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Monday, May 28, 2007

Flashback - WWII and lobotomies

The book Flashback by Penny Coleman deals with PTSD and suicide. Even though the focus is on Vietnam, there is a small section about WWII. I am quoting for educational purposes. "Fully 60 percent of the postwar VA patients were psychiatric. Limited funds and limited space opened the door for one of medical history's most obscene experiments: the ice pick lobotomy" (p. 54). The vast majority of lobotomies in the 40s and 50s were "hysterical women" with the main exception being traumatized veterans.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

After reviewing my dad's WWII naval service record pre, during and post I found that one of his great fears,that of being lobotomized wasn't emanating from delusion.

Within six months of honorable naval discharge he was in a VA contract hospital-a neuropsych unit-being diagnosed with the term of the day, "psychopathological personality-mixed." Today they call this Anti-social personality disorder.

When I researched this hospital in the hopes of getting to the bottom of my father's hospitalization I was enlightened in a way I did not expect-the background of this facility included information about the lobotomies performed there. Would you seek mental health treatment if you thought there was a chance that you could be lobotomized?

Now if I could only find the connection between him and mustard gas. He insisted during his last months that the VA wanted to kill him and that they were pumping mustard gas into his hospital room. He would not tolerate a nebulizer because he said it reminded him of mustard gas.

Yes, it was a great war for the 94% who didn't see combat and who came home whole in body, mind and spirit.

Daddy's POW

Carol said...

The shame is that the prevalence of lobotomies given to traumatized WWII veterans has never been publicized or acknowledged. No wonder so many of our fathers stuffed their trauma, but it came out in other ways. I was shocked when during my research I discoved that the vets in the VA hospitals for combat fatigue after WWII were in fear of being lobotomized. And your information just reinforces the factual background of this practice