Medicine: Psychosurgery Returns

Psychosurgery, or modification of the brain to alter or control some aspect of personality, is an ancient operation. Trephining (opening the skull) was performed in Peru 12,000 years ago, probably to let out suspected demons; 14th century anatomy texts contain instructions for similar operations. Except for a brief period during the 1940s and 1950s, psychosurgery has never won wide acceptance in the U.S., and for good reason. Lobotomies, operations to lessen severe abnormal anxiety by severing nerve connections in the brain, resulted in improvement only half the time, and turned many patients into...

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