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10 Bizarre Therapies in Mental Illness Treatment History

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7.  Lobotomy

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The Lobotomy (also known as leucotomy) has been a controversial procedure from it’s very inception due to the disproportion of benefits and drawbacks. The procedure was pioneered by Portuguese neurologist António Egas Moniz who utilized it in the treatment of various psychoses and problematic behaviors. The procedure was conducted by inserting an ice pick through the eye sockets to scrape away portions of the brain’s pre-frontal cortex to disrupt neuro-circuitry associated with unwanted symptoms. While the operation appeared to improve patient’s symptoms, it also came at the expense of their intellect and personality. Some patients died as a result of the operation either due to post-surgery complications or suicide. Others were left a shell of their former selves with severe mental impairments and somatic disabilities such as loss of bowel control. In spite of this, Moniz’s work earned him a Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine  in 1949. In the U.S., nearly 19,000 people have been lobotomized before antipsychotic medication supplanted it.


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