Jan 7, 2009


I love a documentary on a grisly subject, and SBS recently came good with the motherload.

The Lobotomist is a one-hour profile of Walter Freeman, the American doctor who invented the infamous and incomparably nasty medical procedure known as "transorbital lobotomy". Performed on hundreds of thousands of mentally ill patients between the 1930s and 1950s, it left countless numbers of people shadows of their former selves, with reduced brain capacity and often severe disabilities.

Now The Wah has great difficulty in watching anything to do with ice-picks rattling around the pre-frontal cortex, and indeed forsook The Lobotomist for shootin' up zombies or whatever he was railing against in "Left 4 Dead".

Yes, you can appreciate the irony.

But I'm starting to think that perhaps The Wah's frankly obessive paranoia about the impending zombie-pocalypse owes some credit to the horror of lobotomy. Perhaps there are academic papers linking the two already; but a quick internet search links zombies primarily to voodoo magic.

Vampires suck your blood and leave you soulless, a werewolf's bite turns you into a hairy, flesh-eating canine - both arguably leave you without full control of your faculties. But the simple notion of the shuffling undead remains by far the more feared of all the literary/cinematic monsters. You don't see anyone going on "vampire" or "werewolf" walks through major CBDs the world over.

I'm intrigued by all of this in the context of a BBC story about a lack of healthy brains being donated to universities for vital research into Alzheimer's and autism. While many of us have resolved to donate other organs like livers, kidneys and hearts to help the sick, I wonder how many people have thought about what might happen to our grey matter once the synaptic connections stop firing for good?


  1. "You don't see anyone going on "vampire" or "werewolf" walks through major CBDs the world over."

    You obviously haven't been in the Queen St mall at 12:05 and 16:05. The soul sucking corporate secretaries and their masters with their glowing eyes that can spot a new victim at a thousand yards, make them buy the drinks, and ditch them by 19:00 weekdays, or take them home on the weekends and toss them aside LIKE SOME FRICKEN PRAYING MANTIS...




    Ok. I'm good.

  2. I've recently decided that I want to donate my skull to the Royal Shakespeare Society so that they can use it on stage. It might be my only shot at immortality.

    Not sure about the brains, though.

  3. Nat - can you pls drop me a line? i can't find your card / contact anywhere... want to chat to you about David Tennant for limelight mag... katarina@haymarketmedia.com.au
    thks Katarina

  4. Mmmmmm Braaaainz Arggggggh!

    Saw The Lobotomist and just the thought of someone shoving an icepick into your skull and mashing up half your Brain sent shivers down my spine.

    Then again I know a couple of people who would benefit from such a procedure.

  5. See vampires and werewolves are sexy. That's why they're not such a horrible thought, cos we all secretly like the idea of being immortal and sexy.

    Zombies however, are walking DEAD, ugly, rotten and yucky.

  6. It's not the poking of the Ice Pick inot the brain pan that causes the problem It is the wiggling it one way and then wiggling it widdershins..
    Of course the rotation does ensure that the bits don't get stuck in the straw

  7. Sorry there's something wrong with soul sucking corporate secretaries?