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Lobotomies - Past and Future for Biopsychology students

In retrospect, the entire story of prefrontal lobotomies is shocking. How could physicians, who are generally intelligent, highly educated, and dedicated to helping their patients, participate in such a travesty? How could somebody win a Nobel Prize for developing a form of surgery that left over 40,000 people in the United States alone mentally crippled? Why did this happen? Could it happen today?

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Hi there,

I will guide you through some important points so that you are able to formulate a thorough response.
For a really great history of psychosurgeries (and references!), check out the following article. Mashour, GA. Psychosurgery: the past, present, and future. Brain Research Reviews 48 (2005)
409- 419

When talking about the lobotomy as it was performed on humans, Antonio Egaz Moniz of the University of Lisbon Medical School was really the 'pioneer' of this procedure in 1930. However, much like today, experimental animal studies were performed prior to the first human lobotomy psychosurgeries. It was the successes observed from these initial studies on dogs and chimps that led to the first clinical attempts of the lobotomy. Interestingly, also like
today, the dissemination of basic science research occurred at scientific conferences. Two researchers (Fulton and Jacobsen) were ...

Solution Summary

This solution contains over 500 words related to the history of prefrontal lobotomies in surgical practice. Specific examples of similarly misguided scientific therapies are included, and speculation on the future of scientific misconceptions.