Monday, October 5, 2009

My Lobotomy: A Memoir

"We are all the victims of what is done to us.  We can either use that as an excuse for failure, knowing that if we fail it isn't really our fault, or we can say, 'I want something better than that, I deserve something better than that, and I'm going to try to make myself a life worth living.'"

This is how Howard Dully ends his story.  For over 40 years of his life, he had questions about why he was given a lobotomy when he was 12 years old.  He finally found the answers he was looking for, met with people who had suffered the same loss, and realized he had found peace by doing so.  He was a normal child, suffering from a sad home life.  He had a stepmother who hated him, and a father who wouldn't stand up for him.  His brothers and stepbrothers were never as harshly punished as he was.  His stepmother called him names and beat him, as did his father.  Why? This is something he would ask himself over and over again throughout his whole life.  His stepmother was so bent on being rid of him, she consulted with six psychiatrists in hopes of having him committed.  All said he was a normal boy.  Four said she was the problem.  Then she found Dr. Walter Freeman.  After several visits, he suggested changing Howard's personality via transorbital lobotomy, or "ice pick lobotomy".  His father agreed to it after only two days of consideration.  The procedure was done.  After that, Howard was calmer. (Who wouldn't be after having their brain scrambled?!) However, his stepmother still didn't want him in the home.  He was passed around from place to place, including family, a foster home, an asylum, a school for the mentally handicapped, half-way houses, juvenile hall, jail, and eventually ended up homeless with the education of a 14 year old.  He was into drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, women, etc.  He was married three times, fathered a child and had a heart attack before he decided he needed to do something with his life.  Also, at this point, he realized he needed answers.  So, he started searching.  He ended up doing a radio show for NPR, which led him to Washington D.C. where he was able to access the files on his procedure.  All the notes, all the pictures, all the lies his stepmother told, the interview with his father... all of this couldn't bring him peace.  Helping others, talking about what happened, bringing it all to the surface, that's what brought him peace.  It's a heartbreaking story of one man's journey through life after being treated so unfairly, feeling like he was "thrown away", aching to be loved by his parents, and finally finding a woman he could be faithful to who loved him and stood by him in his quest for the truth. 

I highly recommend reading it.  :)  Here's a sneak peak inside this book.

This is a picture from the book, the picture Dr. Freeman took of Howard's lobotomy:

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