Third child of Joseph and Rose, sister of the future president of the United States, she was experienced as an obstacle by her father. Who in 1941, at the age of twenty-three, had her brain operated on
After having sedated Rosemary lightly, we opened her forehead at the apex. I think she was awake, we just gave her a weak tranquilizer. I made two small surgical incisions. From both sides. Not wider than an inch, James W. Watts, the surgeon at George Washington University Hospital, a stone’s throw from White House, will recount years later, who had operated on the girl instead of Walter J. Freeman, the lobotomy guru who wasn’t licensed to use the scalpel but toured America in a van called LobotoMobile where he sedated patients for $ 25 cash.
He used, Watts explained in that one interview of his, a tool that looked like a butter knife and he moved back and forth, up and down, to cut the brain tissue on the forehead while the wizard Freeman asked the patient to say a prayer, sing God Bless America or count backwards: 100, 99, 98, 97 … His pulse became faster, his blood pressure went up. We decided how much to cut based on his answers … I was making the incisions, Dr. Freeman gradually estimated how much we had to cut based on what she answered … When he became inconsistent he said: “Now that’s enough ‘”. And we stopped.
Rosemary Kennedy was no longer a problem from that point on. Entering the operating room, beautiful, florid, with all the exuberant vitality of her slightly nutty 23 years, she was now reduced to a semi-paralyzed disabled person, unable to understand and want, severely limited in speech, out of reach for every blond and handsome bullock whether he had aimed at her or her family dowry, creating embarrassments for that sort of American royal family. It was November 1941. Eighty years ago.
It was he, Joseph P. Kennedy, ambitious, very rich and easygoing entrepreneur grandson of an Irish Catholic immigrant to Massachusetts, who had wanted the lobotomy. Married to the daughter of the then mayor of Boston, Rose, launched into politics to the point of being appointed ambassador to the United Kingdom but soon mortified by Franklin D. Roosevelt with the recall to his homeland for suspicious sympathies towards Hitler, he was very determined to bring a child, thanks to his financial resources and influences, to the White House .
But Rosemary? How was he supposed to deal with Rosemary? Born in September 1918 in the family villa, where an aseptic room had been set up complete with a midwife, the child was in fact the victim of a complicated birth. Is it to blame for sudden labor pains? About the nurse you advise Rose to hold out while waiting for the doctor? Of bad luck? The fact was that the little girl was born with a mental retardation which at first seemed mild but had worsened over time. She was a beautiful little girl, she looked like her mother, For a long time my family thought that all of us, working together, could offer to my sister a happy life among us.
For years, he insisted, these efforts seemed to work. My parents and we eight other siblings tried to include Rose in everything we did. At the table, however, she was unable to cut her own meat, which was served to her already cut. Later, in her teens, it became more and more difficult for her. In social competition he could not keep up. The step of the Kennedys, then! In 1941, when we returned to the United States, Rosemary was making no progress, but rather seemed to be going backwards. At 22 he was becoming increasingly irritable and difficult. His memory, his ability to concentrate, and his judgment were waning. My mother took her to dozens of psychologists and doctors. Everyone said his condition would not improve and that she would have been much happier in an institution, where there was much less competitiveness and where our many activities would not have jeopardized her health. Textual.
Historian Kate Clifford Larson, the first to have access to all of the girl’s letters (full of errors) and author of the book Rosemary: Kennedy’s hidden daughter, reconstructs an even more dramatic picture of the return home. Indeed, disastrous, to use the words of writer and academic Meryl Gordon in the New York Times: She had regressed, had convulsions and violent outbursts, hit and hurt those around. Her parents sent her to a summer camp in Massachusetts (kicked out after a few weeks), to a boarding school in Philadelphia (a few months), then to a convent school in Washington where the rebel Rosemary went away at night …. In short: Joseph and Rose Kennedy were increasingly distressed at the the idea that someone could sexually take advantage of their vulnerable daughter and that a scandal could undermine the family’s political perspectives.
True? False? Possible. The fact that at a certain point, apparently without talking to his wife, Joseph set himself the problem of defusing, let’s say, the girl (who in the letters he wrote to his father: I would do anything to make you happy) and decided to rely on that lobotomy. up to then experimented, with very controversial results, on monkeys (the first had been two chimps, Lucy and Becky, who had lost all aggression but also all interest in the world around) and on a small number of patients. A high-risk treatment, rejected by the American Medical Association because, as I write in The Sins of the Father essayist Ronald Kessler, patients essentially became zombies due to brain damage. Was Joe Kennedy aware of all the risks?
Of course he accepted them. Nor does the family apparently ever blame him publicly. The only exception, perhaps, is a sentence by Eunice in that article of ’62, while her brother John Fitzgerald was president of the United States and another, Robert Kennedy, minister of justice. An article in which, explaining that in any case in Rosemary the hospitalization combined with the understanding of the responsible nuns made life pleasant, he wrote: It fills me with sadness to think that this change would not have been necessary if we had known then what we know today. Was it therefore a necessary step?
Well … Of course in an America that had seen 29 states (twenty-nine!) Promote horrible eugenic sterilization laws, she herself felt compelled to explain that like diabetes, deafness, polio or any other misfortune, delay mental can occur in any family. success in the families of the poor and the rich, of governors, senators, Nobel laureates, doctors, lawyers, writers, men of genius, presidents of corporations, the president of the United States … American royal house Rosemary, who she would have died in 2005 sixty-four years after being extinguished, an open wound was left.
November 25, 2021 (change November 26, 2021 | 09:31)