The Week In Books 2008, No. 4

To make up for last week’s long post (thanks for all the thoughtful comments, by the way!) and because I was really busy this week, this week’s review will be short – only one book!

I don’t know about you, but my concept of lobotomy prior to reading The Lobotomist: A Maverick Medical Genius and His Tragic Quest to Rid the World of Mental Illness
was based solely on One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
and an episode of Cold Case (I don’t even watch Cold Case, but I happen to have seen that particular episode twice for some reason). As it turns out, the story of how lobotomy became a widespread practice goes beyond the ice pick/black eyes thing and it’s a fascinating story.

“The Lobotomist” is a biography of Walter Freeman, whose work popularized the procedure in the US. Freeman was a talented man, but his faults included a startling ability to overlook drawbacks and a callous disregard for accepted medical procedure (like, oh, keeping a sterile operating environment and stuff like that). Freeman was determined to make his mark on medicine, and his ambition blinded him to the consequences of what he was doing. I was interested to learn that lobotomy didn’t always turn people into drooling imbeciles, but it rarely “cured” them. Even after reading this book’s explanations of what was being done to the brain, I still don’t understand how someone could imagine that stabbing a person’s brain with an ice pick and wiggling it around a bit could possibly help the patient.

On the other hand, I now have a better understanding of the environment Freeman was working in, and I can see how he thought that it was better to get people out of mental institutions (which were overcrowded, underfunded, and basically just warehouses in those days before pharmaceutical solutions to mental health) at all costs. What was really heartbreaking was how many of his patients got lobotomized for things like “nervousness” or worrying, or depression – certainly not things that seem to warrant brain surgery!

Currently Reading:
Genesis, Psalms, Proverbs, Matthew, Acts
“Family Driven Faith” by Voddie Baucham (thanks Kim for the recommendation!)
“Creative Home Schooling”
“Straight Talk About Reading”
“Teach Yourself New Testament Greek”
I’m also busy reading everyone’s Facebook pages. 🙂

For the Kids Edition of Week In Books, click here.
For last week’s Kids Edition, click here (forgot to link it last week).

Disclaimer: If you purchase items from Amazon.com through the links in this post, I will receive a small affiliate payment, generally between 0 and 4% of the sale price, at no additional cost to you. I appreciate your support of this site, and am publishing this disclaimer in accordance with FTC guidelines for affiliate programs released 12/1/2009.

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