Audio and Video On Lobotomy

Howard Dully's lobotomyIn 1960, a 12-year-old boy named Howard Dully was lobotomized by Walter Freeman in order to “cure” bad behavior that was alleged by his step-mother. Astonishingly, no psychosis or other serious mental illness was present in Dully, or even alleged, just bad behavior. Dully was just one of 18,000 Americans who were lobotomized over a 20 year period beginning after World War II. Freeman performed more than 2,500 of those lobotomies himself. Some 45 years later, Dully decided to find out everything he could about the procedure in general, and about his operation in particular. Among other things, he found a photograph of his lobotomy being performed, which is linked here to the right. The result was a fascinating and moving radio program called “My Lobotomy” which can be found on-line at the Sound Portraits website (see also the extensive NPR article).

As reported here two days ago, PBS television will be airing a new documentary about the Freeman called “The Lobotomist” on Monday, 21 January (on most stations) . You Tube has a copy of a 30-second excerpt for that show, which is embedded here.

Tip o’ the hat to Neurophilosophy for putting me on to the video and to Mind Hacks for putting me on to the Neurophilosophy item.

About Christopher Green

Professor of Psychology at York University (Toronto). Former editor of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences. Creator of the "Classics in the History of Psychology" website and of the "This Week in the History of Psychology" podcast series.

3 thoughts on “Audio and Video On Lobotomy

  1. That NPR documentary was fascinating and disturbing. Thanks for the link.

  2. The blog Neurophilosophy ( has recently alerted me to a similar video from1942 that shows Drs. James Watts and Walter Freeman performing a “prefrontal leucotomy.” According to Neurophilosophy. “The procedure shown in the film is the Freeman-Watts Standard Procedure, which had been in use since 1936. This is different from the “ice-pick” lobotomy, which Freeman began to perform in 1945; it more closely resembles the original procedure of the Portugese neurosurgeon Egas Moniz” (

    The link to the clip is:

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