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Thread: Lobotomies (21st Century)

  1. #1
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    Lobotomies (21st Century)

    Hello,

    I was wondering if anybody knew anything whether or not lobotomies are still being practiced in psychiatric wards. If so, how has the practice changed from the early-mid 20th century? If lobotomies are still legal, what other names/ terms do they have other than "lobotomy". (such as the term leucotomy.) If lobotomies are illegal, what similar practices are out there currently. Any help would be appreciated. Here is something from Wikipedia about 1960's-present psycho-surgery:

    "During the 1960s and 1970s, psychosurgery became the subject of increasing public concern and debate, culminating in the US with congressional hearings. Particularly controversial in the United States was the work of Harvard neurosurgeon Vernon Mark and psychiatrist Frank Ervin, who carried out amgydalotomies in the hope of reducing violence and "pathologic aggression" in patients with temporal lobe seizures and wrote a book entitled Violence and the Brain in 1970.[1] The National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research in 1977 endorsed the continued limited use of psychosurgical procedures.[1][43] Since then, a few facilities in some countries, such as the US, have continued to use psychosurgery on small numbers of patients. In the US and other Western countries, the number of operations has further declined over the past 30 years, a period during which there have been no major advances in ablative psychosurgery"

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychosurgery (source Wikipedia)

    Previously I thought that all lobotomy patients ended up like Jack Nicholson in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", like a total zombie. But I saw a clip on YouTube about someone saying they had been lobotomized. The clip is here:

    https://youtu.be/OlGiVRwg-dc

    Would a person such as in the above clip, appear to be other-wise normal, yet someone could pick up that something is "amiss"? What about their emotional behavior, would they appear to be more emotionally "numb" than normally, yet still be able to walk around, go out for coffee, hold a conversation, etc.?

    Any insight into this topic would be appreciated. Please be respectful and sincere in responding to this thread. I am writing this because I am concerned about a family member (my brother, 1 year younger than I) who was incarcerated in jail for 4 years until he finally came clean about his mental illness. When he was 17 he was in a car accident and cracked his head open in 3 places. He was unconscious for over 48 hours, was in the hospital for months, had to learn to walk all over again, etc. When he came back home instead of taking care of himself he went to go party and drink with his friends. Out of us 4 kids (I have two brothers and a sister) I would say that he is the least disciplined among us, prone to accidents, not thinking things through, etc. Anyway his condition worsened and basically he was self-medicating his head injury with drugs and alcohol. Years passed. When he was arrested he was homeless. Once his mental health became an issue, which he hid from them for years, he apparently went around the state into many different Psychiatric Wards. Charges against him have been dropped because of his mental illness and he now lives at a state-sponsored group home where I visit him once a week. I take him out into the woods in different places each week to get him exercise, fresh air, etc. than we go for a coffee or light food. Before he was arrested I tried to reach out to him but he wouldn't have any of it, he was lost in the bottle. The other month when I was hiking him outside we got caught in the beginnings of a blizzard. Even though he was less prepared than myself, my hands and feet were cold, it was like he was numb with no feeling. I have caught him gazing as well, and his emotions aren't quite the same, he seems more "neutered" or compliant so to speak (or rather, "put in place.") Yet he also functions- he will buy his own coffee, etc. I thought that this was all a result of the daily medication that he is on, which it could be (best case scenario.) But when I picked him up to go hiking this weekend, he had shaved all his hair, where before it was shaggy. I noticed a suspicious scar on the side of his head, the frontal lobe area. (also, it is hard to explain this, but he has the same kind of "different than usual" facial expressions as other mental patients I have observed at that group home and elsewhere.)

    So I guess it comes down to this: does anybody know anything about this subject? Are there different phases of lobotomy such as: functional/ partially functional/ not functional at all (like what happened to Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest)? It sounds like this practice is still being used, even under different arrays of terminology and procedures. Any insight is appreciated. Please be respectful. Even if you don't know too much about subject, I don't mind "yes it sounds like or no it doesn't sound like." Thanks in advance. (here I am, proud that I can be so athletic and strong, never even having had a vaccination before, and just look what's happened to my brother. aye carumba.)

  2. #2
    Hi,

    Rather odd thread. Nevertheless, I do remember an individual who had a frontal lob lobotomy. I was a little kid in the mid to late 1960's around the time when the Green Hornet was primetime on TV. There was a home around the corner whose owner housed war veterans from some of the earlier wars. To me they all looked and acted rather weird. One particular man rather tall, in his 50's or 60's used to walk down the street by my building and would calculatingly walk up to, but not step on the sidewalk cracks. When he would approach a crack he would step up, place both feet together, pause for a moment then take a long step over the crack and continue walking. His demeanor was stoic, almost zombie like void of emotion. My friends used to call him "lumps and bumps". But really what he had was, what appeared to me were small ice-cream scoop like concave recessions, about 3 or 4 of them I think, on the front of his forehead. Once when I was out with my grandma we saw him and I asked her why he was like that? She explained about the special house around the block and that this man had a particular treatment where they removed portions of his brain to "calm him down" from the trauma of the war that he experienced.

    He lived there for several years and then in his eventual absence I'm assuming he passed or was put into a nursing home. This is my early memory of seeing a person who actually had this barbaric procedure. He had a blank stare and never spoke, nor did any of us ever approach him. He would always walk alone never accompanied by any of the other residents.

    Boy that memory brings me back to a simpler time! Gum was a penny and a slice of pizza was only 20 cents. My first martial arts manual that I trained diligently from, trying to be like Kato was from a Sensei named Tegner.
    Buy the best and cry once!

  3. #3
    Matt, my best wishes for your bother. Mental illness runs rampant in the world. Almost all of us know someone in the family who's "not quite right" and has to or should take meds. There are "homes" in every major city that house adults with these special needs, like your brother and my step son. They are referred to as "consumers", in the professional field. I highly doubt your brother was given this operation. Just be supportive like you've been doing. I deal with many consumers who are having a bad day. Just reminds me to cut back to mental centerline and somberingly start counting my blessings.
    Buy the best and cry once!

  4. #4
    They are still doing lobotomy in cases of severe epilepsy. But I think the drugs are a much more plausible explanation. Maybe they are interacting with each other or with alcohol. The scar might be old.
    You could start by crosschecking his prescription's package leaflets. Pharmacists sometimes don't. This is only some common sense, at least I hope so. He obviously is not well and should see a doctor and get a thorough (re)examination. Some older people are diagnosed with dementia just because they don't drink enough and nobody takes notice.

    Anyway, all the best.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by robertdreeben View Post
    Matt, my best wishes for your bother. Mental illness runs rampant in the world. Almost all of us know someone in the family who's "not quite right" and has to or should take meds. There are "homes" in every major city that house adults with these special needs, like your brother and my step son. They are referred to as "consumers", in the professional field. I highly doubt your brother was given this operation. Just be supportive like you've been doing. I deal with many consumers who are having a bad day. Just reminds me to cut back to mental centerline and somberingly start counting my blessings.
    Thank you Robert! I hope I was just being paranoid. Come to think of it, my brother does not match the description of the man you talked about witnessing in the 1960's. When my brother was in the car accident many years ago now, he did crack his head open in 3 places. Perhaps that is one of the scars that I noticed, and it is much smaller than an ice cream scoop as you described (although I wonder if the doctor's have gotten craftier/ less invasive in their surgery these days). I suppose my brother does display emotion, although he his heavily medicated. The doctors originally gave him 15 mg of the drug he takes daily, but he was still seeing hallucinations so he takes 25 mg of the drug daily. That itself is enough to keep him over-weight, a bit un-motivated, in other words "sluggish."

    Yup. I was probably just being paranoid. Despite everything he is still an intelligent person and displays emotion. With his social security money he is buying books, both fiction novels as well as various books on Buddhism which he seems to be interested in. I took him to an Uncle's house this past holiday season, and his facial expression was brimming/beaming that he was with relatives. He will laugh/ chuckle/ etc. but it is like you have to wear him down or pump him up for him to come out of the zombie shell. I exercise him a lot too on the walks I take him on, there are a lot of up-hill, he even dropped down a pants-size, and boy do I make him sweat. I try to get him to do other exercise, the best he will do is some warm-ups and breathing exercises, but he will not do them on his own.

    Yes, I think I was just over-reacting and fearing the worst. Researching the subject too much, although it is a horrible and barbaric practice nonetheless. Thank you for your reply, Robert, you opened up a good dialogue that allowed me to cross examine the situation better. Diagnosis: medicated, which is responsible for a lack of motivation. I guess that pretty much kills this thread, but, thank you again.

    Edit: Thank you Cataphract as well!
    Last edited by MarathonTmatt; 02-20-2017 at 11:03 AM.

  6. #6
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    I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy

    Lobotomies are very rare nowadays. At least, that's my understanding from when I got my degree in Psychology some three decades ago. I doubt there's been a resurgence, but the procedure has come a long way since the days of ice pick lobotomies. If you want to read some really disturbing history, web search Walter Freeman.

    Sorry to hear about your brother, MarathonTmatt. That sounds like quite a hardship. Has a lobotomy been recommended? Usually such cases are restrained chemically nowadays. Hoping the best for him and your family.
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  7. #7
    ur brother had severe brain damage from the car crash. then the alcohol further attacked his brain. then the recreational drugs dulled his pleasure centers. so he is lobotomized except he did it to himself.
    Last edited by bawang; 02-20-2017 at 12:15 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bawang View Post
    ur brother had severe brain damage from the car crash. then the alcohol further attacked his brain. then the recreational drugs dulled his pleasure centers. so he is lobotomized except he did it to himself.
    Yup, that is my assessment as well. I shake my head thinking about it. Years ago after his injury he could have taken better care of himself. But he denied that he had a problem (after all he was out from the hospital so he must be better, but of course this is not true); he lied to himself, he fooled himself and made some very poor decisions. But after all this time I think he can still turn himself around, he has been alcohol-free for years and goes to AA meetings. But yes bawang, that is a good assessment, almost un-believable, but than again most of us never experience such traumatic brain injuries, and, he was "young and stupid."

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    Matt:

    I'm sorry about what happened to your brother. But lucky for him he has you to help look out for him. Your're a good brother.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GeneChing View Post
    Lobotomies are very rare nowadays. At least, that's my understanding from when I got my degree in Psychology some three decades ago. I doubt there's been a resurgence, but the procedure has come a long way since the days of ice pick lobotomies. If you want to read some really disturbing history, web search Walter Freeman.

    Sorry to hear about your brother, MarathonTmatt. That sounds like quite a hardship. Has a lobotomy been recommended? Usually such cases are restrained chemically nowadays. Hoping the best for him and your family.
    Thank you Gene. As far as I know a lobotomy has not been recommended (so I probably have nothing to worry about). I heard the doctor last year say he was going to recommend some "electro-therapy" treatment. Well, that didn't really sit too well with me either but it isn't up to me. Obviously he needs some help, and he is now getting it at the state-sponsored group home, hopefully the first steps on a longer road to recovery, although it has been a long time coming. Thank you again for all the replies. Also, sorry to dump some personal problems on the board.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimbo View Post
    Matt:

    I'm sorry about what happened to your brother. But lucky for him he has you to help look out for him. Your're a good brother.
    Thanks Jimbo!

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    Ect

    Quote Originally Posted by MarathonTmatt View Post
    I heard the doctor last year say he was going to recommend some "electro-therapy" treatment. Well, that didn't really sit too well with me either but it isn't up to me.
    Like lobotomies, ECT has gotten more sophisticated too. It's not at all like what you might have seen in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Patients are anesthetized for the procedure. It's more voltage than what you might get with electro-stimulators for muscle development or acupuncture, but not as violent as depicted in film anymore.

    Quote Originally Posted by MarathonTmatt View Post
    Also, sorry to dump some personal problems on the board.
    No worries. Better than the usual trolling we get around here sometimes.
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    Ect

    Quote Originally Posted by GeneChing View Post
    Like lobotomies, ECT has gotten more sophisticated too. It's not at all like what you might have seen in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Patients are anesthetized for the procedure. It's more voltage than what you might get with electro-stimulators for muscle development or acupuncture, but not as violent as depicted in film anymore.
    Gene,
    Thanks for the insight into electroconvulsive therapy. I looked it up, it is actually an interesting concept.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by MarathonTmatt View Post
    Yup, that is my assessment as well. I shake my head thinking about it. Years ago after his injury he could have taken better care of himself. But he denied that he had a problem (after all he was out from the hospital so he must be better, but of course this is not true); he lied to himself, he fooled himself and made some very poor decisions. But after all this time I think he can still turn himself around, he has been alcohol-free for years and goes to AA meetings. But yes bawang, that is a good assessment, almost un-believable, but than again most of us never experience such traumatic brain injuries, and, he was "young and stupid."
    the only thing that's bother trying is megadosing growth hormone, maybe the brain cells will grow back.

    25th generation inner door disciple of Chen Style Practical Wombat Method
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    Quote Originally Posted by bawang View Post
    the only thing that's bother trying is megadosing growth hormone, maybe the brain cells will grow back.
    Thanks bawang

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