Surgery of the Soul: LPOTL Lobotomy

This is an episode from the true crime comedy podcast Last Podcast on the Left.  This is the second part of a three-part series covering the disturbing and bizarre history of the lobotomy.  This episode focusses primarily on American physician Walter Jackson Freeman II who unethically performed lobotomies along with his surgically trained partner James W. Watts.  While there is a lot of dark humor throughout there is also a broad introduction to the ways in which lobotomy was popularized and performed publicly by Freeman and Watts.  The precursor to the lobotomy, the “leucotomy”, was performed by Portuguese neurologist Egas Moniz.  The leucotomy was a psychosurgery that Freeman eagerly embraced as a cure for all mental health issues.  Several cases are covered throughout the episode including those who were not suffering debilitating illnesses before being subject to the invasive procedure and the largely negative (if not brutally fatal) side effects faced afterward.  There is a large discussion around the frontal lobe being the person’s connection to humanity or the literal soul and the removal of such being the ultimate negative side effect of lobotomies.  An interesting topic is that of religion and how those who received lobotomies never returned to practicing largely due to their inability to feel or express human emotion such as faith.  Freeman would recklessly popularize the lobotomy by performing the “transorbital lobotomy” which would not require a surgeon such as Watts to be present.  Freeman would go on to perform thousands of lobotomies including those on children resulting in countless deaths.  It is a hard episode to listen to with graphic descriptions of a wildly understudied procedure that required a borderline disconnection from humanity on the doctor’s part to perform.