Download PDF by Jenell Johnson: American Lobotomy: A Rhetorical History

By Jenell Johnson

American Lobotomy reports a large choice of representations of lobotomy to provide a rhetorical heritage of 1 of the main notorious systems within the historical past of drugs. the improvement of lobotomy in 1935 used to be heralded as a “miracle medication” that may empty the nation’s perennially blighted asylums. although, basically 20 years later, lobotomists before everything praised for his or her “therapeutic braveness” have been condemned for his or her barbarity, a picture that has in simple terms soured in next many years. Johnson employs formerly deserted texts like technology fiction, horror movie, political polemics, and conspiracy concept to teach how lobotomy’s entanglement with social and political narratives contributed to a robust photo of the operation that persists to today. The booklet provocatively demanding situations the historical past of drugs, arguing that rhetorical heritage is essential to realizing clinical historical past. It deals a case research of ways drugs accumulates that means because it circulates in public tradition and argues for the necessity to comprehend biomedicine as a culturally positioned perform.

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Yet it was not the delusions and hallucinations that were keeping people with schizophrena from social integration and economic value, they argued, but the disordered economy of emotion that “fixed” those ideas in the brain. “We are not particuarly concerned if a patient retains his hallucinations and delusions,” Freeman and Watts commented. “If a patient can take care of himself after operation we are satisfied with the results” (739). Self-­sufficiency was deemed so therapeutically valuable that it superceded the loss of other cognitive functions, like creativity, which was often impaired after the operation.

It is Howard who is fully engaged in the past as well as the present, with an eye toward his future. When confronting his father, Howard frequently chokes up when recounting the pain the operation has caused him. In the most moving part of the documentary, Howard tells his father that despite his anger over what happened, he still loves him. His father does not reciprocate the sentiment. When asked directly if he loves his son, Rodney evades the question. As the last interview concludes, Howard tells his father again how much he loves him.

In the case of Walter Freeman and the St. Elizabeth’s patients, this double movement is revealed by his deep desire for knowledge about them. Afraid of and disgusted by the living patients, Freeman allowed himself physical contact Thinking with the Thalamus 23 with their bodies in the safe, sterile space of the pathology laboratory, where he set out to learn “all [he] could about the brain of the psychotic” (1970, 14–­ 2). When he examined the brains of St. Elizabeth’s patients after their deaths, however, Freeman was “challenged” by his observation that people who appeared so abnormal on the outside were indistinguishable from “normal” people on the inside.

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