upon whom they were performed. Many of the remaining 90% of lobotomy recipients were left in a vegetative state and spent the rest of their lives in institutions. Now, 30 years after doctors stopped performing lobotomies (electroshock and drugs took over where physical brain scrambling left off), groups are mobilizing to strip lobotomy inventor Egas Moniz of the Nobel prize he was awarded half a century ago. Associated Press:

“How can anyone trust the Nobel Committee when they won’t admit to such a terrible mistake?” asks Christine Johnson, a Levittown, N.Y., medical librarian who started a campaign to have the prize revoked.

Ironic to think that if he had born 30 years earlier, Joey Ramone probably would have been a prime candidate for the barbaric procedure. Instead, his song Teenage Lobotomy became a proto-punk smash hit.

4 Replies to “Lobotomy Inventor Could Lose Nobel”

  1. What people forget is that before the advent of effective psycho-pharmacology, there were very few ways to help mentally ill people. If a pre-frontal lobotomy allowed 10% of the patients to go home and live more-or-less normal lives, it was far better than warehousing them until they died. This applies to electro-convulsive therapy, too. ECT did – and does – work for profoundly depressed people for whom antidepressants aren’t effective. The risk of brain damage is fairly high, obviously, but what alternative is there? Let these people suffer?

    Yes, much of psychology even today is little more than witch-doctory, based on very questionable statistics and a minimal understanding of the mechanics of the brain. But people who have these problems are suffering the tortures of the damned. You have to try something.

    I don’t see stripping the fellow who invented lobotomies of his Nobel prize. He helped some people, at least, and it was a breakthrough for the day. The fact that it was applied inappropriately, inexpertly, and long after it had been superseded by better methods is not his fault.


  2. Jim, you don’t see stripping the poor fellow of his prize? You seem a little emotional, maybe if you agree with his methods you can see stripping a couple of your own frontal lobes away then? Now doesn’t that feel better? Maybe you will have a 10% chance of improvement, maybe not. Oh, maybe that doesn’t seem a reasonable suggestion? I feel it’s as reasonable as your lack of empathy for the thousands that suffered. Your comment on patients living useless lives is offensive to anyone with a family member who suffers from mental illness. Must be nice to be so sane. Oh, What about the inmates? No sympathy for them, rip out their brains, they must be useless living an institutional life. Give their caretakers power to subject them to live in a vegetative state, seems to you that’s Nobel Prize worthy.

  3. a lot of the people left in institutions after the “procedure” weren’t even seriously ill. i mean, they eventually started loosening the restrictions so even those depressed, people with migraines or constant headaches, kids not listening to their parents or acting out, or even those women not up to doing housework had their brain butchered. Not only that, but some were forced into the procedure as well and did not personally agree to it; only their family had to agree. It’s a complete destruction of our civil liberties. I’m not surprised “muniz” or “munoz” was eventually killed by one of his lobotomy patients.

  4. how does someone get a nobel prize for completely destroying 90% of their patients? it’s probably because much of evaluations publicly published afterwards on the conditions of the patients after the psychosurgery were biased, poor ones left unpublished, and exaggerated to further the lobotomy movement. are you kidding me jim? a procedure with such a failure rate would never be implemented in this day and age! overall, it was a FAILURE!

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