Neurologist Walter Freeman had diagnosed Dully as suffering from childhood schizophrenia since age 4, although numerous other medical and psychiatric professionals who had seen Dully did not detect a psychiatric disorder. In , at 12 years of age, Dully was submitted by his father and stepmother for a trans-orbital lobotomy, performed by Dr. Dully was institutionalized for years as a juvenile in Agnews State Hospital as a minor ; transferred to Rancho Linda School in San Jose, California, a school for children with behavior problems; incarcerated ; and was eventually homeless and an alcoholic. After becoming sober and getting a college degree in computer information systems , he became a California state certified behind-the-wheel instructor for a school bus company in San Jose, California. In his 50s, with the assistance of National Public Radio producer David Isay , Dully started to research what had happened to him as a child. By this time, both his stepmother and Dr.

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Shelves: memoir "My name is Howard Dully. My stepmother arranged it. My father agreed to it. It took ten minutes and cost two hundred dollars. The surgery damaged me in many ways Walter Freeman. Howard makes the point a number of times throughout the book that he has no memory of the lobotomy.

Rather, he has relied on the memories of family members and the case notes and records of Dr. It is Dr. To sedate patients in preparation for lobotomies, Dr. Freeman administered electroshock. In his notes regarding Howard, he wrote I eventually gave him four, after which he was quite slow in recovering.

I think it was one more than necessary He had a considerable amount of vomiting during the night and I prescribed 50mg Dramamine for its control. He resisted efforts to get his eyes open and complained about the needles that were being given him. His temperature, pulse and respiration were quite normal. Had Howard been suffering from mental illness? In this memoir, Howard attempts to provide answers to these questions.

He attempts to reconstruct the chronology of his life As you might imagine, attempting to reconstruct your life through the recollections of other people would not be a fully satisfying experience.

And I have to admit that this distance that Howard experienced also transferred to my own experience of reading his story. Having said that, I still found this book difficult to read. His life story and experiences illustrate all too well the awful reality that families AND society often fail to protect our most vulnerable people. From all the information that Howard was able to gather, it was clear that he had never been mentally ill; nor had he been engaged in such problematic behaviors as a child to have warranted a lobotomy, Howard, whose mother had died when he was just 5 years-old, lived with his father Rodney and younger brother in a kind of nomad-like existence until Rodney met and married his second wife Lou, who also had a sin from a previous marriage.

Howard writes of constant beatings and verbal abuse. Using Dr. Over and over, the psychiatrists came to the conclusion that Howard was not emotionally troubled and did not display signs of mental illness.

Rather his behaviors were consistent with other pre-adolescent boys his age. Instead she obtained an appointment with Dr. He proposed that a lobotomy might make Howard more docile and manageable and less argumentative and disruptive to the household.

Freeman had written Lou also told Dr. Freeman that Howard had been stealing things, breaking into homes along his paper route and that he had to be kept separated from his brothers to "avoid something serious happening". She reported to Dr. Rodney Dully was given an ultimatum: remove Howard from the home or Lou would divorce him.

In the home at this time, he is always looked on with skepticism and is never allowed to be alone with his younger brothers. Neither parent feels they can trust him In the best interest of Howard, he should be removed from his home in that his stepmother seems determined to destroy him. Although Howard was occasionally visited by his father, he would never again return to his family home. He spent the remainder of his childhood in state institutions and although his maternal grandmother expressed interest in adopting him, Rodney Dully refused to allow him to be adopted.

After being released from the state institution, Howard spent the next 20 years wondering why his life had taken such a turn. Had he done something so terrible that he simply had no memory of? Why had his father allowed this to happen? Why did Lou dislike him so much? When he was finally released from the institution, Howard set out to build a life for himself but without guidance, support or even basic life skills knowledge, he son found his life out of control.

He drank heavily, abused drugs, had trouble with police and drifted from one bad romantic relationship to the next.

His last relationship, which resulted in fatherhood, was characterized by jealousy and incidences of violence. Howard knew he had to make a change but his impulsivity seemed to get in the way of his making better decisions. Finally, he met Barbara Perhaps by chance or was it fate? He contacted the documentarian, whose name was David Isay.

Of course, this book was inspiring to read. Howard Dully overcame huge obstacles to build a productive and happy life for himself and that IS uplifting. Some patients and their families are adamant that lobotomies changed their lives or loved ones lives for the better; while others like Howard Dully believe the procedure brought only damage and pain. One thing seems clear: society seems to have little understanding or perhaps little WILL as to how people with mental illness should be cared for.

We need to do better.


My Lobotomy

About Howard Dully is a son, father, husband, and author. He is one of the youngest recipients of the transorbital lobotomy, a procedure performed on him when he was 12 years old. Howard received international attention in , following the broadcasting of his story on National Public Radio. Neurologist Walter Freeman had diagnosed Dully as suffering from childhood schizophrenia since age 4, although numerous other medical and psychiatric professionals who had seen Dully did not detect a psychiatric disorder.


Damn Interesting

In Stock Overview In this heartfelt memoir from one of the youngest recipients of the transorbital lobotamy, Howard Dully shares the story of a painfully dysfunctional childhood, a misspent youth, his struggle to claim the life that was taken from him, and his redemption. 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.

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