By Jenell Johnson
American Lobotomy reviews a wide selection of representations of lobotomy to provide a rhetorical heritage of 1 of the main notorious approaches within the heritage of drugs. the improvement of lobotomy in 1935 used to be heralded as a “miracle therapy” that will empty the nation’s perennially blighted asylums. notwithstanding, simply two decades later, lobotomists in the beginning praised for his or her “therapeutic braveness” have been condemned for his or her barbarity, a picture that has basically soured in next a long time. Johnson employs formerly deserted texts like technological know-how fiction, horror movie, political polemics, and conspiracy concept to teach how lobotomy’s entanglement with social and political narratives contributed to a robust photograph of the operation that persists to today. The e-book provocatively demanding situations the heritage of medication, arguing that rhetorical heritage is essential to knowing scientific historical past. It bargains a case examine of ways medication accumulates that means because it circulates in public tradition and argues for the necessity to comprehend biomedicine as a culturally located perform.
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In 2008, Weston Hospital reopened as the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, a tourist attraction that holds paranormal tours and an annual haunted house on the premises. The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum is a site of marvelous history where past and present, malevolence and benevolence, and fact and fiction comingle in a deeply affective environment. In this chapter, I explore lobotomy’s role in the hospital’s history and the performance of that history on medical and paranormal tours in order to understand the cultural function of lobotomy’s meaning as a monstrous practice.
In large part, the reason it is difficult to generalize about lobotomy patients is that the operation did not simply remove emotional impairment. Even in cases where the operation went as planned, the surgery traded one perceived impairment for another set of iatrogenically induced impairments that varied from patient to patient, what Pressman calls lobotomy’s “therapeutic calculus” (1999, 206). As even Freeman and Watts admitted, “lobotomy has by no means always been entirely for the good; it seems quite certain that an individual wishing to be relieved of certain distressing symptoms has to pay a certain price” (1950, 377).
For Rodney, to feel what had happened was not just to remember the past, but to return there, to dwell there, and perhaps to take responsibility for what had happened. For Rodney, the past, his affective reaction to that past, and the lessons of that past seem to be intimately intertwined, and it is perhaps for this reason that he insists that he and his son remain in the present, figured as a nonaffective space of nonreflection. “I’ve got to live today,” Rodney tells Howard, “and you have to live today” (244).