August 26. 2012.

Posted: August 27, 2012 in pOstEd WeEkLY

My thoughts today…

After reading through George J. Annas’ piece, Human Rights and Health: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 50, I felt not only torn but more so influenced to really think about the broad picture of health in relation to human rights. Being a psychology major I’m often finding myself reading about varied studies both past and present. Some of them positive with wonderful outcomes and mild costs, others seem much like horror stories. For example practices of Walter Freeman are more like something written up in the minds of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez.

In the section of Human Rights and Physicians (p67) we can see a clear differentiation between medical ethics and human rights. Annas even states that such a differentiation is difficult to enforce within the field of medicine and that medical ethics has now ‘transformed into medical law.

Article 5.

* No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 7.

* All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Referring to Walter Freeman’s practice of the frontal lobotomy in the field of psychological study we can see a vivid violation of the above articles as well as a lack in humanity. Though the goal was to control unruly patients “willing” to participate in Freeman’s surgical procedures, many endured what we can consider today as torture, cruelty, injustice and inhumanity, and basically just a clear violation of human rights.

Here’s my question: why is it that we as a country went without realizing the procedure of the medical frontal lobotomy was not recognized as a violation of human rights and medical ethics?

[Maybe] the Answer: Perhaps the only available answer to such a question would be that it was for the sake of science and knowledge. More importantly, if the Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948, how was it that only 4 years prior (between 1940 and 1944) over 600 frontal lobotomies were performed in the United States alone?

What are your thoughts?

 Below is the documentary of the practices of Walter Freeman.


happy remaining 6ish hours of your weekend,



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