Review Article

Psychosurgery

Authors: DONALD W. BLACK BA

Abstract

Psychosurgery emerged in the late 1930s as a powerful therapeutic tool with great promise for psychiatry. Because of initial favorable case reports and studies, some influential support, and the need to aid thousands of returning World War II veterans with mental disabilities, the prefrontal lobotomy was widely implemented. It soon fell into disrepute through unfavorable reports of personality changes and neurologic sequelae, equivocal large-scale reports, and the introduction of major ataractic drugs and other treatment modalities. Psychosurgery has persisted in the form of restricted cerebral lesions, most stereotactically placed for relatively few mental illnesses. Evidence suggests that contemporary procedures are associated with minimal side effects and greater efficacy, but more extensive, better controlled studies are necessary.

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References