Collage of archival footage of psychiatry. Graphic by An Ngo | The GW Hatchet
Collage of archival footage of psychiatry. Graphic by An Ngo | The GW Hatchet

A ‘moral monster’ and the lobotomy’s legacy at GW

As students today call on GW to protect the health of disabled students and those who face mental illness, some are looking back in time to analyze how the historic treatment of mentally ill people at GW informs the attitudes of the present and the future.


In 1941, Rosemary Kennedy, the sister of future President John F. Kennedy, was taken to GW Hospital.

The 23-year-old had dealt with an array of mental and physical health struggles throughout her life, including intense mood swings, seizures, irritability and depression. Her father, Joseph Kennedy, authorized a procedure considered at the cutting edge of psychiatry, a possible cure for even the most hopeless cases: the prefrontal lobotomy. Read more…


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