Messing With My Head: The Shocking True Story of My Lobotomy by Howard Dully with Charles Fleming Vermilion, HK$114 In 1960, Shirley Lucille Hardin saw many mental health doctors before she found one willing to cripple Howard Dully, the 12-year-old stepson she loathed. Hardin was aware that the surgical procedure Dr Walter Freeman recommended could kill Dully or reduce him to semi-vegetative status, but the boy was lucky: he returned to the world continent, if with impaired emotional literacy. Messing with My Head is not only Dully's story, but stands as a testament to the ethical omissions of the medical profession. Between 1935 and the early 1970s, some 50,000 lobotomies were performed in the US alone. And yet when Dully, at 50, requested access to his medical files, he was the first lobotomy patient to do so. Described by his father as a 'cheerful, happy, friendly baby who was doted upon by his mother', Dully was first traumatised at five when she died of colon cancer after giving birth to his severely disabled brother. His father remarried and was rarely home, a situation that allowed his new wife to exercise a sociopathic rule, such as 'inspecting and then wiping my butt'. She lied to his father about his behaviour, whereupon he was brutally beaten. Dully recalls these episodes as 'the only kind of physical touching I got'. Hardin told Freeman that Dully had tried to kill his retarded baby brother and convinced her husband to authorise the lobotomy. Freeman, who once admitted his patient fatality rate was close to 15 per cent (although historian Joel Braslow puts the figure closer to 21 per cent), inserted two leucotomes through Dully's eye sockets, twirled them like an 'egg beater' to sever neural connections to the prefrontal cortex, and parked the instruments in his brain to take photographs. A psychiatrist said it was in Dully's interests to be 'removed from his home in that his stepmother seems determined to destroy him'. A grandfather, Dully now drives a bus and enjoys doo-wop music and photography. But has anything changed? 'How many children are taking powerful brain medications now simply because their parents find them too difficult to handle?' Messing With My Head is destined to be a classic of survivor literature.