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Medical School Organization Is Protesting Lobotomies


A newly-formed group at he Harvard Medical School protesting the indiscriminate use of brain surgery to control behavior, met Tuesday night to organize a forum aimed at informing the public of the physical dangers and possible political implications of lobotomies.

The group, people against Psychosurgery (PAP), tentatively scheduled a forum for may 4. Participants will include Dr. Peter A. Breggin '58, professor at the Washington School of Psychology, a staunch opponent of all surgery that modifies behavior.

The three Medical School proponents of lobotomies include Drs. Henry t. Ballantine, Frank R. Ervin, and Vernon H. Mark. All three declined invitations to participate in a debate with Dr. Breggin at the form.

"Neurosurgeons don't know hat they do when they stick electrodes in and burn out the brain," John V. Walsh, doctorate student of physiology at the Med School and one of 40 PAP members at the meeting said. "Psychos surgery cripples people, and we are just beginning to see the potential for very alarming political implications," he added.

The operation, which cuts a narrow slit through the frontal lobes of the brain, is used to control "hyperactive" children and those who suffer from anxiety, tension, and overt aggressiveness. It can be performed only after the patient gives his consent, and produces a blunting effect on the individual's behavior.

Several neurosurgeons are presently studying the possibility of controlling radicals and social devisers through brain surgery, under the auspices of the President's Committee on Violence.

About 400-600 lobotomies are Performed yearly in the U.S. Walsh stated, mostly in private institutions. The operation is not subject to governmental restrictions, although Congressional hearings are in progress studying the possible outlawing of all lobotomies.

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