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My Lobotomy: A Memoir
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My Lobotomy: A Memoir

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  7,159 ratings  ·  1,057 reviews
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 fami
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ebook, 288 pages
Published September 4th 2007 by Broadway Books (first published 2007)
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Petra X
I read this book carefully as my grandfather had bi-polar disease (or manic-depression as it was called then) and regular electric shock treatments and was recommended a lobotomy.

I could not for the life of me see what difference a lobotomy made to the author. He suffered not a single one of the complications of the operation and it was only his shame at having been lobotomized that affected his life. He made it the centre of his life when it was really not the issue at all.

The issue was the ex
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Julene
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Madison Sterling-Zalk
I was terribly intrigued by what a lobotomy was and... once I found that out, I was horrified that our society would ALLOW it to be done to anyone, much less a twelve-year old little boy.

But this book wasn't as entrancing for me as I'd hoped it would be. A big fan of memoirs, I love reading about others, discovering what makes them tick. As sad as Howard Dully's story was, the writing style wasn't tight enough to satisfy. A LOT of repetition throughout--the same facts presented to the reader ove
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Modern Hermeneut
Jan 07, 2008 Modern Hermeneut rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Memoir junkies
It's appropriate that one of this book's most salient elements is what it lacks: any discussion of the neurophysiology of behavior. This absence is refreshing but also surprising. With the recent flood of neuro-literature on the shelves today, one expects a book about lobotomy to review (and presumably critique) the current research on brain function. But Dully eschews this scientific (or scientistic) territory, favoring the more engaging human interest elements of his story (the malevolent step ...more
Johanna
Feb 11, 2008 Johanna rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Melinda
Shelves: research
“He poked these knitting needles into my skull, through my eye sockets, and then swirled them around until he felt he had scrambled things up enough” (97).

December 15, 1960, at 12 years old, Howard Dully’s life changed forever.

On November 30, 1948, Howard was born to Rodney and June Dully. Two more brothers followed, Brian and Bruce. Bruce, the third child, was born brain-damaged. June had been ill and 12 days after Bruce’s birth, died, never leaving the hospital. Colon cancer, undiagnosed until
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misha
Yet another book that makes you just want to find a kid to hug.

The most heartbreaking part of his story is how no one ever spoke to him, when what he really needed was someone to step in and take him out of a really shitty family situation.
Ilene
This is an incredible memoir. This is a story of a man who received an "ice pick" lobotomy at age 12, and how it affected the rest of his life. It taught me a lot about the resiliency of the human spirit and forgiveness. All I can say is this is an amazing story about an tremendous human being. The physician, Dr. Freeman, who performed thousands of these lobotomies should have a special place in hell for the lives he devastated. Amazingly, the author, Howard Dully, holds no grudges and is even u ...more
Clare
Howard Dully' memoir recounts in great detail and candor his struggle to discover why he was lobotomized at age 12. Although I certainly felt for him and appreciated the enormity of his struggle to find truth and closure, I do wish I had come away from the book with a deeper understanding of the effect the actual procedure had on him. I understood that much of the trouble he had in his later life had to do with the fact of the awful betrayal his parents committed in allowing this to be done to h ...more
Maria
A memoir, although sadly ghost written, but never-the-less not a bad read. Howard Dullys Mother dies when he is 5 and he is never really told what has happened to her. His father then remarries which is where the real trouble begins. Howard's Father Rodney marries a woman called Lou, Lou for whatever reason, really does not take to Howard. He becomes the focus of her rage and anger, she singles him out for the worst treatment of all the children, his own brothers and her own two boys. She cannot ...more
Helen
Wow. What an amazing story. Rarely do books truly bring a tear to my eye, but anyone who is not moved by what this guy endured is surely bereft of a soul.

I had heard of Walter Freeman, the doctor who popularised the use of the transorbital lobotomy, but reading the experiences and feelings of someone who'd been on the other end of the ice-pick is entirely different.
Howard Dully was essentially loathed by his step-mother. She seems to have wanted rid of him, one way or another. Bewilderingly, How
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Chanda
It makes me feel like a completely insensitive bastard but I didn't really like this book. What happened to this man was wrong on so many levels it's probably impossible to count. He was delivered a great injustice and was probably affected in ways that he, nor anyone else will ever know. What remains though, is that he's not an author. He's a guy telling an incredible, albeit atrocious story, that I'm sure took a great deal of courage, time, and effort, and I admire him for that, but I can't lo ...more
Jen
This was an interesting read and one that kept my attention well, but the recurrent theme in my mind while I was reading it was...someone just let this happen? It was not so much that he was given a lobotomy, or even given a lobotomy at an early age (12), but it was that so many times the people that should have cared enough about him, well, didn't. Take it a little further and it's not so much they didn't care about him and neglected his well being in life, but that they were too worried about ...more
Darla
Happened to watch WXXI a show on Dr. Freeman, THE doctor of lobotomies. A small segment featured Howard Dully, one of Dr. Freeman's youngest subjects. The next day at the library I spotted this book and knew I had to read it. I was struck by a system that allowed Howard to float from asylums, detention centers and prison, with no real plan. He was told more than once that he didn't belong where he was being detained. And yet he stayed where he was. Worse than a prison sentence in a sense because ...more
Cynthia
Okay with a title like this, how could I not read it? A 12 year old given a lobotomy in 1960. He was made a ward of the state, instutionalized, jailed, etc. All of this because his stepmother basically didn't like him. Mr. Dully should be a bitter, hateful man but he isn't. He realizes there is nothing he could have done to change matters - he was only 12. Sadly, it wasn't him that needed the lobotomy but his stepmother. This is a true life story and has, not a happy ending, but an ending with s ...more
Alyssa
This book was hard to read in the beginning, not because of how it was written but because I was horrified at what was happening in his life. About the middle of the book I was totally pulled in and couldn't put it down. If you do read this make sure you get the paperback edition. It has a chapter/afterword that is not in the hardback edition that is very interesting and I think a must for the completion of this story.
Kay
I picked this up after watching a documentary about Dr. Freeman, the man who streamlined the lobotomy... you can watch in full here.

The book itself was more of a testament to the consequences of abuse and neglect, rather than the actual lobotomy. A quick, engaging read that detailed Dully's life, before and after the procedure.

I missed out on the NPR program when it first aired and became the catalyst for the memoir... but you can listen to it here.
Jessica
This was a quick read for me....simple writing, but it was also very interesting, so I caught myself wanting to read it all the time. I gave this book 5 stars because not only did I really like it, but I thought it deserved 5 stars for the courage that Howard Dully had in writing it. It made me angry at the parents (esp. the step mother)....you can't figure out why she was so evil. I'm glad that Dully was able to overcome all the adversity and craziness that he dealt with in his life to write th ...more
Peacegal
I had high hopes for this book, but the writer's inexperienced, stilted writing style made it a chore to read. His story had the potential to be a gripping look at the ramifications of this bizarre and once-common procedure of psychological medicine. I wish the author would have put his remarkable story in the hands of a more professional writer.
MissSusie
My Lobotomy by, Howard Dully
This book was a sad yet fascinating story of a man looking for the answers as to why he was given a lobotomy at the age of 12.Howard's mother died when he was young and his father remarried,his stepmother pretty much hated him from the start and was mentally and physically abusive to him.She went from doctor to doctor trying to have him committed ,anything to get him out of her house. She finally met Dr.Freeman the pioneer of the ice pick lobotomy in him she thought s
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Christina Wilder
The most I knew about Walter Freeman, the neurosurgeon who popularized the use of lobotomies with an ice pick, was that he once held a conference in which he poured out a box filled with Christmas cards from the families of his former patients. He did this in response to criticism about his techniques and inquiries about whether lobotomies were actually curing ailments or merely reducing people to a vegetative state.

In true dramatic fashion, Freeman shook the cards out of the box and demanded to
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Susie
This was a fascinating book about Howard Dully, who had a lobotomy performed on him when he was 12 years old. The lobotomy was a procedure that was performed by Dr. Walter Freeman in the 50s and 60s in which he would take a metal instrument (sometimes an "ice pick") and stick it into the prefrontal cortex of someone's brain and swirl it around. He claimed that the procedure would relieve people of depression, anxiety, and all sorts of mental disorders.

However, most people who had this procedure
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HeavyReader
The author tells how he was lobotomized when he was 12 years old.

The story is really heart wrenching. As a kid, the author was beaten by his dad and stepmother as a means of punishment. His dad worked two (and sometimes three or four) jobs and was seldom around. When he was around, he was distant and abusive. The author was just five when his mother died and still a little kid when his dad remarried. His stepmother also beat him and belittled and berated him. He could literally do nothing right.
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Frances
This book was one that everyone should read. The author was given a icepick lobotomy when he was a rambunctious teenaged boy because his new stepmother could not deal with him. It is really an eye opener on child abuse and 1 doctor who is looking for fame and fortune by perfroming icepick lobotomies on teenagers and mentally ill patients. The author really is a hapless victim who tells an honest account of what happened to him and how he dealt with the pain and isolation of being a frontal lobto ...more
Samir
A fascinating first person look at a time when frontal lobotomy was seen as an acceptable, even revolutionary medical treatment for behavioral problems. The story is told by an individual who was subjected, at 12 years old, to a lobotomy by his family for being "difficult." From the stepmother who ordered it to the father who let it happen to the doctor who performed it, and ending in the present day, the book introduces many figures who feature prominently in his life. Overall an inspirational ...more
Eva
Crazy story. I can't believe this dad allowed his son to receive a lobotomy--at 12 years old!!! I really wish the father could give his side of the story too. My mom and dad thought I was a tough kid, but they didn't do anything crazy like this. It just reminds me that some people should never ever become parents. What a bad chapter of medical history, too. I can't believe that anyone in the medical establishment allowed lobotomies to happen. I know hindsight is 20/20, but come on! Especially wh ...more
Leah
I'm really glad that this book was written; I think that it is important as a piece of a larger medical history. It was interesting to read because, while patient memoirs have really taken off in recent years, there really isn't much out there to document the histories and lives of people who have had lobotomies, or were institutionalized, for that matter. (I would love to learn more about conditions in state hospitals leading up to deinstitutionalization) The book also gives you a lot to think ...more
Carrie
WOW, if you liked reading the books, A Child Called It, The Lost Boy and A Man Named Dave by Dave Pelzer you will like this book as well. It amazed me the power one person has over another person. Why would a father allow a stepmother to treat his son like this? It is truly amazing and very sad. Then I also thought, where were the social service workers or someone who looks after the best interest of a child? I just hope that kids are being looked after better now then they did back then.
Beth
Most of this book doesn't flow really nicely - it seems a little disjointed but I heard this program on NPR so when the author got to the part when he was recording the program, I really teared up (again). It is a very moving story and could be recommended to someone who liked the Dave Pelzer books. Howard Dully was given an lobotomy when he was 12 years old and this is the story of his life, leading up to the hugely popular NPR show that was aired a few years ago.
Aurora
First listen to the moving, award-winning radio piece on Howard Dully and the history of lobotomies in America, on www.npr.org (find it in the archives.) Then pick up this book and get ready for an intimate encounter with the more horrifying side of semi-modern psychiatry. Ultimately, it's the story of a personal journey that leaves you both inspired and deeply disturbed.
Mary Louise
Frightening. And in many ways, the fuzzy narrative and sometimes clumsy construction made it even more engaging.
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Dully was born on November 30, 1948, in Oakland, California, the eldest son of Rodney and June Louise Pierce Dully. Following the death of his mother from cancer in 1954, Dully's father married single mother Shirley Lucille Hardin in 1955.

Neurologist Walter Freeman had diagnosed Dully as suffering from childhood schizophrenia since age 4, although numerous other medical and psychiatric professiona
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“We are all victims of what is done to us. We can either use that as an excuse for failure, knowing that if we fail it isn't really our fault, or we can say, 'I want something better than that, I deserve something better than that, and i'm going to try to make myself a life worth living.” 26 likes
“We never talked about the future. We never talked about what would happen when we got out of Rancho Linda. I don't know if that's being a teenager, or being a teenager in a place like Rancho Linda, but you lived only for the day, or only for the moment. It was all about getting through whatever was happening right now. You didn't worry too much about what was coming later, because right now was all you could deal with.
It was like you were in a river, caught in the current, and you were going whatever way it took you. You knew you had no control over your own destiny-- so you didn't dream, and you didn't plan. There was no reason to plan. You knew you had to survive what you were going through, and the way to make it survivable was to try to have fun.”
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