Author Takes a Candid Look at Mental Illness through the Lens of her Mother’s Lobotomy in New Memoir

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Roberta Reb Allen shares cautionary, but hopeful tale in ‘Examined Lives.’

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One of the few works to give voice to a female lobotomy patient, Roberta Reb Allen’s memoir, “Examined Lives” (published by Archway Press), recounts the unnecessary use of the surgery on her mother, Gretchen Richard. In addition, Allen delves into the circumstances that led to the lobotomy and her own subsequent mental illness. “Examined Lives” is available for purchase at:

Walter Freeman, the doctor who lobotomized Rosemary Kennedy, was the same doctor who performed a lobotomy on the author’s mother. Detailing the effect her mother’s procedure had on her, Allen also examines lives and roles played, for better or worse, by other family members, Freeman and Max Witte, the superintendent at the mental institution where her mother was committed after the lobotomy. Throughout the book, Allen emphasizes three themes: mental illness is in part the product of societal and familial forces, it can be successfully dealt with by finding the right people and “the lobotomy craze” was not an isolated event. The author argues that the impetus that led to the expanded use of lobotomy is still present today in medicine, for example, in the prescription of opiates.

“Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of and that it can be dealt with,” Allen says. “Mental Health America estimates that 1 in 5 Americans suffers from mental illness. The stigma attached to it must be fought.”

“Examined Lives”
By Roberta Reb Allen
Hardcover | 6 x 9 in | 308 pages | ISBN 9781480863194
Softcover | 6 x 9 in | 308 pages | ISBN 9781480863200
E-Book | 308 pages | ISBN 9781480863217
Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

About the Author
Roberta Reb Allen graduated from the University of Chicago with a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in history. She spent most of her professional career as a curriculum writer, authoring works on a wide variety of topics. Now retired, Allen resides in Chicago and Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her dog, Hayden.

Simon & Schuster, a company with nearly ninety years of publishing experience, has teamed up with Author Solutions, LLC, the leading self-publishing company worldwide, to create Archway Publishing. With unique resources to support books of all kind, Archway Publishing offers a specialized approach to help every author reach his or her desired audience. For more information, visit or call 888-242-5904.

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