This is the tragic and horrendous story of a former U.S. president's sister, Rosemary Kennedy.
When her mother was giving birth the nurse told her to keep her legs together to delay the birth until the doctor could arrive, forcing the baby's head to stay in the birth canal for two hours, and resulting in the baby's brain being deprived of oxygen.
This caused some brain damage, somewhat similar to cerebral palsy, if you've ever met a person with that condition.
Rosemary was never as capable as all her other siblings. At kindergarten age she was diagnosed as low IQ and "mentally retarded".
She might not have been the brightest little girl, and was mildly disabled, but Rosemary did have a pretty face and was considered the most beautiful of the Kennedy siblings. She got a lot of attention from boys.
The girl was kept at home working with tutors and specialists, as well as her mother, between the age of 8 to 16.
At age 13, the family sent her to the Sacred Heart Convent in Elmhurst, Providence, Rhode Island, where she was educated in a separate classroom from other students.
Rosemary's reading, writing, spelling and counting skills never got above a fourth-grade level even though she studied hard.
Because the Kennedy family was very wealthy the child got her own private teacher, in addition to two nuns specifically devoted to taking care of her.
At social events, Rosemary danced with her brother Jack Kennedy. She wanted to dance with other men but her mother wouldn't allow it and kept her separated.
Rosemary was sent to a convent school because her family was worried about her developing body and sexuality.
Probably because she was under constant supervision, under the strict rules of the nuns, and never allowed out on her own, as Rosemary became a teenager she developed temper tantrums and violent moodiness. She became increasingly assertive and rebellious.
None of this is really that unusual considering the circumstances she was in.
This behavior may have arisen in part out of the child's frustration at not being able to conform to her siblings who were expected to perform to high standards, as well as the hormonal surges associated with puberty.
Rosemary had begun to sneak out at night from the convent school where she was cared for and educated.
According to some sources, the nuns soon discovered that she had been sneaking out at night and meeting men in taverns. Her father brought her back home and assigned a governess to her to watch her at all times.
Rosie was angry. She wanted her freedom like her brothers and sisters. Her emotional outbursts increased becoming more violent and she began having seizures that were diagnosed as epilepsy.
Her occasional erratic behavior frustrated her parents, who expected all of their children to behave appropriately, be goal-oriented, and act competitively. Her wealthy father, Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. was especially worried that his daughter's behavior would shame and embarrass the family and possibly damage his political career, and those of his children.
Joseph Kennedy, Sr., was looking for an easy solution to deal with the problem.
Mostly out of his own selfishness and embarrassment about having a mentally disabled daughter who would bring shame to his family. He didn't know what to do.
What he did next was absolutely terrible and horrendous.
It was 1941 and Joseph Kennedy read about a new medical procedure that promised to be the definitive treatment for all kinds of mental health issues, a pre-frontal lobotomy.
Rosemary was 23 years old at the time.
Without consulting the anyone else in the family, he took Rosemary to be examined by Dr. Walter Freeman, a neurologist and psychiatrist who was also a George Washington University professor. Freeman suggested performing the cutting edge procedure on Rosemary could end the girl's rages and "render her happy and content".
Joseph Kennedy gave Freeman the okay to proceed that fall at George Washington University Hospital. Rosemary was strapped to the operating table.
After the lobotomy, it quickly became apparent that the procedure was not successful. Kennedy's mental capacity diminished to that of a two-year-old child. She could not walk or speak intelligibly and was incontinent.
Rosemary was packed off again to an institution, Craig House in Beacon, New York, a private psychiatric hospital an hour north of Manhattan.
No family ever visited. Joseph Kennedy told no one of the medical procedure he had approved. He lied to his wife Rose and said Rosemary had become worse and that doctors suggested institutionalization with no visitors – but he never said where she was.
As a result of the lobotomy the left side of Rosemary's body had been partially paralyzed. Her head was left permanently titled, frozen leaning towards her left shoulder. The fingers on her left hand became gnarled and useless.
Now lethargic, she couldn't talk and relied on grunting, screaming and shrieking.
She eventually relearned walking, brushing her teeth, simple dressing.
The lobotomy had not taken away her temper tantrums but instead she had become worse and was assigned two guards to her living quarters.
In 1949, Joseph Kennedy learned that his mentally incapacitated daughter Rosemary was being sexually abused at Craig House, so he had her moved to Saint Coletta, a home for the mentally retarded in southeastern Jefferson, Wisconsin.
It wasn't until 1961 that Rose learned the whereabouts of her daughter Rosemary, when her husband Joseph Kennedy suffered a stroke and was no longer physically capable of paying bills.
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