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My Lobotomy by Howard Dully
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My Lobotomy (original 2007; edition 2007)

by Howard Dully, Charles Fleming

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8404610,727 (3.68)72
Member:SmangosBubbles
Title:My Lobotomy
Authors:Howard Dully
Other authors:Charles Fleming
Info:Crown (2007), Edition: First Edition, First Printing, Hardcover, 288 pages
Collections:No longer own
Rating:****
Tags:non-fiction, memoir, mental health, lobotomy, mental illness, psychology

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My Lobotomy by Howard Dully (2007)

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When he was 12 years old, Howard Dully received a transorbital lobotomy (aka the ice pick lobotomy). The procedure was performed by its inventor, Dr. Walter Freeman, and was fairly well discredited at the time Howard was lobotomized.

When he was in his 50's, having led a very troubled life until then, Howard set out to answer the question that had troubled him for all the years since his lobotomy: Why? He was able to obtain Freeman's records, and interviewed many of those who were close to him at the time. While today Howard might be diagnosed at most as a child in need of affection who is acting out, after his physically and emotionally abusive stepmother brought him in, Dr. Freeman (who wasn't a psychiatrist), after one short visit, diagnosed him as a paranoid schizophrenic. Here are Howard's words:

'In 1960 I was given a transorbital or 'ice pick' lobotomy. My stepmother arranged it. My father agreed to it. Dr. Walter Freeman, the father of the American lobotomy, told me he was going to do some 'tests.' It took ten minutes and cost $200. And I never understood why. I wasn't a violent kid. I had never hurt anyone. I wasn't failing out of school. I wasn't in trouble with the law. I wasn't depressed or suicidal. I wasn't dangerous. Was there something I had done that was so horrible that I deserved a lobotomy?'

This is a fascinating and sad book, but ultimately one of hope and forgiveness. ( )
  arubabookwoman | Apr 21, 2017 |
So, of course this book is really depressing, and not just because a doctor thought giving a 12-year-old a frontal lobotomy was appropriate. Having read a biography of the famous Walter Freeman, known for "perfecting" lobotomies in America and hawking them like hucksters at a sideshow, I wanted to see what Dully, one of his youngest patients, had to say.
Dully's home life -- a doting mother who died too young, a father at best negligent, at worst abusive, and a stepmother who is the kind who gives stepmothers a bad name -- was unloving and lonely. His story is all too familiar to some of us who are or have known siblings who are lost and sometimes beyond the point of redemption.
( )
  Ferocity | Dec 29, 2014 |
This book was fairly terrible. I was only intrigued when they talked about the statistics of lobotomies and some of the history. The story this man tells is repetitive, boring and a little unbelievable - as in... I have heard this before. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone... I couldn't even finish the book, I stopped halfway through it. ( )
  yougotamber | Aug 22, 2014 |
There is evil in this world. There is also the resilience of the human brain, the human soul. I think overall, humanity wins. ( )
  cmasson17 | Aug 11, 2014 |
Howard Dully's memoir is a story of his tragic childhood and his search as an adult for answers about his past. Both fascinating and very disturbing! ( )
  michellebarton | Dec 11, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Howard Dullyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Fleming, Charlesmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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To all of us, victims and survivors, who keep going no matter what
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My name is Howard Dully.
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Book description
Howard Dully recounts how the lobotomy he had at age twelve impacted every aspect of his life, leaving him struggling to get through each day, until, decades after the surgery, he was able to pull himself together and uncover the truth about why his parents made him have the operation.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307381277, Paperback)

At twelve, Howard Dully was guilty of the same crimes as other boys his age: he was moody and messy, rambunctious with his brothers, contrary just to prove a point, and perpetually at odds with his parents. Yet somehow, this normal boy became one of the youngest people on whom Dr. Walter Freeman performed his barbaric transorbital—or ice pick—lobotomy.

Abandoned by his family within a year of the surgery, Howard spent his teen years in mental institutions, his twenties in jail, and his thirties in a bottle. It wasn’t until he was in his forties that Howard began to pull his life together. But even as he began to live the “normal” life he had been denied, Howard struggled with one question: Why?

“October 8, 1960. I gather that Mrs. Dully is perpetually talking, admonishing, correcting, and getting worked up into a spasm, whereas her husband is impatient, explosive, rather brutal, won’t let the boy speak for himself, and calls him numbskull, dimwit, and other uncomplimentary names.”

There were only three people who would know the truth: Freeman, the man who performed the procedure; Lou, his cold and demanding stepmother who brought Howard to the doctor’s attention; and his father, Rodney. Of the three, only Rodney, the man who hadn’t intervened on his son’s behalf, was still living. Time was running out. Stable and happy for the first time in decades, Howard began to search for answers.

“December 3, 1960. Mr. and Mrs. Dully have apparently decided to have Howard operated on. I suggested [they] not tell Howard anything about it.”

Through his research, Howard met other lobotomy patients and their families, talked with one of Freeman’s sons about his father’s controversial life’s work, and confronted Rodney about his complicity. And, in the archive where the doctor’s files are stored, he finally came face to face with the truth.

Revealing what happened to a child no one—not his father, not the medical community, not the state—was willing to protect, My Lobotomy exposes a shameful chapter in the history of the treatment of mental illness. Yet, ultimately, this is a powerful and moving chronicle of the life of one man. Without reticence, Howard Dully shares the story of a painfully dysfunctional childhood, a misspent youth, his struggle to claim the life that was taken from him, and his redemption.


From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:10 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

At twelve, Howard Dully was guilty of the same crimes as other boys his age: he was moody, messy, rambunctious, and perpetually at odds with his parents. Yet somehow, this normal boy became one of the youngest people on whom Dr. Walter Freeman performed his barbaric transorbital--or ice pick--lobotomy. Abandoned by his family within a year of the surgery, Howard spent his teen years in mental institutions, his twenties in jail, and his thirties in a bottle. It wasn't until his forties that Howard began to pull his life together. But he still struggled with one question: Why? Through his research, Howard met other lobotomy patients and their families talked with one of Freeman's sons about his father's controversial life's work, and confronted his own father about his complicity. And, in the doctor's files, he finally came face to face with the truth. -- From publisher description; Crown Publishers, 2007.… (more)

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