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HBO has a long history of edgy dramas exploring unlikely subjects -- mobsters in therapy, polygamy, magic carnies -- and now they're continuing the trend by ordering up a pilot that will explore one of the darker corners of mental health history, and the man responsible. Variety reports that The Lobotomist will focus on the life and work of Dr. Walter Freeman (pictured above), who performed nearly 3,500 of the infamous operations over the course of his career, before being banned from performing surgery in 1967.

Robert Schwentke (Red, The Time Traveler's Wife) will direct the pilot, with Daniel Thomsen (Once Upon a Time) set to pen the pilot script. The show will be based on the book of the same name: The Lobotomist by Jack El-Hai. It's also got some big names involved as executive producers, including Leonardo DiCaprio and Laeta Kalogridis. Those two previously explored brain-related subjects in last year's head-scratcher Shutter Island. In fact, they first stumbled onto El-Hai's book while researching lobotomies for that film.

Who knows whether The Lobotomist will ever make it to series, but it's certainly an area of history with plenty of potential for dramatic exploration. A doctor trying to change the world, convinced he's doing good, but whose procedure eventually becomes synonymous with the worst and most misguided medical horrors ever conceived. Dr. Freeman (no, not that one) is the sort of meaty role likely to attract a big-name actor, and HBO's track record and reputation will only widen the field even further. We'll keep an (icepick-free) eye on this one and let you know more as it develops.