American Experience: Season 20, Episode 2

The Lobotomist (21 Jan. 2008)

TV Episode  |   |  Documentary, History
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This program tells the gripping tale of medical intervention gone awry.


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Episode cast overview:
Narrator (voice)
Dr. Walter Freeman (voice)
Family Member (voice)
Family Member (voice)
Richard Biermann
Veronica James ...
Dr. Walter Freeman


This program tells the gripping tale of medical intervention gone awry.

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21 January 2008 (USA)  »

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User Reviews

Hard to watch yet very compelling...
26 November 2011 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

I cannot stress strongly enough that this documentary from "The American Experience" is VERY hard to watch!!! Not only is the topic very disturbing, but actual photos of lobotomies are shown and you WILL see folks with ice pick-like rods shoved through their eye sockets into their brains!! Do NOT watch this is you are highly sensitive and do NOT show this to kids!! This film is about the amazing proliferation of lobotomies that was championed by Dr. Walter Freeman. While it's not exactly a biography of Freeman, it does follow much of his life and discusses his crusade to popularize this seemingly barbaric operation. It discusses his successes, but it also discusses his many failures--including some patients who died or were permanently disabled due to this brain surgery.

Like a typical episode of "The American Experience", this one is made up of photos, interviews and the like. What makes it a little different is that two of Freeman's sons participated as well--making this a highly unusual film and offering unusual insights into the motivations of the man. Well worth seeing and very compelling--thank God this sort of treatment is, for the most part, no longer done as better and far more human procedures are now available.

It would be interesting to see a film like this about Electro-Convulsive Therapy (ECT)--especially since the way it's done and its long-term side effects have changed dramatically over the years.

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