Robert Whitaker's Mad In America

864 Words4 Pages
Mad in America, by Robert Whitaker, details the history of the treatment of mental illnesses in our country, including one of the most infamous, the lobotomy. The lobotomy was a surgical procedure that evolved over time. The main purpose of the procedure was to damage the frontal lobe of the brain (Whitaker, 2002). The first type was the prefrontal lobotomy, which was first performed in humans in 1935 (Whitaker, 2002). Initially the process consisted of using alcohol to destroy brain tissue, through holes which were drilled in the skull (Whitaker, 2002). Soon after, a pick called a leucotome was added to the surgery to cut the frontal lobe tissue (Whitaker, 2002). In the 1940s, the transorbital lobotomy became popular (Whitaker, 2002). Touted as a minor procedure that did not require a hospital setting, the surgeon would sedate the patient with electroshock, and then use a pick…show more content…
Doctors performing the surgeries could receive Rockefeller grants, which encouraged them to report positive results in order to ensure the grants would be renewed (Whitaker, 2002). The lobotomy was also financially beneficial to states. Housing mental patients in state hospitals was extremely expensive (Whitaker, 2002). By having their patients undergo the lobotomy, which may only cost a few hundred dollars, the state hospitals could send them home and save hundreds of thousands of dollars in the long run (Whitaker, 2002). Money is a powerful factor that can greatly influence people. If doctors could make money by labeling their work a success, than they had motives to do so. State hospitals clearly did not care about their patients, as depicted by the crowded conditions and the unskilled, cruel workers that were hired (Whitaker, 2002). If they could save money, which could be used for other state needs, than states would prioritize the other needs, putting mental patients
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