If you were a woman who was depressed, highly emotional or had more serious mental problems, the common solution was a lobotomy, a surgical procedure where 2-8cm steel spikes attached to a wooden handle were inserted into the brain and moved from side to side to cut the connections between the frontal lobes and the rest of the brain.
In the film, "The Mountain", Jeff Goldblum plays the role of a famous lobotomist, loosely based on the life of evangelist neurologist, Walter Freeman who performed the treatment on Rosemary Kennedy and many other women and African Americans in the 50's.
For Rosemary Kennedy, JFK's 23-year-old sister, a lobotomy turned her into a drooling toddler who would spend her life hidden away in a Catholic home. Born with mild learning disabilities, Rosie was prone to outbursts.
About 84% of the lobotomies in France, Switzerland, and Belgium were performed between 1935-1985 on women.
A preponderance of women suffering from depression and other affective disorders may be partly responsible, but agitated and boisterous behavior in women was less acceptable to doctors of Freeman’s time than the same behavior in men. Many psychiatrists believed it was easier to return women after the operation to a life of domestic duties at home than it was to post-operatively rehabilitate men for a career as a wage earner.
In 1949, Egas Moniz won the Nobel Prize for inventing lobotomy, and the operation peaked in popularity around the same time. But from the mid-1950s, it rapidly fell out of favor, partly because of poor results and partly because of the introduction of the first wave of effective psychiatric drugs. ~wikipedia
The use of the procedure increased dramatically from the early 1940s and into the 1950s; by 1951, almost 20,000 lobotomies had been performed in the United States alone and proportionally more in the United Kingdom.
The majority of lobotomies were performed on women; a 1951 study of American hospitals found nearly 60% of lobotomy patients were women; limited data shows 74% of lobotomies in Ontario from 1948–1952 were performed on women.[9
Jeff Goldblum more than delivers as Wallace Fiennes, a doctor who travels California performing lobotomies in the mid-1950s. https://www.thewrap.com/the-mountain-film-review-jeff-goldblum-tye-sheridan/
Our review of the literature on lobotomies in France, Switzerland and Belgium from 1935–85 reveals that the surgical procedure was alarmingly common for female patients (84% of 1,340 subjects). It is not clear whether this reflects a higher prevalence of mental illness among women at the time or their perceived inferior position in those societies, dating from the Napoleonic Code of 1804.