Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Thinking with the Thalamus: Lobotomy and the Rhetoric of Emotional Impairment

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2011), 5, (2), 185–200.

Abstract

The article analyzes the role of emotion in discourse about lobotomy in the mid-twentieth century. It shows how the scientific justification for lobotomy relied on a general theory of psychopathology that identified emotion as the root impairment in mental illness, and also argues that a similar rhetoric surfaced in arguments against lobotomy's critics, who were dismissed as emotional and unreasonable when they voiced opposition to the operation. Although lobotomy is no longer a mainstream medical practice, the rhetoric of emotional impairment continues to impact on the lives of people with psychiatric disabilities, which the article suggests might be remedied by valuing emotion and validating emotional argument.

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Moniz, Egas. "Attempt at Surgical Treatment of Certain Psychoses." 1936. Journal of Neurosurgery 21.12 (1964): 1109–14. Google Scholar

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Author details

Johnson, Jenell