RIP Walter Freeman: A Pioneer of Modern Brain Science

  • Thread starter DiracPool
  • Start date
  • Tags
    Rip
In summary, Walter Jackson Freeman III died at 89 after a long and productive career as a pioneer of modern brain science.
  • #1
DiracPool
1,243
516
My inspiration for becoming a brain scientist has passed on so I thought I should provide a brief eulogy for him here at PF. It actually happened a few weeks ago but I didn't want to compete with Marcus's passing, which was equally sad.

Walter was supposed to have a "Festschrift" or celebration of his long and productive career as a pioneer of modern brain science at this year's Tucson consciousness conference, but fell seriously ill several weeks before the event.

http://www.consciousness.arizona.edu/2016WorkshopFreemanFestschrift.htm

A colleague of mine who was close to Walter let me know that he wouldn't be attending the conference and he was there with Walter in the final hours. I fortunately had the privilege to meet and spend some time with Walter and his wife and I will cherish those memories. As Graham Nash of Crosby, Stills, and Nash fame once said, "It's important to touch your heros." You can read about them or watch them on TV and feel you're a part of their magic, but there's no substitute to actually meeting them and touching them. I'm glad I had the opportunity to do that.

Walter was 89 when he died, and we all thought he might live forever. He published over 450 articles and 6 books, and continued to publish essentially until the day he died; his most recent book was published just earlier this year (2016):

https://www.amazon.com/dp/3319244043/?tag=pfamazon01-20

I think he might have lived forever but his dear wife had passed on the previous year. So who knows. I trust he's with her now. Rip Walter. Thank you for everything.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Jackson_Freeman_III
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • Like
Likes ProfuselyQuarky, atyy, jim mcnamara and 2 others
Biology news on Phys.org
  • #2
Thanks DiracPool for sharing you thoughts. Here is the obituary on Berkeley's site:
http://news.berkeley.edu/2016/04/27/neurophysiologist-and-philosopher-walter-freeman-dies-at-89/

[To be honest, I have never read Freeman's work carefully, and am personally skeptical of the little I have heard about his work. However, a number of people I hold in high regard admire Freeman's work, so perhaps I should keep an open mind. I should say that some of the seemingly more surprising things mentioned in the Berkeley obituary like applying "quantum field theory to understanding neural networks" are in some sense mainstream, though I am not sure whether Freeman and I mean the same thing even if we use the same words.]
 
  • Like
Likes DiracPool

1. Who was Walter Freeman and what was his contribution to brain science?

Walter Freeman was an American neurologist who is known as the father of lobotomy, a surgical procedure used to treat mental illness in the mid-20th century. He developed the transorbital lobotomy, a procedure that involved inserting a surgical instrument through the eye socket to sever connections in the prefrontal cortex of the brain. This procedure was considered a groundbreaking treatment for mental illness, but it was later deemed unethical and fell out of use.

2. What led Walter Freeman to develop the transorbital lobotomy?

Walter Freeman became interested in the treatment of mental illness after observing patients at mental hospitals in the 1930s. He was particularly interested in finding a way to treat patients with severe mental illnesses, as there were few effective treatments available at the time. After studying the effects of prefrontal cortex injuries in animals, Freeman believed that severing connections in this area of the brain could improve mental health.

3. Did the transorbital lobotomy have any positive effects on patients?

The transorbital lobotomy was initially hailed as a breakthrough treatment for mental illness and was performed on thousands of patients in the United States and around the world. Some patients did experience temporary relief from their symptoms, but the long-term effects were often detrimental. Many patients experienced severe side effects such as personality changes, apathy, and decreased cognitive function.

4. Why did the transorbital lobotomy fall out of use?

As more research was conducted and better treatments for mental illness were developed, the transorbital lobotomy fell out of favor. It was eventually deemed unethical due to the lack of informed consent from patients and the potential for severe side effects. The rise of antipsychotic medications in the 1950s also made the lobotomy obsolete as a treatment option.

5. What is Walter Freeman's legacy in brain science?

Walter Freeman's legacy in brain science is controversial. While he was initially praised for his work and contributions to the field, his methods and ethics have since been heavily criticized. The transorbital lobotomy is now seen as a dark chapter in the history of mental health treatment, and Freeman's reputation has been tarnished. However, his research and techniques did pave the way for further advancements in the field of neuroscience and the understanding of the brain.

Similar threads

  • Biology and Medical
Replies
7
Views
2K
Replies
2
Views
2K
  • Introductory Physics Homework Help
Replies
18
Views
1K
  • Science Fiction and Fantasy Media
2
Replies
44
Views
5K
  • Biology and Medical
Replies
15
Views
20K
Replies
7
Views
576
  • Feedback and Announcements
Replies
25
Views
2K
  • Art, Music, History, and Linguistics
Replies
1
Views
1K
Replies
2
Views
492
Replies
14
Views
887
Back
Top