My Lobotomy

Welcome to the last week of Mental Health Month! We’ve read some pretty great books, and I hope ya’ll have enjoyed them as much as I have. Because I am moving at the end of this week, this will be my last book for the challenge. As I’m writing this review, I’ve run out of my planned posts–that doesn’t mean there won’t be any more reviews this week, I just don’t know what they will be yet! Things will go back to a normal schedule in June.

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.

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.

Howard Dully’s story is HORRIFYING. While this story is about a child who had a lobotomy, this is not a story about mental illness at all.

What? That doesn’t make any sense! Why would you give someone a lobotomy for no reason? (Well…besides the fact that no one should ever have been given lobotomies…but that’s another point altogether.)

Dully is the victim of severe child abuse–full of hatred so bad that his step mother sought out psychiatrists to diagnose him with any disorder to explain her feelings that something was wrong with him. She finally landed on Walter Freeman, someone who would stick an ice pick in his head. This boy, who was causing trouble mostly because school didn’t challenge him enough, was now pushed through system after system throughout his adolescence.

My Lobotomy provides a striking warning for everyone involved in the mental health system. How many kids have been harmed when they didn’t need to be? If you’re going to diagnose someone with a mental illness, make sure they get the correct help, and stick with them through the whole thing. These kids aren’t just trash to be thrown away–and “diagnosing” a child with a mental illness because you don’t like him…that’s just beyond my scope of understanding.

This book is going to make you very, very angry. The end.

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