My Auntie Beehive had a very hard life. The first symptoms of schizophrenia appeared in her teens. However, living on a prairie farm in the middle of nowhere, her mental illness went unrecognized and untreated for years. But after a major psychotic break suffered as a young wife and mother, she was sent to a mental institution. A mental institution during the late 1940s and early 1950s. You know what that meant, of course. Crude, ineffective drugs. Electroshock treatments -- lots of them. Ultimately, psychosurgery.
A lobotomy cuts brain circuitry to the prefrontal cortex, home of the personality and executive functioning ability. Lobotomies were pretty mainstream treatment until the development of effective anti-psychotic drugs in the modern era. In Auntie Beehive's case, the treatment worked quite well. She was one of the lucky ones who returned home and remained relatively stable.
Auntie Beehive told me once that the lobotomy's main effect on her was to flatten her personality and emotions. She didn't experience highs, lows or extremes of any kind, no matter what the situation. She just felt an unchanging middle-of-the-road sameness about everything. Auntie Beehive let me feel her lobotomy scars on each side of her head behind her temples. Her skull hadn't healed evenly and there were noticeable ridges in those spots.
But her hair hid those ridges from sight -- yes, the beautiful beehive that was her pride and joy and over which she fussed so much. No one begrudged her that small vanity. She had earned it.