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(p. 259) Leucotomy 

(p. 259) Leucotomy
Chapter:
(p. 259) Leucotomy
Author(s):

Donald W. Winnicott

DOI:
10.1093/med:psych/9780190271350.003.0048
Page of

date: 15 October 2018

In this paper for medical students, Winnicott expresses his attitude on leucotomy. While he believes it to represent the worst possible trend in medical practice, he acknowledges that the large numbers of the insane represent a tremendous drain on medical resources, and no one should be criticized for attempting to relieve this burden. However, people who are ill mentally are ill in spite of having healthy brain tissue, and brain-tissue changes produce personality and behaviour changes, which relieves some acute sufferers from prolonged suffering, and essentially makes some difficult patients less difficult for other people. Winnicott holds that while brain syphilis produces ideas of grandeur and arteriosclerosis produces perseverance of ideas and narrowing of intellect, this does not conclude that emotional disturbance does not derive from underlying brain-tissue changes. The neurosurgeon who sees insanity as a collection of separate illnesses, with brain-tissue changes, may forget his patients are still human beings. Equally, some patients dream of bad doctors conducting fantastic and mutilating operations upon them.

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