New book about Rosemary Kennedy's lobotomist

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New book about Rosemary Kennedy's lobotomist

Postby jelhai » Tue Jan 11, 2005 1:19 am

Last week John Wiley & Sons published my book The Lobotomist: A Maverick Medical Genius and His Tragic Quest to Rid the World of Mental Illness. It's a biography of Walter Freeman, the neurologist and psychiatrist who pioneered psychosurgery and lobotomized Rosemary Kennedy (who died on January 7), along with about 3,400 other patients, between 1936 and 1967. The book is arriving in stores over the next few days.

For more information, please check the book's website at


Jack El-Hai

[ Edited by Admin on 2005/1/10 18:33 ]
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Re: New book about Rosemary Kennedy's lobotomist

Postby DrDave » Tue Jan 11, 2005 2:42 am

Thank you very much for visiting my site and posting the information about your new book. Usually I don't like people self-promoting things on my website, however, it appears to me that your book is legitimate and relatively objective attempt to discuss one of the strongest proponents of psycho-surgery as a means to alleviate mental illness.

This is an area I definitely have limited knowledge about and I did read through the first chapter of the book which is freely available on the website you referenced. It appeared to me that the first chapter gives an interesting historical account of the first American lobotomy, based on actual written materials of many of the key figures involved in this area of research.

I hope that the remainder of the book is as objective and historically accurate, especially when discussing such an emotionally charged issue. Based on the first chapter, I was impressed enough to leave the self-promotion on my website and I welcome other people's comments.

If you are interested in purchasing the book through amazon, you can view more basic information here:

The Lobotomist

[ Edited by Admin on 2005/1/30 9:26 ]
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Re: New book about Rosemary Kennedy's lobotomist

Postby jelhai » Tue Jan 11, 2005 4:32 am

Thank you for allowing my post to remain here, and I hope I haven't come too close to breaking etiquette.

I have a great deal of confidence in the factual accuracy of my book. I spent more than three years researching and writing The Lobotomist, including many days in the archives at George Washington University, where Walter Freeman left his personal and professional papers. In addition, I received support from several members of the Freeman family and gained access to letters, journals, and audio-visual materials that no researchers had previously used.

As for objectivity, one of my main goals has been to place Freeman's work in the development of lobotomy within the context of the state of psychiatric care and the expectations of patients and doctors in the middle decades of the 20th century. Although I began the book believing that Freeman must have been some kind of monster, I ended up convinced that lobotomy was worth trying, given the limitations of psychiatric medicine at the time. The standards of successful treatment have changed a great deal over the years. Freeman's fascinating flaw was the stubbornness that kept him advocating lobotomy long after more effective treatments were available.

Thanks again.

Jack El-Hai
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Jan 11, 2005 1:09 am

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