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ametrai+ DrQw;ncts other cw+ work Elaine Lockhart 454-3320 1/// 1,017dr i e //r N *rip?! z’ Since 1866 The Place in Austin GOOD FOOD GOOD BEER 1607 San Jacinto 477-4171 The lobotomy S ac By James Ridgeway Washington, D.C. In recent years psychiatrists have taken a new interest in brain surgery as a means of controlling the behavior of individuals they consider to be disturbed. Dr. Peter Breggin, a Washington psychiatrist, made a study of this phenomenon, and on Feb. 24, New Jersey Congressman Cornelius Gallagher placed it in the Congressional Record. In lobotomy and psychosurgery parts of the brain are cut out or mutilated in order to control behavior, usually aggressive, or to blunt emotion, anxiety or tension. At first lobotomies were directed at patients in state mental hospitals who suffered from chronic disabilities. But now such operations are being carried out on people who function relatively well, living at home and on the job. OST OF the patients are women, with old people and children in the other major groups. Brain surgery is ‘widely used in Japan, Thailand and India. Now the focus is shifting to the United States, in particular to the state of Mississippi where doctors are operating on hyperactive children as young as five years old. It’s hard to say how many cases there have been, but Breggin counted 1,000 cases himself since 1965. Of that number, three doctors did 500 operations. Breggin believes there is a major promotional campaign underway to increase the 22 The Texas Observer Hard Times practice, with promotional articles in newsmagazines and medical journals. There’s even a new professional booster organization called the International Association for Psychosurgery. Breggin goes on to recount examples from the literature attesting to the value of brain surgery. The Indian surgeon Balasubramaniam, in International Surgery, tells of his success with 115 patients, three of them under five, and another 36 under 11. He injects the child’s brain with foreign matter such as olive oil and reports, “The improvement that occurs has been remarkable. In one case a patient had been assaulting his colleagues and the ward doctor; after the operation he became a helpful addition to the ward staff and looked after other patients. In one case the patient became quiet, bashful and was a model of good behavior.” In Thailand surgeons cut out parts of the brain to alleviate cases where the sense of smell may be interpreted as leading to the disease. One patient was a nine year old boy who thought he had an olfactory hallucination. But as Breggin notes, he more probably had a behavioral problem with his parents. This patient had a habit of running away from home, allegedly to smell engine oil in cars. The parents disciplined him but the boy still ran off. So an eminent surgeon cut out part of his brain, and the boy didn’t run away to smell engine oil any more. The Japanese operate on children from five to 13 “characterized by unsteadiness, hyperactive , behavior disorder and poor concentration,” among other things. Japanese surgeons report on their best results in five cases, “They have reached the degree of satisfactory obedience and of constant steady mood, which enabled the children to stay in their social environment, such as kindergarten or school for the feebleminded.” Another Japanese surgeon recommends operating on the brains of people who are “delicate, warmhearted, conscientious, enthusiastic, perfectionistic.” It’s referred to as “a kind of plastic surgery of mental states.” THE GERMANS, who as one might suspect are most efficient in these matters, operate with enthusiasm on the brain, and as an unexpected beneficial side effect they find that brain operations produce severe amnesia, lasting six weeks or so. This has definite therapeutic effects according to the Germans. The Germans also help people get over their sexual fantasies with brain operations, and find that homosexual impulses disappear after brain surgery. In Australia, Britain and Canada the techniques of brain surgery are well developed. As elsewhere the main target group is women. In our own country, the University of Texas Medical Center at Galveston operates on drug addicts and alcoholics. Doctors at Boston City Hospital reported a successful brain surgery on a depressed woman, but unfortunately the result was spoiled when the woman killed herself. In the state of Mississippi operations are carried out on children with the goal: to “reduce the hyperactivity to levels manageable by parents.” Finally, we are left with the picture of the Boston woman, and Breggin’s depiction of her struggle with her mad physicians: “A woman with a long and difficult psychiatric history brought in for psychosurgery, specifically a thalamotomy, mutilation of an emotion regulating portion of the brain. Her mother is heavily involved ‘with her and with the psychiatrist and surgeon, and is probably a significant force in getting her to submit to surgery. The patient gets obviously worse after the first mutilation is performed so she is done again with the convenience of her implanted electrode.’ But after the second mutilation she becomes enraged at her psychiatrist and her neurosurgeon, and refuses to talk with or deal with her neurosurgeon any more. Nor will she ever submit to a suggested third operation. Her electrodes are therefore removed, but her rage is dismissed as “aparanoid” by V. H. Mark and his associates. “Her mood then improves, as we are told, until she reaches a state of ‘high spirits.’ She is allowed out of the hospital to shop whereupon she goes directly to a phone booth, calls her mother to say ‘goodbye’ and takes poison and kills herself. “Her suicide is not seen as a vengeful act of a mutilated soul against her mother and her physicians. Instead her suicide is interpreted as a sign that she was getting over ,her depression, a `gratifying’ result of the operation. . ..”