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Rosemary Kennedy – Inconvenient Daughter

There was a time when the Kennedy name was akin to royalty in the USA. Now, the sole Kennedy in the public eye is little more than an unoriginal conspiracy theorist, desperately trying to become president.

John F. Kennedy was the most famous member of his family, largely due to his involvement in the failed invasion of Vietnam and his ultimate assassination. He had 8 siblings, some more famous than others.

Robert F. Kennedy, John's brother, met a similar fate at the hands of an assassin. Their family seemed cursed. Some have speculated that the reason for their bad luck was the treatment of their sister, Rosemary Kennedy.

Inconvenient Timing

Rosemary was the first daughter born to Joseph P. Kennedy, and Rose Fitzgerald in 1918. She was the 3rd of a growing number of Kennedy children. Her birth was where the problems began for Rosemary.

The world was in the grip of two evils in 1918. First was the Great War tearing the old world order apart. Global instability and war weariness weighed heavily on peoples' minds.

The second crisis was more pertinent to Rosemary. Roughly a third of the total human population had contracted the Spanish Flu. Society had to deal with anti-maskers, flu-deniers, and hospitals that were overloaded and unable to cope with rising infection rates.

Rose (Fitzgerald) Kennedy went into labor on 13 September 1918. Her doctor was summoned, but due to his involvement in treating influenza patients, he was late. The nurse, in either an idiotic or malevolent act, commanded Rose to keep her legs closed until the doctor could arrive.

Baby Rosemary had already been in the birth canal. The nurse pushed the baby back up the birth canal so that Rose could close her legs. Whether this nurse went on to invent the game of wack-a-mole is lost to history.

2 hours later, the doctor arrived. He delivered the baby, declared Rosemary healthy, high-fived the nurse, and probably took another bump of coke. Medical incompetence hadn't reared its ugly head for Rosemary the last time.

Inconvenient Development

Joseph and Rose Kennedy were on a roll. Rosemary was number 3 of 9 babies born in quick succession. All of their children were held to the highest standard, in an effort to prove their family's genetic worth in an era when Eugenics was the bee's knees.

Kennedy spawn were required to excel in sport, academic, and social spheres. They all did, and were paraded in the public eye throughout their lives. All except Rosemary, who couldn't keep up.

Joseph Kennedy's star was on the rise. He was a successful investment banker in the early 20s. Taking his skills as a market manipulator into the turbulence of the late 20s. He made a fortune.

While daddy dearest was going from strength to strength, Rosemary was struggling. She was late to all of her developmental milestones. Her teachers had her repeat kindergarten and the 1st grade.

By this time, her younger sister had caught up to Rosemary. This was unacceptable for the elder Kennedy's. Her siblings' games were too difficult for Rosemary to follow, and she was often excluded by her kin.

Unfortunately for Rosemary, the oxygen deprivation at birth wasn't her only problem. She suffered from seizures and mood disturbances, likely exacerbated by social exclusion.

Mental illness, and disability, were seen as disgraceful marks of bad breeding in the early 20th century. The Kennedy's were keen to hide their daughter. Helping her was always a secondary concern. So they chose to send her away to boarding school after boarding school. Institutionalizing her was dismissed as it would draw attention to her condition.

Joseph Kennedy in the King's Court

Joseph had worked his way into politics, and in 1937 he was appointed as the US ambassador to Great Britain. In 1938 the whole family was presented to King George VI and Queen Elizabeth I.

Despite practicing the royal curtsy for hours before the event, Rosemary tripped and fell while performing it in front of the royals. This should have been a great embarrassment, but the King and Queen ignored the faux pas.

Rosemary was sent to a special convent school in England. The nuns trained her as a teacher's aide, and by all reports she flourished there. Her development had stagnated at a 5th grade level, but she was happy and in an environment where she was appreciated.

Her happiness was not to last, as the Nazi's were steadily approaching Britain. Their storming of Paris was a little too close for comfort.

Joseph Kennedy resigned as ambassador in 1940. He moved his family back to the USA. Rosemary had always sought her parents' approval, so she offered little resistance.

Lobotomy for your Efforts, Madam

The return to the USA did wonders for the Kennedy children. Only Rosemary didn't seem to be flourishing. Her mother sent her to an American convent, hoping that one nunnery is as good as another.

Rosemary didn't flourish in the new convent. Her behavior became erratic and volatile. Mood swings and even violent outbursts became more common. She went as far as attacking her grandfather.

Her seizures got worse, and little was done to try to treat her condition. The nuns reported that Rosemary snuck out of the convent at night. Nuns being what they are, their first thought was that the 22-year-old woman was out committing carnalities of the flesh and contracting diseases.

Joseph Kennedy had children following him into politics. He became concerned that Rosemary's behavior might get out. Politics being an image game, he couldn't have people finding out about Rosemary's condition or her behavior.

The Kennedy family needed a solution to their Rosemary problem. Enter Dr. Walter Freeman II and Dr. James Watts. Their shtick? Performing lobotomies.

Joseph Kennedy practically leapt at the opportunity to have his daughter's brain scrambled. He signed Rosemary up for the procedure without asking her how she felt about it.

Dr. Freeman was responsible for bringing the procedure to the USA. He read a study where 2 chimpanzees had portions of their frontal lobes destroyed. One chimp became more calm, the other more aggressive. 50% success rate with literally no science backing it up was all it took for Freeman to go all in.

Rosemary was 23 when Dr. Freeman applied a pick to her brain. He injected alcohol into the traumatic brain injury that he caused (which was standard procedure for this kind of operation).

Freeman kept Rosemary awake during the lobotomy. She was made to recite poetry and talk to her mutilators. When she suddenly stopped speaking, the “doctors” knew that they had gone too far.

Dr. Freeman returned Rosemary to her family, who immediately noticed that she could no longer speak or walk. History doesn't remember if Freeman did a 'finger guns' gesture before leaving to pat himself on the back.

Abandoning an Inconvenient Kennedy

Joseph Kennedy was appalled at the implications of his now seriously disabled daughter. She could ruin everything for him, politically speaking, and might even lead to problems for John and Robert.

Something had to be done. Rosemary was sent to an institution where she was locked away. Not a single Kennedy visited her in the next 20 years. She was brutalized and abandoned.

Rose Kennedy, mother of the century, only went to see her daughter when Joseph had a stroke. The shock of seeing her mother after spending so long in isolation, caused Rosemary to freak out.

The now 43-year-old Rosemary never regained the ability to speak, nor could she properly process or express her emotions. She attacked her mother, who deserved to be attacked.

Following Rose and Rosemary's reunion, the perfect Kennedy children began advocating for the rights of people suffering from disabilities. Their efforts were too little too late for Rosemary.

The discarded, inconvenient Kennedy was moved to a different care facility where she lingered until 2005. Rosemary Kennedy was 86 years old when she died.



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