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


I got the title of that butterflies-in-the-skull book wrong. Watts and Freeman did write Psychosurgery in the Treatment of Mental Disorders and Intractable Pain, but the one with the black butterflies has the different kicky title of Psychosurgery: Intelligence, Emotion and Social Behavior Following Prefrontal Lobotomy for Mental Disorder. The skull image appears on the dust jacket and the title page, and the cover illustration is (I am told) a swirly blue finger painting by a lobotomy patient. The dedication was "To Egas Moniz, who first conceived and executed a valid operation for mental disorder." Just like how Moby-Dick is dedicated to Nathaniel Hawthorne! The cover text, which Freeman probably wrote and at least must have approved, is further evidence of my assertion that he should have been a novelist instead of a neuroscientist: "Read the last chapter to find out how those treasured frontal lobes, supposed to be man's most precious possession, can bring him to psychosis and suicide!" I like the exclamation point there. Walter, could you have even been more self-aggrandizing?

This book, incidentally, includes various tests of the mental performance of lobotomy patients. One of these was of the "self-regarding span," i.e. the length of time they would talk about themselves. The more aggressive a patient's lobotomy had been, the shorter this period generally was. People who'd had the so-called radical lobotomy, aka "Freeman and Watts just go to town on the front of your head," would talk about themselves for an average of just two minutes. Psychiatric patients who had recovered without lobotomy would talk about themselves for nine minutes. In between were standard lobotomy (four minutes) and limited lobotomy (seven minutes). Personally, I feel as if I never stop talking about myself. Freeman could have performed a double frontal lobectomy on me and I would still be saying, "Did I tell you about the story I wrote about the lovelorn serial killer and his friend the amateur surgeon? Do you want to read it? I wrote a sequel that I'm going to submit to Weird Tales and then I can get rejected and draw a comic about it! Did I mention that I also draw comics?" And he'd be yelling, "Do something, Watts! This one won't shut up!"
Tags: antónio egas moniz, nathaniel hawthorne, those treasured frontal lobes, walter freeman
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