The Lobotomist

The Lobotomist is a documentary film which follows the story of Walter J. Freeman, a neurologist who fathered the lobotomy.

He believed his work could help the mentally ill and secure them a more stabile life. However, most often his procedures would end in utter tragedy.

Throughout the 1940’s and 1950’s Freeman would go ahead and perform thousands of lobotomies, guarding the notion he was here to help rather than destroy.

His research and bleak 4-minute surgical operations showered him in praise from the medical circles, yet a vast amount of his patients had become locked inside their minds as zombies.

During the time of Freeman’s reign, medical history surrounding mental illness was still a very big mystery. Because of this great unknown, many people were misdiagnosed and were lobotomized as a result.

It wasn’t unheard of for a person to be lobotomized for showing even the slightest aberration from “normal” behaviour.

This riveting (and often very unsettling) documentary from PBS secures a glimpse into a time where medical history was at its darkest. Where neuro surgical procedures such as the lobotomy were normal across the western world and often ended in tragic results.

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The Lobotomist
  • Info
  • Release date21 Jan., 2008
  • Full runtime55 min
  • SeriesAmerican Experience s. 20 ep. 2
  • Directed byBarak Goodman, John Maggio
  • Narrated byCampbell Scott
  • Production companiesArk Media, WGBH
  • Produced forPBS (American Experience)