Friday, September 30, 2005

Psychiatry-A Wretched History
Orphaned by Susan Ewell
My grandmother was a victim of a lobotomy.  It probably took place sometime in 1940's in New Jersey.  My grandmother suffered from depression and I guess this was their answer to heal her.  Well, needless to say it didn't. 

My grandfather died shortly after, which left his two daughters to fend for themselves.  When my grandfather died, my mom and aunt lost everything.  Not only did they lose their mom and dad, but they lost their house and everything in it.  They were lucky to keep the clothes on their backs.  If it wasn't for the kind neighbors that lived next door, they wouldn't have anything from their parents.  The neighbors hid some pictures, a little bit of jewelry, and some dishes (not enough for the state to be suspicious, but enough for them to remember their parents). 

One daughter was put into an orphanage (she was still a teenager and too young to take care of herself) and the other daughter (my mom) was turned out on the street to fend for herself (she was too old).  Neither my grandfather's or grandmother's family would take them in and care for them.  It was my uncle from Chicago that finally drove down to New Jersey and saved them.  He took my aunt and my mom back up to Chicago and gave them a place to live and made sure they went to college.  Nowadays, my uncle would have been arrested for kidnapping.  You see, he took my aunt out of the orphanage without approval, but back then they probably didn't care as much - as it was one less mouth to feed for them. 
After my grandmother had the lobotomy, she spent the rest of her life in a mental hospital (she died when she was in her late 80's - can you imagine spending 50 years in a mental hospital?).  I think my mother and aunt visited her once, but never went back.  For one, she didn't know who they were, which was heartbreaking for them.  For the other reason, if the state knew that she had children that could help pay her medical bills, they would expect them to help out leaving them not much of a life themselves. 

Nowadays, this doctor would have been sued for what he did.  My mother and aunt also suffered through depression problems (apparently it is hereditary).  My mom suffered through electric shock, which is inhuman if you ask me (it took a lot out of her and it never did her any good whatsoever), and through countless different medications.  My mom eventually died at 65 due to complications from an angiogram which was the hospital's fault but my dad went through enough and didn't want to pursue suing the hospital (I honored his wishes). 

My aunt probably died about the same age as my mom, but she died of a massive heart attack at home (no one saw it coming).  She also had depression problems and went through countless different medications (not sure if she went through electric shock).  My mom was diagnosed with manic depression and my aunt had panic attacks (I'm not sure what else she had). 
There were many years that my aunt and my mom suffered through depression problems that the medication they were on could not help them.  Their doctor's kept on trying different combinations until they found something that would work and it would work for awhile, then they would start having problems again. 

So far, my brother and I have not had any problems with depression - perhaps we have too much of our father in his - I don't know - perhaps they had problems with depression because of what they had to go through when they were younger - I don't know.  I do know that my grandmother's lobotomy robbed me of knowing my grandmother - my mother only told me bits and pieces of her childhood, perhaps it was too painful for her - I don't know - I do know, there seems to be a part missing that I should know or have experienced that the lobotomy stole from me - knowing my grandmother, knowing about my mother's childhood and robbing me of my mother at times. 

Thank you for taking the time to hear my story.


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