Shutter Island: Moral Therapy, Lobotomies and Mental Illness in Hollywood

This is from The Citywide Mental Health Project.

One of the issues treated in the movie is the relation between violence and mental illness. “Treated” is a misnomer, more like ‘used’ to advance the thriller part of the plot. Nevertheless, the correct part of the history of psychiatry is the reference to the two different philosophies of mental illness in the 1800s relating to the treatment of violent people. Each developed its own treatment modality approach, vying to control the emerging business of mental health treatment…

The real question they are asking is about the benefits of psycho-surgery: would you prefer to live as a ‘monster’, a violent mentally ill person, or to be lobotomized and live as a “good man”, i.e., as a zombie? The question actually is one for ‘society‘, not for the individual with mental illness. No one in his or her ‘right or bad’ state of mind would choose to be a zombie: no one on either mental state, PERIOD, especially if it is done without his consent…

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