Lobotomy - Indications and Outcomes: Medical Literature

Indications and Outcomes: Medical Literature

According to the Psychiatric Dictionary published in 1970:

Prefrontal lobotomy is of value in the following disorders, listed in a descending scale of good results: affective disorders, obsessive-compulsive states, chronic anxiety states and other non-schizophrenic conditions, paranoid schizophrenia, undetermined or mixed type of schizophrenia, catatonic schizophrenia, and hebephrenic and simple schizophrenia. Good results are obtained in about 98 percent of cases, fair results in some 35 percent and poor results in 25 percent are thereabouts. The mortality rate probably does not exceed 3 percent. Greatest improvement is seen in patients whose premorbid personalities were 'normal', cyclothymic, or obsessive compulsive; in patients with superior intelligence and good education; in psychoses with sudden onset and a clinical picture of affective symptoms of depression or anxiety, and with behaviouristic changes such as refusal of food, overactivity, and delusional ideas of a paranoid nature.

Prefrontal lobotomy has also been used successfully to control pain secondary to organic lesions. In this case, the tendency has been to employ unilateral lobotomy, because of the evidence that a lobotomy extensive enough to reduce psychotic symptoms is not required to control pain.

According to the same source, prefrontal lobotomy reduces:

anxiety feelings and introspective activities; and feelings of inadequacy and self-consciousness are thereby lessened. Lobotomy reduces the emotional tension associated with hallucinations and does away with the catatonic state. Because nearly all psychosurgical procedures have undesirable side effects, they are ordinarily resorted to only after all other methods have failed. The less disorganized the personality of the patient, the more obvious are post-operative side effects. ...

Convulsive seizures are reported as sequelae of prefrontal lobotomy in 5 to 10 percent of all cases. Such seizures are ordinarily well controlled with the usual anti-convulsive drugs. Post-operative blunting of the personality, apathy, and irresponsibility are the rule rather than the exception. Other side effects include distractibility, childishness, facetiousness, lack of tact or discipline, and post-operative incontinence.

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