Over the past two decades political and legal decisions have sharply curtailed psychiatric authority. One area in which psychiatric authority has been most limited is psychosurgery. This paper uses archival evidence from Ontario to show how psychiatrists ordered and administered psychosurgery for a wide variety of reasons. In some cases psychosurgery was administered to ease staffing problems, for experimental purposes, or simply out of sheer curiosity. Often the consent of patients or relatives was not obtained. This egregious abuse of psychiatric authority contributed to the critical movement against psychiatry and to strict laws limiting and sometimes banning resort to psychosurgery.

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