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 perform thousands of lobotomies.

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.

The Lobotomist
  • Info
  • Release date2008
  • Full runtime
  • Director(s)Barak Goodman, John Maggio
  • Production companyWGBH