The Sorrows of Young Werewolf (eyeteeth) wrote,
The Sorrows of Young Werewolf
eyeteeth

Lobotomy book club

A colleague of Walter Freeman's, the unfortunately named Dr. Frank Slaughter, was also a novelist. In my quest to discover fictional narratives in which lobotomy plays a significant part -- of which there seem to be almost none, especially when what you really want is a narrative that portrays lobotomy in a realistic way, and not just as a cue to start waving your arms around and screaming in terror -- I ordered a copy of his book Daybreak, which Jack El-Hai mentions in The Lobotomist. This book, written in the fifties, is interesting to a lobotomy scholar like me in that it waxes eloquent about the new drugs, particularly reserpine, that were just then coming along to make lobotomy obsolete. Slaughter's view seems to be that lobotomy is a regrettable necessity because no one has the resources to give years of expensive talk therapy to every single crazy person, but that this might change if the new drugs facilitate the therapeutic process.

Daybreak (like all of Slaughter's books, as far as I can tell) is justifiably forgotten. This makes me wonder: how many other forgotten lobotomy narratives are there?

eyeteeth: So far /Daybreak/ is not a very good book, but it is fairly competently written and diverting.
substitute: HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO /TWILIGHT/ ???????
eyeteeth: Our hero, Dr. Jim Corwin, is the dubious disciple of the great lobotomist Ziggy, and has made the fairly elementary mistake of marrying a woman a couple of weeks after getting the hots for her at a party.
eyeteeth: It turns out Taffy can't stand to be alone after dark, which is a problem for a surgeon's wife.
substitute: ziggy joke goes here
eyeteeth: See, I figured he was going to fall for the mental patient but that the author would want to preserve his gallant manhood and make crazy Taffy leave him, but he goes one better.
eyeteeth: It's beginning to become obvious that their marriage is a farce (after only about a month) when he gets stuck at the hospital, she wigs out, gets drunk with an ex-boyfriend, and dies in a horrific car crash.
eyeteeth: Yay, now he's single! On to the alluring schizophrenic girl!
substitute: mmm, horrific
eyeteeth: See, the schizophrenic girl is suicidal, but Slaughter had to work it so that Jim saves her life, which is tough to do because most kinds of suicide can't be prevented with surgery.
eyeteeth: So he has her be suicidal but instead of actually trying to kill herself she just doesn't get medical attention for her ruptured ovarian follicle.
eyeteeth: So she's all lying there dying on a cruise ship and Jim's all GET ME THE ETHER! WE CAN SAVE HER!
substitute: damn, girl, at least pound some JD
eyeteeth: So he does and she's all why didn't you let me diiiiie
substitute: diiiiiie
eyeteeth: Then she gets shipped off to an insane asylum because that whole episode was SCHIZOPHRENIA PRODROME, right.
substitute: I played soccer there as a kid
eyeteeth: BUT! Having come back from his tour of duty as a ship's doctor on the /Creole Belle,/ Jim goes to talk to his good friend Alex Goldschmidt, the analyst who hates lobotomy, and Alex is all welp I figured you'd want to know about your hot young patient who paints like Van Gogh so I got you a job at the hospital where she's locked up in the violent ward.
eyeteeth: And he's all WHERE'S MY HAT, IT'S OFF TO ARKHAM
eyeteeth: When he shows up the director's all IT COSTS TWO DOLLARS A DAY FOR EACH OF THESE CRAZY PEOPLE, WE'VE GOT TO GET IT DOWN TO ONE-FIFTY, YOU BETTER START POKING SOME BRAINS
substitute: and that's where we get Wal-Mart greeters
eyeteeth: And they call Lynn "Sleeping Beauty" because she spends most of her time in a catatonic state all white and unmoving as marble except sometimes she wakes up and goes mental on everyone.
substitute: Wow
substitute: so she's a D&D monster basically
eyeteeth: So Jim's thinking "Did I save her from ruptured girl-parts only to have her descend into a living hell?" And the director's all, "Welp, time to lobotomize this one." And the friendly Hindu doctor and the friendly Austrian Jew doctor who fled from the Nazis are all, "Maybe we can make a tiny difference to these poor people, BUT IS LOBOTOMY THE WAY"
substitute: "As ethnic sidekicks, we have only questions"
Tags: books, frank slaughter, lobotomy, substitute, walter freeman
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