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The Ice Pick Surgeon | A New Threat | 3

The Ice Pick Surgeon | A New Threat | 3

Tue, 08 Jun 2021 09:00

Walter Freeman goes public with his ice pick lobotomies. But that earns him new enemies—including some who are determined to stop him.

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A listener note, this episode contains graphic descriptions and may not be suitable for young listeners. It's July 1946 in Washington, DC. It's just after dawn, and the sun is starting to rise over the nation's capital. On a quiet residential street, Walter Freeman hurries out to his car. He's carrying suitcases and hiking boots and throws them in the back of his station wagon. Next, he loads in a set of fishing poles. Finally, he picks up a medical bag and lays it gently behind everything else. Freeman opens the bag and looks inside to make sure everything's packed. He then pulls out a metal tool which shines in the pale morning light. If all goes according to plan, Freeman will soon get plenty of use out of it. The instrument is a custom made stiletto and is designed for performing lobotomies. Although it only looks like a small piece of metal, to Walter Freeman is nothing short of a revolution. This tool allows Freeman to perform lobotomies quickly and easily, without the need for a large hospital staff or a trained neurosurgeon like his former partner James Watts. Using this tool, Freeman can do all the work on his own. He can perform more lobotomies than ever before and finally try to address mental illness in America. Walter Freeman is about to embark on a cross country tour of the nation's mental asylum. He'll meet with dozens of patients and offer a cure that could change their lives. If all goes well, the medical community will take notice and Freeman may have the chance to operate on thousands of new patients. It'll be the beginning of a new era for medicine. But before Freeman can hit the road, first he needs to round up the other passengers joining him for this trip. Freeman walks into his kitchen and groans. He doesn't like what he sees. He's about to travel with his two sons and his nephew, but all three of them are slumped at the breakfast table looking half asleep. Boys, it's 5.30, daylights burning. We got a move. Freeman's son Keen rubs his eyes. He's named after Freeman's grandfather, a famous neurosurgeon, and he's always been the brightest and most curious of the boys. Right now, he looks like a zombie. Dad, why do we have to leave so early? Because son, I have a lot of work to do. But look on the bright side. We're also going to see some amazing sights out west, but you're gonna be working the whole time. No, not the whole time. Dad, come on. You're always working. That's because my work is important. Why do we have to take this trip? Freeman pulls out a chair and takes a seat next to his son. Keen, look. There are people in this world who aren't as lucky as we are. Their minds are sick, but I found a cure. And so I have an obligation to do whatever I can. Part of that means working with patients. But I'm also going to teach some doctors and then they can help even more people. This is bigger than just you and me, I guess. But listen, I met what I said. I've packed the tent everything. I'm not going to be working the whole time. We're also going camping and hiking. Fishing? Keen, I promise. We'll catch all the fish in the world. But you always have to get moving. Please. Keen and the others exchange grins. They wipe their tired eyes, get up from the breakfast table and march out to the car. But Freeman doesn't follow them. He returns to the bedroom where his wife Marjorie is asleep. He tiptoes over and gives her a light kiss on the side of her head. They've had their troubles over the years. But finally it seems like things are beginning to turn around. And Freeman knows that once he returns from this trip, he'll have more time for Marjorie and the family. Freeman leaves the bedroom and walks outside. Boys are already forcing around in the car. Freeman opens the door and climbs to the driver's seat. He puts the key in the ignition, gives it a twist and the car roars to life. Freeman knows he has a long drive ahead of him and a lot of work to do. But when it's all said and done, this country will never be the same. American scandals sponsor by Sachi Art. I'm lucky. Not only is my wife beautiful, funny and smart, she also has great taste that matches mine, which has made decorating our home together a delight. But how do we go about finding the art for our home? When we agree on that too, Sachi Art. They have artworks from thousands of emerging artists around the globe in all styles. So you're guaranteed to find art that fits your style, space and budget. Their view your room feature lets you visualize the art on your walls. And my advisor, Siting, was instrumental in finding our newest piece. Get 15% off your first order with promo code podcast. Just go to and enter code podcast at checkout. Find art you love today. If you're into true crime, the generation why podcast is essential listening. We started this podcast over 10 years ago to dissect some of the craziest and most notable murders, crimes and conspiracy theories together. And we'd love for you to join us. Follow the generation why podcast on Amazon Music or wherever you listen to podcasts. From Wondery, I'm Lindsey Graham and this is American Scan. In the 1930s and 40s, there were few good options to treat the mentally ill. Many were locked up in assignments and left to waste away. It was a problem that Walter Freeman and neurologist wanted to fix. Together with his partner James Watts, Freeman pioneered a new procedure known as the lobotomy. The two began performing the procedure and while Freeman was encouraged by initial results, he was also frustrated. Lobotomies were invasive and required an entire hospital staff. Freeman wanted to somehow speed them up so he could save more patients and do the work on his own. Freeman uncovered a newer, faster method to perform lobotomies. It involved the use of an ice pick. And by the mid 1940s, Freeman began to travel across America, performing lobotomies by the dozen. Freeman's surgical campaign was controversial and some began to mount opposition. But Walter Freeman's biggest challenge would emerge from Europe with a new and promising form of treatment. This is Episode 3, A New Threat. It's July 8th, 1946 in Yosemite National Park and Walter Freeman is out hiking with his sons and nephew. Freeman pauses on the trail, feeling the wind and sunshine on his face. He can smell the pine trees in the air like a thick perfume. Freeman shakes his head and happy astonishment. Out here in California's wilderness, Freeman feels unchained and alive. And while Yosemite is partly to thank for this feeling, Freeman is also ecstatic because his career is soaring. He's about to crisscross America and perform lobotomies on desperate patients. At the same time, Freeman is building a name for himself and earning public respect for the lobotomy. He's been meeting with reporters and getting the press to write about his work. Slowly but surely, America is coming around on his miracle procedure. And while Freeman has been hard at work, he meant what he told his son back in DC. This trip wasn't only about the job. They'd have some fun too. So now in Yosemite, Freeman picks his way up a steep trail alongside his sons and nephew. In front of them is a 300 foot waterfall which crashes down into a rocky pool. The group continues pushing forward and in just a few minutes, they'll reach the top of this incredible vista. Freeman's son Keene sprints to the front of the pack and reaches the top of the waterfall. He points to the mist that's hovering in the air. Dad, look at this rainbow. It's because the mist, isn't it? It's refraction. Freeman Grins, aside from work, Keene is Freeman's other great pride. He's a smart boy. Yeah, I'm coming. Ah, alright. Very perceptive. Look at that sparkling rainbow. And you're right. It's a good example of refraction. Why don't you hear about that? I don't know that. I just read it in some book. Wow. Yeah, keep it up. Someday the world will be yours for the taking. Sometimes you're weird, Dad. It's only because I love you. Okay. But I'm thirsty. You've got water, drink it. A Keene opens his bottle and turns it upside down. Nothing comes out. All out, huh? Well, we'll get you some more water when we get back. What about over there? Keene points to the edge of the river that leads to the waterfall. Where just beyond a protective fence, there's a pool of crystal clear water. Yeah, sure. Go ahead. Fill up your canteen. Freeman watches Keene climb the fence and kneel at the edge of the river. Another hiker watches too, a sailor with close cropped hair and wearing a US Navy shirt. Freeman is about to ask the sailor a question about that shirt when he hears something. There's a splash and then shouting. Freeman looks over to the river. His body freezes as he realizes what's happened. His son, Keene, is in the water. His head bobbing up and down, being sucked down the river toward the waterfall. Freeman's feet are stuck to the ground and shock, but the sailor and the Navy shirt takes off running. The man vaults the fence and dives into the river. He grabs onto Keene and raises him up. Freeman can see Keene coughing. And then all at once, Freeman regains his senses. He leaps into action and runs to the fence. He climbs over and races to the edge of the river. But he can tell the current is strong. He gets sucked away if he jumped in. So he watches as the sailor holds onto Keene and tries to make it ashore. But the river is too strong and too quick. The surging water pulls the sailor back away from shore and he and Keene go tumbling down the river toward the waterfall. Walter Freeman looks on as everything that happens next seems slow and impossible. Keene struggles for air, a look of helpless terror on his young face. The sailor thrashes against the current and then in the blink of an eye, the two disappear. Freeman screams, but no one can hear him over the pounding waterfall. He stands motionless, trying to process what just happened. But then his knees go weak and Freeman falls to the ground. He begins weeping uncontrollably. His sun keene, his pride and joy is gone forever. A week later, Walter Freeman sits in a small chapel in Merced California. Freeman looks around barely able to process any of it. The stained glass windows, the pastor talking about life and death and God, and the closed casket at the front of the chapel covered with flowers. Freeman's sun keene lies inside that casket. This is his funeral. Freeman can still barely manage to believe it. How his sun was swept away by a rushing river, how it took days to find his body at the bottom of the waterfall. And how once they did find it, they discovered his skull had been crushed. Freeman's pain is unendurable. He never knew what grief felt like, not true grief, not like this. For the last week, Freeman has replayed the events over and over. He focuses with all of his strength, imagining a different version of what happened, a version where he moves fast enough to save keene and that unfortunate sailor. But no matter how hard he tries, Freeman can't change reality. He only wishes he could somehow make his feelings disappear. Freeman looks over to his wife Marjorie. She smells of liquor, and when she meets his gays, she shoots him a look of pure hatred. She wipes her eyes and mutters at Freeman, asking how he could have let this happen. Freeman starts to respond, reminding her that it was a tragic accident, but Marjorie cuts him off. She doesn't want to hear it. This was his fault. He doesn't care about his family. He doesn't care if his children live or die. All he's ever cared about is his work. Freeman tells Marjorie that this isn't true, but she interrupts him again and reminds him that he didn't act. He let another man jump in first and try to rescue their child. He's always talked about saving other people, but he couldn't even save his own son. Before he can respond, Marjorie wipes her eyes and leaps up. She steps through the aisle and hurries out the back of the chapel. Freeman robs his eyes and exhales. He and Marjorie have never been farther apart than they are right now. He's not sure his marriage can survive this tragedy, and if he's honest with himself, he doesn't know how he can go on. All of his dreams, all of his work now seem flat and meaningless. Freeman knows that after this he's supposed to drive to South Dakota and perform more lobotomies, but he can't imagine doing that. Freeman can barely get himself to eat. Maybe Marjorie is right, Freeman thinks. Maybe he only ever cared about medicine, and maybe it's time to change that and do something different with his life. A month later, Walter Freeman looks out through the windshield of his car as he drives to the town of Yankton, South Dakota. Freeman is out in the country and on his way to the South Dakota Insana Silent. He's scheduled to perform lobotomies on a number of patients. But as Freeman stares out the window, watching the tall grasses sway in the breeze, he can't shake the feeling he's had for weeks, the emptiness, the feeling that he's lost. He can't imagine going to work. Because even though it's already been a month, he can't stop thinking about his son Keen. All last night, he had nightmares. He slept terribly, and now he feels groggy and weak. And if he's this tired, you could even be dangerous to operate on patients. But Freeman is a man of his word, and it's too late to back out now. So he keeps driving. Soon he turns onto the asylum grounds. He kills the engine of his car and steps out. In front of him is a large stone building which looms over the horizon. There's a tower in front, which casts a long shadow over the dusty ground. Freeman grabs his medical bag. But before he can even take a few steps, he sees a crowd of doctors and local reporters approaching. Right away, they start chatting with Freeman about the operations he's about to perform. Freeman moans. This is too much. He needs to get in and get out as fast as possible. So Freeman quickly answers a few questions and then enters the medical ward, where he finds a half dozen patients lined up on hospital beds. They're being sedated. And after a few minutes, a nurse tells Freeman that they're all ready for the operation. Freeman moves methodically. He gets out his stiletto and removes his coat and button down. He prefers to operate in his t shirt. He's surrounded by news reporters and several of them begin peppering Freeman with additional questions. They want to know if the lobony actually works, and they tell Freeman they're shocked by his methods in an undershirt with no mask or surgical gloves. They suggest he's putting patients at risk. But Freeman dispatches their questions one by one, and says he's not concerned about wearing gloves or a mask. This is a clean operation with proven results. So it's time to stop talking and get to work. Freeman approaches the first patient. She's a middle aged woman lying limp on her hospital bed. She has a long history of suffering from mental illness, and Freeman knows that this operation could offer a measure of relief. He begins the procedure. He slips his instrument into her eye and grabs a mallet. He taps on it, and with the sound of a slight crack, he now has access to the brain. Suddenly, there's a commotion behind him. An older doctor has fainted. Freeman knows that viewing this procedure isn't for the weak of heart, but even if it's an unpleasant sight, it can be life changing for the patients. So Freeman concentrates, focusing intently on only the patient. He moves this deleto through the patient's frontal lobe, severing the connections to the brain's emotional centers. A moment later, he removes the instrument and finishes the operation. Freeman, Freeman, moves on to the next patient. His mind fully focused on the task. And by the time he gets to the fourth patient, he realizes something. His misery is gone. It's the first time he's felt this way all month. His head is clear. He feels driven and full of purpose. Freeman knows that these patients need his help. They've been suffering for years, and providing a cure for Walter Freeman. That's a therapy for himself. When he performs lobotomies, Freeman can focus his mind, let go of all his pain. It's profound sense of freedom. As Freeman finishes his next lobonomy, he shakes his head. Everything is so obvious. He was full of grief, and that filled him with serious doubts, about himself and his future. What he can't give up medicine. Because if he can accomplish something truly great for medicine, then maybe his life still has a purpose. The new season of this is actually happening. It's available ad free only with one Drupal Plus. And if this new season isn't enough, you can listen to more than 120 exclusive episodes available only to Wondry Plus subscribers. Join Wondry Plus on Apple Podcasts or on the Wondry app. It's December 1948 in Washington, DC. A brick building stands silent against the gray winter sky, and a cold wind blows through the trees. Inside the building, a man sifts through a mound of paper. His name is Winford Overholzer, and he's in charge of this massive complex, St. Elizabeth's asylum. Spent around since the 1860s and has served countless patients with mental illness. It's Overholzer's job to make sure they get the best care, which is why he's busy at work right now. Overholzer is getting ready to meet with Walter Freeman. Freeman wants permission to perform lobotomies on the patients in the asylum, but Overholzer isn't sold on the idea far from it. He's seen the data, and he knows that Freeman's lobotomies can be dangerous and ineffective. As Overholzer flips through patient files, the evidence is clear as day. Lobotomies are no silver bullet. So in just a few minutes, Overholzer is going to have to break some bad news to Walter Freeman, the most famous neurologist in America. There's a knock on the door, and Freeman comes bounding in. Winford, good to see you again. You too, Walter. It's been a long time. I never thought I'd be back at St. Elizabeth's. Working here? God, feels like a lifetime ago. You know, it was one of my first jobs. I don't think I knew that. It's true, and it was a formative experience working with the patients. Seeing how a asylum can be so dysfunctional. You know, once they had boarded up the windows, I ripped them all down. Patients needed a chance to see the sunlight. Yeah, I think I heard that story. But you know Walter, we're not as dysfunctional as you think. Oh, yes, you are. This place, it's a nightmare. I learned a valuable lesson when I was working here. You can't just lock people up in padded rooms and hope they'll get better. You need to find an actual cure for mental illness. Overholes are straightened to his back and adjust his tie. Well, sounds like you're ready to make your pitch. You're right. Here it is. I want to operate on your patients. I see. Walter, you are one of the most famous doctors in the country. The press writes about you endlessly. You're the president of the DC Medical Society for Christ's sake. You even have that new neurology ward. So if you think we're such a backwater, why do you want to work here? Backwater. You're being funny, Winford. No, no, no, no. You and I both know that this is one of the most prestigious assilums in the country. If I operate on your patients, the whole world will see that the lobotomy is a cure. But Walter, it isn't. Freeman leans forward with a surprise look on his face. Excuse me? It isn't. Walter, I'm not granting you permission to operate here because I looked at your cases and I'm decidedly underwhelmed. It's all here in the data. Long term, the patient's benefited very little from your lobotomies. Some even got worse. Now you're looking at old data. It's not relevant. Now I perform lobotomies myself and I use an entirely new method. You can meet my patients. You'll see it works. That's not what I hear from the other assilums. They say the side effects are disturbing. Patients are losing initiative, turning into animals. Every procedure has side effects, but overall they are showing a market improvement. Walter, I heard that several patients have died from your operation. Well, that's medicine. I'm not sure that it is. I'm sorry. I'm not letting you operate on my patients. Freeman leans back and angry smirk growing on his face. Ah, I see what all this is about. You don't want me to actually heal your patients. You're worried that this place would empty out. You'd lose all your business. Don't be ridiculous. We're over crowded. I'd love to make some extra room. I'm not being ridiculous. You're the one who's ridiculous. You're fearful. Small minded. Walter, no, no, you have something personal against me. I can see it in your eye. That's not true. It is true. It is. You can see I'm actually doing something. I'm helping people changing things and you're jealous. You're jealous because you could only imagine what that would feel like. All right, Walter. I think it's time for you to leave. Well, I was just on my way out. But, Winford, mark my words. This is an over. Freeman rises and storms out of the office. Overholes her leans back in this chair. He tries to calm his breath and makes sense of what just happened. Walter Freeman was always charismatic and convinced of his own talents. Overholes her remembers that from years ago. But something has changed. Something's different about him now. There's a desperation in his voice. Overholes her can tell that for Freeman this work is more about proving something to himself and less about healing patients. And overholes her knows that in medicine, that kind of attitude is dangerous. It's even more dangerous now that Freeman is influential. Soon, more doctors may follow in his footsteps. And more patients may get these dangerous lobotomies. Overholes her has never considered himself one to protest to be any kind of activist. But after meeting with Walter Freeman, he knows it's time to change that. He needs to take a stand and help put an end to Walter Freeman's madness. A year and a half later, Walter Freeman sits down with a new patient inside his office. She's a thin woman with flat, blonde hair and she chooses her lip nervously. It's easy to see. This patient suffers from anxiety and other emotional disorders. And so Freeman starts to give her the standard talking points. He tells her that he recommends a lobotomy and that she'll feel much better after the operation. Her anxiety and depression will finally lift. The patient nods as Freeman talks. But suddenly, he starts to feel himself faltering. He can barely concentrate on his own words. He feels woozy and then nauseated. Freeman tells the patient that he needs a moment to review her files and he looks down trying to compose himself. But even after a few minutes, his head won't stop swimming. Freeman thinks it's probably just frayed nerves. He's been working nonstop. In recent months, he's been traveling in the country, performing lobotomies and countless assilums. He's never been more busy or sleep deprived. On top of that, Freeman has had to face a growing opposition to his work. It's a huge source of stress and it all seems to be coming from windward overhulser, the superintendent of St. Elizabeth's asylum. Overhulser recently showed up at a conference and challenged Freeman about the effectiveness of lobotomies. It turned into an ugly back and forth and Freeman could tell that some of the other doctors were taking overhulser's side. Even worse, the magazine Newsweek covered the conference, shining a bright light on the concerns about lobotomies. Now the whole country has been told that they have reason to avoid the procedure. Freeman sits in his office waiting to recover his nerves. All of this has been a lot, but he realizes there's one other reason he's probably feeling shaky. It's early July. So it's right around the anniversary of his son's death. This time of year, always feels Freeman with grief. Freeman looks up from the file and sees his patient staring at him. She has a concerned look on her face. And without meeting to Freeman grow sharp and demands know what her problem is. The woman pauses and says she's having second thoughts about her lobotomy. She read a story in Newsweek that was critical of the procedure and she's not sure it's a good idea. Freeman feels like the room is spinning. There's so much he wants to say, but an overpowering wave of dizziness suddenly overtakes him. He grips his desk and closes his eyes. When he opens them, he sees double. There are now two blonde women in front of him asking whether he's okay. Freeman nods his head and insists he's doing fine. But Freeman is not doing fine. This isn't just fatigue or stress. Something is wrong. Freeman reaches for his telephone. His hand drops around the desk, but he can't find it. And then his vision starts to fade. Freeman takes a breath. And as calmly as he can, he tells the patient to call an ambulance. He knows the symptoms. He's having a stroke. Two days later, Walter Freeman opens his eyes. It takes a minute to figure out where he is, then it all clicks. He's lying in a hospital bed in the new neurology ward at George Washington University. It's where he works. Except today, he's not there as a doctor. He's a patient. Freeman hears the sound of footsteps approaching. He looks over and a young physician appears at his side. Freeman smiles and greets the young man. The two have worked together. Freeman even helped train him, but now the tables have turned. The young doctor confirms what Freeman suspected. He had suffered a mild stroke. It's not life threatening, but like any stroke, it is serious. Freeman asks the doctor when he'll be cleared to leave and go home. He needs to get his things and get back to work. But the doctor shakes his head and tells Freeman to slow down. He needs to stay at the hospital and rest. They'll let him go when he's ready. The doctor then walks away and Freeman begins to marvel at his own situation. It's fascinating getting to see what it's like as a patient and not a doctor. This is a good opportunity to learn. But as Freeman stares out at the hospital ward, a series of creeping doubts begin to enter his mind. Maybe he was overdoing it, working too much. He wants to help as many patients as he can, but if that means burning out and dying from a stroke, he won't be useful to anyone. But soon, these thoughts turn darker and more alarming. Freeman begins to wonder if his critics are right. Maybe he's been overzealous, ignoring the obvious dangers of lobotomies. He can admit that the work has been a welcome distraction ever since his son died so tragically. But Freeman worries that could be irresponsible, performing surgery as a way to escape his grief. Maybe he's doing more harm than good. And maybe he shouldn't just cut back his hours. Maybe it's time to finally hang up his hat as a doctor. But then Freeman hears another patient talking to a nurse. They're behind a curtain right next to Freeman's small space. The patient is a woman, and she's complaining that she's too hot. But there's something off about her voice. It's slurred and uneven. Freeman keeps ease dropping. A moment later, he decides he's heard enough. This patient isn't getting the care she needs. So Freeman pulls out his IV and rises from his bed. He steps through the curtain, startling the nurse, who tells Freeman to get back in bed. Freeman ignores her. Instead, he leans in and studies the patient's face. The woman's mouth and eyelid are drooping. Freeman pauses and considers the symptoms. Then he turns to the nurse and announces the diagnosis. The patient probably has Bell's palsy, a disorder caused by infection. She needs treatment immediately. If they wait or give her the wrong treatment, she could lose an eye, or half her face could be left paralyzed. The nurse shoots Freeman an angry look. He knows that no one in medicine likes to have their expertise questioned. But the nurse follows the order and races off to get help. Patient looks up at Freeman terrified. She asks if she's going to be all right. Freeman reassures the woman the Bell's palsy is rarely permanent, as long as it's caught early enough. And judging by her situation, she should be fine. The patient thanks Freeman. And a moment later, Freeman returns through the curtains and walks to his bed. But before he lies down, he stops. Suddenly realizing he's not dizzy anymore. He's not nauseated. He feels like himself. And Freeman knows why. He's helping people. And focusing on their problems. He's trying to fix them. A task that's always given him incredible satisfaction and left him feeling alive. This time is no different. And just like that, Freeman's doubts disappear. He doesn't need to change careers. He doesn't need to retire. He could always cut back a few hours of work. And that could be smart. But Freeman knows there are so many patients who still need his help. And so much that he can still do for the world. Walter Freeman knows that no matter what the doctor told him, this is no time to rest. He needs to return home, change clothes, and then be back at this hospital. Not as a patient, but as a doctor. It's February 1952 at the Saint Anne Mental Assylum in Paris, France. Inside, patients howl and moan. Others thrash against the walls and stare vacantly into space. Their rooms are small and damp, with no furniture except for a bed. The asylum is a grim place to be, and Pierre Dennycare isn't exactly happy to be here. The gray haired psychiatrist is surrounded by his colleagues, sitting inside one of the asylum's small rooms. They all have the same to paint expression on their faces. These doctors spend their working hours trying to make life better for asylum patients. It's almost always a hopeless task. But today could be different. Dennycare is preparing for a risky experiment. It could transform his entire career and change the face of medicine. Or it could be a huge mistake. He's about to find out. Dennycare picks up a syringe and flicks the side with a finger. A small droplet of liquid emerges from the tip of the neal, chloropromazine. And it was used during the war to revive soldiers in shock. The drug worked well on the battlefield, and Dennycare believes it could help psychiatric patients as well. Patients like the one in front of him. Dennycare looks down at a man who's lying on a bed, his eyes closed. He's catatonic. He's been that way for years. Man was found after a bombing raid during the war. He was crying over the bodies of a woman and a girl. The soldiers had to assume that the bodies belonged to his wife and child. Filled with unspeakable pain, man began screaming, ranting and tearing off his clothes. He collapsed shortly afterward, and he's been unresponsive ever since. That was over a decade ago. Now, Dennycare wants to see if chloropromazine can do something to rouse the man and bring him back to life. At the same time, it would be a disaster if the drug somehow caused additional harm. But Dennycare believes the potential benefits outweigh the risks, so he rolls up the patient's sleeve and prepares the syringe. Dennycare's colleague's murmur as he approaches the patient. It's an old habit, but Dennycare can't help but give a warning to the comatose patient. I'm sorry, but this may hurt a little. Dennycare injects the drug into the man's arm and then sets the syringe back on a table. He steps back, takes a deep breath, and waits. At first, the signs are bad. The man flushes red and begins sweating. His breathing grows rapid. Dennycare fears that this is the beginning of an allergic reaction, but then a miracle. The man suddenly sits up and starts coughing. Several of the doctors gasped. With a scared looking his eyes, the man turns to Dennycare. Where am I? This is credible. What's happened? What is this? I'm sorry, sir. You're in an asylum. I'm a doctor. You've been catatonic for over a decade. I've been... what? Dennycare shivers as he looks at the patient. For years, this man was merely a lifeless body, but now Dennycare is staring into the eyes of a living, thinking person. Sir, sir, do you know your name? Of course, it's Arno. Arno? Very good to meet you. Could you tell us about yourself? Of course. I like Red Wine. I'm a barber? Pretty good one. The group of doctors murmur. But Dennycare is intent on the patient. Arno, many patients in our asylum, they're often confused or have wild fantasies. Are you calling me a liar? Not too many people fantasize about being a barber. No, no, no. It's not that. We're just trying to gather information. Arno frowns and clanses around at the doctors. Well, if you don't believe me, I'll show you. Get me a razor. Oh, well, I don't know. We don't have too many razors here. They're considered dangerous. Well, I don't know what to tell you. My name is Arno. I like Red Wine, and I am a barber. Dennycare exchanges looks with his colleagues. He's intensely curious. This man has only been half alive for the last decade. So Dennycare motions to an assistant who runs off. A minute later, he returns with a bowl of hot water, some shaving cream, and a gleaming straight edge. Dennycare loosens his tie and sits down. He chuckles to himself, wondering who the crazy one is now. He's about to be shaved by someone who had a psychotic break with reality, someone who's now under the effect of an experimental drug. Dennycare closes his eyes and says a silent prayer. And then Arno begins. At first, his hands are visibly shaky. He nicks Dennycare's neck and draws some blood. But soon, he gets into a rhythm, and by the time he's done, Dennycare has one of the cleanest shaves of his life. He turns around, and facing Arno, he rubs his neck and all. There's no doubt about it. Clopromazine is an absolute wonder. A man was trapped inside his own mind for a decade, and in just an instant, he was cured. Dennycare knows that now he needs to get on the phone and make some calls. It's time to spread the word about this miracle drug. It's ten months later, and a blustery afternoon in Washington, D.C. Winfred Overholzer is sitting in his office at St. Elizabeth's Sass Island, and grimacing as he reads the latest budget report. Fun's have never been so tight, and as the superintendent of the asylum, Overholzer has some hard decisions to make. He's looking down, focusing on a table of figures. When suddenly, there's a thought. Another physician has thrown a medical journal onto his desk. Responsible for patient care at the asylum, Dr. Jacobs is usually cool headed and sedate, but now he's grinning like a schoolboy. Jacobs flips open the medical journal and begins excitedly explaining that there's a new drug, Clopromazine. It was originally designed to treat soldiers and other people in shock, but a doctor in France tried it another way. He tested the drug on patients in an asylum, and the effects have been nothing short of stunning. Right away, hallucinations disappear. People who've been babbling suddenly talk coherently. Patients who were once psychotic can now live like normal people. Overholzer admits that he's fascinated, but skeptical. It seems like every decade someone invents a new treatment that takes the psychiatric world by storm, and then invariably, it turns out to be a dud. It's just like Lebonemies. The promise is always too good to be true. Jacobs nods and admits that he's also seen that pattern. This time is different. The doctors are real researchers. They're not exaggerating. Some people are even calling it a chemical Lebonemie. Something about that phrase catches Overholzer's attention, and he remembers the conference years ago when he challenged Walter Freeman to defend the Lebonemie. Freeman posed a question response. Besides the Lebonemie, how else can doctors actually help patients? Back then, Overholzer didn't have a good answer. No one did, even though they knew the Lebonemie could be dangerous. And since then, Freeman's fame and influence have only grown larger. He's one of the most famous doctors in America, but this drug could change everything. It could offer a true alternative to Lebonemies, something that doesn't permanently alter the brain. Overholzer looks down, sees that his hands are shaking. This might be a big moment. Overholzer tells Jacobs to put everything else on pause and take whatever budget funds he needs. They have to get their hands on this drug, because they're going to test it right here at St. Elizabeth's. If this drug really is an alternative to Lebonemies, if it can cure patients without destroying their brains, then it might be the answer he's been searching for. After so long, he may have a way to stop Walter Freeman. From wondering, this is episode three of five of the ice pig surgeon from American scandal. On the next episode, Walter Freeman faces increasing challenges from new psychiatric drugs, but Freeman refuses to go down without a fight. If you'd like to learn more about Walter Freeman and other scandals in science, we recommend the book The Ice Pick Surgeon by Sam Keane. This episode contains reenactments and traumatized details, and while in most cases we can't know exactly what was said, all of dramatizations are based on historical research. American scandal is hosted, edited, and executive produced by me Lindsey Graham for airship, audio editing by Molly Bach, sound design by Derek Barrett's, music by Lindsey Graham. This episode is written by Sam Keane, edited by Christina Mallsberger. Our senior producer is Gabe Riven. Executive producers are Stephanie Jens, Jenny Liner Beckman, and her nonlopes for Wondering.