The Wall Street Journal
published an investigation Wednesdayinto lobotomies performed on World War II veterans, some of whom are now thought to have suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Before the release of antipsychotic drug Thorazine in the mid-1950s, doctors didn’t have many viable options when it came to treating mental illness, and PTSD was not yet a recognised disorder. The Journal report reveals that U.S. Veterans Affairs doctors performed at least 1,930 lobotomies between April 1, 1947, and Sept. 30, 1950.
When other treatments, such as electroshock therapy and temporary induced comas, failed, doctors turned to lobotomies to control veterans struggling with PTSD and other forms of mental illness.
Veteran Roman Tritz told the story of how doctors forced the procedure on him in 1953. It didn’t do much to help him:
“Mr. Tritz recovered slowly from his operation. Six weeks after surgery, he gave a loud cry in his sleep and his entire body convulsed. It was the first of a series of seizures that doctors concluded had likely been caused by the lobotomy.
By September 1953, though, he had brightened, working jigsaw puzzles and playing checkers with other patients. But he soon withdrew again and alarmed doctors by referring to himself as ‘the Prince of the Universe.’ In January 1954, doctors allowed him a trial stay at the family farm. It went badly. His father whispered to a visiting VA social worker that he was scared to drive his son alone back to Tomah, records show. In the end, the sheriff returned Mr. Tritz to the hospital.
In January 1954, doctors allowed him a trial stay at the family farm. It went badly. His father whispered to a visiting VA social worker that he was scared to drive his son alone back to Tomah, records show. In the end, the sheriff returned Mr. Tritz to the hospital.”
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