Teaching Students About Lobotomy

As a form of psychiatric treatment that was once common in the early 20th century, lobotomy is now seen as a barbaric practice that deserves our attention in the classroom. While it’s crucial that we remember the past, it’s equally important to educate our students on the dangers of lobotomy and why it’s no longer used in modern medicine.

Firstly, teachers can start by discussing the history of lobotomy and its inventor, Egas Moniz. Moniz was a Portuguese physician who created the procedure in the 1930s as a way of treating psychiatric patients with mental illness. However, the procedure involved removing parts of the brain’s prefrontal cortex, which was believed to control a person’s emotions and thoughts.

Teachers can explain how the procedure was performed, highlighting its invasive nature and the risks involved, such as brain damage, personality changes, and even death. They can also address how lobotomy came to be widely used, becoming one of the most prevalent psychiatric treatments in the United States during the 1940s and 1950s.

Another aspect to explore is how lobotomy’s popularity began to decline in the 1950s, when new drugs such as chlorpromazine were introduced, proving to be more effective and safer than lobotomy. By the 1970s, lobotomy had become a rare medical intervention and still only performed in extreme cases, if at all.

Finally, it’s critical to examine the ethical implications of lobotomy, particularly when considering the vulnerable groups of people who were subjected to the procedure. Namely, there were many cases where lobotomy was performed on patients without their informed consent or used on vulnerable populations such as the elderly and people with disabilities.

Education is key when it comes to understanding the history of lobotomy and the impact it had on individuals and society as a whole. While it’s important to recognize that medical practices have evolved since then, it’s also essential to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. By teaching students about lobotomy, we can encourage critical thinking and empathy while informing them of the importance of evidence-based medicine and informed consent. By doing so, we’ll be equipping our students with a better understanding of the world and the historical events that have shaped it.

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