If you bitched too much in the 40's, they cut out your brain.
With the death of Ted Kennedy, I've been reading about the Kennedy family history online. For some reason, I am fascinated and horrified by the archaic medical procedures that lived in our country's history...leeches, lobotomies, phrenology, hypnosis, etc. I could read stories for days about young women who were subjected to shocks, magnets, or exorcisms. It intrigues, fascinates, and frustrates me how many of these women today would perhpas be seen as artists or geniuses. Or at the very least, they would be helped with therapy, and perhaps pharmaceuticals.
In any case, there's some crazy shit that used to go down.
Here's an excerpt of the Wikipedia article on Rosemary Kennedy, one of the sisters of the Kennedy clan. (There were, in all, nine siblings).
"In 1941, when Rosemary Kennedy was 23, her father was told by her doctors that a cutting edge procedure would help calm her "mood swings that the family found difficult to handle at home". Her father, Joe Kennedy, gave permission for the procedure to be performed...The procedure in question was a lobotomy.
At the time, only sixty-five lobotomies had been performed. The procedure was described as follows:
"We went through the top of the head, I [Dr. Watts] think she was awake. She had a mild tranquilizer. I made a surgical incision in the brain through the skull. It was near the front. It was on both sides. We just made a small incision, no more than an inch." The instrument Dr. Watts used looked like a butter knife. He swung it up and down to cut brain tissue. "We put an instrument inside," he said. As Dr. Watts cut, Dr. Freeman put questions to Rosemary. For example, he asked her to recite the Lord's Prayer or sing "God Bless America" or count backwards. ... "We made an estimate on how far to cut based on how she responded." ... When she began to become incoherent, they stopped.
Instead of producing the hoped-for result, however, the lobotomy reduced Rosemary to an infantile mentality that left her incontinent and staring blankly at walls for hours. Her verbal skills were reduced to unintelligible babble. Her mother remarked that although the lobotomy stopped her daughter's violent behavior, it left her completely incapacitated.