My Lobotomy, by Howard Dully
howard dully lost a loving mom when he was a little kid. and life was never the same. dad remarried, and the new stepmom clearly had significant issues. one way this played out was in a deep hatred for howard, which she externalized and placed all the blame for at howard’s feet.
by the time howard was 12, his stepmom had so convinced herself that he had uncontrollable rage, was dangerous to the family, and a host of others issues (none of which seemed to be substantiated from any other perspective), and convinced her husband (howard’s birth father), and a doctor, that howard needed a lobotomy. this was the 1960s, and the doctor was walter freeman, creator of the “ice pick lobotomy” (which he performed on 3500 patients).
as you might expect, howard’s non-existent problems were not solved. but the life of a 12 year-old took a decided turn from bad to worse.
“my lobotomy” is howard’s first-person, autobiographical account of his life story (howard is in his 60s now, i think — he’ll comment here and correct me if i’m wrong, i expect!). it’s a seriously painful story to read, especially for youth workers who care about teenagers, and can see the stories of so many teenagers we know (even if they haven’t had lobotomies!) in howard’s story. it’s a story of the paths one ends up walking when love, stability, encouragement, and direction aren’t present.
written in a simple voice that was initially a bit annoying to me, but grew so authentic, i came to deeply appreciate that it wasn’t overly polished by the co-author, my lobotomy has all kinds of implications for youth workers and parents and anyone else who cares about teenagers.
thankfully, it’s also a story of redemption. howard, in the later years of his life, has beautifully come to terms with his story, and shows a level of grace (even toward his now-deceased father and stepmother) that is breathtaking.
this is not a book of answers. but it’s a real life story of hurt and healing.