25 Petrifying and Brutal Facts About Lobotomies

Lobotomy, also known as leucotomy, is a neurosurgical operation that involves severing connections in the brain’s prefrontal lobe. Doctors first began manipulating the brain in the late 1880s in an attempt to calm patients.

Swiss physician Gottlieb Burkhardt removed parts of the cortex from the brains of patients with auditory hallucinations and other symptoms of schizophrenia, noting that it made them calmer. However, the procedure led to the death of one patient with another committing suicide. Regardless, it is considered one of the most barbaric procedures ever used on people with mental illnesses.

Unfortunately, lobotomies were widely performed for more than two decades as a treatment for schizophrenia, manic depression, and bipolar disorder, among other mental illnesses. This happened because when the procedure was invented there were no beneficial ways to treat mental illness.

People were looking for “pretty desperate” kinds of intervention. Thankfully, with the rise of pharmacology and various medications, lobotomies are no longer a common practice. These are 25 Petrifying and Brutal Facts About Lobotomies. 

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Lobotomy means “cutting a lobe of the brain”

LobotomySource: psychcentral.com, Image: Wikipedia

Lobotomy of the frontal lobe was a very popular procedure in early twentieth century and was recommended by psychiatrists to alleviate symptoms of mental illnesses.

Lobotomy patientSource: psychcentral.com, Image: Wikipedia


Today, it is more commonly used in North America than elsewhere on the planet.

North AmericaSource: psychcentral.com, Image: Wikipedia

According to some sources, the lobotomy was the brainchild of Friederich Golz, who experimented on his dogs to see what would happen. Two years later, in 1892, Gottlieb Burkhardt used the procedure on six schizophrenic patients. The procedure seemed to have a calming effect on the four patients who survived the surgery.

Friederich GolzSource: psychcentral.com, Image: commons.wikimedia.org


According to other sources, the concept of the lobotomy was first invented after neurologist John Fulton noticed how a chimpanzee became much calmer after surgery that destroyed the connections between the frontal lobe and areas below the cerebral hemispheres that govern the emotions.

John FultonSource: psychcentral.com, Image: Wikipedia

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