Friday, March 10, 2006

Events that contributed to the discredit of psychosurgery

"It wasn't just the intrusiveness of those more radical procedures of lobotomy that caused the outcry but also the applications that certain proponents seemed to favor. The neurosurgeons Vernon H. Mark and William H. Sweet and the psychiatrist Frank R. Ervin, for example, wrote a letter to the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1967 that implied that psychosurgery might help quell the urban riots then sweeping the nation (USA); if, in each city, there were a handful of troublemakers with abnormalities of the amygdala, the troubles might have a medical explanation. These physicians seemed ready to diagnose as surgically treatable derangements of the brain, the violent outbursts that many viewed as a complex social problem". (Melvin Konner in Sciences, the publication of the NY Academy of Sciences)