Spikes & maps in the brain


This week, I've received three books which I'll be writing about in the near future:

  • My Lobotomy, by Howard Dully and Charles Fleming. Dully was lobotomized at the age of 12 at the behest of his stepmother - that's him on the right, holding an instrument identical to the one he was lobotomized with; this book is his memoir.
  • The Lobotomist, by Jack El-Hai, a biography of Walter Freeman, the psychiatrist who, in 1960, performed Dully's lobotomy.
  • The Body Has a Mind of Its Own, by Sandra and Matthew Blakeslee. This is about the somatosensory cortex, that part of the brain on which the body is mapped. As well as mediating the sense of touch, the somatosensory system is also involved in how we percieve our bodies. Thus it is the changes in the functioning of this system that underly conditions such phantom limb syndrome and, perhaps, eating disorders such as anorexia and bulemia.

I'm looking forward to reading all three of these books. I'll review The Body has a Mind of Its Own here soon. And I'll read My Lobotomy and The Lobotomist together, and write a follow-up to my post about the lobotomy. (Meanwhile, here's a review of My Lobotomy from yesterday's NY Times.)

More like this

A forthcoming PBS documentary called The Lobotomist examines the career of psychiatrist Walter J. Freeman, who performed nearly 3,000 "ice pick" lobotomies during the late 1930s and 1940s. The hour-long program, which is partly based on Jack El-Hai's book of the same name, contains old footage of…
LOBOTOMY (from the Greek lobos, meaning lobes of the brain, and tomos, meaning cut) is a psychosurgical procedure in which the connections the prefrontal cortex and underlying structures are severed, or the frontal cortical tissue is destroyed, the theory being that this leads to the uncoupling…
In The rise and fall of the prefrontal lobotomy, I discussed the heart-breaking case of Howard Dully, whose stepmother had him lobotomized when he was12 years old. Dully relates his story in My Lobotomy, an autobiographical book which is co-authored by novelist and journalist Charles Fleming. My…
The BBC has produced an interesting series called Blood and Guts about the modern history of surgery and the first episode, which is about neurosurgery, is now available online at the BBC iPlayer website. (For those outside the U.K., it is also available as a torrent.) Presented by surgeon Michael…

What a lesson. Don't fall in love with your theory.

By gerald spezio (not verified) on 16 Sep 2007 #permalink

Well, very brainy reads for sure! I like your Memory and Emotion, at left... That sounds very interesting for me. As far as your choices in your posts, I'll let you review them.