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Aspinator
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09 Nov 2021, 6:10 pm

Rosemary was born with autism (she was the sister of John and Robert and Ted Kennedy) It sounds as if she had Aspergers. Her parents (in the 40s and 50s) were ashamed of her. Before, she was easy going and had a love of learning. Her parents dealt with her autism by authorizing a lobotomy on her. (they hoped it would cure her autism) Instead she was changed into a toddler.



Ettina
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09 Nov 2021, 7:36 pm

That's not generally how lobotomies work. They're not great, but they don't cause generalized cognitive impairment. They cause severe executive dysfunction, while leaving other cognitive functions unaffected. Although I suppose any surgical procedure can go wrong - she may have suffered a brain bleed, for example, which destroyed tissue they weren't intending to affect.

Also, she probably wasn't average intelligence beforehand. She seems to have had generalized delayed milestones as a child, and was generally considered to have a low IQ. It's also unclear whether she showed any signs of autism, or just cognitive disability.

She showed worrying changes prior to her lobotomy. She'd started having seizures, and was having mood swings and violent episodes. There's some evidence that seizures can sometimes lead to mental decline, so that could be an alternate explanation for her poor functioning after the lobotomy.

In any case, it doesn't sound like her family was ashamed of her being disabled, although her erratic behavior made her father worried about scandal. He also hid from his wife the plan for her lobotomy. (I have to wonder what she thought of that!) He certainly wasn't trying to cure her developmental disability - he was trying to stop her mood swings and violent behavior.

It's important to keep in mind that lobotomies weren't intended to be cruel. At the time, they knew very little about how to treat people with mental illnesses or neurodevelopmental disorders, and a lobotomy can sometimes help someone with mood problems. (We now know this is because of reduced self-awareness after the lobotomy, resulting in patients being less self-conscious and less likely to experience low self-esteem or worry about what others think of them.) I have no doubt that most of the doctors who practiced lobotomies had good intentions, and family members trusted the doctors judgement. I sometimes wonder what medical treatments we're doing now will be seen as barbaric in the future, just like lobotomies.



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09 Nov 2021, 10:10 pm

If you are interested in Rosemary Kennedy, google her.



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10 Nov 2021, 7:53 am

The bad results of the lobotomy far outweighed the possible good the lobotomy would have done.

Rosemary became almost a vegetable for many years as a result of the lobotomy. She was conscious----but she had the mental ability of a two-year-old, and wasn't able to speak intelligibly.

The Kennedy family just wanted to shut her up, I feel. They didn't want to deal with her behavior.

I'd rather have a vibrant person who might lose her temper sometimes than a virtual vegetable.

This sort of rings a bell for me----because I'm lucky I wasn't institutionalized or sent for a lobotomy because of my behavior as a very young child.



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10 Nov 2021, 1:17 pm

It all started because when she was born (during the Spanish Flu pandemic), Rose Kennedy (her mom) was told by doctors to keep her legs closed while giving birth. Rosemary didn't get enough oxygen.


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10 Nov 2021, 7:37 pm

Nothing more than speculation that she was autistic. We will never know. Either way a tragic story indeed.


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10 Nov 2021, 9:25 pm

Although I thought I knew her story quite well, I googled her again to see if I had missed something. No, I didn't see anyone even suggesting she was autistic.


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11 Nov 2021, 7:47 am

Autism was only a concept postulated by Eugen Bleuler at the time of Rosemary’s childhood. This concept was only peripherally related to the autism we now know.

She almost certainly wasn’t autistic in the “classic,” Kanner sense.

She seemed like a person who was mildly intellectually disabled until her lobotomy. The lobotomy rendered her severely disabled.



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17 Nov 2021, 7:29 am

Those parents of hers need to learn that their daughter is not out-of-order, but rather wired differently, and by realizing that, understand her better and appreciate how she was.

In other words, if something is not broken, DON'T fix it!


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17 Nov 2021, 8:18 am

kraftiekortie wrote:
Autism was only a concept postulated by Eugen Bleuler at the time of Rosemary’s childhood. This concept was only peripherally related to the autism we now know.

She almost certainly wasn’t autistic in the “classic,” Kanner sense.

She seemed like a person who was mildly intellectually disabled until her lobotomy. The lobotomy rendered her severely disabled.
We can only guess on it.
My daughter diagnosed with AS behaved like if she was mildly intellectually disabled in a stiff and unforgiving environment created by a very old teacher at school - despite her cognitive abilities being about average (with spikes) in our home environment.

An Aspie could have reacted in many various ways to upbringing of 1930s higher class American.


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18 Nov 2021, 2:49 am

There is nothing definitive about Rosemary having been born Autistic. When I did a lot of research about her, the word Autistic never even came up. I never saw it. I know the events that happened at her birth. They are the reason cited for her disability. I have never seen anything saying that she was Autistic. And even Special Olympics which was inspired by her and created by her sister, was not originally for Autistic people. It is only relatively recently that Special Olympics even opened itself up to allow Autistic people in.

Be very careful about saying something like that in a definitive manner. Could she have possibly been Autistic? Perhaps, but the truth is, that is not a diagnosis that was ever officially published about her and I don't believe that it was even considered. I know her nephew personally and I have a good personal friend whom I have known for many years, who was so close to Eunice and Seargent that she is considered an actual member of the family. Not once was Autism ever mentioned with Rosemary as far as I know and my friend would have told me for a fact if it had been. She would have made it a point to tell me that. Also her family was not ashamed of her. They loved her dearly and included her in everything.


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18 Nov 2021, 4:31 am

Tim_Tex wrote:
It all started because when she was born (during the Spanish Flu pandemic), Rose Kennedy (her mom) was told by doctors to keep her legs closed while giving birth. Rosemary didn't get enough oxygen.
During her labor and delivery, the doctor was not available. At that time, they always wanted a doctor to do the delivery. He was very late in coming so they forced Rose to keep the baby inside of her until the doctor came. That caused all kinds of issues for Rosemary.


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18 Nov 2021, 4:34 am

UncannyDanny wrote:
Those parents of hers need to learn that their daughter is not out-of-order, but rather wired differently, and by realizing that, understand her better and appreciate how she was.

In other words, if something is not broken, DON'T fix it!
She wasn't Autistic as far as we know and they always celebrated her. They really supported her. The entire Special Olympics program was created by her sister to celebrate and support people like her.


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18 Nov 2021, 8:35 am

Quite a horrible story although it’s seems like the lobotomy was for her epilepsy which went wrong.

This procedure was common back then for seizures, I think it’s still occasionally done now?

Was very surprised she lived so long


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18 Nov 2021, 11:55 am

carlos55 wrote:
Quite a horrible story although it’s seems like the lobotomy was for her epilepsy which went wrong.

This procedure was common back then for seizures, I think it’s still occasionally done now?

Was very surprised she lived so long
Yes, lobotomies are still performed today but only extremely rarely for extremely severe cases. And now they are done much more professionally and much more humanely.


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12 Dec 2021, 9:17 am

The lobotomy was done purportedly to stop her outbursts. The Kennedy family was image-conscious, didn’t want to be embarrassed. It was a frequent “go to” at that point in time, and it was seen as being a humane treatment (no, it wasn’t, but that was the thought at that time).

The outcome of the lobotomy was disastrous.

Previously, Rosemary was intellectually able enough to keep a diary in her teen and young adult years. After the lobotomy, she had the mentality of a toddler.