Madelines torture and lobotomy
Posted () on October-8-2007 Read More

The crazy mental doctor from “Hellraiser II” well thats kinda how I see him or them actually, below are stories of 2 quack doctors who believed it beneficial to mental health and research to torment and torture the mentally ill.

walter freeman lobotomy clinic photo The field of mental health suffers no shortage of weird and offbeat characters, but the Washington Post recently outdid itself for its story on Walter Freeman, father of the lobotomy. Sample this lurid paragraph for starters: “Walter Freeman lifted the patient’s eyelid and inserted an ice pick-like instrument called a leucotome through a tear duct. A few taps with a surgical hammer breached the bone. Freeman took a position behind the patient’s head, pushed the leucotome about an inch and a half into the frontal lobe of the patient’s brain, and moved the sharp tip back and forth. Then he repeated the process with the other eye socket.” Freeman kept records of 3,439 lobotomies he performed over his long career, and he promoted the procedure to more than 55 hospitals in 23 states. At AMA meetings, he set up graphic exhibits and used hand-held clackers to draw audiences.Upon finding out that chimpanzees became subdued when their frontal lobes were damaged, and spurred into action by Portuguese neurologist Egas Monisz’ experiments on people, he and colleague James Watts started practicing on brains from the hospital morgue, and in 1936 they were ready for their first patient, a Mrs Hammatt, 63, who suffered from agitated depression and sleeplessness. The technique of entering the frontal lobes through the eye sockets was still far off into the future. Instead, they drilled six holes into the top of her skull. According to Freeman, Mrs Hammet emerged transformed, able to “go to the theatre and really enjoy the play … ” She lived another five years.

probably more hype than fact considering most of these procedures ended up with vegetables.. I doubt our brains are meant to be sliced and diced.

Nevertheless, hospitals were willing to put up with lobotomies and all their shortcomings for no other apparent reason than post-operation lethargic patients were easier to care for than pre-operation emotionally-charged ones.

Before Walter Freeman’s death in 1972, he’d crossed and re-crossed the nation 11 times, and had performed the “ice pick” lobotomy on no less than 2500 patients in 23 states.

Madeleine’s Story

ice pick lobotomyMadeleine was a 27 year old newscaster in New York city, in the mid 1950’s. She had begun to have delusions and terrifying dreams. She thought that ‘Three Wise Men’ were constantly telling her what to do, and quit her job because they began to appear sitting on the microphone. She was referred to Dr. Cameron, who put her on Thorazine. She feared him greatly, because he was so grim and forbidding, and he asked her questions that made no sense; questions like: ‘Do you ever imagine you are being struck by molten raindrops? Fire or bullets?’. Her paranoia was made worse by her fear of Dr. Cameron. She began to believe he was working with the Three Wise men. She decided to commit suicide by taking all of the Thorazine at once, and would pace and search in her apartment endlessly trying to find where her husband had hidden the bottle. The Wise men constantly taunted and ridiculed her, telling her how worthless she was. Her husband was caring and attentive, but it had gotten so the only way she could bear to have sex with him was if she pretended he was her father.

All of her sessions with Dr. Cameron were recorded, and he always called her as he did all women, ‘Lassie’, or ‘Girlie’. His severity and disturbing questions made each ‘therapy’ session worse for Madeleine.

Madeleine finally found the bottle and took all of the Thorazine at once. Her husband, having called every two hours from work for weeks, rushed home and got her to the hospital to have her stomach pumped. On Dr. Cameron’s recommendation, she was committed to his facility at McGill University.

monkey gets lobotomyAt the clinic, Madeleine was now subjected to more intensive ‘treatment’. She developed another hallucination she called the ‘Sloth’, and despite the countless times the electro-shock cart had been wheeled up to her rubber sheeted bed and the paddles on her temples had zapped her into oblivion, the hallucinations got worse.

Over three years she spent forty-four weeks at the clinic, consumed mountains of pills and thousands of volts. Each time she went home, she tried to kill herself.

Her final stay at the clinic was marked by a substantial increase in drugs and electroshock treatments. After each jolt of electricity, Madeleine would have convulsions. A rubber gag was inserted into her mouth to keep her from biting her tongue off. Usually every morning she recieved six separate bursts of electricity.

The figure for Europe was similar. Tens of thousands of lobotomies were performed in the Pacific Basin and India. There, the technique was simpler- a sufficiently strong electro-shock put them to sleep and was cheaper than an anesthetic. “A ‘trocar’, a graduated instrument rather like a miniature ice pick, was driven through the bony orbit behind the eye socket and tapped gently with a surgeon’s mallet to destroy brain cells and nerve fibers. Three or four patients could be handled in an hour.” (p. 219)

Madeleine Smith’s lobotomy was slightly more sophisticated:

“A theater porter wheeled Madeleine and he and the nurse transferred her from the trolley onto the operating table. Madeleine wore only a surgical gown. She stared, fully conscious, into the powerful overhead light.

“The radical lobotomy would be performed under a local anesthetic so that the surgeon could immediately judge her disorientation, indicating how successful was his severing of her frontal lobes. Until he observed the required signs, he would continue to destroy that portion of her brain.

“Do you feel anything, lassie?” Dr. Cameron always asked. Madeleine mumbled as he peeled back the skin on her forehead, exposing the bone.

Using the surgeon’s drill, “He drilled for a few moments and a fine spray of bone shavings spumed into the air…After he finally retracted the brace, the resident collected the skull shavings from Madeleine’s head and placed them in a small gallipot. The dust would be used to fill up the burr hole at the end of the operation.”

“Madeleine’s brain was exposed, milky pink in color.”

“The surgeon asked for a long steel spatula that had replaced the wire stylet Dr. Moniz had used as a leucotome in his first operations; the stylet had proven not to be stiff enough, and the wire had a tendency to bend in a patient’s brain, traversing through blood vessels and tissue not meant to be destroyed. The journals had been filled with accounts of patients who had started to have epileptic seizures and other serious complications caused by the wire. The spatula was an altogether more sturdy weapon.”

“Lassie, count to ten.”
A series of grunts came from Madeleine.

“The surgeon inserted the spatula into the burr hole. He worked to a definite routine: down a few centimeters, then a pause to move the instrument a few centimeters laterally. Each move destroyed more of Madeleine’s brain.”

“Can you sing your favorite song?”
A strange moaning came from Madeleine.

“The surgeon drove the spatula further into her brain, extending and widening the wound, from which blood oozed.

“Lassie, count to ten.”
There was a grunt from Madeleine.

The surgeon continued to destroy her brain.
“Do you feel sleepy?”
She gave the same response.

The surgeon withdrew the spatula and asked for a cannula, a heavy-gauge hypodermic needle. He inserted it in the hole and, using steady pressure, drove it down to the spheroidal, the bony ridge at the base of the skull. The cannula was withdrawn. Once more he inserted the spatula, and swung its handle upward, so that the blade could be drawn along the base of her skull and a cut made as far to the side as possible in her brain.”

“Dr. Cameron continued to ask questions. They were part of what he termed the disorientation yardstick- his means of knowing how much brain destruction was being acheived.

“Lassie, speak to me.”
A further grunt.

The surgeon continued, and finally she made no more sounds, closed her eyes and fell into a stupor.

“Dr. Cameron bent over Madeleine. Removing the eyeshield, he lifted one and then another of her eyelids. She stared vacuously back at him.

“Lassie, its all over, no more pain.”

Later that day, Madeleine was transferred to St. Jean de Dieu hospital, to enter the custodial care of the religious sisters who maintained a number of zombies like her.”

Between 1944 and 1960, over 100,000 lobotomies had been performed in the US.

In the 1950’s and 60’s, the US government was obsessed with discovering secrets of ‘mind control’. At McGill University, in Montreal, Canada, the American Dr. Donald Ewen Cameron ran a clinic. Many of his patients were lobotomized, and sent to an oblivion some remain in today.

So let me get this straight…. stick an ice pick in my eye, cut off parts of my brain, skull shavings run a muck in the air, all to make me better, and, I will most likely end up a vegetable that is if I am not in that percentile that dies from the procedure, ahh, let me think about this one… no thanks … doctor.

That was how it was, but the propoganda made it sound like some miricle cure to those “nutty relatives” you really do not want bugging you.

The really sad thing is how many families agreed to have this done to their loved ones because of the hype and propoganda, I doubt they ever got the details of what a “good” result was.

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Comments Posted:
11 Comments posted on "Madelines torture and lobotomy"
Brian Dillon on January 5th, 2009 at 4:17 am #

My God, public ignorance & lack of Academic debate are a frightening combination. I saw a documentary on Freeman last night & was horrified. The man was not a surgeon & so little was known about the brain this should never have been allowed. There obviously was no such thing as investigative journalism or medical ethics. The whole thing was about finance, ambition & silencing dissent.
I am embarking on a film idea about this whole sad episode in medical history, & am fishing for as many case records I can find so this has been invaluable, thank you for posting
it. What is most telling about these cases are the said reasons for performing the proceedure.Check out Howard Dulleys story, he was 11 yrs old when he was done. His step mother took him to several doctors to find out whay he was defiant, they said he missed his recently deceased mother & was having trouble adjusting to the step mother. They explained that there was nothing wrong with him, he just needed time. She found freeman who said that the child needed a lobotomy. All this was done behind the fathers back but he eventually agreed to the lobotomy. Howard was lucky enough to not have become a vegetable but did lose his sense of self. The stepmother was not happy with the results & so had him taken away as a ward of the state.
This is but one case which shows how the proceedure was being used without
any consideration for the well being of the patients or thier consent. All the medical proffession were up in arms over this but none published thier concerns in the media so the public remained ignorant of the true dangers.

Alex on January 7th, 2009 at 9:36 am #


Erin-Marie on August 16th, 2009 at 7:10 am #

When reading this i was sick to my stomach thinking about the way people were treated if there was something wrong with them. my god. the way things are ran now im surprised that these are not still being done. i was actually reading this because i am doing research on the kings park psychiatric center and they were naming some of the ways that the patients were tortured and lobotomy was one of the ways. sick sons of bitches. im sorry but those poor people; may they rest in peace and may walter freeman rot in the flames of hell

[…] It was considered a miracle cure, the quick fix for all serious mental maladies. The infamous Dr. Walter Freeman, with his icepick lobotomy roadshow , would today not seem out of place in a particularly gory […]

Jackie on June 7th, 2010 at 4:24 am #

There’s a film called The Sleep room, about Dr. Cameron’s horrible treatment of his patients. It’s available here:

It’s a very well done documentary on the procedure Dr. Cameron invented called Psychic Driving, and how it destroyed the patients in his care.

Protest The Hero on February 12th, 2012 at 10:49 am #

“Torture methods and devices in Medieval times… How sick were these fools” Well with the use of ECT and forced drugging with unproven and dangerous chemicals in our age I’d assume we were still living in medievil times, but not many seem to care

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