The Lobotomy of Rosemary Kennedy

Rosemary Kennedy was lobotomized at the age of 23 to calm her violent mood swings and spent the rest of her life incapacitated.
Rosemary Kennedy's lobotomy in 1941 left her permanently incapacitated

Rosemary Kennedy, the younger sister of John F. Kennedy, was lobotomized at the age of 23. Doctors recommended the procedure to calm her violent mood swings in 1941.

Dr. James W. Watts, who carried out the lobotomy with Dr. Walter Freemen, explained the crude procedure in the book The Sins of the Father: Joseph P. Kennedy and the Dynasty he Founded by Ronald Kessler.

With Rosemary awake, under a mild tranquilizer, Watts made a surgical incision “no more than an inch” in her brain through her skull. He then used an instrument that looked like a butter knife to cut brain tissue. As Watts cut, Freeman asked Rosemary questions, had her recite the Lord’s Prayer, count backwards, etc.

“We made an estimate on how far to cut based on how she responded,” Watts explained.

When she began to become incoherent, they stopped.

Rosemary Kennedy before the lobotomy

Rosemary spent the rest of her life incapacitated, under the care of nuns at an institution in Wisconsin until her death in 2005, at the age of 86.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
16 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
leonardo rafael mazzini sosa
leonardo rafael mazzini sosa
4 years ago

This nothing has to do with being or not a Kennedy; it only shows how what a culture accepts as truth, is based always more in opinion leaders asseverations than in objetive facts. It shows that even the ones in power, fall in mainstream beliefs.

Kathy Thureen
Kathy Thureen
5 years ago

how awful

eternalwytch
6 years ago

She was bipolar, but nothing was known about it then. It was easy to send away women and girls back then.

Karen Lynn Thompson Miller
7 years ago

absolutely deplorable.

Tissy
Tissy
7 years ago

Absolutely horrific she was 23 years old!

Karl Jensen
Karl Jensen
7 years ago

This speaks volumes of some of the Kennedy clan, willing to destroy a life and pretend it never happened. Both parents were totally responsible even though Rose pretended she had no part in it and both Robert and President John F Kennedy on several occasions lied about their sister to further their political career. Shameful.

Maggie Elmer
7 years ago

Barbaric and cruel. These things were often done to spare a family the embarrassment of an unruly child or woman. These were heavily guarded secrets.

Anunciadora de Paz
8 years ago

this sucks…

lin
lin
8 years ago

This barbaric procedure should never have happened. I am so very sorry for her and all the others who were treated like this

Mike anthony
5 years ago

The criminal Kennedys got what they deserve. Who knows how many poor souls Joe Kennedy had murdered in his bootleg days.

Margie Lazou
7 years ago

This is shocking. Bu then again most of modern medicine is based on cruel and barbaric practices.