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My Lobotomy Paperback – August 26, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
—William Grimes, The New York Times
"Dully's tale is a heartbreakingly sad story of a life seriously, tragically interrupted. All Howard Dully wanted was to be normal. His entire life has been a search for normality. He did what he had to do to survive. This book is his legacy, and it is a powerful one."
—San Francisco Chronicle
"In My Lobotomy Howard Dully tells more of the story that so many found gripping in a National Public Radio broadcast: how his stepmother joined with a doctor willing to slice into his brain with “ice picks” when he was all of 12 years old."
—New York Daily News
"[Dully's] memoir is vital and almost too disturbing to bear-a piece of recent history that reads like science fiction… Dully, the only patient to ever request his file, speaks eloquently. It’s a voice to crash a server, and to break your heart.”
—Cleveland Plain Dealer
"The value of the book is in the indomitable spirit Dully displays throughout his grueling saga…By coming to grips with his past and shining a light into the dark corners of his medical records, Dully shows that regardless of what happened to his brain, his heart and soul are ferociously strong.”
"Plain-spoken, heart wrenching memoir ..."
—San Jose Mercury News
"Gut-wrenching memoir by a man who was lobotomized at the age of 12.
Assisted by journalist/novelist Fleming (After Havana, 2003, etc.), Dully recounts a family
tragedy whose Sophoclean proportions he could only sketch in his powerful 2005 broadcast on NPR’s
All Things Considered.
“In 1960,” he writes, “I was given a transorbital, or ‘ice pick’ lobotomy. My stepmother arranged it. My father agreed to it. Dr. Walter Freeman, the father of the American lobotomy, told me he was going to do some ‘tests.’ It took ten minutes and cost two hundred dollars.” Fellow doctors called Freeman’s technique barbaric: an ice pick—like instrument was inserted about three inches into each eye socket and twirled to sever connections from the frontal lobe to the rest of the brain. The procedure was intended to help curb a variety of psychoses by muting emotional responses, but sometimes it irreversibly reduced patients to a childlike state or (in 15% of the operations Freeman performed) killed them outright. Dully’s ten-minute “test” did neither, but in some ways it had a far crueler result, since it didn’t end the unruly behavior that had set his stepmother against him to begin with.
“I spent the next forty years in and out of insane asylums, jails, and halfway houses,” he tells us. “I was homeless, alcoholic, and drug-addicted. I was lost.” From all accounts, there was no excuse for the lobotomy. Dully had never been “crazy,” and his (not very) bad behavior sounds like the typical acting-up of a child in desperate need of affection. His stepmother responded with unrelenting abuse and neglect, his father allowed her to demonize his son and never admitted his complicity in the lobotomy; Freeman capitalized on their monumental dysfunction. It’s a tale of epic horror, and while Dully’s courage in telling it inspires awe, readers are left to speculate about what drove supposedly responsible adults to such unconscionable acts.
A profoundly disturbing survivor’s tale."
"...Hard to put down."
From the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
I almost set it aside because the the first two chapters were slow and monotonous, they read almost like bulleted lists. And then I remembered I was hearing the author's voice and he's been lobotomized.
The book is flat where it ought to be screaming at you. It's factual where it should be rage filled and scientific where it should be sad.
Every so often I had to set this aside because my stomach simply lurched too much.
The story is difficult to read because it's real but the story is compelling. I'm not sure that psychiatrists now aren't doing the same thing by medicating school aged children who irritate their teachers. It's an important read.
While ultimately one rejoices with Mr. Dully, this is such a painful book to read. One will surely feel outrage towards all those who were involved with the horrors perpetrated against Dully.
Not only a powerful memoir on how people can rise above even the worst scenarios and the indomitability of the human spirit, this book gives a small window into what can happen when "agencies," and other "institutions" come into the fray and take over, and how one's life can be so diabolically altered by just one professional's own bizarre beliefs.
This book will also give one a whole new appreciation for anyone labeled "mentally ill" or "mentally unstable."
This reader hopes Dr. Freeman is rotting in hell.
Howard's mother died of cancer when he was five. This death may well have contributed to Howard's less than stellar behavior as a child. Also likely impacting Howard's behavior was his father, Rod, who was a cold, sometimes cruel, man.
In the years before his lobotomy, Howard seems to have been rather slovenly and a bit insensitive. The child probably just needed the love and affection that his parents wouldn't give him; instead, he got an ice pick in the brain. If Howard "needed" a lobotomy, so did the majority of the country.
Actually performing the surgery was Walter Freeman. He performed some 2,500 (one source says 3,500) lobotomies from 1936-1967. It is a shameful reflection on the medical community/the government/society that Freeman could slice brains for so long.
Many of Freeman's patients (the book indicates fifteen percent) died as a result of the operation. Many survived as "vegetables." Others lived out their lives in a passive state, not "vegetables," but unable to survive independently. Many showed no long-range change in the behavior that had led to the lobotomy. Enough showed improvement in their (usually depressed or aggressive) behavior to lend credibility to the procedure.
The lobotomy severs the connection between the frontal lobe and the rest of the brain. This seems to block the development of strong emotions that can lead to depression, defiance, and aggression.
After the operation, Howard drifted about for decades.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Omg what an interesting book, amazing story. Very detailed and well written. After this book I am really interested in knowing more about medical surgery history in the USPublished 1 day ago by ANDREA
i purchased this book because i enjoy reading true stories. i did enjoy this book because its a true story. Read morePublished 1 day ago by j. george
As a student I found this book very informative. It is well written and easy to understand. It is very helpful reading the patients perspective and understanding what he went... Read morePublished 2 days ago by Janine Baker
This book gave me such insight to the mind of someone who suffered rejection to an extreme because of behavioral differences and learning differences. Read morePublished 3 days ago by alison859
An excellent read. Mr. Dully explains all the details that he went through. Couldn't even imagine.Published 3 days ago by Amazon Customer
Howard Dully is a 12 year old child when he was lobotomized. This is his story of his search to find out why this was done to him. Read morePublished 3 days ago by carol
Mr. Dully's story is incredible! As a children's mental health therapist, this story really resonated with me. Read morePublished 5 days ago by M. Smith
This was an interesting book. You have to keep reminding yourself it's a true story. It opened my eyes to a practice I never really thought about.Published 9 days ago by KHH