Lobotomy: Definition, procedure and history

Lobotomy, also known as leucotomy, is a neurosurgical operation that involves permanently damaging parts of the brain’s prefrontal lobe, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Introduced in the mid-20th century, lobotomies have always been controversial, but were widely performed for more than two decades as treatment for schizophrenia, manic depression and bipolar disorder, among other mental illnesses.

Lobotomy was an umbrella term for a series of different operations that purposely damaged brain tissue in order to treat mental illness, said Dr. Barron Lerner, a medical historian and professor at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York.

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