Created By: Unknown Troper on May 6, 2010 Last Edited By: XFllo on July 25, 2013
Troped

Lobotomy

Characters undergo lobotomy or their brain matter gets removed. Mostly portrayed as evil procedure.

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"You ever heard of a transorbital lobotomy? They sap the patient with electric shock, then go through the eye with an ice pick, pull out some nerve fibres. Makes the patients much more obedient. Tractable. It's barbaric. Unconscionable."

"Welcome to Bedlam House. Before we get started, I'll plunge this icepick into your eye socket. Mwahaha." One moment you'll see a character, chirpy, energetic, and arguing with the nurses. The next day, they're quiet and compliant, drooling, emotionless -- in short, Empty Shells. What took place? A Lobotomy.

Lobotomy is a rare medical operation that cuts into part of a person's brain in order to treat mental illness. Lobotomies and similar drastic brain alterations are still used as last-ditch treatment for intractable epilepsy, but that's about it. In Real Life, even when doctors where performing thousands a year, there was little evidence that it did anything therapeutic. The most often performed procedure rarely helped; it simply destroyed random brain matter.

This trope includes all instances of messing with human brain and removing brain matter and it refers to any sort of brain-tampering effect that diminishes intellect or willpower. Once seen as a perfectly humane thing to do, now treated in fiction as the standard example of medical science gone horribly wrong. Lobotomy in fiction is almost never presented as an actual therapy, but rather as a threat held over people or a means of rendering an inconvenient subject compliant and unable to threaten the one who performs it. Very rarely it appears as genuine attempt to treat the patient.

Electroshock convulsive therapy has similar bad reputation, though more undeservedly and is often portrayed as Electric Torture.

Contrast with Laser-Guided Amnesia which is a relatively mild thing in fictionland you can do to inconvenient witnesses. See also Brainwashed, Brainwashed and Crazy, and Mind Rape.

Mad Scientist or Deadly Doctor are likely to perform it, and Psycho Psychologist is another deadly figure who may suggest this procedure.

Realizing that a character underwent a Lobotomy might very often come off as a spoiler trope. Beware!

Examples:

Comic Books
  • In one comic, Lobo had his brain transplanted into a robocop expy. Once he got back to his body, he repaid the people who used him by returning the favour... using a rusty butter knife.
  • Braniac cuts Aquaman's brain in Justice. Don't worry, he gets better.
    "What is that saying you humans have? Oh yes...'I'm just trying to get inside your head.'"
  • Superman: Justice Lords' version of Superman would "lobotomise" villains as his standard way of solving problems, using x-ray and heat vision for instant effect. Real Superman pretended to use this method once, when an amoral anti-hero pushed him too far.
  • Judge Dredd: Happens frequently in the 2000AD/Judge Dread comics.
    • In the Apocalypse War arc, the captive Chief Judge was given brain surgery that removed any desire to resist interrogation.
    • Mean Machine Angel was lobotomized, only it didn't help.
    • In Mega City One, racking up ten misdemeanour convictions gets you a mandatory lobotomy.
    • Dread himself was given brain surgery to remove his sense of guilt over the tragic fate of an innocent young girl.

Comic Strips
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • When Susie tells Calvin she enjoys going to school to learn, Calvin looks thoughtfully at her before declaring: "Your bangs do a good job of covering up the lobotomy scars."
    • After Hobbes cuts Calvin's hair and messes up, he tries to cover it up by tying a cloth around his head. While Hobbes thinks he looks like Lawrence of Arabia, Calvin thinks he looks more like a Lobotomy Patient.

Film
  • Planet of the Apes: The original movie with with Charlton Heston has one of the human crew-members lobotomized by the apes.
  • In Sucker Punch, Babydoll is sent to a corrupt asylum and is scheduled to be lobotomized, which is what motivates her to make an escape plan. At the end she gives up her chance at freedom to let another girl escape, and ends up getting lobotomized.
  • In Grave Encounters, the doctor at the Abandoned Hospital was known for unethical practices, especially lobotomies. He eventually gives one to the only surviving main character at the end of the movie.
  • The practice of frontal lobotomy is discussed by the workers in Session 9, in what turns out to be Chekhov's Lecture.
  • Shutter Island: During the course of US Marshall Teddy Daniels' investigation into the titular mental institution, the procedure is mentioned as one method used to "cure" violent inmates that have proven otherwise unable to be helped. After a few PlotTwists and meetings with Andrew Leitus and Rachael it is held as a threat against Daniels in his attempts to escape the island. Finally, after The Reveal, The whole plot is revealed as an elaborate set-up to give Daniels, who is actually Leitus committed to the asylum after killing his wife because she murdered their children in her own insanity, once last chance to cure himself. He experiences My God, What Have I Done? and chooses to maintain the fantasy, knowing that it will mean death or worse, and undergo the procedure.
  • In the movie Repo Man, one lunatic character laments on how great he felt after getting a lobotomy himself. Of course, he also talks about how radiation is harmless.
  • The movie From Hell shows the man also known as Jack the Ripper demonstrating how to perform a lobotomy to a group of medical students.
  • Muppets from Space: It nearly happens to Gonzo. The man attempting to perform the lobotomy is a classic Mad Scientist.
  • In Total Recall (1990), Quaid is told by one of his co-workers it is what nearly happened to a friend of his when he went to Rekall. Later in the movie, Quaid is told that he is hallucinating the adventure in his brain and that if he doesn't exit it, he will be lobotomised. It's left ambiguous as to whether the man who told Quaid was lying or whether Quaid was indeed lobotomised. [[note]]It's more about how laymen misuse the term "lobotomy" to refer to any sort of brain-tampering effect that diminishes intellect or willpower. Lobotomy is actually a specific clinical procedure -- the surgical severing of a particular cluster of nerve fibers -- so having one's mind damaged by Rekall's non-surgical memory-modification technology wouldn't qualify as one.[[/note]]
  • The Lobotomist (PBS film) traces the career of Walter Freeman from 'savior' of mentally ill people to being seen as a perpetrator of a brutal mistake.
  • Actress Frances Farmer gets lobotomized in the biopic Frances, although it's generally agreed that this never happened to the real Frances Farmer.
  • A man who managed to escape the Cube in Cube Zero (the prequel movie to Cube) was recaptured by the people running the Cube project and given a lobotomy, and put back in the Cube.
  • In the movie Brain Dead (1990) (not to be confused with Braindead from 1992), a neurosurgeon is hired by a corporation to perform highly unethical brain surgery on an ex-employee. In the end it's suggested that the movie is the fragmented memories of the neurosurgeon himself who has been reduced to a dissected brain kept alive in a lab.
  • At the end of The Shadow, film and novelization, the villain is lobotomized in such a way that all he has lost is his psychic powers.

Literature
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest: The patient who was an angry lunatic before undergoes the procedure, and he becomes an empty shell after his lobotomy. His eyes are described as being like burnt-out lightbulbs.
  • John D. McDonald's Travis McGee novel Nightmare in Pink. McGee is falsely committed to a corrupt mental hospital where the villains plan to lobotomize him to eliminate him as a threat.
  • A rather distressing-detailed scene in the first book of Mercedes Lackey's Obsidian Trilogy has a wizard preform a magically-generated version of lobotomy on a young girl, because it's against the law for a woman to use magic.
  • In Hannibal, it is a side effect of cutting open Krendler's head and serving him his own brain to eat.
  • At the end of The Etched City, Raule lobotomizes the head of a crime syndicate.
  • In Sylvia Plath's 1963 novel The Bell Jar, Valerie gets one of these. Valerie is a friend of Estherís in the private mental hospital. She is friendly and relaxed.
  • Memoir My Lobotomy by Howard Dully: The author is a troubled youth as a 12-year-old boy in 1960, in and out of trouble at school and home. When his stepmother looks for a solution, Dr. Freeman, one of the popularizers of the technique, suggests a lobotomy, and it occurs. The book discusses how many patients were killed or injured by the technique and implies that the author would have been diagnosed with ADD.
  • There is a book series by Nancy Holder called Possessions about a girls' boardings school haunted by victims of any insane asylum where lobotomies were practised.
  • In Norbert Wiener's short story "The Brain", a gangster costs a doctor his family with his driving (they do not die... not immediately). Some time later, the gangster's mooks summon the doctor to perform urgent surgery on the gangster, who got hit in the head (allegedly in a car crash). During the next robbery, the gangster and all his gang are killed due to a complete lack of planning.
  • Golden Compass: General Oblation Board do a soul-ectomy which has the same effect as the lobotomy trope.
  • Doc Savage: In early stories, criminals captured by Doc received "a delicate brain operation" to cure their criminal tendencies. The criminals returned to society fully productive and unaware of their criminal past.
  • The novel Geek Love by Katherine Dunn features a pair of Conjoined Twins, Iphy and Elly. Eventually their brother Arty has Elly lobotomized.

Live Action TV
  • The Prisoner:
    • Used for mind games. Number 6 is made to believe he's been lobotomized in the episode "A Change of Mind".
    • In "Dance of the Dead", Number 6's former colleague Dutton ends up lobotomized for real.
  • In The X-Files episode "Unruhe", Jerry Schmauz was a serial lobotomist. He believed he was helping his victims who were troubled women. He claimed he saw their inner demons -- and indeed, they were captured by photography.
  • Barney Miller:
    • There was a recurring character who had had a lobotomy.
    • "The Desk" was an episode involving a lobotomized criminal and an Amish mugging victim.
    • Arnold Ripner threatens to sue a lobotomist free of charge should he try to operate again on a patient who was rendered mentally incompetent by his amygdalectomy.
  • River in Firefly had parts of her brain removed, removing her ability to suppress her emotions. She was a genius child and abused by the controlling Alliance, who experimented on children like her. The programme was a bit shady and it was not clear why they did it. In Serenity, it was revealed they wanted to turn them into Super Soldiers.
  • An episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent had the villain drilling a hole in random women's heads and pouring in boiling water. Most of them die. Interestingly while most of the team consider him a horrific monster, he's shown as more pathetic than scary or evil. Goren tries very hard to get him life in prison rather than the death penalty.
  • President Cyclops, in the TV version of Whoops Apocalypse, declares: "If anyone tries to lobotomize me, they'll get a piece of my mind." This doesn't prevent the Soviets planting a lie detector in his brain.
  • Fringe: Walter Bishop tries to self-lobotomize because he believes his visions of Peter mean that he's losing his mind.
  • Rosemary Kennedy was a sad case of Truth in Television. It was used in The Kennedys miniseries, in which Joe Sr. has a stroke later, which is seen by his wife as God's revenge for what Joe did to their daughter.
  • Dr Arden from American Horror Story Asylum gives one to a patient who recognized him as a Nazi war criminal.
  • Monday Mornings has a rare positive portrayal from a 2013 Medical Drama, but treated extremely seriously. Dr. Ridgeway, a brilliant neurosurgeon, sees no other way than a radical treatment for one of her patients -- removing several brain cells. It's risky and her colleagues point out both to Ridgeway and the patient's family that it's still brain matter removal, albeit delicate and precise. They actually use the word "lobotomy", and it gets mentioned than one patient who underwent similar procedure in Europe turned into a violent criminal.
  • Occurs in the infamously So Bad, It's Good Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Spock's Brain", in which aliens, to put it simply, steal Spock's brain, and the episode revolves around the Enterprise crew getting it back and reattaching it.
  • The Space: Above and Beyond episode "Stay with the Dead", Nathan is threatened with a Sci-Fi version of a lobotomy (stated to be electroshock therapy but depicted as some form of neurosurgery) because he insists his squadron mates are alive when everyone else has written them off. They are, and he manages to convince his CO before doctors carry out the procedure.
  • Sylar tampered with brains of many people in Heroes. Charlie Andrews, sort of Bridget Bailey, Brian Davies, Sue Landers, Joe Macon, Dale Smither, Ted Spague, Tom Miller, Jesse Murphy, Candice Willmer, Zane Taylor, James Walker, Trevor Zaitlan, Bob Bishop, Isaac Mendez, possibly David, and a random man and woman that work at The Company. Plus, with every person he kills, he gains a power. What's really evil is that he doesn't actually need to kill his victims to take their power. He just likes doing it. Justified as he didn't realise he could take it without killing for almost all of his victims. By the end, he has at least sixteen powers taken from the dead.

Music
  • Song "I'd Rather Have a Bottle in front of Me (than a Frontal Lobotomy)", referred to as a Dr. Demento classic. It's all in the title, but to recap: would you rather solve your problems with alcohol, Drowning Your Sorrows, or would you choose frontal Lobotomy?
  • The song "I'd Rather Have a Bottle in Front of Me than Have to Have a Frontal Lobotomy" is referenced in Tom "T-Bone" Stankus' song, "Existential Blues".
  • Discussed in the "Weird Al" Yankovic song "I Can't Watch This".
    HBO and Playboy, Showtime and MTV
    I might like them more after my lobotomy

Role-Playing Games
  • Wallace Bishop of Dino Attack RPG is an unusual example, considering that he actually performed a lobotomy on himself after escaping Napoleon XIV Mental Institution, rather than letting one of the doctors in the institution perform the lobotomy on him. Being a former scientist, he knew exactly how to do the procedure. His goal was to remove the areas of his brain containing the memories of his family, which were making it much harder for him to cope with being institutionalized. He succeeded to such a degree that another scientist, Frank Einstein, was even able to extract the memories from the removed pieces of brain, but in doing so he left himself little more than a shadow of a man.

Tabletop Games
  • Players of Magic: The Gathering can use Lobotomy spell as sorcery. Link to a Lobotomy card.
  • Warhammer40000: The most prominent example of this trope are servitors, lobotomised cyborg slaves. World Eaters (an entire army of Berserkers) have lobotomies so as to ensure they no longer feel fear. Unfortunately, those with the skill to perform this operation are increasingly rare, so a great many of them fail. Then again, given what most Chaos units, especially Khornate, ESPECIALLY World Eaters are like...
  • Paranoia supplement Acute Paranoia, section "Sanity Tests". When a Troubleshooter fails a Sanity Test ordered by The Computer, the game master rolls on the Handy-Dandy Sanity Tests Results Table. One of the entries in the table is "Corrective Surgery". Blue-level officers from HPD & Mind Control take the unlucky clone away and remove parts of his brain. When he returns he will have a large bandage on his head, will have lost all of his skills and have had most of his attributes halved.

Theatre
  • In Tennessee Williams's 1958 play, Suddenly, Last Summer, the protagonist is threatened with a lobotomy to stop her from telling the truth about her cousin Sebastian.

Video Games
  • In Bioshock Infinite, if Slate's life is spared he will be found later on in the game, the apparent victim of a lobotomy or some similar "procedure" by Comstock's forces that has left him an Empty Shell to keep him from continuing to spread dissent and treasonous information about Comstock,that happens to be both true and false From a Certain Point of View. Because The Dev Team Thinks of Everything you can opt to put him out of his misery and Elizabeth will comment on it, saying, "I guess that's what he wanted."
  • There's a doctor in Psychonauts who removes entire brains. His name? Doctor Loboto. He's (actually a dentist) and removes brains whole, so they can be used to pilot psychic tanks. They're removed through an extreme form of Pepper Sneeze, and are just as easily replaced.
  • In American McGee's Alice, there are nightmarish children wandering around some levels. Many of them have their skulls cut open, with brains exposed.
  • In Mystery Case Files, "Escape From Ravenhearst", the Master Detective must perform a simulated lobotomy on an animatronic "mental patient" so she can beat him in a card game.
  • Not physical lobotomy but in Dragon Age mages can be made Tranquil; they are cut off from the Fade and therefore lose any ability to become a tasty demon-snack but also lose all emotions.
  • Lobotomites are common enemies in the Fallout: New Vegas add-on, Old World Blues, who have had their brains removed and replaced with tesla coils.
  • Implied by MODOK in Marvel vs. Capcom 3:
    One of his winquotes: Never again will I forget to lobotomize one of my clones!

Visual Novels
  • Dr. Irie, from Higurashi: When They Cry studies practices of this subject. Portrayed somewhat sympathetically, as he really be helping people. The people who pay him are much more shady, though.

Web Comics
  • Questionable Content: On Faye's first visit to her therapist, the therapist jokingly suggests lobotomy.

Western Animation
  • The Simpsons:
    • In one Halloween episode, Ned Flanders is the overlord and he has all people have part of their brain removed.
  • Justice League brings this up in "A Better World", when Justice Lord Superman manages to lobotomize Doomsday using only his heat vision. When the others decide to check out a mental hospital in the Justice Lords universe, it's revealed that he has done it to many other villains like The Joker, Poison Ivy and the Mr. Scarface. It's how we know he's not a good guy.

Real Life
  • In Real Life, Rosemary Kennedy, sister of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, was subjected to one at the age of 23 in 1941. This has been used as the basis for Conspiracy Theories.
  • Tennessee Williams' sister Rose is a famous real life case. It went badly, obviously upset Williams very deeply, and it influenced a lot of his writing. The Glass Menagerie is entirely based on this and the characters on his family.

Community Feedback Replies: 134
  • May 4, 2010
    randomsurfer
  • May 4, 2010
    animeHrmIne
    On Faye's first visit to her therapist in Questionable Content the therapist jokingly suggests lobotomy.
  • May 4, 2010
    TheBigSock
    • There's a doctor in Psychonauts who removes entire brains. His name? Doctor Loboto.
  • May 4, 2010
    TooBah
  • May 4, 2010
    henke37
    The Simpsons did it in a halloween episode.
  • May 4, 2010
    Tannhaeuser
  • May 4, 2010
    Solle
    More songs:

    • Macabre - "Drill Bit Lobotomy"
    • The Bluetones - "The Happy Lobotomy"
    • Body Count - "Street Lobotomy"
    • Avulsed - "Sweet Lobotomy"
    • Missing Link - "Lobotomized"
  • May 4, 2010
    LeeM
    "Used for mind games in The Prisoner: Number 6 is made to believe he's been lobotomized."
    • That's in the episode "A Change of Mind". Also, in "Dance of the Dead", 6's former colleague Dutton ends up lobotomized for real.
  • May 4, 2010
    Delf
  • May 4, 2010
    Chabal2
  • May 5, 2010
    Arivne
    Literature
    • John D. McDonald's Travis McGee novel Nightmare in Pink. McGee is falsely committed to a corrupt mental hospital where the villains plan to lobotomize him to eliminate him as a threat.
  • May 5, 2010
    LeeM
    Song: mentioned in David Bowie's ''All the Madmen".
  • May 5, 2010
    Mozgwsloiku
    • Warhammer 40000 includes many more examples, the most prominent of which are servitors - lobotomised cyborg slaves.
    • In one comic, Lobo had his brain transplanted into a robocop expy. Once ge got back to his body, he repaid the people who used him by returning the favour... using a rusty butter knife
    • in American Mc Gees Alice there are nightmarish children wandering around some levels. Many of them have their skulls cut open, with brains exposed.
  • May 5, 2010
    Keybreak
    Likely, you may need to define the word so that people know what it actually means (ala Dictionary.com: "the operation of cutting into a lobe, as of the brain or the lung")
  • May 5, 2010
    Generality
    River in Firefly had parts of her brain removed, removing her ability to suppress her emotions.
  • May 5, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    The book My Lobotomy - exactly what it says on the tin.
  • May 6, 2010
    Solle
    Looks like we've got enough examples for a launch. Any suggestions for a title?
  • May 6, 2010
    Duckay
    Just Lobotomy or Frontal Lobotomy (I specify 'frontal' since that's usually what's being referred to) is surely a fine name?
  • May 6, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Obligatory X-Files episode reference - Season 4 episode "Unruhe" had a serial lobotomist.
  • May 6, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Yes, Frontal Lobotomy is good, since a) that's the technical term, and b) a trope generally needs 2 words to be recognized as such by the hyperlinking-script.
  • May 6, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Oh, and the first Irish Drinking Song on Whose Line Is It Anyway was on a Lobotomy.
  • May 6, 2010
    rbx5
    Braniac does this to Aquaman in Justice. Don't worry, he gets better.
    What is that saying you humans have? Oh yes..."I'm just trying to get inside your head."
  • May 6, 2010
    Mozgwsloiku
  • May 6, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    A rather distressing-detailed scene in the first book of Mercedes Lackey's Obsidian Trilogy has a wizard preform a magically-generated version of lobotomy on a young girl, because it's against the law for a woman to use magic.
  • May 23, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Well, Lobotomy and Frontal Lobotomy are not such good terms if we are going to include other operations involving cutting out some parts of the brain or, as in the first message, things like tranquil Dragon Age mages (how about "Severing" in Wheel of Time then?).
  • May 23, 2010
    Sen
    The Ramones - "Teenage Lobotomy"
  • May 23, 2010
    Bisected8
    An episode of Law And Order Criminal Intent had the villain doing this to random women by drilling a hole in their head and pouring in boiling water most of them die. Interestingly while most of the cast consider him a Complete Monster, he's shown as more pathetic than scary and Goren tries very hard to get him life in prison rather than the death penalty.
  • May 23, 2010
    lordGacek
  • March 28, 2011
    randomfox
    In Sucker Punch Baby Doll is sent to a corrupt asylum and is scheduled to be lobotomized, which is what motivates her to make an escape plan. At the end she gives up her chance at freedom to let another girl escape, and ends up getting lobotomized.
  • March 28, 2011
    Mozgwsloiku
    Justice Lords version of Superman would do this to villains as his standard way of solving problems, using x-ray and heat vision for instant effect. Real Superman pretended to do this once, when an amoral anti-hero pushed him too far.
  • March 28, 2011
    johnnye
    Oooh, I like They Cut Up Her Brain. Bit more interesting than calling it Lobotomy...
  • March 28, 2011
    0blivion
    Cranial Venting, possibly?
  • March 28, 2011
    Heatth
    Dr. Irie, from Higurashi studies practices of this subject. Portrayed somewhat sympathetically, as he really be helping people. The people who pay him are much more shady, though.
  • March 28, 2011
    LeeM
    President Cyclops, in the TV version of Whoops Apocalypse, declares that "If anyone tries to lobotomize me, they'll get a piece of my mind". (This doesn't prevent the Soviets planting a lie detector in his brain.)
  • March 28, 2011
    randomsurfer
    In Hannibal a side effect of cutting open Krendler's head and serving him his own brain to eat.
  • March 28, 2011
    JCCyC
    What about Hollywood Lobotomy as a title?
  • October 15, 2011
    Demonac
    How about calling it Full Frontal Surgery (like Full Frontal Lobotomy, only it sounds a little my troperific, reminiscent of the Full Frontal Assault trope, which is of course the combat version of Full Frontal Nudity, which has nothing whatsoever to do with lobotomies)
  • October 15, 2011
    Omeganian
    Norbert Wiener, The Brain
  • October 16, 2011
    somerandomdude
    In Grave Encounters, the doctor at the Abandoned Hospital was known for unethical practices, especially lobotomies. He eventually gives one to the only surviving main character at the end of the movie.
  • October 17, 2011
    TrustBen
    • The practice of frontal lobotomy is discussed by the workers in Session 9, in what turns out to be Chekhovs Lecture.

    • Walter Bishop tries to self-lobotomize on Fringe because he believes his visions of Peter mean that he's losing his mind.
  • October 17, 2011
    Lumpenprole
    Happens frequently in the 2000AD/Judge Dread comics. In the Apocalypse War arc the captive Chief Judge was given brain surgery that removed any desire to resist interrogation. Mean Machine Angel was lobotomized, only it didn't help. In Mega City One, racking up ten misdemeanor convictions gets you a mandatory lobotomy. And Dread himself was given brain surgery to remove his sense of guilt over the tragic fate of an innocent young girl.
  • October 19, 2011
    bulmabriefs144
    I dunno that it does need a catchy title. It's a trope, and in this case, to cover the bases, simple is better. We can add variants later.
  • October 19, 2011
    BOFH
    Literature
    • At the end of The Etched City, Raule lobotomizes the head of a crime syndicate.
  • October 19, 2011
    LuxExterior
    There's a couple of instances I recall when lobotomies were regarded (somewhat) positively:

    • In the television series Fringe, Walter Bishop recently gave himself a quickie lobotomy to stop what he believes are hallucinations.
    • In the movie Repo Man, one lunatic character laments on how great he felt after getting a lobotomy himself. Of course, he also talks about how radiation is harmless.
  • October 19, 2011
    Generality
    Parodied in Psychonauts. Crazed Doctor Loboto (actually a dentist) removes brains whole, so they can be used to pilot psychic tanks. They're removed through an extreme form of Pepper Sneeze, and are just as easily replaced.
  • October 19, 2011
    LeeM
    ^^ The Rosemary Kennedy example was used in The Kennedys miniseries, in which Joe Sr.'s later stroke is seen by his wife as God's revenge for what Joe did to their daughter.
  • October 19, 2011
    elwoz
    Lobotomies and similar drastic brain alterations (severing the corpus callosum, for instance) are still used as last-ditch treatment for intractable epilepsy, but that's about it.
  • October 22, 2011
    LuxExterior
    • The movie From Hell shows the man also known as Jack the Ripper actually demonstrating how to perform a lobotomy to a group of medical students.
  • April 11, 2012
    LOAD
    bump
  • April 11, 2012
    HeartOfAnAstronaut
    The character in The Bell Jar who gets one of these is called Valerie.

    Another famous Real Life Example is Tennesse Williams' sister. It went badly, obviously upset him very deeply and influences a lot of his writing.

    Also, it is very often one of the Spoiler Tropes! My boyfriend once started telling me all about this article about lobotomies in films... it ruined certain things.
  • April 11, 2012
    Astaroth
    Lobotomites are common enemies in the Fallout New Vegas add-on, Old World Blues
  • April 12, 2012
    hummingbirdcake
  • August 5, 2012
    LOAD
    bump
  • August 6, 2012
    Arivne
    The Unknown Troper who originally created this hasn't edited it in two years, so it's Up For Grabs if anyone wants to launch it.
  • August 6, 2012
    triassicranger
    Film

    In Total Recall 1990, Quaid is told by one of his co-workers it is what nearly happened to a friend of his when he went to Rekall. Later in the movie, Quaid is told that he is hallucinating the adventure in his brain and that if he doesn't exit it, he will be lobotomised. It's left ambiguous as to whether the man who told Quaid was lying or whether Quaid was indeed lobotomised.
  • August 6, 2012
    MrRuano
    Justice League brings this up in A Better World, when Justice Lord Superman manages to lobotomize Doomsday using only his heat vision. When the others decide to check out a mental hospital in the Justice Lords universe, it's revealed that he has done this to many other villains like The Joker, Poison Ivy and the Mr. Scarface.
  • August 6, 2012
    animeg3282
    Memoir: "My Lobotomy" by Howard Dully - as a 12 year old boy in 1960, the author is troubled youth, in and out of trouble at school and home. When his stepmother looks for a solution, Dr. Freeman, one of the popularizers of the technique, suggests a lobotomy, and it occurs. The book discusses how many patients were killed or injured by the technique and implies that the author would have been diagnosed with ADD today.
  • August 6, 2012
    animeg3282
    "The Lobotomist" ( PBS film) traces the career of Walter Freeman from 'savior' of mentally ill people to being seen as a perpetrator of a brutal mistake.
  • August 6, 2012
    TrustBen
    • Actress Frances Farmer gets lobotomized in the biopic Frances, although it's generally agreed that this never happened to the real Frances Farmer.

    • Frontal lobotomy was the subject of a Chekhovs Lecture in the horror movie Session 9.
  • August 6, 2012
    Antigone3
    If we're allowing other forms of brain surgery to alter the patient, we've got to include Doc Savage's habit of operating on captured criminals to turn them law-abiding.
  • August 6, 2012
    JonnyB
    The song "I'd Rather Have a Bottle in Front of Me than Have to Have a Frontal Lobotomy" is referenced in Tom "T-Bone" Stankus' song, "Existential Blues".
  • August 6, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Oops, already mentioned. Nevermind.
  • August 7, 2012
    NoirGrimoir
    How about renaming it to Loathsome Lobotomy, just because?

    • The heroine Baby Doll in Suckerpunch is trying to escape the mental institute she was thrown in by her step father before she is given one of these. She doesn't and gets lobotomized in the end.
    • In Justice League Unlimited, Superman of the Justice Lords alternate universe gives Doomsday a Lobotomy with his laser vision to stop him. It's how we know he's not a good guy.
  • August 7, 2012
    MiinU
    The first two examples in the OP only gives the name of a related work with no context whatsoever to justify or explain them; much less, how they fit the trope. The rest simply read: 'X of the Y', which neither explains the examples or how the trope is being used in those examples.
  • August 7, 2012
    animeg3282
    yes, does anyone have any more information on those examples?
  • September 22, 2012
    twistedgrimmfaerytale
    there is a book series by Nancy Holder called Possessions about a girls' boardings school haunted by victims of any insane asylum where lobotomies were practiced
  • September 22, 2012
    StarValkyrie
    I'm seeing a list of every time lobomoties are mentioned in fiction. The description says this is supposed to be when lobotomies are used as a sign that a doctor/psychiatrist has gone off the deep end himself. Which is it supposed to be and can we make that clearer in the description, please?
  • September 22, 2012
    Prfnoff
    I think there could be a trope covering both lobotomies and electroconvulsive therapy.
  • September 22, 2012
    axordil
    Lobotomies are not performed much, if at all, any more. ECT still has a procedure code for insurance purposes, and while uncommon, is considered part of the range of treatments for extreme depression.
  • September 22, 2012
    reub2000
  • September 23, 2012
    StarValkyrie
    ^^ ECT is coming back - it's very popular in India and in regular use in Scandinavia too. It's changed a lot and is a lot safer now than it used to be. However, it is possible it could still play the same role in fiction as lobotomies in signifying that a doctor has turned.

    ^ We already have Psycho Psychologist for the type of doctor that does these procedures. I think this trope is about lobotomies as code for "this doc is evil".
  • September 23, 2012
    reub2000
    Well, from what I understand the Psycho Psychologist is a master of manipulation, but never manipulates grey mater directly.

    Oh, and Futurama Inverted? ECT. Robots in the asylum that Bender and Fry are sent to in "Insane In The Mainframe" receive "shock treatments". However, electricity is like a drug to robots.
  • September 24, 2012
    SharleeD
    Possibly the description could point out that lobotomy in fiction is almost never presented as an actual therapy, but rather as a threat held over people or a means of rendering an inconvenient subject (e.g. a witness) compliant and unable to threaten the one who performs it. Something like Corrupt Reason For Lobotomy, with the rare legitimate medical use of this procedure (legitimate for the time-period, anyway) being an aversion.

    BTW, the Total Recall example isn't really about a lobotomy, so much as how laymen misuse the term "lobotomy" to refer to any sort of brain-tampering effect that diminishes intellect or willpower. Lobotomy is actually a specific clinical procedure -- the surgical severing of a particular cluster of nerve fibers -- so having one's mind damaged by Rekall's non-surgical memory-modification technology wouldn't qualify as one.

    And another example:

    • Invoked in Escape From Ravenhearst, in which the Master Detective must perform a simulated lobotomy on an animatronic "mental patient" so she can beat him in a card game.
  • September 24, 2012
    reub2000
    ^ The not so funny thing is that, that pretty much describes Lobotomy in Real Life. Even when doctors where performing thousands a year, there was little evidence that it did anything theraputic. Furthermore, the most often performed procedure, the transorbital lobotomy rarely disconected the frontal lobe. It simply destroyed random brain matter.
  • September 24, 2012
    SharleeD
    ^ True, and tragic. But my point is that, in fiction, you seldom if ever see a lobotomy being performed because the doctor who carries out the procedure honestly believes (however wrongly) that it's what's best for the patient. Even the ones who did the surgery incorrectly in real life would usually have had better intentions than fiction assumes.
  • September 24, 2012
    IlVit
    Don't we already have Mind Screw for this?
  • September 24, 2012
    hevendor717
    Mind Screw is done by making you experience something that's hard to process, not plain altering your mind physically.

    I think "Lobotomized" would make a better title, just because it sounds possibly metaphorical, leaving in examples of fantastic "lobotomies" where a similar result occurs.
  • January 5, 2013
    notahandle
    Imagine Spot in The Simpsons by Bart in the Michael Jackson episode.
  • January 6, 2013
    Nithael
    Two examples, one just a description of the Zero Context Example

    Film
    • Shutter Island: rumours suggest that there is a lobotomy lab hidden in the lighthouse. There isn't, in the end the protagonist, guilt ridden by what he's done, pretends still being crazy so that he will be lobotomised.

    Live Action TV
    • Dr Arden from American Horror Story Asylum gives one to a patient who recognized him as a Nazi war criminal.
  • January 18, 2013
    elwoz
    Bump for hats.
  • June 3, 2013
    XFllo
    YKTTW Bump -- needs adding examples from the discussion. Wouldn't hurt to sort them media-wise.
  • June 3, 2013
    arbiter099
    In Bioshock Infinite, if Slate's life is spared he will be found later on in the game, the apparent victim of a lobotomy or some similar "procedure" by Comstock's forces that has left him an Empty Shell to keep him from continuing to spread dissent and treasonous information about Comstock,that happens to be both true and false From A Certain Point Of View. Because The Dev Team Thinks Of Everything you can opt to put him out of his misery and Elizabeth will comment on it, saying, "I guess that's what he wanted."
  • June 3, 2013
    MiinU
    The majority of the examples in the OP still need context. It nothing but a list that says, 'this work has a lobotomy in it, somewhere'.

    • Who lobotomized whom?
    • Why did they do it?
    • When does it happen it the work?
    • and how is it an example of the trope?

    That's what's missing, and needs to be added to each of them. If this gets launched, as is, it's just going to end up being cutlisted.
  • June 3, 2013
    WeAreAllKosh
    While it's been a long time since I've read the book, I don't recall lobotomies being depicted in One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest (an example given on the page), either in the novel or the film. What ended up putting Randle out of commission was electroshock treatment, another outdated psychiatric procedure.
  • June 3, 2013
    WeAreAllKosh
    Film

    A man who managed to escape the Cube in Cube Zero (the prequel movie to Cube) was recaptured by the people running the Cube project and given a lobotomy, and put back in the Cube.
  • June 3, 2013
    arbiter099
    ^^ In the book, Mc Murphy is lobotomized and dies via Mercy Kill afterward in the movie, its only threatened.

    This trope seems like it could be a mental sister trope to Malevolent Mutilation, for any procedure that produces Empty Shells or otherwise wrecks an otherwise healthy brain/mind, either intentionally, accidentally, or through the medical knowledge of the day if a Period Piece.
  • June 3, 2013
    XFllo
    The hats really should go away. The concept is great, but the description needs help and most examples at this moment in the draft are Zero Context Example entries. I guess it's now Up For Grabs? I would take it as I like it as a trope, but I don't have time for it now.
  • June 3, 2013
    arbiter099
    For a rename, I'm thinking either Lobotomized, or Nocent Animis as a bit of Gratutious Latin and a sort of pun on "do no harm" (mind you that my translation might suck, so anyone better with Latin feel free to correct it, I was aiming for: "Hurt The Mind")

    I also propose:

    You ever heard of a transorbital lobotomy? They sap the patient with electric shock, then go through the eye with an ice pick, pull out some nerve fibres. Makes the patients much more obedient. Tractable. It's barbaric. Unconscionable.
    --Rachael Shutter Island.

    as a pagequote unless anyone has anything better that deals with the emotional blank slate part thats really what I'd like this trope to aim for.

    Ooh, another one just came to me: Medical Mental Malpractice but that's sort of misleading since this is a physical operation (almost always brain surgery) that screws with the patient and has nothing to do with psychiatry or therapy.

    You Fail Brain Sugery Forever?
  • June 4, 2013
    XFllo
    ^ Your quote won't do as we have no spoilers above examples line policy, but I like it more than the current one. Is it such a huge spoiler?

    You Fail X Forever is a snowclone name, and they are currently discouraged.

    I think Lobotomy, Lobotomised, Brain Surgery, or such absolutely must be a part of the title because it's what it is and it conveys the trope most clearly. Gratuitous Latin is unnecessary, really. Hurt The Mind could be anything, too. There should be clear connection with the brain matter removal, don't you think?

    I agree that the maliciousness and evil and trying to hurt the character's mind or mental abilities is one of the main part of the trope.

    Sadly, I'm no expert on brains.
  • June 4, 2013
    Arivne
    If this is expanded to include all examples of removing parts of a victim's brain, not just lobotomies:

    Tabletop Games
    • Paranoia supplement Acute Paranoia, section "Sanity Tests". When a Troubleshooter fails a Sanity Test ordered by The Computer, the game master rolls on the Handy-Dandy Sanity Tests Results Table. One of the entries in the table is "Corrective Surgery". Blue-level officers from HPD & Mind Control take the unlucky clone away and remove parts of his brain. When he returns he will have a large bandage on his head, will have lost all of his skills and have had most of his attributes halved.
  • June 4, 2013
    arbiter099
    ^^not really, I think it was Trailers Always Spoil -ed too, either way you can cut the identity off and just have it attributed to Shutter Island.
  • June 4, 2013
    XFllo
    ^ arbiter099, I suppose you edited this and deleted the quote? I'm in the middle of copying examples from the discussion, and now I'm midly annoyed because lots of my work is lost. When two people do it at the same time, it ends up a mess.

    Did you at least copy and save the previous quote? It wasn't bad and could be used in quote tab.
  • June 4, 2013
    arbiter099
    Ouch, I'm sorry. Up For Grabs and Rolling Updates, I was just filling in examples and swapping the quote. I tried to recover the old one and no dice. My bad, seriously. I need to go get some sleep, late night troping isn't good for me or the wiki it seems.

    got it off of Wayback Machine,

    "I had an operation. With no adverse reaction. They tampered with my brain some. It helped me see the reason. For living in the system." -- Oingo Boingo, Perfect System
  • June 4, 2013
    XFllo
    No big harm done:-) I should be glad that others -- you -- work on launching it as well. The previous quote is in the "history" mark-up. I will copy it.

    EDIT: old trope quote:
    "I had an operation. With no adverse reaction. They tampered with my brain some. It helped me see the reason. For living in the system."
    -- Oingo Boingo, "Perfect System"

    EDIT 2: I got as far as troper Heatth's example Dr. Irie, from Higurashi is next example to be added. If anyone wants to take over this YKTTW, please do so.
  • June 5, 2013
    XFllo
    I got to Lumpenprole' msg: Next to be added. (Happens frequently in the 2000AD/Judge Dread comics.)
  • June 8, 2013
    Omeganian
    In Norbert Wiener's short story "The Brain", a gangster costs a doctor his family with his driving (they do not die... not immediately). Some time later, the gangster's mooks summon the doctor to perform urgent surgery on the gangster, who got hit in the head (allegedly in a car crash). During the next robbery, the gangster and all his gang are killed due to a complete lack of planning.
  • June 8, 2013
    Jaqen
    Literature: Golden Compass General Oblation Board do a soul-ectomy which has the same effect as the Lobotomy trope.
  • June 8, 2013
    XFllo
    OK, several examples were listed twice.

    Most examples should be copied now. ZCE are listed below. They will go to the discssion page.

    We should rewrite the description now. Anyone willing to do it?
    BTW about the Gratuitous Latin title: Nocent Animis as a pun on "Do No Harm", translating it as Hurt The Mind. I don't see where the pun is. The proposed title, however, has wrong forms in both conjugation and declension. I suppose Hurt the Mind should be imperative and the noun mind is singular. "Nocent" is "they hurt/they are hurting" and "animis" is dative/ablative plural. Nocete Animum would mean "hurt the mind" with the verb in imperative plural, and the noun is accusative singular.

    All in all, I don't see it as a good choice, though Latin is a cool language, to be sure. :-)

  • June 8, 2013
    maxwellsilver
    Perhaps as another optional name, Ice Pick Lobotomy?

    Also, editing a YKTTW sends it to the top of the list.
  • June 9, 2013
    XFllo
    Description needs help. Anyone is an expert on brains? It still needs some rolling updates, mostly when it mentioned tropes to compare/contrast.

    I made a crowner. Vote here.

    I decided not to add these:
  • June 9, 2013
    lakingsif
    ^ Back in the days of yore if you were perceived as insane, or had any illness for which experts couldn't find explanation and they believed was associated with the brain, they went and cut off your prefrontal cortex (part of the frontal lobe). This was recently discovered and surgeons had the genius idea that as their experiments on apes showed that scraping off the connections to the sides of the brain calmed them down, a leucotomy (early name for the procedure) would act as a mental sedative to the ill, taking away the nuisance to people dealing with them and it could supposedly rid them of evils of the brain. Not a far sight more advanced than trephining - cavemen banging open people's skulls to rid them of the same thing: 10,000 years and no change.
  • June 9, 2013
    Lumpenprole
    In the movie Brain Dead(1990) (not to be confused with Braindead 1992), a neurosurgeon is hired by a corporation to perform highly unethical brain surgery on an ex-employee. In the end it's suggested that the movie is the fragmented memories of the neurosurgeon himself who has been reduced to a dissected brain kept alive in a lab.
  • June 9, 2013
    surgoshan
    • At the end of The Shadow, film and novelization, the villain is lobotomized in such a way that all he has lost is his psychic powers.
  • June 9, 2013
    XFllo
    Examples added till here.

    Still needs description improvement (feel free edit it yourself if you feel up to it).

    Also I haven't added tropes to compare/contrast yet. If anyone is feeling altruistic, please do so.

    In short, adopt the trope. :-)

    Here is the list of ideas for names from crowner. I've removed it from the draft, so I'm putting it here.

  • June 10, 2013
    ClockStopping
    • Occurs in the infamously So Bad Its Good Star Trek The Original Series episode Spock's Brain, in which aliens, to put it simply, steal Spock's brain, and the episode revolves around the Enterprise crew getting it back and reattaching it.
  • June 10, 2013
    Marz1200
    The Dragon Age example is part of the Dragon Age universe, and thus present in both games.
  • June 14, 2013
    Antigone3
    The Doc Savage example would go in Literature.
  • June 14, 2013
    XFllo
    ^ Thanks.

    Also note to all: feel free to edit the draft as you see fit. I'm not terribly good at writing descriptions. The OP isn't here, and noone called this as "their" trope to take care of (it's still Up For Grabs).

    It looks more launchable now with examples copied, and the crowner looks ok as well. But the description should be edited in my opinion.
  • June 19, 2013
    Himbeergeist
    • The novel Geek Love by Katherine Dunn features a pair of Conjoined Twins, Iphy and Elly. Eventually their brother Arty has Elly lobotomized.
  • July 7, 2013
    GuyIncog
    Live Action TV
    • The Space Above And Beyond episode "Stay with the Dead", Nathan is threatened with a Sci Fi version of a lobotomy (stated to be electroshock therapy but depicted as some form of neurosurgery) because he insists his squadron mates are alive when everyone else has written them off. They are, and he manages to convince his CO before doctors carry out the procedure.
  • July 10, 2013
    arbiter099
    Didn't think that last line was needed on the Dragon Age example
  • July 11, 2013
    DAN004
  • July 11, 2013
    SeptimusHeap
    No, that is usually a very gentle approach (compared to alternatives).
  • July 11, 2013
    KronosFromLU
    Sylar did this to so many people in Heroes. Charlie Andrews, sort of Bridget Bailey, Brian Davies, Sue Landers, Joe Macon, Dale Smither, Ted Spague,Tom Miller, Jesse Murphy, Candice Willmer, Zane Taylor, James Walker, Trevor Zaitlan, Bob Bishop, Isaac Mendez, possibly David, and a random man and woman that work at The Company. Plus, with every person he kills, he gains a power. What's really evil is that he doesn't actually need to kill his victims, (Like Elle and Lydia) to take their power. He just likes doing it. Justified as he didn't realise he could take without killing for almost all of his victims) So, by the end, he has at least sixteen powers taken from the dead. Ew.
  • July 11, 2013
    XFllo
    Rolling Updates more or less done till here.

    I suggest these tropes for compare/contrast and please comment!

  • July 11, 2013
    ryanasaurus0077
    Discussed in the Weird Al Yankovic song "I Can't Watch This".
    HBO and Playboy, Showtime and MTV
    I might like them more after my lobotomy
  • July 11, 2013
    DAN004
    @ Septimus Heap: What I think is that Lobotomy can, in fiction at least, induce Laser Guided Amnesia; LGA isn't about a method, but rather the outcome.
  • July 16, 2013
    TrustBen
    The three Barney Miller examples are all from the same episode/incident, but we can fix that after launch.
  • July 16, 2013
    XFllo
    ^ Feel free to edit it now.
  • July 17, 2013
    XFllo
    This has lost three hats rather suddenly. Is it not tropeworthy? Or does the article have issues? It would be nice to explain why the hats were taken away. :-)

  • July 20, 2013
    oztrickster
    This example belongs in video games Lobotomites are common enemies in the Fallout New Vegas add-on, Old World Blues, who have had their brains removed and replaced with tesla coils.
  • July 20, 2013
    XFllo
    ^ Thanks. I'll add it.
  • July 20, 2013
    randomtroper89
    I have another Calvin and Hobbes examples:
    • After Hobbes cuts Calvin's hair and messes up, he tries to cover it up by tying a cloth around his head. While Hobbes thinks he looks like Lawrence of Arabia, Calvin thinks he looks more like a Lobotomy Patient.
  • July 20, 2013
    Alvin
    The poster who posted the Krendler example from 'Hannibal' was right, it is from 'Hannibal', the book or movie, NOT The Silence Of The Lambs. Like the Doc Savage Literature example, something is done to the Big Bad, Captain Seize, in Film 'Doc Savage, Man Of Bronze'.
  • July 20, 2013
    XFllo
    I am not familiar with either the film or the book. However, that example mentions Literature.Hannibal, which redirects to Literature.The Silence Of The Lambs. I thought I would change it. Now it's not linked when the work is incorrect.

    You can correct it yourself. Please write your examples as you would in the actual wiki. :-)
  • July 21, 2013
    PeabodySam
    Role-Playing Games
    • Wallace Bishop of Dino Attack RPG is an unusual example, considering that he actually performed a lobotomy on himself after escaping Napoleon XIV Mental Institution, rather than letting one of the doctors in the institution perform the lobotomy on him. Being a former scientist, he knew exactly how to do the procedure. His goal was to remove the areas of his brain containing the memories of his family, which were making it much harder for him to cope with being institutionalized. He succeeded to such a degree that another scientist, Frank Einstein, was even able to extract the memories from the removed pieces of brain, but in doing so he left himself little more than a shadow of a man.
  • July 21, 2013
    DAN004
    • Implied by MODOK in Marvel Vs Capcom 3:
      One of his winquotes: Never again will I forget to lobotomize one of my clones!
  • July 22, 2013
    XFllo
    ^ Adding, but but please, pretty please use NameSpaces. I had to click on the lin to find out what folder it belongs to and I had to modify the mark-up. Not to mention you could edit the draft itself. :-)
  • July 22, 2013
    XFllo
    Any ideas why this keeps getting and losing hats in turns? It already had five hats at one point, then I think one hat, then they were added again... And nobody ever makes comments.

    Do we have it already as some broader concept? Is it not tropeworthy? Is is badly written?

    What is it?
  • July 22, 2013
    SeptimusHeap
    If people are pulling hats without bothering to explain, just ignore them. Why trust someone who doesn't talk in public?

    Of course, it may be a tech bug.
  • July 22, 2013
    XFllo
    I'm not sure what the case is. Might be a bug, but it happened about three times since I've been adding updates, and I haven't seen it with other drafts.
  • July 22, 2013
    DAN004
    My advice: As soon as it reaches five hats, you gotta immediately launch it. :P
  • July 22, 2013
    XFllo
    :-) Of course drafts can be launched with less hats as well.
  • July 22, 2013
    XFllo

    Zero Context Example entries (need context and explanation):

    Commented out in the mark-up.

    Literature
    • All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren
    • Elliott Baker's 1964 novel (and 1966 film version) A Fine Madness

    Live Action TV

    Music

    Western Animation
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=18o823wurv1n0xt4p64reh1v&trope=Lobotomy