The year is 1953. Disgraced in the psychiatric hospital where he’d practiced for nearly thirty years, Dr. Walter Freeman has taken to traversing the country and proselyting about a very new kind of salvation: the transorbitol lobotomy. With an ice pick and a hammer, Freeman promises to cure depression and catatonia, delusions and psychosis, with a procedure as simple and safe as curing a toothache. When he enters the backwater Oklahoma town of Burnwood, however, his own sanity will be tested. Around him swirls a degenerate and delusional cast of characters—a preacher who believes his son to be the Messiah, a demented and violent young prostitute, and a trio of machete-wielding brothers—all weaved into a grotesque narrative that reveals how blind faith in anything can lead to destruction.