A search of Dully's records among Freeman's files archived at George Washington University turned up clues about why Freeman lobotomized him.
According to Freeman's notes, Lou Dully said she feared her stepson, whom she described as defiant and savage looking.He doesn't react either to love or to punishment,the notes say of Howard Dully.He objects to going to bed but then sleeps well. He does a good deal of daydreaming and when asked about it he saysI don't know.He turns the room's lights on when there is broad sunlight outside.
On Nov. 30, 1960, Freeman wrote:Mrs. Dully came in for a talk about Howard. Things have gotten much worse and she can barely endure it. I explained to Mrs. Dully that the family should consider the possibility of changing Howard's personality by means of transorbital lobotomy. Mrs. Dully said it was up to her husband, that I would have to talk with him and make it stick.
I listened to some of this story on the drive home from work yesterday. Part of it was a fascination with the carnival weird. I wanted to hear Howard Dully talk about trying to experience some thoughts and emotions and not being able to because of this lobotomy. He didn't really talk about that. However, he did talk quite a bit about his emotional state, relationship with his parents, and feeling like a freak for years. It wasn't just the carnival weird though. I may not seem all that emotional, but I empathize really easily. For instance, Monday night I watched WWE Raw's tribute to Eddie Guerrero. I cried multiple times just watching other people going through their grief. Or perhaps I'm extra sensitive now coming up on the 4 year anniversary of Matt's death. I'm digressing though.
What I didn't count on listening to this was how my body would react. Sometimes I can't watch or listen to emotional stories because of my emotional reaction. This was different though. I don't think it was the description of the procedure that did it, althought that was gruesome. Even before knowing why Dully got lobotomized, I had this visceral reaction to the thought of a lobotomy for anything less that severe mental disease (like schizophrenia or something like that). I don't know if the procedure helps even severe cases or not. But the idea of mucking around blindly with someone's brain caused my vision to go white and for me to get extremely nauseous. Not mildly nauseous. Had I eaten anything yesterday, I would have yakked. As it was, I barely was able to stay on the road cause I couldn't see. I hit the power button on the radio, and my vision cleared up. I drove for another 30 seconds, and decided to try again to listen. I wanted to know what this man had to say. Within 15 seconds though, the subject matter made me nauseous again and I started losing the vision too. Off went the radio.
I turned it back on after I got to Seattle. At this point, Dully was talking with his father about the operation for the first time ever. It was still rough for me, but it was mostly focused on his life 40 years later. No physical reaction.
Never had that kind of physical reaction before. Very weird experience.