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August 1969

Tonsillectomy—Ritualistic Surgery?

Arch Otolaryngol. 1969;90(2):119-120. doi:10.1001/archotol.1969.00770030121002

THE New England Journal of Medicine had a quaint article by a pediatrician,1 describing circumcision and tonsillectomy as ritualistic operations generally performed without adequate medical justification and mainly because of parental demand. The operation of circumcision comes first under the scalpel of the author, who recalls Freud's speculation that the operation is symbolic of castration, undertaken by the jealous father who thus hopes to prevent his more sexually active sons from taking over his females! The purpose of hygiene with reduced carcinoma of the penis in the male and considerable reduction in carcinoma of the cervix in the wife, as has been verified by numerous statistical surveys, is belittled by the author, who finally concludes that "the decision is usually made by the mother alone and little is really known about the basis of this maternal decision."

The author then attacks and dissects the operation of tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy,

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