If your next-door neighbor sweeps his front porch three times every day and spends fundamentally all his time cleaning and re-cleaning his ten foot by ten foot stoop, is he normal? In a sense, he could be defined with an anxiety disorder known as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). These obsessions can often center on inflicting harm on others, suicide, or personal failures People distraught by obsessions and compulsions may feel that they have mislaid control of their mind. In extreme cases, this mislaid control of the mind was treated by a psychosurgery known as a prefrontal lobotomy (Weiten 568).
The American Psychological Association defines prefrontal lobotomy as “an operation that severs
the nerve fibers connecting the frontal lobes of the brain with the diencephalon, especially those
fibers of the thalamic and hypothalamic areas; best-known form of psychosurgery.”
The surgery sounds quite complex and foreign yet after World War II tens of thousands of mental patients were subjected to prefrontal lobotomy and other surgeries as sources of treatment (Valenstein 418). The process was developed by a man by the name of Egas Moniz, Professor of Neurology at the University of Lisbon, who was recognized for his accomplishments by receiving the Nobel Prize (418). As well as Walter Freeman, Professor of Neurology at George Washington University, who performed the first trans-orbital lobotomy in the United States; and by nineteen-fifty, forty-one percent of the nation’s inpatient mental hospitals had performed lobotomies (418). There was considerable evidence that Moniz’s procedure actually cured all of the mentally unstable patients, or so we thought.
Prefrontal lobotomies did not fix any of the patients who survived this procedure; it merely hindered the patients from being able to express obsessive compulsive behavior (Lambert and Craig 526). Almost all of the remarkably cured patients had relapsed within a few months and after subsequent lobotomies patients exhibited seizures and other psychological and neurological complications (Valenstein 425). I believe this process should be discontinued and made illegal throughout the world because of its harmful and brutal effects. Although lobotomies are not practiced in the United States anymore, lobotomies still take place in parts of the world but are secretively masked behind the name of “Neurosurgery for Mental Disorders (NMD)” (OCD-UK).The operation itself consists of no guidelines on where to sever the brain. When Moniz preformed the first lobotomy, he failed to provide a justification for destroying a particular location in the brain (430). Yet physicians around the world accepted Moniz’s procedure uncritically and without question prefrontal lobotomies were being tried on patients in Italy, Romania, Brazil, Cuba, and the United States (422).