This 2015 book details Rosemary Kennedy's academic struggles and the family's struggles with trying to find academic and social solutions for a family member who couldn't — or wouldn't — live up to the standards expected by Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. One primary motive for having his daughter, age 23, undergo a lobotomy at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C., in November 1941, seems to have been the concern that she would bring disgrace upon the family and, thereby, interfere with his plans for establishing a Kennedy political dynasty.
The lobotomy was a disaster and left Rosemary Kennedy requiring 24/7 institutional care for the rest of her life (over 60 years); she died at the age of 86. According to Ms. Larson, Rosemary Kennedy's post-lobotomy plight inspired Eunice Kennedy Shriver's pioneering work as an advocate for children's health and disability issues.
In defense of lobotomy: until the arrival of drugs for psychotherapy, doctors had very few options for taming the symptoms of the mentally. Once certain psychiatric drugs were developed in the mid 20th Century, lobotomies were no longer performed.
Most revealing: Joe Kennedy never visited his daughter after the lobotomy, and twenty years passed before Rose Kennedy visited her daughter, who died in 2005 at age 86 in a Wisconsin Catholic institution, where she was cared for by nuns. Rosemary Kennedy's siblings deduced that defying their father would result in his causing them "to disappear."
For further understanding of what happened to Rosemary Kennedy, I also read selected chapters of Ronald Kessler's The Sins of the Father, in which Kessler cites evidence indicating that Rosemary Kennedy was actually not mentally retarded and that, according to lobotomist Dr. James W. Watts, the onset of "agitated depression" (the DSM diagnosis of Oppositional Defiant Disorder) led to Joe Kennedy's decision to have his rebellious daughter lobotomized.
I highly recommend Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter. The book is available at Amazon and at many public libraries.
Rather lurid book trailer, but I post it here because it includes photos from the book: