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Lobotomies and commissurotomies

Were lobotomies just bad luck? The decision to perform commissurotomies on epileptic patients turned out to be a good one; the decision to perform prefrontal lobotomies on the mental patients turned out to be a bad one. Was this just the luck of the draw? Please discuss specific steps that researchers could have taken to prevent such a mistake from happening again. Post references.

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OTA 105878/Xenia Jones



A lobotomy is a neural procedure, a kind of psychosurgery that includes the cutting of connections to and from the prefrontal cortex as well as the anterior lobes of the brain. Since the procedure began in 1935, it had been quite controversial. Despite this, it had come to be considered a major procedure to assist psychiatric conditions despite the well documented side-effects (i.e. incapacity, as was the case with Rosemary Kennedy, JFK's sister and Sigrid Hjerten whose lobotomy led to death). Still, it was performed as it was perceived to cure the following ailments as was explained in the 1970 'Psychiatric Dictionary':

"Prefrontal lobotomy is of value in the following disorders, listed in a descending scale of good results: affective disorders, obsessive-compulsive states, chronic anxiety states and other non-schizophrenic conditions, paranoid schizophrenia, undetermined or mixed type of schizophrenia, catatonic schizophrenia, and hebephrenic and simple schizophrenia. Good results are obtained in about 40 percent of cases, fair results in some 35 percent and poor results in 25 percent are thereabouts."

On Commissurotomy

A commissurotomy is a surgical procedure that makes an incision on parts of the body where parts or ...

Solution Summary

The solution provides information and a discussion on the topic of the practice of lobotomies and commissurotomies, their effects, a little on their history and the debates/controversies behind them. Resources are listed. A word version is attached.