Book ID: CBB291777811

American Lobotomy: A Rhetorical History (2016)


American Lobotomy studies a wide variety of representations of lobotomy to offer a rhetorical history of one of the most infamous procedures in the history of medicine. The development of lobotomy in 1935 was heralded as a “miracle cure” that would empty the nation’s perennially blighted asylums. However, only twenty years later, lobotomists initially praised for their “therapeutic courage” were condemned for their barbarity, an image that has only soured in subsequent decades.  Johnson employs previously abandoned texts like science fiction, horror film, political polemics, and conspiracy theory to show how lobotomy’s entanglement with social and political narratives contributed to a powerful image of the operation that persists to this day. The book provocatively challenges the history of medicine, arguing that rhetorical history is crucial to understanding medical history. It offers a case study of how medicine accumulates meaning as it circulates in public culture and argues for the need to understand biomedicine as a culturally situated practice.

Reviewed By

Review David R. Gruber (2016) Review of "American Lobotomy: A Rhetorical History". Configurations: A Journal of Literature, Science, and Technology (pp. 263-265). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Raz, Mical
Linker, Beth
Noll, Steven
Trent, James W.
Mills, Mara C.
Reagan, Leslie J.
Social History of Medicine
Rittenhouse: Journal of the American Scientific Instrument Enterprise
Health and History
New York University Press
University of California Press
University of Rochester Press
Johns Hopkins University Press
Pennsylvania State University
Yale University
Disabilities; disability; accessibility
Public health
Mental disorders and diseases
Neurosurgery; psychosurgery
Freeman, Walter
Time Periods
20th century
19th century
20th century, early
21st century
17th century
18th century
United States
Great Britain

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