PATIENT H.M. A STORY OF MEMORY, MADNESS, AND FAMILY SECRETS
by Luke Dittrich
The author's grandfather was a pioneer in the study of lobotomies. Dittrich's grandfather, Dr. Scoville, was a brilliant and respected surgeon. In the late 1930's it was thought that a new surgery, the lobotomy, would help patients suffering from epilepsy, schizophrenia, homosexuality, and other mental problems. The surgeons who performed these surgeries were referred to as psychosurgeons. Unfortunately, at that time in history, people's rights were not as protected as they are now. Thousands of people in asylums, acting as human guinea pigs, had lobotomies performed on them. One such individual was Henry Molaison. Dr. Scoville performed a new type of lobotomy on Henry to try and help his epilepsy. Henry's ended up losing the ability to construct any new memories. Over the next 60 years of his life "patient H.M." became the most studied individual in the history of neuroscience. This book was quite fascinating. Not only was I intrigued by the way scientists learned about the brain but also the changing attitudes of society in regards to people suffering mental and/or physical issues.
Reviewed by Mimi @ Genoa Branch Library