Psychology from the Margins


Frontal lobotomies, which are defined as the lesioning of the frontal lobe from the rest of the brain, were performed extensively from the 1930s to the 1960s in Europe and the United States, significantly impacting psychology and psychosurgery. The history of frontal lobotomies features many different practitioners with diverse methods; however, the overwhelming majority of popular lobotomists committed unethical actions by today’s standards that led to the direct marginalization of specific demographics. Using a framework guided by an exploration of those historically disempowered by the performance of lobotomies, this review article traces the lobotomy’s historical progression, focusing on the unethical treatment of, and the absence of informed consent from vulnerable patients. The practice of lobotomies is today considered unethical; however, its historical occurrence stigmatized psychosurgery, psychology, and science as a whole, the scars of which are still, to some extent, present for current practitioners in the field.



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