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Early in the 20th Century, individuals who suffered from mental illness had little hope of recovery. Psychiatric medications had yet to be discovered, and the afflicted were often locked away in overcrowded asylums. In 1935 a radical new medical procedure, called a lobotomy, was being performed on the most severely mentally ill. Initially this form of brain surgery appeared to offer hope for patients by lessening the severity of psychotic symptoms.
This is the gripping tale of Dr. Walter Freeman, who in 1936 began performing the operation, and championed it as a general cure for everything from psychosis to misbehavior in children. The ambitious neurologist devoted his life to perfecting and promoting the procedure. By the 1940’s, doctors from 50 state asylums were routinely utilizing his technique, and by 1956 over 40,000 people had been lobotomized in America. Once hailed by the Nobel Committee as a hero of modern medicine, Dr. Walter Freeman would ultimately be labeled a moral monster.