Archive for October, 2007|Monthly archive page

Geoffrey Reaume’s rebuttal of pro-lobotomy comment

New comment on your post #108 “Geoff Reaume speaks out against lobotomy billboard”
Author : Geoffrey Reaume (IP: ,
Yes, yes, yes, yes. This disgusting billboard is repulsive. I saw it while listening to people laugh at the sign and thinking it was one big joke. One of the people laughing had just made some disparaging comments about “mental cases” or words to that effect at CAMH, after which I and another person said, we are psychiatric survivors and are part of the community like anyone else. If you think this billboard has to do with empathy, then maybe you should have heard the laughter of the people who read it in the ten minutes I was standing there and the contempt they had for the people about whom it focused. “Oh isn’t that funny! Lobotomy! Ha, ha, ha!” Some empathy… If the creators were interested in empathy why did they name their address after the man who created lobotomy – Egaz Moniz – that would be like making a “joke” about naming a building for a women’s shelter after a man who was known to be a violent abuser. Moniz showed no empathy to his “patients” and neither did the people
who used his name like this. If you think it has to do with empathy, why make “fun” out of Rosemary Kennedy by linking her name to Moniz and lobotomy? Her life was devastated by this barbaric treatment and making a “joke” out of what happened to her is grotesque in the extreme. Since there wasn’t enough space in the letter (in the forlorn hope of getting it published), I also didn’t mention that I called the phone number on the billboard and it was a sarcastic message by a man saying if you are depressed, have emotional troubles, etc., etc., have we got a treatment for you – lobotomy…. Where is the empathy in this? It is making derisive and insulting reference to people who experience suffering today by making a “joke” out of the suffering of lobotomy victims from the past – like Rosemary Kennedy. It is insulting and totally devoid of empathy. No, no, no, no. It wasn’t about empathy at all. This billboard is about insult and emotional cruelty. And yes, I know about chemical lobotomy and drug induced devastation, both personally and among a lot of my friends and acquaintances. How on earth does this billboard express empathy for them? By advising them to get a lobotomy? If this is “empathy” God help us all.

It is also absurd to claim this billboard has brought lobotomy out “into the open”. Lobotomy is out in the open, it has been for decades – people know about in popular culture, thanks largely to “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and even before then it was publicly talked about so what are you talking about when you say this billboard brings it out in the open? People knew what it was when they saw this billboard the night I saw it and laughed at it when I was standing there. There was zero empathy shown by them. If the creators of this billboard wanted to show empathy they would have created a billboard that clearly states what lobotomy has done to people and the devastation it has caused rather than advertising where to get it. Am empathetic sign would say something like “Remember Lobotomy victims at 999”. Fortunately, this crap was taken down by the Wednesay night after Nuit Blanche…. You say “If I were a lobotomy victim I would be happy to se that billboard go up.” You are not
a lobotomy victim by your own admission as you have not had a prefrontal lobotomy and so you cannot honestly state this with any certainty whatsoever. It is your opinion as a person who has never had a prefrontal lobotomy. The woman I wrote about was crying when she told me how lobotomy devastated her life. I can’t see how someone like her would be “happy” to see a sign adverstising a “quick lobotomy” when her experience of it was entirely horrific.

Geoffrey Reaume

Geoff Reaume speaks out against lobotomy billboard

09/30/2007 03:23 PM
Letter to the Editor<Notes://simcoe/85256ECB006C34F5/5B7A35CC2BB6B3B385256EEE004596DC/396D821D6EB050768525736600686FA7>Link

Dear Editor,

Lobotomy. For some people this word is a joke. Like the people who put up a billboard across from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health on Queen Street West during Nuit Blanche this past weekend. The ad offered a “Quick Lobotomy”, gave a phoney address linked to the name of the neurologist who developed it in 1935, and placed their office location near “Rosemary Kennedy Subway Stn”. Rosemary Kennedy, the sister of the future president, had a lobotomy instigated by her father when she was 24, which robbed her of a life that people like those who put up the billboard can only take for granted. In Ontario between 1941-67, at least 1000 people had lobotomies inflicted upon them. Some of them lived at the facility directly across the street from where this grotesque billboard was placed. The message and location of this billboard is as repellent as if an ad had been placed making a “joke” out of violence against women directly across from a women’s shelter. It is designed to hurt and insult an already marginalized group – in this case people in a psychiatric facility – who have historically been discriminated against by those who would laugh at such a message.  I happen to have met two people who had lobotomies, one of whom had been a young woman at 999 Queen Street West when she was forcibly lobotomized in the 1950s. Her life was devastated by this barbaric “treatment”. Lobotomy is no more of a joke than any other act of violence. Those people who created this billboard, along with the billboard company that made money from it, contribute in their cruel way to attacking the personal integrity and humanity of people who are among the most discriminated members of our community. Some joke.

Geoffrey Reaume
Associate Professor
Critical Disability Studies Graduate Program
York University
416-736-2100, ext. 22058