By Jenell Johnson
American Lobotomy reports a large choice of representations of lobotomy to provide a rhetorical historical past of 1 of the main notorious tactics within the heritage of drugs. the advance of lobotomy in 1935 used to be heralded as a “miracle treatment” that might empty the nation’s perennially blighted asylums. notwithstanding, basically 20 years later, lobotomists first and foremost praised for his or her “therapeutic braveness” have been condemned for his or her barbarity, a picture that has in basic terms soured in next a long time. Johnson employs formerly deserted texts like technology fiction, horror movie, political polemics, and conspiracy idea to teach how lobotomy’s entanglement with social and political narratives contributed to a strong snapshot of the operation that persists to this present day. The booklet provocatively demanding situations the heritage of medication, arguing that rhetorical historical past is important to knowing clinical heritage. It deals a case examine of ways drugs accumulates which means because it circulates in public tradition and argues for the necessity to comprehend biomedicine as a culturally located perform.
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Extra resources for American Lobotomy: A Rhetorical History
In 1958, he extended his critique of Roy Grinker to all of his critics: “Psychosurgery in general has been condemned by many psychiatrists upon ethical and moral grounds since the idea of mutilating the brain is abhorrent to them. This represents an emotional status that is not to be influenced by argument or demonstration” (1958b, 430). Although Freeman continued championing lobotomy until his death in 1972, by the late 1950s his arguments failed to persuade his colleagues not because they were too emotional but because they were no longer paying attention to him.
A medical marvel offers a glimpse into the affective, social, and political contours of a culture’s relationship with medicine: our fervent hopes and trenchant fears about medicine’s power to alter our bodies and psychiatry’s power to change our minds. Indeed, psychiatry may well be the most marvelous of the many medical objects that become objects of public fascination. “Psychiatry is a deeply controversial aspect of our modern, secular world of knowledge. It raises questions about the very nature of the Self, about the relations of body and mind, about our emotions and our sexuality, about the individual and the expert, about the nature of disease and illness, about the status and limits of applied science, and about compulsion and state power” (Micale and Porter 1994, 26).
As arguments began to shift from the praise of lobotomy to its condemnation in the late 1940s and early 1950s, two related shifts also took place: the subjects of case histories used to support arguments about lobotomy overwhelmingly switched gender from women to men, and the interpretation of the operation’s effects shifted from positive to negative. But why did the stories about lobotomy shift tone in the early 1950s? After its introduction to America in 1936, the number of lobotomies steadily rose throughout the 1930s and 1940s and peaked right after Egas Moniz was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1949 (Sterling 1978).
American Lobotomy: A Rhetorical History by Jenell Johnson