Since the introduction of Thorazine in 1954 psychiatry and drug companies have rolled out a never ending stream of psychotropic drugs to replace the dramatic surgical procedures known as lobotomies. These so-called psychotropic medications have been called “chemical lobotomies” and proven to be just that.
But what is a lobotomy?
In the 1930’s neurologists got the idea that mental health could be improved by psychosurgery. Antonio Egas Moniz in Portugal and Gottlieb Burckhardt in Switzerland experimented with drilling holes in a patient’s skulls and injecting pure alcohol to destroy brain tissue thus adjusting mental conditions.
Psychiatrist Walter Freeman working in the US invented a quicker and more profitable method and named it the lobotomy.
Freeman believed that an overload of emotions led to mental illness and “that cutting certain nerves in the brain could eliminate excess emotion and stabilize a personality.”
His technique went like this – “As those who watched the procedure described it, a patient would be rendered unconscious by electroshock. Freeman would then take a sharp ice pick-like instrument, insert it above the patient’s eyeball through the orbit of the eye, into the frontal lobes of the brain, moving the instrument back and forth. Then he would do the same thing on the other side of the face.”
Freeman toured the country’s mental hospitals with great media attention and performed about 2,500 lobotomies in his career, once performing the operation on 25 women in a single day. Something like 40,000 to 50,000 lobotomies were done in the United States in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s.
The Soviet Union banned the surgery in 1950, arguing that it was “contrary to the principles of humanity.” Other countries, including Germany and Japan, banned it, too, but lobotomies continued to be performed on a limited scale in the United States, Britain, Scandinavia and several western European countries well into the 1980’s.
Freeman eventually lost his license when one of his patients came back for her third lobotomy. Freeman did the surgery and severed a blood vessel in her brain. Three days later she died. The hospital then revoked Freeman’s surgical privileges and he went into retirement, soon to die of cancer.
In 2005 National Public Radio did a show featuring Howard Dully a man who had been lobotomized at the age of 12 by Walter Freeman.
Dully said, “If you saw me you’d never know I’d had a lobotomy. The only thing you’d notice is that I’m very tall and weigh about 350 pounds. But I’ve always felt different — wondered if something’s missing from my soul. I have no memory of the operation, and never had the courage to ask my family about it. So two years ago I set out on a journey to learn everything I could about my lobotomy.”
The radio program uncovered Freeman’s notes and files on the case and helped to reveal what happened to Howard Dully and why it was done.
Howard Dully’s mother had died of cancer when he was 5. Dully says, “My stepmother hated me. I never understood why, but it was clear she’d do anything to get rid of me.”
Freeman wrote in his notes that the step-mother feared Howard and called him defiant and savage, stating that the 12 year old boy …”Doesn’t react either to love or to punishment. He objects to going to bed but then sleeps well. He does a good deal of daydreaming and when asked about it he says ‘I don’t know.’ He turns the room’s lights on when there is broad sunlight outside. He hates to wash.”
Sounds like good reason for a lobotomy!
Sure enough, Freeman then writes on Nov. 30, 1960, “Mrs. Dully came in for a talk about Howard. Things have gotten much worse and she can barely endure it. I explained to Mrs. Dully that the family should consider the possibility of changing Howard’s personality by means of transorbital lobotomy.”
Two and a half weeks after the boy’s lobotomy, Freeman wrote: “I told Howard what I’d done to him… and he took it without a quiver. He sits quietly, grinning most of the time and offering nothing.”
Howard Dully says that when his step-mother realized the operation “didn’t turn me into a vegetable, she got me out of the house. I was made a ward of the state.”
But isn’t this just ancient psychiatric treatment history and longer in use?
Unfortunately, it is not. The truth is that the use of psychotropic drugs has greatly expanded the number of such victims by replacing the messy physical lobotomies with tidier chemical lobotomies.
From the start psychiatrists knew what antipsychotic drugs were doing.
The two pioneers of Thorazine, Delay and Deniker, said about small doses of the drug in 1952: “Sitting or lying, the patient is motionless in his bed, often pale and with eyelids lowered. He remains silent most of the time. If he is questioned, he answers slowly and deliberately in a monotonous and indifferent voice; he expresses himself in a few words and becomes silent”.
A 1950 textbook described the “lobotomylike” impact of Thorazine, and in 1958, Noyes and Kolb summarized in Modern Clinical Psychiatry: “If the patient responds well to the drug, he develops and attitude of indifference both to his surroundings and to his symptoms”.
In other words the drugs didn’t remove the symptoms – they just dulled the patient’s awareness and interest in them and left them in apathy.
Whether done by surgery or a psychotropic drug there is a disruption in the functioning of the frontal lobes that results in the same effect – a greatly reduced person with loss of memory and a reduction of awareness of self and the environment. Hence, the common description of these victims as “vegetables” – a body with very little mind or personality left.
“The blunting of conscious motivation, and the inability to solve problems under the influence of chlorpromazine (Thorazine) resembles nothing so much as the effects of frontal lobotomy. . . Research has suggested that lobotomies and chemicals like chlorpromazine may cause their effects in the same way, by disrupting the activity of the neurochemical, dopamine. At any rate, a psychiatrist would be hard put to distinguish a lobotomized patient from one treated with chlorpromazine.” - Peter Sterling, neuroanatomist, article Psychiatry’s Drug Addiction, New Republic magazine (March 3, 1979)
Kids today are given antipsychotics to change their hyperactive or defiant behavior. The reason they quiet down is that antipsychotics act on the frontal lobe of the brain – exact same area effected by a surgical lobotomy.
Dr. Peter Breggin, who publicly decries the use of antipsychotics in children, has this to say: “We have a national catastrophe. This is a situation where we have ruined the brains of millions of children…These are lobotomizing drugs. Of course, they will reduce all behavior, including irritability.”
Gone are family or spiritual counseling – a pill is quicker.
Yet, dozens of scientific studies with animals and human autopsies demonstrate conclusively that actual shrinkage of the brain is caused by these drugs. Medical science knows this but the public is kept in the dark about it. These neuroleptics and antidepressants frequently make people look and act apathetic, zombie-like as if they’ve been lobotomized — even at moderate or low doses.
The reality of what it’s like to experience a chemical lobotomy is best described in the word of patients who have suffered through treatment with these drugs.
- “I was diagnosed bipolar at 18 – my psychiatrist prescribed me Seroquel, (an antipsychotic) I took Seroquel for four months in the dose she recommended. At first it rendered me completely devoid of personality, energy and interest in people/anything. I was a zombie. Luckily I began to develop a tolerance about a month in and it didn’t have quite as stifling negative affects, but still made me lethargic and apathetic. I also continually had terrifying nightmares and became anorexic.To this day this drug disgusts me. It is used to sedate lunatics and shut people up just like they used to when the mentally ill were socially ostracized. The best way to describe this drug is a chemical lobotomy.”
2. “I was a very, very, very passionate person prior to Celexa.(an SSRI) I was passionate about everything, my marriage, my job, my country. I couldn’t hear our national anthem without stopping and feeling the hairs on the back of my neck stand straight up. 14 years in the Army National guard, I was very into my career with them too. I was passionate about running, about my relationship with (and this will probably sound wierd) my dog. I miss all of these things. I hope they all come back to me. They were very much the bricks in the foundation of my life and I feel like they are gone. When I say I want the old me back, I mean the person who was passionate, the person who loved and was loved. The driven person who saw what he wanted and went out and got it. That was all taken from me with the introduction of Celexa in my life. I just want it back.”
3. “I’ve been in an extremely peculiar state for the past 8 months after stopping Wellbutrin/buproprion (an Antidepressant). I have literally lost everything inside of me and no longer have a sense of “inner being”. My personality has been completely erased, along with the inner psyche I’ve spent a lifetime building. When I attempt to “look inside”, it is impossible because there is literally nothing there. Everything that made up my specific sense of personal being is gone, including my hopes, fears, dreams, goals, opinions, values, morals, likes/dislikes, and most strikingly, all emotions and feelings.
I have no feelings associated with past events, and no emotional connections with anything in the world. Specific emotions that defined my personal sense of being are no longer there. People, places, things and events that I thought were etched in my soul as having significance no longer mean a thing. Absolutely nothing, I can’t stress this enough.
I am unable to look backward or forward, have no sense of past accomplishments and no desire for future ones. The strangest thing is, I cannot feel anything toward being in this state, as that part of me is gone too. It’s like a recursive erasure of everything I ever was, am, and will be.
It doesn’t feel like life is a conscious experience that I am having anymore, as there is no inner construct within me to absorb an experience on any level. I see, hear, touch, and smell, yet each of these is so devoid of emotional content that they don’t coalesce into anything meaningful I can call a human consciousness. My sense of being has been replaced by a constant void of nothingness that is unchanging, 24/7, I feel nothing towards the nothingness. It is not like feeling empty inside, there is no inside to feel empty within.
4. “I tell you, I never had a problem before Celexa. I just want to be back to me. I want to no longer be the pitiful creature it made me. I want to be me. The old me. I want myself back. Life isn’t worth living with this new person holding my thoughts and feelings hostage. I have been off Celexa since last year. I JUST WANT ME BACK. These are bad for our brains, they change our personalities. I want my life back, and don’t want even my worst enemy to experience what I have been through. These people have no love for their fellow man. ..”Depression hurts”,said the commercial, I never knew depression till after Celexa. I have been through hell, therefore hell exists.”
5. “What I don’t understand is how a drug could completely erase me as a human being. What I’m experiencing is not depression but a permanent change in my consciousness that literally destroyed my humanity. All the parts that made up my being are literally gone. I don’t understand how this is even possible, or what (if anything) I can do to change it.”
6. “I’m 25 yrs old. I used to be a bodybuilder, avid fisherman, used to drag race, and enjoy the great outdoors. USED TO.
I was on Effexor (SSRI) for about 3 yrs.
I have never in life felt so sick. I would not wish this on anyone, not even my enemy. The first 3 months were hell. dizziness, nausea, fatigue, bad memory, brain zaps, you name it I had it. I couldn’t even walk sometimes.
I fought and fought and it is now 7 months that I am clean off this horrible so called drug.
To this day, 7 MONTHS later, I am left with weakness, bad memory, and horrible coordination.
I can no longer workout, all my muscles went down, I have no energy to do what I liked to do in my life. I cannot function or remember things at work. I am useless. If it wasn’t my cousin’s place, I would have been fired along time ago.
In my opinion, Effexor has left me permanent damage. This drug has changed my life for the worse and every night I cry, because I feel that this medicine has severely left me damaged. My doctor has no idea what to do”
7. “My withdrawal from Seroxat/Paxil (SSRI) .I became very aggressive on the stuff (many arrests and court appearances), and on some days I could pop valium without it making the slightest bit of difference. When I decided it would be a clever move to stop taking it and put up with a few days of flu-like symptoms, I found out what withdrawal was really like.
I slashed at my arms, I rolled around on the floor, screaming, because everything felt raw and when the police were called I freaked out completely and brandished a knife at them.
Needless to say, I escaped jail by a hair’s breadth. When I ended up in ER, following a dose of pepper spray in my face, I begged for Seroxat and the doc just laughed in my face and said they weren’t running a pharmacy. They did not believe there was such a thing as SSRI/SNRI withdrawal syndrome. I think they still don’t.
In the cell, waiting for the court appearance, I had the worst shakes and weird feelings (having two heads, having my head swell to the size of a water melon). The junky I shared the cell with said: “Wow, what are you on?
8. “Please consider this before commenting on antidepressants in a positive way.
About 10 years ago, the medical school at a major university began to notice a large number of cadavers coming in (for the medical students to work on) which had indented and calcified frontal lobes in their brains.
Puzzled by this, they went through the life history of each cadaver that had this anomaly, and discovered that in every case, the person had been on SSRI antidepressants.
The level of brain damage indicated that each of the cadavers had been lobotomized.
The people who drew the connection between the calcified and collapsed frontal lobes (the part of the brain which contains your soul) and antidepressants received offers of money to keep it secret, and when they chose to go public anyway, received anonymous death threats against their families and children if they ever went public.
I have seen many people get destroyed by antidepressants, all the while they said all was well. Invariably they go down the toilet as they eventually move toward complete and total emotional and personality flatline.”
It’s time the public at large realized that the antipsychotics and antidepressants so glibly passed out by psychiatrists do nothing but destroy people.
Dorothy Parker, a top New York city poet and writer said it best when she wrote her often quoted comment, “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me, than a frontal lobotomy.”