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An ice pick is a tool used to break up, pick at, or chip at ice. It resembles a scratch awl, but is designed for picking at ice rather than wood. Before the invention of modern refrigerators, ice picks were a ubiquitous household tool used for separating and shaping the blocks of ice used in ice boxes.
Neurologist Walter Freeman used medical instruments called leucotomes, and later orbitoclasts, both of which were essentially ice picks, to perform transorbital lobotomies. This operation was informally called "ice pick lobotomy": the leucotome was hammered into the patient's brain with a rubber mallet via the eye's tear duct.
Like most other tools, ice picks have been used for more than their intended use. For example, mafia hitman Abe "Kid Twist" Reles used an ice pick as his weapon of choice. Fellow Murder, Inc. hitman Harry "Pittsburgh Phil" Strauss also employed an ice pick as a weapon.
In popular culture
Ice picks are featured in the 1992 erotic thriller Basic Instinct, where they are used as murder weapons. In "The Little Sister" by Raymond Chandler, a murder of a blackmailer by an ice pick provides the theme for the story.
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