Freeman claimed that 52% of the lobotomies worked, but did not offer a clinical study to measure the results. Three percent died. Others had to be taught to eat again and go to the bathroom. Many patients became childlike. Some patients became calmer, but were never the same.
The damage to the frontal lobes caused an impact on the ability to love, be empathetic, be creative, be rational, use judgment, concentrate and have will power.
Depending on the damage that was placed on the frontal lobe by the ice pick or any other instrument, partial or complete damage would occur. With a “complete” lobotomy, the patient has deterioration of all mental functions. General statistics of over 100,000 lobotomies show that a third of lobotomy patients improved, a third stayed thesame, and a third got worse (El-Hai, 2005).
Today, there are still some western countries that still permit the lobotomy surgery. However, its use has decreased worldwide. In 2007, there were fewer than 20 brain operations in the US per year (Boeree, 2001). These operations are not lobotomies.
Freeman’s legacy of the lobotomy scared away researchers and funding for research for a very long time. Currently, in 2007, the National Institute for Mental Health does not fund research for psychiatric surgery.
It is important to note that Freeman in his early years was not the monster he has been made out to be. He was acting in the best interest of his patients at the time. Mental institutions were overcrowded in the 1950’s, and people stayed longer. Patients came to mental institutions for many mental health issues. They ranged from mild to severe.
Nowadays, psychiatrists can prescribe medication for patients. Also, mental institutional stays are shorter for those with many disabilities (Sabbatini, 1997). Shorter stays in mental institutions are not always in the best interest for patient benefits.
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