Eva Perón may have had a lobotomy. It’s a shocking revelation because we think of Evita as strong, competent, lucid and driven. How could this have happened to her? The answer is that Perón had cervical cancer, and was lobotomized to ameliorate her pain—one of the reasons were performed in 1952. From the New York Times:
Dr. [Daniel E.] Nijensohn’s research, to be published soon in the journal World Neurosurgery and recently posted online, turned up several pieces of suggestive evidence. He confirmed details of Dr. Udvarhelyi’s story and found other contemporaries of Perón who had said she had had surgery for her pain.
Dr. Nijensohn also unearthed information indicating that Dr. James L. Poppen, a neurosurgeon at the Lahey Clinic in Boston and an international expert on the use of lobotomy for intractable pain, had been summoned to operate on Perón in the summer of 1952. X-rays of Perón’s skull, Dr. Nijensohn found, showed indentations in the areas where lobotomies were usually performed.
Dr. Nijensohn believes that a lobotomy was performed in May or June of 1952, meaning that Perón may have already had the procedure at the time of her last public appearance, riding in a limousine at her husband’s second inaugural.
The idea of utilizing lobotomy to treat pain is interesting to me. I can almost go for it. What would I prefer: excrutiating chronic pain or being a bit of an idiot? The latter sounds a lot more appealing. But as author Barron H. Lerner points out, there was already pain treatment available: opiates. And those make you idiotic too, so it’s like two for the price of one but without any surgery.
Hat tip to Susan and Holly for this article.