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.

16 replies
  1. Avatar
    leonardo rafael mazzini sosa says:

    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.

    • Avatar
      Cathy says:

      She wasn’t bipolar. She was a normal teenager. Or at least a teenager living with the values of what she was taught by how she saw others in her family live.

      Her father did NOT want anything to risk his son becoming POTUS, so he HAD her lobotomized, against the mothers wishes and without her knowledge. HE DID that to her. So sick and wrong.

      And look into how this family got their money.

      Being poor doesn’t make you trash, but these people WERE trash and got rich in illegal ways. The head of the clan USED that money to buy his way to the top, so to speak. They then became the ‘ROYAL family’ people idolized. But they are nothing but trash that came from trash.

      Research it yourself. Many examples in the whole Kennedy clan of what they really are.

  2. Avatar
    Karl Jensen says:

    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.

    • Avatar
      cate says:

      JFK did pass the Community Mental Health Act which was intended to combat the deplorable conditions of mental institutions at the time. It’s been speculated that this was a direct result of what his sister went through. He didn’t publicly denounce the actions of his mother and father, as many of us would hope, but it seems he did try to do right by her in his own way. He wasn’t by any means the monster that his father was.
      Unfortunately, a lot of people, as they do today, believed so strongly in the authority of doctors that they were willing to let butchers like Freeman cut on their loved ones, thinking it could help them. Did you know he practiced his transorbital lobotomies on corpses using an icepick?

  3. Avatar
    lin says:

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


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