Evita Lobotomized By Her Husband for Control

Eva Perón, riddled with cancer and increasingly violent, was lobotomized without her consent by her husband for political reasons, a new study says. Continue reading →

Eva Perón, the fiery first lady of Argentina in the 1940s and early 1950s, was lobotomized at the order of her husband, Juan Perón, not only to control the pain of her cancer, but also to control her increasingly erratic behavior, according to a new paper that researched her operation by interviewing those who were there.

But she stopped eating after the lobotomy, performed in June 1952, and died in July, wrote Dr. Daniel E. Nijensohn of the Department of Neurosurgery, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn., in Neurosurgical Focus.

In 1951, Evita was diagnosed with very painful advanced cervical cancer that spread, despite an immediate hysterectomy and aggressive treatment.

Prefrontal lobotomies were at the time used in the United States mostly to control aggression and to modify behavior and personality. Sometimes, as a last resort, they were also used to control pain from advanced disease.

Evita was a very powerful woman in her country, sharing rule with her husband and often going against his beliefs and wishes. She was by nature volatile, impetuous and headstrong, compared with his cool, calculating nature.

Evita accomplished great things, like getting women the right to vote. She was responsible for the Argentine government's social policies, including the well-endowed Eva Perón Foundation.

In the years leading up to her diagnosis of cancer, and in the few years she survived afterwards, Evita's personality began to change and she became increasingly beligerant toward her perceived enemies, and more of a political threat to her husband, Nijensohn said.

"Her last public speech, delivered on May 1, 1952, Labor Day in Argentina, was a call against her enemies. She also dictated a 79-page document, ‘My Message,' showing evidence of her belligerence and violent state of mind. She spoke about the ‘enemies of the people' who were ‘insensitive and repugnant,' and ‘as cold as toads and snakes.

"She exalted the ‘holy fire of fanaticism.' She was ‘against those imbeciles' who called for prudence. She ordered the people of Argentina to ‘fight the oligarchy,'" Nijensohn wrote.

Nijensohn interviewed Manena Riquelme, a registered nurse who assisted at the lobotomy, which was performed by Dr. James Poppen.

"She stated that Dr. Poppen was troubled by his role in Evita's treatment and surprised by her quick postoperative decline and early death. Evita basically stopped eating after the lobotomy. The surgery took place without informed consent, and most likely in a back room of the presidential palace outfitted as an operating theater.

"It was probably done in the middle of the night, and with the highest level of concealment," Nijensohn said.

Nijensohn wrote that given the political antagonism between Eva and Juan Perón, and the "terror, threats, and fights between the left and right wings of the Peronist party and between Peronists and anti-Peronists," he felt he had found "enough evidence to confirm that the prefrontal lobotomy performed on her by Dr. James L. Poppen was done for behavior/personality modification in addition to pain control."

Hat Tip BBC

Eva and Juan Perón pose together.

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