Patient H.M

Patient H.M

A Story of Memory, Madness and Family Secrets

Book - 2016
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"In the summer of 1953, a renowned Yale neurosurgeon named William Beecher Scoville performed a novel operation on a 27-year-old epileptic patient named Henry Molaison, drilling two silver-dollar sized holes in his forehead and suctioning out a few teaspoons of tissue from a mysterious region deep inside his brain. The operation helped control Molaison's intractable seizures, but it also did something else: It left Molaison amnesic for the rest of his life, with a short term memory of just thirty seconds. Patient H.M., as he came to be known, would emerge as the most important human research subject in history. Much of what we now know about how memory works is a direct result of the sixty years of near-constant experimentation carried out upon him until his death in 2008. Award-winning journalist Luke Dittrich brings readers from the gleaming laboratory in San Diego where Molaison's disembodied brain -- now the focus of intense scrutiny -- sits today; to the surgical suites of the 1940s and 50s, where doctors wielded the powers of gods; and into the examination rooms where generations of researchers performed endless experiments on a single, essential, oblivious man: H.M. In the process, Dittrich excavates the lives of Dr. Scoville and his most famous patient, and spins their tales together in thrilling, kaleidoscopic fashion, uncovering troves of well-guarded secrets, and revealing how the bright future of modern neuroscience has dark roots in the forgotten history of psychosurgery, raising ethical questions that echo into the present day"--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Random House, 2016
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780812992731
0812992733
Branch Call Number: 616.8523 Dittrich
RC394.A5 D58 2016
Characteristics: xv, 440 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm

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k
kakacurt
Jun 01, 2017

Especially interesting as it gives the history of neurosurgery.

d
DadCat
Feb 08, 2017

This is a book packed with the good and bad of mental health care history. It is subjective but also factual. The author also has a personal quest to learn about his neurosurgeon grandfather. If you are squimish this is not for you. The early days of mental health procedures are horrible. But if you wish to understand that past this book is well done.

w
wendyfath
Jan 11, 2017

Patient H.M. is a very well researched, fascinating, macabre and heartrending insight into the history of neurosurgery. It's amazing to learn that surgery on the brain was done by ancient Egyptians. It's nothing short of disturbing to learn about the development and history of the infamous lobotomy. Oh, medical ethics, how important it is!

I strongly recommend to anyone studying medicine or anyone interested in medical ethics. Dittrich's narrative certainly makes one think about the "Do no harm" motto and the dilemmas that are almost unavoidable in Medicine.

Oh, yes, and this book IS written in an engaging narrative style -- although somewhat circuitous! Dittrich DOES like to 'rabbit trail' but he eventually returns to a story, weaving the narrative threads in an interesting way.

By the way, Dittrich's 'main character' H.M. was lobotomized and became the most studied person in the history of Medicine. Dittrich's grandfather was the neurosurgeon who performed the surgery.

m
MplsTA
Sep 24, 2016

An interesting accounting of the history of the lobotomy and lobotomy-like procedures told by the grandson of one of the first neurosurgeons practicing this surgery.

The book tells the story of patient H.M. who receives a procedure which was to help with his epileptic fits. They include transcripts of interviews with patent H.M. through the years. The results are obvious to the reader.

Overall an interesting book. But pivoting back and forth between the grandmother with mental illness, the lobotomizing grandfather surgeon and patient H.M., I sometimes felt lost.

Also, there are many accounts of those poor souls who received this barbaric surgery and were never the same. Unnoticed by society as many seemed to be "throw away" cases where the mentally ill were abandoned by family and friends and sent to the nearest institutions where unfortunately they were preyed upon.

This book is not for the squeamish.

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wendyfath
Jan 11, 2017

wendyfath thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

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