Saturday, April 10, 2010
My Lobotomy by Howard Dully ****
Howard Dully was given a lobotomy in December 1960, when he had just turned 12 years old. His step-mother hated him & wanted him gone from her life, & this was her way of doing that. When that brutal procedure didn't make him non-communicative & immobile, he was made a ward of the state of California & lived the rest of his childhood & young adulthood in mental hospitals. As Howard writes in this book, he always wanted to know "why?" What had he done so wrong to warrant these actions against him?
When he was approached by two producers from NPR to do a 22 minute story about lobotomy, Howard finally found out what had happened to him. And the horrible truth, which was that he was a typical 12 year old boy, with no justification except his step-mother's lies for what was done to him.
To say this is a moving book is to put it mildly. The horror & outrage that I felt when reading this, & the fear that filled me when I realized that sometimes the medical community is not only incompetent but twisted, was breathtaking. How could this happen? How could this happen?
After reading the book I looked up Howard's NPR story online. If I thought the book was moving, it was nothing compared to hearing Howard himself finding out & dealing with what was done to him.
I think the thing that made the biggest impression on me was the realization of the power we, as adults, hold over children. We make so many choices for them, & not just for our own kids, but those we deal with in our jobs & in the community. We owe them the responsibility of doing what is best for them at all times, in all ways. As Howard points out, he was helpless against what was done to him. But no one stood up for him: not his father, not the doctors, not the nurses, no one.
With Holocaust Remembrance Day fast approaching (April 11), we remember to say, "Never again." Let's remember that when we deal with children also. Never again.