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My Lobotomy

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  11,173 ratings  ·  1,386 reviews
A gut-wrenching memoir by a man who was lobotomized at the age of twelve.

Assisted by journalist/novelist Charles Fleming, Howard Dully recounts a family tragedy whose Sophoclean proportions he could only sketch in his powerful 2005 broadcast on NPR's All Things Considered.

"In 1960," he writes, "I was given a transorbital, or 'ice pick' lobotomy. My stepmother arranged it
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Published November 14th 2007 by Tantor Media (first published 2007)
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Average rating 3.73  · 
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Elyse  Walters
Feb 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another Update -- $1.99 special -- if you have NOT read this fast-easy reading -quick read - but this crazy TRUE story --will blow your mind --- gripping! It all happened near where I live.
I always wished the the man who wrote it --Howard Dully made some fricken money off this book -- He deserves it!

Update: $1.99 Kindle special today. A chilling page-turning TRUE STORY. Took place in my neighborhood. Part in Los Altos Hills --and part just up the street -2 blocks from my house --and 'part' in a
Feb 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
"My name is Howard Dully. I'm a bus driver. I'm a husband, and a father, and a grandfather.
I'm into doo-wop music, travel and photography. I'm also a survivor: In 1960, when I was
twelve years old, I was given a trans orbital or 'icepick' lobotomy. My stepmother arranged
it. My father agreed to it. Dr. Walter Freeman, the father of American lobotomy, told me he
was going to do some 'tests'. It took ten minutes and cost two hundred dollars. The surgery
damaged me in many ways...."

There are eve
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
Feb 01, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Modern Hermeneut
Jan 01, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Sep 18, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2007
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
Rebecca McNutt
My Lobotomy is one of the most shockingly intense books I've ever read. The true story of a young man whose entire personality and state of being was compromised by a barbaric surgical procedure, this book really teaches that age-old phrase, "if we don't learn from the past, we'll be doomed to repeat it".
May 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Heartbreaking and inspiring. The story of a man who survived being lobotomized at the age of 12. What people do to other people in the name of mental health amazes me.
Sep 26, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008, memoirs
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.
Feb 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Oct 22, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 26, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 18, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, memoir, non-fiction
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.
Jan 12, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.5 stars, geez I really felt bad for him as a kid. Between the horrible stepmother and not very supportive dad, I'm surprised he came out ok.
Dec 29, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 30, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I admit that at times this was a bit of a slog. It's a bit repetitive and there's lots of drinking, carousing, etc that gets a bit tedious at times.
However, this is an important story to tell. I'm surprised and a bit outraged that the cracks in the system are so wide that it allowed this to happen to anyone, never mind a 12 year old child.
Truth be told, as the story is written, Howard comes across as a problem child. It's never really clear whether a fair and kind hand would have helped guide
Sep 18, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a memoir like no other, very moving. The beginning and the end are 4.5; the middle is a slow, repetitive slog through a life interrupted. Howard Dully's story is tragic, remarkable, scary, and gut-wrenching. One of 2,500 people to receive a lobotomy from Dr. Howard Freeman, this man survived the trauma at age 12 and remained articulate into middle age to finally tell his story. Written on the heels of a successful NPR radio documentary, this book has been on my shelf for a decade. Pandemic ...more
Karen Atwood
Sep 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible-books
Howard Dully read his own autobiography. It was a heartbreaking story about a child who likely had ADHD subjected to a “wicked” step mother and an indifferent and highly manipulated father. It’s amazing to me how long Dr Friedman was able to use unsuspecting children and adults in his experimental lobotomies. Probably 3.5 stars.
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.
Feb 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sabrina Rutter
Sep 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own, child-abuse
It's been a while since a book had me hooked the way this one did from page one. I couldn't believe that someone would do this to their perfectly healthy child! It's a complete miracle that this man is alive and well today. I could understand if someone was sold this procedure by a doctor because they had an extremely mentally challenged child and they thought it would cure their child or something, but to take a young boy with a healthy brain and have this done to him is gruesome and outrageous ...more
Sep 21, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 02, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Hank Hoeft
Jun 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In November of 2005, I heard on National Public Radio an extraordinary 22-minute documentary about a man who, as a twelve-year old boy, was subjected to a transorbital lobotomy in December, 1960. There were several aspects about this story that struck me as remarkable. First of all, before the procedure, Howard Dully was a perfectly normal, rambunctious twelve-year old boy; he had no mental problems whatsoever (except maybe today he might well be diagnosed with mild Attention Deficit Disorder); ...more
Touching, sad, victorious. Howard Dully is the apple of his mother's eye. She showers him with love. But she dies while he is a child, and his father remarries. His new wife, Lou, does not like Howard. She finds constant fault with him, basically for being a normal rambunctious boy. She punishes him daily. She seeks help from a number of pediatricians and psychologists, most who tell her that she is the problem and he is a normal boy. Then she finds Dr. Freeman, a pioneer of the lobotomy. He per ...more
Sep 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, non-fiction
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
Hailey Hamilton
Sep 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the book My Lobotomy by Howard Dully was to inform us of what was going on during that time of him being a child. A lobotomy was given to those who had mental illnesses because the doctors thought that was the way to treat the illness. Even though Howard did not have a mental illness his step mom thought it was a good thing for him to have at the age of twelve. The type of lobotomy Dr. Walter Freeman gave was called the "ice pick", and he invented it himself.
The theme of the book is that no c
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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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