Medicine: Looking Backward

As the father of psychosurgery in the U.S., Washington Neurologist Walter Freeman bears a heavy burden of responsibility, both medical and moral. With Dr. James Watts, he introduced the drastic operation of lobotomy (cutting nerve connections in the forebrain) to relieve unbearable pain and the severest mental disorders. Now, in the A.M.A. Journal, 16 years and 2,000 lobotomies later, bearded Surgeon Freeman takes a long, hard look backward over the hazards, successes and failures of lobotomy, and notes a sharp distinction between old and new techniques.

In general, Dr. Freeman is as confident as ever that the hotly debated brain operations are...

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