Jack El-Hai, executive vice president of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and a 1979 Carleton graduate, will read from his book titled ?The Lobotomist: A Maverick Medical Genius and his Tragic Quest to Rid the World of Mental Illness? at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, April 4, in the Carleton College Gould Library Athenaeum. The event is free and open to the public.
The book is a biography of neurologist Walter Freeman (1895-1972), the doctor who pioneered the use of lobotomy to treat mentally ill patients. El-Hai calls him ?the most scorned physician of the twentieth century,? with the exception of Nazi Joseph Mengele. Freeman refined and promoted the technique of lobotomy, in which a sharp instrument is inserted into the frontal lobes of the patient?s brain. The resulting nerve damage seemed to offer remarkable cures in many psychiatric patients, and over time, the procedure became widespread and accepted by doctors, families and patients themselves. Perhaps his most notable patient was the late Rosemary Kennedy, sister of the late President John F. Kennedy. However, as the treatment?s popularity grew, so did voices of dissent, claiming that the practice was useless and cruel. Although Freeman spent his entire life promoting lobotomy, by his death in 1972 it had all but disappeared.
El-Hai will read from, sign copies of and discuss his book, and will also show some unusual lobotomy artifacts.
El-Hai, who was an English major at Carleton, is a freelance writer who has been writing features for publications such as Atlantic Monthly, American Heritage, American Health and the Washington Post Magazine since the 1980s. Many of these have been historical narrative pieces, though recently demand for these from magazines has declined and El-Hai has shifted toward writing books. Most of what he writes now are corporate history books, though he has called his Freeman biography ?the most satisfying writing work I?ve ever done.?
For more information and disability accommodations, call Carleton?s library at (507) 646-4260.
Added by carlmedr on March 24, 2005