I just watched an amazing and terrifying documentary called "The Lobotomist" on PBS last night. (Yes, this is what I do on my Tuesday nights. I watch PBS, eat wheat-free gluten-free vegan oreos, and make mix CDs. It's a simple life, but a good one).
ANYways - It was all about Dr Walter Freeman and his so-called cure for mental illness, ie. the LOBOTOMY. He performed over 3,500 lobotomies in the United States -- some of which were children, I believe the youngest was 4-years old. One of his techniques was knocking a tool (which was basically an ice pick) above the eyeball and into the brain, where he would swoop the tool from side to side, then extract. The images were terrifying.
He would line people up in a hospital he was visiting and preform this procedure in front of cameras & onlookers over & over again, as if putting on a show. Some people were killed due to a "hand slip" and other carelessness. After the procedure, people would become docile copies of their former selves. Some family members would claim them as "cured" - but really, they weren't living much of a life at all afterwards.
The conditions in mental hospitals were so horrible, that it seemed like this man was doing everyone a great favor in a world where nobody knew what to do with the mentally ill, or how to help them. But it seems like this man saw himself more of a savior than anything, and it was really terrifying to see.
If you're curious at all, check it out:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0aNILW6ILk (for a short 5 minute preview)
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/lobotomist/program/ (official website)