The claim: Image shows an authentic poster promoting lobotomies
A Nov. 21 Facebook post (direct link, archive link) shows what appears to be an old poster reading “Are you depressed? Do you suffer from anxiety and migraines? You may need a lobotomy.” It includes an image of an icepick being driven through an eye socket into the brain.
“What trusting the science looks like,” reads the caption on the post.
The post was shared 80 times in 15 days. A similar claim was made in an Instagram post by another user.
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Our rating: False
The image is an altered version of a modern advertisement promoting horror-themed enamel pins, not a decades-old ad for lobotomy services.
Poster was promotional artwork for pin company
The image is being shared with comments that encourage people to challenge or doubt medical science, contending the use of lobotomies in the mid-20th century was an example of “settled” science that was later deemed barbaric.
A lobotomy is a surgical procedure used to remove connections between parts of the brain. The poster in the image lists a number of conditions the surgery could supposedly treat and suggests contacting Walter Freeman, the doctor who popularized the procedure in the U.S.
Social media users sharing the poster have altered the image to make it appear old and presented it as authentic. However, the poster was actually created in 2017 as part of an effort to promote a business selling horror-themed enamel pins.
“I'm upset people are using my art to try to fit their narrative,” a Demonic Pinfestation spokesperson who declined to be named told USA TODAY in an email. “The hateful misinformed discussions that have come up over something I made is awful, and it’s not what it was meant for. I was just trying to create a backstory for my pin.”
The use of lobotomies climbed in the late 1940s but fell out of favor as questions were raised about their benefits and risks and new prescription drugs became more popular for addressing mental health issues.
USA TODAY reached out to the Facebook user who shared the claim for comment but did not immediately receive a response.
Reuters also debunked the claim.
Our fact-check sources:
Demonic Pinfestation, Dec. 5, Email exchange with USA TODAY
Demonic Pinfestation, Jan. 2, 2017, Post on Instagram
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Lobotomy poster promotes horror-themed pins | Fact check