A new investigation from The Wall Street Journal found that the Veterans Administration approved lobotomies for World War II veterans who showed signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.
According to the investigation, the VA performed the procedure on nearly 2,000 veterans between April 1, 1947, and Sept. 30, 1950, at various VA hospitals across the U.S. The Wall Street journal also noted that hundreds more were likely to have had lobotomies performed on them outside VA facilities.
The report stated that The Wall Street Journal unearthed this information through analyzing government documents, including memos, letters and official reports. However, the VA told the news source in a written statement that it had no records of the procedure being used on World War II veterans.
"In the late 1940s and into the 1950s, VA and other physicians throughout the United States and the world debated the utility of lobotomies. The procedure became available to severely ill patients who had not improved with other treatments," the VA said in the statement. "Within a few years, the procedure disappeared within VA, and across the United States, as safer and more effective treatments were developed."
According to a report from NPR, the first lobotomy was performed in the U.S. in 1936, and gained popularity in the 1940s. Many doctors thought the procedure, which severs connections in the brain, would eliminate emotions and help stabilize moods, especially in those who had schizophrenia or symptoms of depression and anxiety.