Are lobotomies still performed in the UK?

Answered by Phillip Nicastro

Lobotomies, also known as psychosurgery, are not performed in the UK anymore. The practice of lobotomies involved surgically severing the connections between the prefrontal cortex and other parts of the brain. This procedure was developed in the early 20th century and was used as a treatment for various mental health conditions, including schizophrenia and severe depression.

However, lobotomies were highly controversial and often resulted in significant cognitive and emotional impairments in patients. The procedure was deemed unethical and the risks associated with it outweighed any potential benefits. As a result, the use of lobotomies as a treatment option has been largely abandoned in modern medicine.

The development of more effective and less invasive treatments, such as medications and psychotherapy, has rendered lobotomies obsolete. These alternative treatments have proven to be safer and more targeted in addressing mental health conditions.

In the UK, the Mental Health Act of 1983 prohibits the use of psychosurgery without the patient’s consent, except in very specific circumstances. These circumstances typically involve cases where an individual’s life is at risk, and all other treatment options have been exhausted.

It is important to note that the field of neuroscience and psychiatry has made significant advancements since the era of lobotomies. Our understanding of the brain and mental health conditions has improved, leading to the development of more precise and targeted interventions.

While psychosurgery is still performed in some cases, it is done using entirely different techniques than lobotomies. One example is deep brain stimulation (DBS), which involves implanting electrodes in specific areas of the brain to modulate neural activity. DBS has been used in the treatment of certain neurological and psychiatric disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease and obsessive-compulsive disorder, but it is not considered a lobotomy.

Lobotomies are no longer performed in the UK or in most other countries. The ethical concerns and risks associated with the procedure have led to its abandonment in favor of more effective and safer treatment options. The advancements in neuroscience and psychiatry have paved the way for alternative interventions that aim to address mental health conditions with greater precision and minimal harm to patients.