The Existence of Lobotomy in Society

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One thing I found truly compelling from the textbook was from Chapter 2, when prefrontal lobotomies were discussed. A lobotomy was long considered the solution for many severe mental disorders. Before this class, I had been exposed to lobotomies (or at least their effects) through television and movies. In both the movie 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' and in an episode of 'The Simpsons', the patients that had a lobotomy performed on them appeared extremely incapacitated, almost as though entire brain had been removed. After actually reading the effects of a lobotomy, I discovered that it had been a tragic case of confirmation bias for far too long.

Lobotomies nearly always ended in the patient being rendered in a catatonic state, not curing the mental illness so much as disabling the brain as a whole. But since researchers could prove that the mental illness was no longer visible in the patients behavior, they credited themselves. The developer of the prefrontal lobotomy was even awarded a Nobel Prize! I can only wonder if the victims of lobotomies and their families ever pursued lawful action against those doctors that administered them, since it created more problems than it helped. Lobotomies have long been portrayed as a slight form of torture or punishment in mass media.

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Lobotomies was a terrible concept to even engage in. How can a person truly justify cutting a part of the brain out as a method of curing someone? Understandably the practice did "improve" the patients mental disabilities so in their eyes it was a success but did those doctors consider the side effects of other mental functions from the removal or severing of parts of the prefrontal cortex? Ideas in science need to be well considered before acted upon because dangerous outcomes can arise from them.

I was also intrigued by the idea of lobotomies. It sounds so absurd, especially in this time of day when we have the technology to accurately see the direct effect it has on the brain. The problem was that doctors believe that they saw improvement. This word "improvement" is such a vague and opinionated word. Therefore it was easy for the doctors to fall into a confirming bias. I see lobotomies as a tragedy. It is just another case where a science turned out to be a pseudoscience all along.

There could have been a lot of, "they could have" "they should have" but there was not. Lobotomy was not questioned at the time because the truth is that people fall for pseudoscience, as dangerous and as absurd as they may sound to us in the future. If we are not careful, even the smartest people can fall into the dangers of pseudoscience.

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This page contains a single entry by inofe001 published on February 6, 2012 7:56 PM.

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