Praise for The Lobotomist
"Written with such clarity and engaging detail that a reader has difficulty in putting it down."
--The New York Review of Books
"One of the many virtues of El-Hai's text is the rich detail he provides about Freeman's life and ideas."
--Los Angeles Times
"Fascinating . . . an important and disturbing contribution to the history of psychiatry."
"Captivating. . . . No history of modern psychiatry is complete without this story."
--Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon
The Lobotomist explores one of the darkest chapters of American medicine: the desperate attempt to treat the hundreds of thousands of psychiatric patients in need of help during the middle decades of the twentieth century. Into this crisis stepped Walter Freeman, M.D., who saw a solution in lobotomy, a brain operation intended to reduce the severity of psychotic symptoms. Although many patients did not benefit from the thousands of lobotomies Freeman performed, others believed their lobotomies changed them for the better.
Drawing on a rich collection of documents Freeman left behind and interviews with Freeman's family, Jack El-Hai takes a penetrating look into the life of this complex scientific genius and traces the physician's fascinating life and work.