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Get American Lobotomy: A Rhetorical History PDF

By Jenell Johnson

ISBN-10: 0472119443

ISBN-13: 9780472119448

American Lobotomy reviews a large choice of representations of lobotomy to supply a rhetorical historical past of 1 of the main notorious approaches within the heritage of medication. the advance of lobotomy in 1935 was once heralded as a “miracle healing” that will empty the nation’s perennially blighted asylums. even though, purely 20 years later, lobotomists at the start praised for his or her “therapeutic braveness” have been condemned for his or her barbarity, a picture that has basically soured in next many years. Johnson employs formerly deserted texts like technological know-how fiction, horror movie, political polemics, and conspiracy concept to teach how lobotomy’s entanglement with social and political narratives contributed to a robust snapshot of the operation that persists to this present day. The publication provocatively demanding situations the historical past of drugs, arguing that rhetorical background is essential to knowing scientific background. It bargains a case research of the way medication accumulates which means because it circulates in public tradition and argues for the necessity to comprehend biomedicine as a culturally located perform.

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Extra resources for American Lobotomy: A Rhetorical History

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Thinking with the Thalamus 27 What did this “blunted” affect look like? As one man described it, before lobotomy his “conscience hurt”; after the operation, he explained, “I don’t know where it is. It was down by my heart, but I can’t feel it at all” (Freeman and Watts 1950, 130). One woman claimed that after her surgery, she blushed “without getting embarrassed. I’m just conscious of blushing now” (124). 11 Freeman and Watts used the conversation to illustrate the “abrupt change from panicky apprehension to calm indifference” (1950, 129).

I leave those histories to others, such as Jesper Vaczy Kragh (2010), who offers a compelling account of the use of lobotomy in Denmark. In the same vein, although lobotomy was practiced by a number of surgeons across the country, Walter Freeman takes a prominent role in many of these chapters. Although focusing on one doctor may seem limited in scope for a conventional history, it is necessary for the kind of rhetorical history I undertake here. It is fitting that Freeman’s biography is entitled The Lobotomist (El-­Hai 2005) rather than A Lobotomist.

This is not a disclaimer, but a point of order. I do not aim to write a universal history of psychosurgery. What this book offers is a situated account of lobotomy as it intersected with American culture at different points in its history. Although this is clearly an ethnocentric approach, it is necessarily so. Lobotomy has a different rhetorical history in the United States than it does in the United Kingdom, Norway, Brazil, or Japan. I leave those histories to others, such as Jesper Vaczy Kragh (2010), who offers a compelling account of the use of lobotomy in Denmark.

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American Lobotomy: A Rhetorical History by Jenell Johnson

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