Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.
Antonio Caetano de Abreu Freire Egas Moniz
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1949
Born: 29 November 1874, Avanca, Portugal
Died: 13 December 1955, Lisbon, Portugal
Affiliation at the time of the award: University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal, Neurological Institute, Lisbon, Portugal
Prize motivation: "for his discovery of the therapeutic value of leucotomy in certain psychoses."
Prize share: 1/2
To feel good mentally, nerve impulses in the brain have to function properly. In the mid-1930s Egas Moniz introduced lobotomy, a surgical operation involving an incision into the prefrontal lobe to mitigate severe symptoms of serious mental illnesses. The operation was widespread during the 1940s and 1950s, but it became apparent that it could lead to serious personality changes. The use of lobotomies declined drastically when medications for mental illness were developed during the 1950s.