My lobotomy…

Last week as I was on my way home from work I tuned into NPR’s All Things Considered, like I do most of the time on my drive home. It’s a pretty good news show, but last week they aired an audio documentary called “My Lobotomy” put together by a man named Howard Dully for Sound Portraits. This program was one of the most jarring things I’ve ever heard on the radio.

I’ve always thought radio was a much more powerful medium than TV. Sure, TV can show you things, but because of all that showing and the focus on the visual it’s easy to miss important things said by the folks on camera or to not notice the nuances of emotion in someone’s voice. Not so on the radio. In this case the effect was staggering.

Mr. Dully is now 56 years old. When he was 12 his step-mother coerced his father into agreeing to let Dr. Walter Freeman perform a transorbital lobotomy on him. Her hope was to turn him into a vegetable so that he would have to be institutionalized and she would be rid of this step-child she not only did not love but did not want around her home at all. The operation didn’t turn Howard into a vegetable, and to listen to him speak it’s hard to notice anything wrong with him at all, but he makes it clear that since the operation he has never felt normal and that it has caused him great pain and trouble throughout his life.

Dully made My Lobotomy in an effort to understand why this was done to him and to try to learn about how society could even allow such a thing to be done to anyone, let alone a 12 year old boy. I admonish you to listen to this documentary. It will give you a peek into the world of psychotheraputics that I think most people are lacking. It will also most likely make you weep. It did me.

Thanks to Boing Boing for the links.

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