Dr. Walter Freeman invented and promoted the ice pick lobotomy. He performed this procedure on approximately 10,000 patients who all manner of mental illness.
At the age of 12, Howard Dully was one of Dr. Freeman’s patients. Dully’s neurotic, jealous,stepmother scheduled the lobotomy. Even though other doctors stated that Dully did not demonstrate any behaviors other than that of a typical preteen boy. After being manipulated by the stepmother Dully’s father agreed on the labotomy, and the family paid $200 to Freeman.
The book chronicles Dully’s life before and after his lobotomy. His childhood was cruel, and not just the normal amount of cruel a child of the ‘50s could expect. His stepmother was verbally and physically abusive; his siblings verify the treatment he received as the family’s whipping post.
Dully began to act out even more when he was labeled a problem child - petty crimes and a bad attitude were the norm. It is difficult to determine if he was actually a troubled child or just living up to the expectations of his stepmother.
Dully’s lobotomy went off as expected, and the results were immediately positive. Eventually, though, the positivity faded away when Dully began to have greater issues that further strained his family relationships, found him in and out of the system, and secured an adult life of instability for him.
At the age of 54, with children of his own, Dully set out to discover the circumstances of his young life and the lobotomy that altered it forever.
My Lobotomy is remarkable as a survivor story, but also as a commentary on medicine and abuse. It answers tough questions and poses important new questions as well.