My Lobotomy: A Memoir

Kobo ebook | September 4, 2007

byHoward Dully, Charles Fleming

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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.

Abandoned by his family within a year of the surgery, Howard spent his teen years in mental institutions, his twenties in jail, and his thirties in a bottle. It wasn’t until he was in his forties that Howard began to pull his life together. But even as he began to live the “normal” life he had been denied, Howard struggled with one question: Why?

“October 8, 1960. I gather that Mrs. Dully is perpetually talking, admonishing, correcting, and getting worked up into a spasm, whereas her husband is impatient, explosive, rather brutal, won’t let the boy speak for himself, and calls him numbskull, dimwit, and other uncomplimentary names.”

There were only three people who would know the truth: Freeman, the man who performed the procedure; Lou, his cold and demanding stepmother who brought Howard to the doctor’s attention; and his father, Rodney. Of the three, only Rodney, the man who hadn’t intervened on his son’s behalf, was still living. Time was running out. Stable and happy for the first time in decades, Howard began to search for answers.

“December 3, 1960. Mr. and Mrs. Dully have apparently decided to have Howard operated on. I suggested [they] not tell Howard anything about it.”

Through his research, Howard met other lobotomy patients and their families, talked with one of Freeman’s sons about his father’s controversial life’s work, and confronted Rodney about his complicity. And, in the archive where the doctor’s files are stored, he finally came face to face with the truth.

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.


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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 i...

Format:Kobo ebookPublished:September 4, 2007Publisher:Crown/ArchetypeLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0307407675

ISBN - 13:9780307407672

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Customer Reviews of My Lobotomy: A Memoir

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Sad story This book is well written. It's strangely an easy read about a really terrible thing. It's so tragic that this happened to a child, and no one was there to defend him. Keep the Kleenex handy when you read this book.
Date published: 2015-09-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great read Fantastic story and very well written. Certainly kept me reading. It is hard to understand how people can treat others the way they do. Hope Howard lives the rest of his years in peace, seems as if he will, he is a strong man.
Date published: 2015-08-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Left me dad, angry and indignant. This story made me sad and angry. I am horrified that this could happen to a child and not one person stepped foward to help him.
Date published: 2015-08-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My Lobotomy Howard's memoir is a moving, honest journey. Inspiring, provocative, brave and beautiful. Thank you!
Date published: 2015-01-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Crazy First off, I must say that this book is not for the light-hearted. My Lobotomy is about exactly that, a lobotomy. An "ice-pick" lobotomy to be precise. Howard had one at age twelve. The first part of the book, Dully tells about his life before and after the procedure. This is where Lou is introduced. Lou is his step-mother and basically hates Howard. It almost seems over the top with what she does to him and the things she says. It's her that wants Howard to have the lobotomy and convinces his father as well. She seems like she's the one that needs help mentally. The lobotomy doesn't seem to do anything to Howard right away, but he does suffer as a result of it. An amazing memoir about a procedure that is still widely unknown to us. A must read for everyone.
Date published: 2009-04-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lotta Lobotomy! My Lobotomy is the horrifying, yet enthralling autobiography of Howard Dully. In 1960, when he was 12 years old, he was given a transorbital lobotomy by the infamous Dr. Walter Freeman. Freeman is known for pioneering the transorbital “ice pick” lobotomy. Dully had an unstable, unloving home life prior to the lobotomy, which lead to him acting out, but was a lobotomy necessary? After the lobotomy, his life didn’t improve at all. In fact, it seemed to progressively go downhill for many years. The story of Howard Dully’s life is incredible. It’s heartbreaking, but heart-warming and reassuring at the same time. After reading My Lobotomy, I was amazed by what the human mind and spirit can overcome. The book begins by probing into Dully’s childhood pre-lobotomy, then it explores the procedure itself and the recovery period, followed by earnestly discussing his post-lobotomy years until the present time. I was grateful that Howard’s early years with his father and stepmother were described with sufficient detail because all of that background information played an important role in the events of Howard’s post-lobotomy life. There was quite a bit of background information given about Dr. Walter Freeman as well, which was fascinating to say the least. The detailed descriptions of the procedure involved in a transorbital lobotomy and the tools used shocked me. The whole thing was barbaric and appalling, so I have huge amounts respect and admiration for Howard Dully for being able to discuss such a traumatic event in his life so thoroughly. My Lobotomy makes the reader wonder how much of Dully’s life was a result of the lobotomy and how much was a result of his poor upbringing and the lack of love he received from his father and stepmother. Dully expertly conveys his feelings of isolation, loneliness, shame, confusion, and emptiness to the reader in a simple but vivid manner. The courage that Howard Dully shows by honestly exploring such a personal and intimidating subject is inspiring. I’d highly recommend this autobiography to everyone! On a sidenote, the paperback edition of My Lobotomy has a bonus chapter with a lot of very interesting information.
Date published: 2009-04-06