In the 1930s Antonio Egas Moniz developed a new surgical procedure he called “prefrontal lucotomy”, and applied it on twenty patients, some of them suffering from anxiety and depression, others from chronic schizophrenia. In 1949 Moniz received the Nobel Prize for Medicine.
The neurologist Walter Freeman formulated a new surgical method called “lobotomy” that could be performed outside of an operating room. Through an icepick he severed the connections to the prefrontal cortex in the frontal lobes of the brain. In 1949 more than ten thousand of such operations were performed in the USA; as many were done in the following two years.
“What was achieved, of course, was never ‘cure’, but a docile state, a state of passivity, as far (or farther) from ‘health’ than the original active symptoms, and (unlike these) with no possibility of resolution or reversal.”
“The huge scandal of leucotomy and lobotomy came to an end in the early fifties, not because of any medical reservation or revulsion, but because a new tool – tranquillizers – had now become available, which purported (as had psychosurgery itself) to be wholly therapeutic and without adverse effects. Whether there is that much difference, neurologically or ethically, between psychosurgery and tranquillizers is an uncomfortable question that has never been really faced.
Certainly the tranquillizers, if given in massive doses, may, like surgery, induce ‘tranquillity’, may still the hallucinations and delusions of the psychotic, but the stillness they induce may be like the stillness of death – and, by a cruel paradox, deprive patients of the natural resolution that may sometimes occur with psychoses and instead immure them in a lifelong, drug-caused illness.”
Drawn from “An Anthropologist on Mars,” by Oliver Sacks.
Illustration of a state of overwhelming exhaustion. Done with a tablet and Krita.
In this illustration – in a mirror that explodes – there is the reflection of a state of mental separation.
If the composure is not allowed, if a grinning humor is required, there is room only for the grotesque. In the same way as the image here proposed.