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New PDF release: American Lobotomy: A Rhetorical History

By Jenell Johnson

ISBN-10: 0472119443

ISBN-13: 9780472119448

American Lobotomy reviews a wide selection of representations of lobotomy to supply a rhetorical heritage of 1 of the main notorious methods within the background of drugs. the improvement of lobotomy in 1935 was once heralded as a “miracle therapy” that will empty the nation’s perennially blighted asylums. notwithstanding, purely 20 years later, lobotomists at the start praised for his or her “therapeutic braveness” have been condemned for his or her barbarity, a picture that has merely soured in next a long time. Johnson employs formerly deserted texts like technological know-how fiction, horror movie, political polemics, and conspiracy idea to teach how lobotomy’s entanglement with social and political narratives contributed to a robust picture of the operation that persists to today. The publication provocatively demanding situations the background of medication, arguing that rhetorical historical past is essential to knowing scientific background. It bargains a case research of ways medication accumulates that means because it circulates in public tradition and argues for the necessity to comprehend biomedicine as a culturally positioned perform.

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American Lobotomy experiences a large choice of representations of lobotomy to provide a rhetorical historical past of 1 of the main notorious systems within the background of drugs. the improvement of lobotomy in 1935 used to be heralded as a “miracle remedy” that will empty the nation’s perennially blighted asylums. although, basically two decades later, lobotomists first and foremost praised for his or her “therapeutic braveness” have been condemned for his or her barbarity, a picture that has basically soured in next a long time.

Extra info for American Lobotomy: A Rhetorical History

Sample text

Arguments about lobotomy’s value were not limited to the medical community, however. Returning to 1936, the moment when lobotomy first entered the pages of newspapers and magazines, chapter 2 traces the shifting claims about the operation’s therapeutic value in medical journalism by examining how patient case histories were used as evidence of lobotomy’s social value. As arguments began to shift from the praise of lobotomy to its condemnation in the late 1940s and early 1950s, two related shifts also took place: the subjects of case histories used to support arguments about lobotomy overwhelmingly switched gender from women to men, and the interpretation of the operation’s effects shifted from positive to negative.

Lobotomy’s primary objective was to “blunt” strong emotions in order to return mentally ill people to “productive” roles in their families, communities, and the economy. This chapter investigates the medical meanings of lobotomy in the early years of its use in the United States and shows how the argument of emotional impairment that served as lobotomy’s scientific justification was mirrored in constraints on medical discourse. This connection is especially apparent in accusations of emotionality against lobotomy’s critics, one of whom was chastised for “thinking with his thalamus” when he voiced his passionate objections to the procedure (Freeman 1970, 14–­10).

The Trans-­Allegheny Lunatic Asylum is a site of marvelous history where past and present, malevolence and benevolence, and fact and fiction comingle in a deeply affective environment. In this chapter, I explore lobotomy’s role in the hospital’s history and the performance of that history on medical and paranormal tours in order to understand the cultural function of lobotomy’s meaning as a monstrous practice. In closing, with a nod to Donna Haraway (1988), who champions the value of “partial perspective,” I want to acknowledge the limits of this book’s vision.

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American Lobotomy: A Rhetorical History by Jenell Johnson


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