Eva Peron and Rosemary Kennedy Underwent a Barbaric Medical Procedure Called Lobotomy

Yana Bostongirl

Prior to the advent of antipsychotic drugs in the 1960s, lobotomy was a popular medical procedure used for treating severe mental illness. The aim of the procedure was to sever nerve fibers in the brain that connect the frontal lobe—the area of the brain responsible for thinking—with other regions of the brain.

According to VeryWell Mind, a resource for mental health topics, lobotomies were performed to treat mental illnesses such as Major depressive disorder, Obsessive-compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia during the mid-20th century. Some of the reasons attributed to its popularity as a "cure" for mental illness were the lack of other effective methods of treatment and also due to the overcrowding of mental institutions. This excerpt describes the crisis faced by institutions due to overcrowding: In 1937, there were more than 450,000 patients in 477 mental institutions. Lobotomies were used to calm unruly patients and make them easier to manage."

Among those who underwent lobotomies were well-known names like Eva Peron, wife of Argentinian President Juan Peron, and Rosemary Kennedy, the sister of US President John F Kennedy.

Eva Peron, a famous actress, and performer died at the age of 33 from cervical cancer. According to an article published on historycollection.com, a Yale professor who later examined her X-rays arrived at the conclusion that she had undergone a lobotomy prior to her death in 1952. Here is an excerpt from the article that speculates on the chilling reason as to why a lobotomy was performed on her: "It is possible Peron ordered the procedure to ease the pain Eva was suffering from cancer, but the political environment and Eva’s increasing support of creating an armed militia from the labor unions may have influenced his decision."

Another notable person who underwent this procedure was Rosemary Kennedy. She was known to suffer from violent seizures and temper tantrums. In order to avoid the public embarrassment that resulted from her behavior, Rosemary's father had her undergo a lobotomy at age 23. Here is an excerpt from VeryWell Mind that describes the procedure in horrifying detail: "Throughout the entire procedure, Rosemary is said to have been awake, speaking with doctors, and reciting poems to nurses. Doctors knew the procedure was over when she stopped speaking."

Rosemary Kennedy became severely disabled after undergoing the procedure and had to be institutionalized until her death in 2005.

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