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Mental Disorder: What Is Lobotomies? Essay

1431 words - 6 pages

Imagine sitting at home all day, showing no emotion to the outside world. That is what happens to people who have lobotomies. Mental disorders are a major health concern all around the world. They can affect people starting at birth, or they can develop with age. Cures for these disorders were not very effective until the development of different types of drugs in the twentieth century. Before these drugs were invented, procedures like lobotomies were considered an acceptable treatment for certain types of mental disorders. The invention of the lobotomy was considered to be a medical miracle because it helped cure some psychiatric illnesses, but it had adverse effects on many of the patients who received this procedure.
Nobody denies that in discovering psychosurgery, a temporary cure for a few mental illnesses was thought to have been discovered. Prefrontal lobotomy is a surgical procedure in which the prefrontal cortex is detached from other areas of the brain (Kalat 103). During this procedure, the prefrontal cortex is either impaired, or the link connecting it to the rest of the brain is severed (Kalat 103). This means that lobotomies are performed by surgeons who destroy the connection from the frontal lobe to the rest of the brain, and this can render the frontal lobe useless. Originally, physicians proposed lobotomies because physicians thought that intense emotional and cognitive disruption happened because of atypical neural pathways in the brain (Piotrowski 1119). Psychosurgery could possibly help with finding new cures for some important psychiatric diseases because doctors conjectured that destroying this anomalous brain tissue would help in curing those diseases (Piotrowski 1119). Doctors initially thought that destroying parts of the frontal lobe would help cure mental disorders because it would destroy some brain tissue that was irregular, and it this irregularity was thought to be the source of mental illnesses. In 1890, Gottlieb Burckhardt was trying to find a treatment for symptoms like agitation and hallucinations in mentally disabled people so he decided to try psychosurgery and he is attributed with being one of the first surgeons to perform this kind of operation (Piotrowski 1119). Puusepp, another early psychosurgeon, and Burckhardt agree that the surgery was too perilous to a patient’s health to continue performing these procedures because the outcomes of the surgeries were inconclusive (Piotrowski 1119). Another way lobotomies started was with a study, done by neuroscientists, which impaired the frontal lobe of primates which caused them to become tamer without harming their emotions or sense of movement (Kalat 103). A handful of scientists concluded, although loosely, that these surgical procedures could possibly help humans who were diagnosed with serious and untreatable mental illnesses (Kalat 103). The discovery of psychosurgery was thought to have been a suitable treatment for some mental illnesses.
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