Eva Peron's Lobotomy May Have Prevented a Civil War
Neurosurgeon claims Juan Peron ordered operation to 'calm' Evita
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 14, 2015 11:07 AM CDT
Updated Jul 18, 2015 10:00 AM CDT
In this Oct. 10, 1950 file photo, Argentina's President Juan Peron and his wife Eva Peron pose for a portrait in Buenos Aires, Argentina.   (AP Photo, File)
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(Newser) – The Yale neurosurgeon who four years ago claimed former first lady of Argentina, Eva Peron, had a lobotomy in 1952 to ease her pain from cervical cancer is revising his theory. In a new paper in Neurosurgical Focus, Daniel Nijensohn says the woman who inspired the musical Evita didn't just undergo a lobotomy to numb her emotional responses. He claims her husband, Argentine President Juan Peron, forced her to have the procedure as it "offered the perfect approach to 'calm' Evita and prevent a civil war, while also attempting to dull her response to cancer pain," per the BBC. Nijensohn notes Eva Peron was in control of Argentina's social policies at the time, but not everyone agreed with her direction. In the months before her death, she began attacking her opponents as "imbeciles" and "enemies of the people," and called for citizens to "fight the oligarchy"—something her cool and calculating husband would have considered dangerous, reports Discovery News.

Though Juan Peron didn’t know it at the time, Eva Peron had ordered 5,000 automatic pistols and 1,500 machine guns from her sick bed and planned to use them to form workers’ militias—a sure-fire way to start a civil war. At the time, at least in the US, a lobotomy was thought to cure spontaneous and uncontrollable aggression and might have seemed like the ideal solution. Nijensohn says acquaintances of Peron’s surgeon, James Poppen, confirm his theory, including one of his nurses and close friends who says the operation was conducted without Eva Peron’s assent. She says Poppen performed lobotomies on prisoners in Buenos Aires first, at the request of Juan Peron, then completed Eva Peron’s procedure in a palace back room, watched by an armed guard. She adds he later regretted his participation and was "surprised by her quick postoperative decline and early death," Nijensohn writes. Eva Peron stopped eating and died a month or two after the alleged operation on July 26, 1952. (Another claim about Eva: she helped the Nazis.)