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Lobotomy Returns Under a Kinder Gentler New Name

Loss-of-Mind3In a new push forward to the dark ages, modern medicine is again claiming to fix mental problems with surgery. There’s little difference between newer surgeries and lobotomies. Both destroy brain tissue. It is, in fact, the goal. Who but a doctor would use the term therapy for brain destruction?

by Heidi Stevenson

It has just come to my attention that cingulotomies are being pushed in Scotland. It’s a horrifying development—brain mutilation pressed as a benefit for certain “intractable” cases of severe depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or whatever magical diagnosis the psychiatrists have opted to select from the latest issue of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which is a selection of invented diagnoses presented as scientific and evidence-based, though none of it passes even the giggle test, let alone any sort of scientific research.

Cingularities? Oh … Cingulotomies.

Destruction of brain tissue is the goal of cingulotomy. It destroys part of the brain and part of who you are. Surgeons play at God and call it “Good”.

The term, cingulotomy, sounds a bit like something from the front lines of quantum physics or astronomy. In psychiatry, though, it’s just an updated lobotomy in a modern friendlier disguise. Instead of using an ice pick and going in through the eye socket—the old-fashioned lobotomy—they’re now far more precise and use much more sophisticated tools. At least, that’s what they’d have us believe. The reality, though, is that the goal is precisely the same: the permanent and utterly irretrievable destruction of a part of the brain—the part that feels emotion.

In writing on this topic over a year ago, I said:

[D]octors never seem to give up their desire to do brain surgery. While they’ve given up using ice picks to destroy brain tissue, they’ve found new methods to accomplish the same thing. Sometimes it’s burned out. Sometimes high-dose radiation is used. Whatever the method, part of the brain is permanently destroyed.

Two varieties of psychosurgery are now done, cingulotomy and capsulotomy. They both involve destroying bits of the limbic system, the part of the brain that handles emotions. It’s also involved with memory, sense of smell, and the endocrine (glandular) system.

Your memory, your sense of smell, and your hormone system are all under the psychiatric surgeon’s knife, cautery iron, and electric diodes. The very nature of who you are is attacked.

No matter what they say, the truth is that there is no way of knowing which parts of you will survive their butchery and which will be gone forever.

Even by their own standards, their “success” rates are dismal. At best, using their own definitions, the success rate is less than 50%—and that doesn’t even mean curtailing the use of psychiatric drugs or other treatments! It’s a bit like an auto mechanic suggesting that your car’s brakes have been repaired, but defining repair as meaning only that the left-side brakes work.

Bad When Chinese Do the Same Thing

It’s interesting to note how the news media deals with latter-day lobotomies. When reporting about Chinese use of cingulotomies, the approach is one of censure, as in this report from The Wall Street Journal:

The irreversible brain surgeries performed at No. 454 Hospital, which are all but blacklisted for mental illness in the developed world, are being done across China. They are a symptom of the problems plaguing the nation’s health-care system, which has left hospitals with scant public funding and hungry for profit.

Notice how it’s pictured in such negative terms implying that nothing of the sort would be done in the west? The fact, though, is that they’re doing exactly the same thing that’s being pushed on people in Scotland … and England and America and the western world in general. Chris Muirhead expresses a different view, and after reading a Medscape report of how success is defined, it becomes quite clear that the promoters’ concept is unlikely to match that of the patients’.

But When American Doctors Do It …

The Medscape report states that 47% of patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) had an outcome termed “full response”. That sound like their problems were disappeared along with some bits of their brains.

How did they define “full response”? It was a decrease of 35% in the score on the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale. So, these doctors have determined that someone was fully cured of OCD if they saw an improvement of 35% on one test. That’s all.

So, when American doctors do the new kinder gentler type of lobotomy, the “success” rate is less than half of the subjects improving by a bit more than a third on one test.

Out of 33 patients, the study claims that there were 19 adverse events. That’s more than half of the patients, but the doctors wanted to make sure we understood that none of them suffered from brain hemorrhages. However, I doubt that’s of much comfort to the 12 who suffered from memory problems, urinary retention or incontinence, and abulia (lack of willpower, inability to make decisions). The researchers say that these weren’t permanent effects. There were, though, other problems:

  • Three patients suffered from seizures, one of whom required ongoing use of epilepsy drugs.
  • One patient had a pulmonary embolus.
  • One suffered from a subdural empyema (pus in the brain!) that required a craniotomy, removal of a section of skull, to treat it.
  • Two committed suicide.

Without even considering how minimal the benefit was, just how bad must it get before doctors call latter-day lobotomies a failure?

Back to Scotland

The Dundee Advanced Interventions Service provides these wonderful kinder-gentler lobotomies for the Scottish nation and part of England. Their April through March 2012 annual report defines what they do:

The standard definition of Neurosurgery for Mental Disorder (NMD) is that provided by The Royal College of Psychiatrists:

“…a surgical procedure for the destruction of brain tissue for the purposes of alleviating specific mental disorders carried out by a stereotactic or other method capable of making an accurate placement of the lesion” (Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2000)

There you have it! The destruction of brain tissue is the goal of this surgery. So, by definition, they destroy part of the brain, thus destroying part of who you are, and playing at God they call it “Good”.

Of course, they claim that the patients are happy with the results. However, as anyone who’s dealt with the psychiatric system as an incarcerated patient can attest, one of the first things learned is that telling the doctors, nurses, and researchers anything other than what they want to hear is tantamount to asking for more abuse. Of course the patients tell their tormenters how appreciative they are of whatever torment has been meted out.

Difference Between Lobotomies and Cingulotomies/Capsulotomies

Dr. Peter Breggin is a psychiatrist who investigates modern psychiatric treatments and finds them wanting.  He describes cingulotomies like this:

Cingulotomy was first performed in 1948 and capsulotomy in 1949 during the first great wave of lobotomy. These surgical interventions interrupt and destroy large bundles of nerve connections in the brain (white matter). These nerve connections include pathways to and from the frontal lobes. As a result, innumerable brains cells (neurons in gray matter) die throughout various portions of the brain. Much of the cell death occurs in the adjacent frontal lobes of the brain — the seat of all higher human functions. This is the scientific definition of lobotomy. The inevitable result is widespread damage to the high mental functions, including judgment, insight, future planning, social awareness, and creativity.

Note that these “new” procedures are old ones that had been discredited as the first form of lobotomy, prior to the advent of Dr. Freeman’s through-the-eye-socket-with-an-icepick style of lobotomy!

Breggin goes on to discuss the case of Kaimowitz v. Michigan Department of Mental Health in 1973, which has never been challenged. He acted as an expert witness in a case of cingulotomy in which the judges declared that the procedure damages the brain, mind, and personality, and is too dangerous for use in state facilities.

He has reviewed five cingulotomy cases performed at Harvard and found:

These individuals lost memory and reasoning functions, were flatted emotionally, and became unable to relate in a caring manner to other people. Four became legally incompetent.

Breggin concludes:

The psychosurgery performed at Harvard and Brown is the same old lobotomy that was rejected by science, medicine, and the public decades ago. Damaging the brain is not a solution to human psychological suffering.

How can psychiatrists and surgeons do this again? We know the results. We know that lives are utterly changed and destroyed, that the person who comes out of such surgeries is not the same one who went in. Part of that person is missing. Nonetheless, these criminals are doing it again, trying to push the same old brain-destroying lobotomies under a new name with a kinder-gentler image that’s nothing but a lie.

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