Licentiate of Medicine, Department of Clinical Science, Division of Psychiatry and Department of Culture and Media, Umeå University. Department of Clinical Science, Division of Psychiatry, Umeå University Hospital (NUS), Umeå, Sweden.
This retrospective survey aims at describing patients subjected to prefrontal lobotomies and the general treatment conditions at Umedalen State Mental Hospital during the period 1947-1958. Data collected from psychiatric and surgical medical records was analysed using quantitative and qualitative content analysis. A total of 771 patients subjected to lobotomy during the years 1947-1958 were identified. From these, a sample of 105 patients was selected for the purpose of obtaining detailed data on socio-economic status, diagnosis, symptomatology, other psychiatric treatments applied before the pre-frontal lobotomy operation, time spent in hospital before operation, praxis of consent and mortality. The diagnosis of schizophrenia was found in 84% of the 771 lobotomized patients. The post-operative mortality was 7.4% (57 deaths), with the highest rate in 1949 (17%). The mean age of the patient at the time of operation was 44.8 years for females and 39.5 years for male patients. The average length of pre-operative time in hospital for females was 10.7 years and for males 3.5 years. It remains unclear why this mental hospital conducted the lobotomy operation to such a comparatively great extent. Factors such as overcrowding of wards and its status as a modern mental hospital may have contributed.