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WackAMole
11-20-2008, 09:26 AM
Hiya,

I was curious if anyone out there has some more detailed medical/psychological information on this particular procedure.

There is a ton of stuff to google about, but what i am looking for is perhaps the answers to a couple questions I have about the effect this would have on the "patient" that underwent it.

The questions I was looking for answers too are:

1. Would a person who had undergone this procedure "most likely" have short term memory loss? How is their long term memory impacted?
(I know that probably not all cases would display themselves in the same manner, what I am looking for is the "most likely" scenario.

2. What exactly is the "flat affect" I hear mentioned often.

3. With the lack of social norms that stem from this surgery, would it be reasonable to say that things that might have been morally wrong or otherwise go against their basic feelings of right/wrong be changed somehow? In other words, could they be more easily manipulated into doing things that they might not have other wise done?

I think thats all the questions I have for now, but id love to get some opinions.

Thanks in advance!

Tsu Dho Nimh
11-20-2008, 08:20 PM
http://scienceblogs.com/neurophilosophy/2007/07/inventing_the_lobotomy.php

Good blog

"flat effect" ... less reaction emotionally to things than you would expect.

WackAMole
11-20-2008, 10:39 PM
http://scienceblogs.com/neurophilosophy/2007/07/inventing_the_lobotomy.php

Good blog

"flat effect" ... less reaction emotionally to things than you would expect.

Thank you kindly!

WackAMole
11-21-2008, 01:11 AM
In looking at the blog, its pretty much the same information I had already gathered. there is a wealth of history about this Freeman character, as well as the suspicions that he performed a lobotomy on Frances Farmer at Western State.

What im looking for and NOT finding, is how a person might behave given this procedure.

I would think that there would be distinct and disturbing changes. It was said that some folks were able to resume a normal life, but by and large I cannot find any case studies talking about what people were like "after" this procedure. There's always of course Rose Kennedy who was basically destroyed after it, but what happened to all the others?

A little known fact about the Dahmer case for those of you that remember, Jeffrey Dahmer was in fact attempting to make "love slaves" out of his victims by drilling holes in their brain and pouring acid into it. Obviously this didnt work very well for Jeff ...

I have read a few cases and basically the general consensus is that these people were pretty much devoid of what we consider normal emotional behaviour and responses. What I want to know is, given this lack of social normalcy, what could you manipulate a lobotomized person into doing, if anything.

There was a study done on hypnosis some time ago that basically said you cannot hypnotize someone to do something that they normally would not do or was against their moral fibre. What im trying to find out is, once a person is lobotomized successfully, is it reasonable to believe that they may be capable of doing things that were once against their own social norms?

Izunya
11-21-2008, 01:53 AM
I know there's at least one autobiography written by a guy who was lobotomized as a teenager. I don't remember the title, but it might be worth poking around Amazon to find out. Of course, a teenager's brain is probably a bit more plastic than an adult's, so his experience might not be typical.

Lobotomy was sold as a pacifying procedure. Flattened affect means, "displays diminished emotional range." My guess is that "lack of social normalcy," means, "stares at you blankly if you tell them their grandmother died," not, "feels no compunction about hitting someone." My suspicion is that it would be easier to get a lobotomy victim not to do something than to do something. In other words, getting them to beat someone up? Difficult. Getting them not to go to the police when you beat someone up? Possibly a lot simpler.

Of course, the latter scenario is an easier sell for people without severe brain damage, especially if you can come up with a nice, smooth reason why you beating someone else is not their problem.

Izunya

WackAMole
11-21-2008, 05:18 AM
I know there's at least one autobiography written by a guy who was lobotomized as a teenager. I don't remember the title, but it might be worth poking around Amazon to find out. Of course, a teenager's brain is probably a bit more plastic than an adult's, so his experience might not be typical.

Lobotomy was sold as a pacifying procedure. Flattened affect means, "displays diminished emotional range." My guess is that "lack of social normalcy," means, "stares at you blankly if you tell them their grandmother died," not, "feels no compunction about hitting someone." My suspicion is that it would be easier to get a lobotomy victim not to do something than to do something. In other words, getting them to beat someone up? Difficult. Getting them not to go to the police when you beat someone up? Possibly a lot simpler.

Of course, the latter scenario is an easier sell for people without severe brain damage, especially if you can come up with a nice, smooth reason why you beating someone else is not their problem.

Izunya

Do you think the person could be easily scared into doing something. In other words, if you subject a lobotomized person to abuse/threaten them, is it going to have any impact on whether or not they do what you want them to do?

Izunya
11-21-2008, 10:59 AM
Do you think the person could be easily scared into doing something. In other words, if you subject a lobotomized person to abuse/threaten them, is it going to have any impact on whether or not they do what you want them to do?

I honestly have no idea. For that kind of thing, I think you might have to track down the professional literature on the subject.

If you need more stuff like "flattened affect" defined, I can do that. But I'm not a psychologist.

Izunya

StephanieFox
11-21-2008, 11:17 AM
From the mouth of a person who had one:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5014080

I heard this on NPR about three years ago. It was very interesting and very powerful. You might be able to track the guy down and talk with him directly.

WackAMole
11-22-2008, 02:52 AM
From the mouth of a person who had one:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5014080

I heard this on NPR about three years ago. It was very interesting and very powerful. You might be able to track the guy down and talk with him directly.

Yeah I checked out NPR and read through a few case studies but found that I still had some unanswered questions. The folks that posted there talked mostly about the effect it had on them being around a person that had been lobotomized, but I found that very few really talked about the original state of the patient BEFORE the lobotomy versus after.

Sadly, lobotomies were commonly used on women for depression...scary if you ask me!

I just found it hard to find any real solid information on symptoms these people had. A lot of folks apparently had them, but trying to find any follow up on any of them is a bit difficult.

i did read about the Howard Dully guy. Sad and terrible story, but again, though he talks about it happening to him, in what ive read so far he hasnt mentioned what it DID to him, how it changed him. Probaby going to have to read his book for that, which at this point, may be my best option.

the hard part is i need statistical type information, not just a single case. I need to know what the "typical" behaviour following this procedure is versus the not so typical.

I have a definite path in mind here but it's hard to get the information I'm looking for without hashing out the entire plot of what I am working on..i really try to avoid that in open forums...im paranoid :P

frimble3
11-23-2008, 12:05 PM
Honestly, I know almost nothing about this, just guessing, but if 'flat effect' is diminished emotional reaction, then I'd think that they would be less likely to respond to scaring/threats. More of a general disinterest, depending on the level of the percieved danger.

Medievalist
11-23-2008, 12:43 PM
Do you think the person could be easily scared into doing something. In other words, if you subject a lobotomized person to abuse/threaten them, is it going to have any impact on whether or not they do what you want them to do?

No. You might do something that would be scary otherwise, because you won't be afraid to.

The best fictional description I've seen of what it's like is in an SF novel by Watts called Blindsight.

You can download it from Feedbooks, for free.

The lobotomy essentially stops the communication between the two lobes of the brain--and generally, the analytic rational dominates.

Flat affect means no emotional reaction. None. It's . . . it's the equivalent of someone who is deaf. They really can't hear, no matter how loudly you talk.

"Flat affect" means they really can't respond emotionally, or express it, no matter how they might feel in the disconnected other lobe. They can't empathize in the ordinary way either.

http://soundportraits.org/on-air/my_lobotomy/

WackAMole
11-23-2008, 12:49 PM
No.

The lobotomy essentially stops the communication between the two lobes of the brain--and generally, the analytic rational dominates.

Flat affect means no emotional reaction. None. It's . . . it's the equivalent of someone who is deaf. They really can't hear, no matter how loudly you talk.

"Flat affect" means they really can't respond emotionally, or express it, no matter how they might feel in the disconnected other lobe.

http://soundportraits.org/on-air/my_lobotomy/

Thanks a ton! Thats the info i was lookin for!

So basically they can still "feel" umm in an inward perspective in normal ways they just completely lack the ability to respond?

Medievalist
11-23-2008, 12:53 PM
Thanks a ton! Thats the info i was lookin for!

So basically they can still "feel" umm in an inward perspective in normal ways they just completely lack the ability to respond?

I just edited my post; go read it again.

It's like emotion is a foreign language that they neither feel nor understand in others, and have to analyze it.

Mumbleduck
11-27-2008, 06:11 AM
Agh, I had just written a big post about lobotomies and how they affect the brain and personality and whatnot, and then I lost it somehow. Dammit!

Anyway, Medievalist, I think the type of lobotomy you're describing is called a 'split-brain lobotomy', which is used to treat severe cases of epilepsy, as in patients who have hundreds of seizures a day, however, I don't think it's the kind of lobotomy WackAMole is thinking of, which would be a frontal lobotomy, where the frontal lobe is severed from the rest of the brain, which is the one that causes the 'flat effect' that has been mentioned.

While both procedures are extreme, generally neither one actually reduces the IQ of the patient, therefore their functional intelligence would remain much the same, and in the case of split-brain patients, the personality generally isn't affected at all either - though in fact, if you want to get really technical, the split-brain procedure isn't a lobotomy at all, because the two halves aren't completely severed, but I digress.

An interesting side effect of the split brain procedure though, if you're interested, is that because the two sides of the brain no longer have any way to communicate, the brain as a whole treats the left and right sides of the body as separate physical entities - as in the left side of the body is totally separate to the right side to the extent that it's not possible for the patient to be aware of one side of the body in relation to the other.

For example, imagine for a moment that you're eating a steak, and someone asks you to cut off a piece with your eyes closed - pretty simple, right? Well, a split brain patient is physically unable to cut that steak without looking at his hands the whole time. If he closes his eyes, he has no idea where the right hand, holding the knife, is and what it's doing, in relation to where the left hand, with the fork is, and what that's doing.

Moving on to the frontal lobotomy, as I mentioned earlier, it generally doesn't affect the level of intelligence of the patient, but it does cause a heap of other problems - while the IQ stays the same, mental flexibility is impaired, so their ability to process thoughts is messed up. It doesn't affect memory too badly, though it can affect the way long term memories are processed and stored, but I think that would be getting a bit too esoteric for your story, as I assume it's not a neuro textbook.

The main damage the frontal lobotomy causes is related to the fact that that part of the brain is responsible for recognizing the consequences of your actions, so damage to it causes you to lose your ability to suppress urges and responses that may be socially unacceptable - it's common for patients with this type of damage to develop weird sexual fetishes and uncontrollable sexual urges.

With regard to the 'flat effect', what most people have said is correct - it's a diminished ability to understand other peoples emotions, and to feel them for yourself. They're not gone completely, they just tend to be less strong.

This is turning into quite the novel - my husband is a neuropsych grad student, so I know more than I should about this stuff by proxy. What I'm trying to say is that the sterotype of a person having a lobotomy and becoming basically retarded is totally incorrect, though it might change their personality a bit. With regard to your character being easily manipulated, I suppose it could happen - without the social filtering of right/wrong impulses, they could end up being more suggestible, though remember, the level of intelligence stays the same, so I'm not sure how well it would work - I'm sure you could get away with it for the purposes of your story, that's what artistic license is for!

C.bronco
11-27-2008, 06:34 AM
"His father remarried and, Dully says, "My stepmother hated me. I never understood why, but it was clear she'd do anything to get rid of me."

A search of Dully's records among Freeman's files archived at George Washington University turned up clues about why Freeman lobotomized him.

According to Freeman's notes, Lou Dully said she feared her stepson, whom she described as defiant and savage looking. "He doesn't react either to love or to punishment," the notes say of Howard Dully. "He objects to going to bed but then sleeps well. He does a good deal of daydreaming and when asked about it he says 'I don't know.' He turns the room's lights on when there is broad sunlight outside.""

Sweet Lord. That sounds like a normal child who's mom has died. Apparently, the Dr. had no reservations.
Sick. Sick. Sick.