Home BiologyHorrifying Before And After Stories Of Lobotomy Victims
BiologyBy Joe Burgett -

Horrifying Before And After Stories Of Lobotomy Victims
[Image via the New York Times]

Helen Mortensen: The Last Freeman Lobotomy Ever

  • When She Was Lobotomized: 1946 (first), 1956 (second), 1967 (third)
  • Age: Unknown
  • Likely Mental Disorder: Unknown

Helen Mortensen holds a major distinction in that she was the last lobotomy that Dr. Martin Freeman ever performed. It took place in 1967, but Helen was not some newer patient. She was actually one of Freeman’s first 10 transorbital lobotomy patients from 1946. She had suffered a relapse in her mental state and that led to a second operation in 1956. Mortensen had some productivity from the previous lobotomies and wanted a third in 1967.

However, in doing this he severed a blood vessel in Mortensen’s brain. That led to Helen passing away three days later. As a result of the issue, the hospital he performed surgical procedures at decided to revoke his surgical privileges. He retired soon after. Freeman had performed around 3,500 lobotomies in 23 different states. 2,500 of them involved his ice pick version of the procedure. Giving rise to literally thousands of lobotomy victims, none of which needed the procedure.

Horrifying Before And After Stories Of Lobotomy Victims
[Image via Conrad J. Barrington – Twitter]

Warner Baxter: The Actor Who Would Do Anything To End His Pain

  • When He Was Lobotomized: 1951
  • Age: 62
  • Likely Mental Disorder: Severe Pain, Arthritis, Likely Nerve Disorder

Warner Baxter is a notable actor from the 1930s and 40s. He even won the second-ever Academy Award for Best Actor. Of course, Baxter worked alongside many top legends of his time including Ginger Rogers and Clark Gable. In fact, he was among the most in-demand and highest-paid of his time. Yet he eventually starred in B-List movies in secondary roles due to problematic issues with arthritis, which left him in a lot of pain. Nothing could help the pain truly. Very little was offered back then. But pain is technically a signal from our brain and that means it can be helped.

Baxter began doing quack medical concepts to help. Nothing worked. He was still open to things, even those on the fringe, leading to a voluntary transorbital lobotomy in 1951. His doctors and family warned him against it. Yet the procedure did help relieve him from pain. However, it also caused him to essentially lose his memory. Warner could no longer recognize family, friends, or even his doctors. He also ended up having seizures and convulsions. In May of 1951, just months after his lobotomy, he died of pneumonia. It is said he developed it from improper post-surgical care. Lobotomy victims like Baxter were common.

Horrifying Before And After Stories Of Lobotomy Victims
[Image via NPR]

Howard Dully

  • When He Was Lobotomized: December of 1960
  • Age: 12
  • Likely Mental Disorder: Potential Personality Disorder

Howard Dully might be the most famous male lobotomy case ever. This is likely due to why he was lobotomized and the photos that came from it. He’s also one of the few living that could describe the after-effects to the current generation. Dr. Freeman saw Howard when Dully was just 12 years old. He was defiant and “savage-looking” according to his doctor’s notes on him. He claimed that there were mental issues and that he is trying to test his father and stepmother. Dr. Freeman claimed Dully does not react to love or punishment.

Freeman wrote “he objects to going to bed but then sleeps well. He does a good deal of daydreaming but when asked about it he says “I don’t know.” Howard turns his room’s lights on when there is broad sunlight outside.” Freeman performed a lobotomy on Dully in 1960, causing his entire nature to change. Howard just sat, grinning and offering nothing according to his stepmother. Dully still suffers memory loss and claims ever since the operation, he has felt like a freak. This is nothing new from lobotomy victims, but still sad to see.

Horrifying Before And After Stories Of Lobotomy Victims
[Image via John F. Kennedy Library Foundation]

Rosemary Kennedy: The Beauty Paralyzed By Her Father’s Greed

  • When She Was Lobotomized: November 1941
  • Age: 23
  • Likely Mental Disorder: Dyslexia, Potentially Bipolar Disorder

Now for the most famous lobotomy case, we have Rosemary Kennedy. She is the sister of former U.S. President John F. Kennedy. The worst part about her case is that she did not have some sort of crazed or violent mental issue. She dealt with dyslexia. This is when a person has trouble comprehending specific numbers or letters, causing a problem with learning as well as obviously reading and math skills. Rosemary was misunderstood by her parents as well as her school.

Knowledge of her condition was minimal, so doctors claimed she was developmentally disabled. Her father was a politician himself and it is claimed that his political aspirations led him to consent to his 23-year-old daughter getting a frontal lobotomy procedure. She erupted into tantrums when she did not get her way, which could embarrass her father. The lobotomy left her partially paralyzed on her left side as well as mute. We hope her father’s political aspirations were worth making his daughter one of the many lobotomy victims of the 1940s.