Sharon Stone, Leon Trotsky, and a lobotomy

Recently I realised how far Trotskyism has fallen. Two smart, educated companions failed to associate an ice-pick with Leon Trotsky. Instead, they associated the ice-pick with Basic Instinct.

Comrades, not only have Trots been obliterated, but the world has forgotten to associate mountaineering tools with a thousand tasteless Stalinist jokes.

Unfortunately, sexy Hollywood homicide isn’t a direct replacement for communist infighting. Sharon Stone, it turns out, used the wrong kind of icepick. It turns out that fancy-pants Americans don’t even call an ice-pick an ice-pick, lest they confuse it wih a silly thing for cutting ice.


Icepick, Trotsky version

Icepick, Basic Instinct version


This other icepick, though, did at least lead to me reading some shudder-inducing articles about the icepick lobotomy. The name alone makes it sound horrific, but the reality was even worse:

transorbital lobotomy involved taking a kitchen ice pick, later refined into a more proficient instrument called a leucotome, and hammering it through the thin layer of skull in the corner of each eye socket. The pick would then be scrambled from side to side in order to damage the frontal lobe. The process took about 10 minutes and could be performed anywhere, without the assistance of a surgeon.

Over the years, Freeman developed a reckless enthusiasm for the operation, driving several thousand miles across the country to carry out demonstrations at asylums and hospitals. An instinctive showman, he sometimes ice-picked both eye sockets simultaneously, one with each hand. He had a buccaneering disregard for the usual medical formalities – he chewed gum while he operated and displayed impatience with what he called ‘all that germ crap’, routinely failing to sterilise his hands or wear rubber gloves. Despite a 14 per cent fatality rate, Freeman performed 3,439 lobotomies in his lifetime.

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