AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: The Lobotomist Series

Lectures curated around American Experience: The Lobotomist, which examines Walter Freeman's controversial treatment for mental illness in the early decades of the 20th century.

On May 6, 1946, Life magazine published Bedlam 1946, an exposé of two state hospitals: Pennsylvania's Byberry and Ohio's Cleveland State. To a country shaken by recent revelations of Nazi atrocities, the pictures were deeply affecting. The crisis in state mental hospitals motivated Dr. Walter Freeman to devise a simple version of the lobotomy procedure, one that could be used on a mass scale. This program explores the question, "When is it ethical to intervene in hopeless situations with very imperfect medical knowledge?" and considers the ethical issues raised by lobotomy.

Lectures curated around American Experience: The Lobotomist, which examines Walter Freeman's controversial treatment for mental illness in the early decades of the 20th century.

On May 6, 1946, Life magazine published Bedlam 1946, an exposé of two state hospitals: Pennsylvania's Byberry and Ohio's Cleveland State. To a country shaken by recent revelations of Nazi atrocities, the pictures were deeply affecting. The crisis in state mental hospitals motivated Dr. Walter Freeman to devise a simple version of the lobotomy procedure, one that could be used on a mass scale. This program explores the question, "When is it ethical to intervene in hopeless situations with very imperfect medical knowledge?" and considers the ethical issues raised by lobotomy.