Phrenology (from Greek: φρήν, "phrēn", "mind"; and λόγος, "
logos", "knowledge") is a defunct field of study, once considered a science, by which the personality traits of a person were determined by "reading" bumps and fissures in the skull. Developed by German physician Franz Joseph Gallaround 1800, the discipline was very popular in the 19th century. In 1843, François Magendiereferred to phrenology as "a pseudo-science of the present day"." [Magendie, F (1843) "An Elementary Treatise on Human Physiology." 5th Ed. Tr. John Revere. New York: Harper, p 150. (note the hyphen).] Phrenological thinking was, however, influential in 19th-century psychiatry and modern neuroscience.Simpson, D. (2005) Phrenology and the neurosciences: contributions of F. J. Gall and J. G. Spurzheim ANZ Journal of Surgery. Oxford. Vol.75.6; p.475 ]
Phrenology is based on the concept that the
brainis the organ of the mind, and that certain brain areas have localized, specific functions (see in particular, Brodmann's areas) or modules (see modularity of mind). [Fodor, Jerry A. (1983). Modularity of Mind: An Essay on Faculty Psychology. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-56025-9 p.14, 23, 131 See also, Modularity of mind] Phrenologists believed that the mind has a set of different mental faculties, with each particular faculty represented in a different area of the brain. These areas were said to be proportional to a person's propensities, and the importance of the given mental faculty. It was believed that the cranial boneconformed in order to accommodate the different sizes of these particular areas of the brain in different individuals, so that a person's capacity for a given personality trait could be determined simply by measuring the area of the skull that overlies the corresponding area of the brain.
In the history of personality theory, phrenology is considered to be an advance over the old medical theory of the four
humours. However, it has no predictive power and is therefore dismissed as quackeryby modern scientific discourse.
Phrenology, which focuses on personality and character, should be distinguished from
craniometry, which is the study of skull size, weight and shape, and physiognomy, the study of facial features. However, these disciplines have claimed the ability to predict personality traits or intelligence (in fields such as anthropology/ ethnology), and were sometimes posed to scientifically justify racism.
The attempt to locate faculties of personality within the head can be compared to the attempt of philosopher
Aristotleof ancient Greeceto localize anger in the liver. However, the first attempts to scientifically measure skull shape and its alleged relation to character were performed by the German physician Franz Joseph Gall(1758-1828), who is considered the founding father of phrenology. Gall was one of the first to consider the brain to be the source of all mental activity.
In 1809 Gall began writing his greatest [1833 "The American Journal of the Medical Sciences" Southern Society for Clinical Investigation] work "The Anatomy and Physiology of the Nervous System in General, and of the Brain in Particular, with Observations upon the possibility of ascertaining the several Intellectual and Moral Dispositions of Man and Animal, by the configuration of their Heads". It was not published until 1819. In the introduction to this main work, Gall makes the following statement in regard to his doctrinal principles, which comprise the intellectual foundation of phrenology:
*That moral and intellectual faculties are innate
*That their exercise or manifestation depends on organization
*That the brain is the organ of all the propensities, sentiments and faculties
*That the brain is composed of as many particular organs as there are propensities, sentiments and faculties which differ essentially from each other.
*That the form of the head or cranium represents the form of the brain, and thus reflects the relative development of the brain organs.
Through careful observation and extensive experimentation, Gall believed he had linked aspects of character, called "faculties", to precise "organs" in the
brain. Gall's most important collaborator was Johann Spurzheim(1776-1832), who successfully disseminated phrenology in the United Kingdomand the United States. He popularized the term "phrenology".
Other significant authors include the Scottish brothers
George Combe(1788-1858) and Andrew Combe(1797-1847), who founded the Phrenological Society of Edinburgh. George Combe was the author of some of the most popular works on phrenology and mental hygiene, e.g., "The Constitution of Man" and "Elements of Phrenology".
The American brothers
Lorenzo Niles Fowler(1811-1896) and Orson Squire Fowler(1809-1887) were leading phrenologists of their time. Orson, together with associates Samuel Wellsand Nelson Sizer, ran the phrenological firm and publishing house "Fowlers & Wells" in New York City. Lorenzo spent much of his life in England where he set up the famous phrenological publishing house, L.N Fowler & Co., where he gained considerable fame with his "phrenology head" (a china head showing the phrenological faculties), which has become a symbol of the discipline.
, or merely a fairground attraction, while others wrote serious scientific articles on the subject.
Phrenology was also very popular in the United States, where automatic devices for phrenological analysis were devised. One such "Automatic Electric Phrenometer" is displayed in the [http://www.smm.org/boghopper/conf.html Collection of Questionable Medical Devices] in the
Science Museum of Minnesotain Saint Paul.
In the early 20th century, phrenology benefitted from revived interest, partly fueled by the studies of
evolution, criminologyand anthropology(as pursued by Cesare Lombroso). The most prominent British phrenologist of the 20th century was the famous Londonpsychiatrist Bernard Hollander(1864-1934). His main works, "The Mental Function of the Brain" (1901) and "Scientific Phrenology" (1902) are an appraisal of Gall's teachings. Hollander introduced a quantitative approach to the phrenological diagnosis, defining a methodology for measuring the skull, and comparing the measurements with statistical averages.
Phrenology was practiced by some scientists promoting
racistideologies, including Nazism. They used phrenological claims, among other biological evidence, as a scientific basis for Aryan racial superiority.
Paul Bouts(1900-1999) began studying phrenology from a pedagogical background, using the phrenological analysis to define an individual pedagogy. Combining phrenology with typologyand graphology, he coined a global approach known as psychognomy.
Prof. Bouts, a
Roman Catholicpriest, became the main promoter of renewed 20th-century interest in phrenology and psychognomy in Belgium. He was also active in Braziland Canada, where he founded institutes for characterology. His works "Psychognomie" and "Les Grandioses Destinées individuelle et humaine dans la lumière de la Caractérologie et de l'Evolution cérébro-cranienne" are considered standard works in the field. In the latter work, which examines the subject of paleoanthropology, Bouts developed a teleological and orthogenetical view on a "perfecting evolution", from the paleo-encephalical skull shapes of prehistoric man, which he considered still prevalent in criminals and savages, towards a higher form of mankind.Bouts died on March 7, 1999, after which his work has been continued by the Dutch foundation PPP ("Per Pulchritudinem in Pulchritudine"), operated by Anette Müller, one of Bouts' students.
In the 1930's Belgian colonial authorities in Rwanda used phrenology to explain the so-called superiority of Tutsis over Hutus.Fact|date=July 2008
Empirical refutation induced most scientists to abandon phrenology as a science by the early 20th century. For example, various cases were observed of clearly aggressive persons displaying a well-developed "benevolent organ", findings that contradicted the logic of the discipline. With advances in the studies of
psychologyand psychiatry, many scientists became skeptical of the claim that human character can be determined by simple, external measures.
October 1, 2007the State of Michigan began to impose a tax on phrenology services. [http://www.detroitchamber.com/public_affairs/index.asp?cid=1&rcid=1624]
Phrenology was a complex process that involved feeling the bumps in the skull to determine an individual's psychological attributes.
Franz Joseph Gallfirst believed that the brain was made up of 27 individual 'organs' that created one's , with the first 19 of these 'organs' believed to exist in other animal species. Phrenologists would run their fingertips and palms over the skulls of their patients to feel for enlargements or indentations. The phrenologist would usually take measurements of the overall head size using a caliper. With this information, the phrenologist would assess the character and temperament of the patient and address each of the 27 "brain organs". This type of analysis was used to predict the kinds of relationships and behaviors to which the patient was prone. In its heyday during the 1820s-1840s, phrenology was often used to predict a child's future life, to assess prospective marriage partners and to provide background checks for job applicants.
Gall's list of the "brain organs" was lengthy and specific, as he believed that each bump or indentation in a patient's skull corresponded to his "brain map". An enlarged bump meant that the patient utilized that particular "organ" extensively. The 27 areas were highly varied in function, from sense of color, to the likelihood of religiosity, to the potential to commit murder. Each of the 27 "brain organs" was found in a specific area of the skull. As the phrenologist felt the skull, he could refer to a numbered diagram showing where each functional area was believed to be located.
The 27 "brain organs" were:
# The instinct of
reproduction(located in the cerebellum).
# The love of one's
# The instinct of
self-defenseand courage; the tendency to get into fights.
# The carnivorous instinct; the tendency to murder.
# Guile; acuteness; cleverness.
# The feeling of property; the instinct of stocking up on food (in animals); covetousness; the tendency to steal.
Pride; arrogance; haughtiness; love of authority; loftiness.
Vanity; ambition; love of glory (a quality "beneficent for the individual and for society").
# Circumspection; forethought.
# The memory of things; the memory of facts; educability; perfectibility.
# The sense of places; of space proportions.
# The memory of people; the sense of people.
# The memory of words.
# The sense of language; of speech.
# The sense of colors.
# The sense of sounds; the gift of music.
# The sense of connectedness between numbers.
# The sense of mechanics, of construction; the talent for
# Comparative .
# The sense of
# The sense of
satire; the sense of witticism.
# The poetical talent.
benevolence; gentleness; compassion; sensitivity; moral sense.
# The faculty to imitate; the mimic.
# The organ of
# The firmness of purpose; constancy;
Phrenology as a pseudoscience
claims=Shape of the head determines character, personality traits and criminality.
Franz Joseph Gall
currentprop="Per Pulchritudinem in Pulchritudine"Phrenology has long been dismissed as a
pseudoscience, in the wake of neurological advances. During the discipline's heyday, phrenologists including Gall committed many errors in the name of science. In the book, "The Beginner's Guide to Scientific Method" by Stephen S. Carey, it is explained that pseudoscience can be defined as "fallacious applications of the scientific method" by today's standards. Phrenologists inferred dubious inferences between bumps in people's skulls and their , claiming that the bumps were the determinant of personality. Some of the more valid assumptions of phrenology (e.g., that mental processes can be localized in the brain) remain in modern neuroimaging techniques and modularity of mindtheory. Through advancements in modern medicineand neuroscience, the scientific community has generally concluded that feeling conformations of the outer skull is not an accurate predictor of behavior.
Bram Stoker's " Dracula", several characters make phrenological observations in describing other characters.
Charlotte Brontë, as well as her two famous Brontë sisters, display the belief in phrenology in their works.
*On the popular television cartoon "
The Simpsons", Mr. Burnsattempts to interpret behaviour through ideas of phrenology in the episode " Mother Simpson", prompting his assistant Smithers to inform him that it was "dismissed as quackery 160 years ago." Smithers has the brainpan of a stagecoach tilter.
*The television personality Stephen Colbert, played by the comedian of the same name, claims to be a proponent of phrenology. In the
February 8, 2007episode of " The Colbert Report", Colbert waved off "speculation" about a presidential bid, claiming that he must first sit down with his family, and his phrenologist. "I know these lumps are trying to tell me something." He said, adding, "Phrenology is the study of lumps on your head. It'd be another good campaign slogan." [http://www.nofactzone.net/?p=1017]
*Popular Indian-English writer
Amitav Ghosh's first novel "The Circle of Reason" (1986) has one of the main characters, Balaram practice phrenology obsessively.
QIBook, "The Book of General Ignorance", has a "phrenology bust" pictured on the dust jacket.
Terry Pratchett, in his " Discworld" series of books, describes the practice of Retro-phrenologyas the practice of altering someone's character by giving them bumps on the head. "You can go into a shop in Ankh-Morporkand order an artistic temperament with a tendency to introspection. What you actually get is hit on the head with a large hammer, but it keeps the money in circulation and gives people something to do". This was first described in Mr Midshipman Easy, where a vacuum pump was used to enlarge organs.
*The comedy-musical play Heid (pronounced 'Heed', a Scottish inflection of the word 'Head') by
Forbes Massonalluded to the phrenology work of George Combe, citing the pseudoscience's influence on a young Charles Darwinas an inspiration for writers.
*The film "Pi" depicts the main character, Max, outlining a portion of his skull according to a phrenology chart and proceeding to drill into that section to destroy a part of his brain that contained important information of a mathematical sequence that he thought nobody should know.
*The film "Men at Work" contains a joke about a phrenology bust.
*Several literary critics have noted the influence of phrenology [Edward Hungerford. "Poe and Phrenology", "American Literature" 1(1930): 209-31.] (and
physiognomy) in Edgar Allan Poe's fiction. [Erik Grayson. "Weird Science, Weirder Unity: Phrenology and Physiognomy in Edgar Allan Poe" "Mode" 1 (2005): 56-77. Also [http://www.arts.cornell.edu/english/mode/documents/grayson.html online] .]
*In the episode "Duh Bomb" in the TV show "
Kenan & Kel", a woman practices phrenology on Kel's head.
*The Online store "Inner Coma Clothing Co. [http://www.innercoma.com.au.tt] ." Refers to the section of the site that sells hats as its "Phrenology" section.
*The cover art of the Bob Schneider album "Lonelyland" depicts a phrenology chart.
*In the computer game "
American McGee's Alice", a phrenology chart appears on the wall of the initial room in the level Skool Daze. A portion on the back of the neck is labeled "fear" (in place of "sublimity" on the original chart).
They Might Be Giantsalbum " The Else", the song "Contrecoup" mentions phrenology at numerous points throughout the song.
Pearl Jam's 1994 album " Vitalogy" displays a phrenology chart in the booklet.
*Phrenology and other 19th-century medicinal practices are humorously parodied in the game manual for "". You can read the manual [http://www.allowe.com/FPFP/manual.pdf here] .
*In the novel
The War of the End of the Worldfrom the well-known Latin American writer Mario Vargas Llosa, one of the main characters is Galileo Gall, who is phrenologistand had adopted his new name because of Galileo Galileiand Franz Joseph Gall, founder of the science of phrenology. [http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/06/28/specials/llosa-war.htm]
Fudgie Frottageis a Doctor of Phrenology, practising in San Francisco, CA
*In the novel
Moby-Dickby Herman Melville many references are made to phrenology and the narrator identifies himself as an amateur phrenologist.
* [http://www.victorianweb.org/science/phrenology/phrenologyov.html Phrenology: an Overview] includes The History of Phrenology by John van Wyhe, PhD.
* [http://www.phrenology.org The Phrenology Pages] , a Belgian site advocating phrenology.
*Phrenology. [http://www.cerebromente.org.br/n01/frenolog/frenologia.htm The History of Cerebral Localization] . Article by
Renato M.E. Sabbatini, PhD in [http://www.epub.org.br/cm Brain & Mind] online article.
* [http://www.phrenology.by.ru Phrenology Today!] Russian portal, advocating phrenology. Articles on so-called modern phrenology.
*Examples of phrenological tools can be seen in [http://www.mtn.org/quack/ The Museum of Questionable Medical Devices, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S..]
* [http://www.nlm.nih.gov/exhibition/historicalanatomies/vimont_home.html Joseph Vimont: Traité de phrénologie humaine et comparée. (Paris, 1832-1835)] . Selected pages scanned from the original work. Historical Anatomies on the Web. US National Library of Medicine.
* [http://www.theness.com/articles.asp?id=40 Phrenology: History of a Classic Pseudoscience] - by
* [http://deadwoodrichfamousnoteable.blogspot.com/#broadbent Historical Deadwood Newspaper accounts of C. R. Broadbent well known speaker on Phrenology and Physiology visit Deadwood SD 1878]
* [http://skepdic.com/phren.html The Skeptic's Dictionary] by Robert Todd Carroll
* [http://www.whonamedit.com/doctor.cfm/1018.html Who Named It? Franz Joseph Gall] Biography of Franz Joseph Gall and his creation: Phrenology.
* [http://www.nathanville.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/web-albums/burgess/phrenology1/contents.htm Phrenology by George Burgess (1829-1905)] George Burgess, Phrenologist in Bristol, England 1861-1901.
* [http://amapedia.amazon.com/view/Phrenology+Button/id=667883.htm History of the Phrenology Bust as developed by Spurzheim.]
* [http://amapedia.amazon.com/view/Elements+of+Phrenology/id=809849 George Combe's "Elements of Phrenology".]
* [http://psychofizjonomika.pl Psychophysiognomy Today!] Polish portal, advocating psychophysiognomy. Articles on modern psychophysiognomy and the current use of psychophysiognomy in the personal consultation [http://cvonvideo.com CVonVideo]
* [http://amapedia.amazon.com/edit/asin=B001DESZBS Phrenology Tools of the Trade.]
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Phrenology — Phre*nol o*gy, n. [Gr. ?, ?, the mind + logy: cf. F. phr[ e]nologie.] 1. The science of the special functions of the several parts of the brain, or of the supposed connection between the various faculties of the mind and particular organs in the… … The Collaborative International Dictionary of English
Phrenology — est un album des The Roots, sorti en 2002. Liste des titres Phrentrow Rock You !!!!!!! Sacrifice Rolling With Heat WAOK (AY) Roll Call Thought @ Work The Seed (2.0) Break You Off Water Quills Pussy Galore Complexity Something In The Way Of Things … Wikipédia en Français
phrenology — 1815, lit. mental science, from Gk. phren (gen. phrenos) mind + LOGY (Cf. logy) study of. Applied to the theory of mental faculties originated by Gall and Spurzheim that led to the 1840s mania for reading personality clues in the shape of one s… … Etymology dictionary
phrenology — ► NOUN chiefly historical ▪ the study of the shape and size of the cranium as a supposed indication of character. DERIVATIVES phrenologist noun. ORIGIN from Greek phr n mind … English terms dictionary
phrenology — ☆ phrenology [fri näl′ə jē ] n. [ PHRENO (sense 2) + LOGY] a system, popular esp. in the 19th cent., based on the assumption that an analysis of character can be made by a study of the shape and protuberances of the skull phrenological [fren΄ə… … English World dictionary
Phrenology — The study of variations in size, shape, and proportion of the cranium. Phrenology was a pseudoscience of the 18th and 19th centuries based on the belief that a person s character could be learned by looking with care at the shape of their head… … Medical dictionary
phrenology — phrenologic /fren l oj ik/, phrenological, adj. phrenologically, adv. phrenologist, n. /fri nol euh jee, fre /, n. a psychological theory or analytical method based on the belief that certain mental faculties and character traits are indicated by … Universalium
phrenology — [[t]frɪnɒ̱ləʤi[/t]] N UNCOUNT Phrenology is the study of the size and shape of people s heads in the belief that you can find out about their characters and abilities from this. ...the ancient science of phrenology. Derived words: phrenologist… … English dictionary
phrenology — noun The science, now generally discredited, which studies the relationships between a persons character and the morphology (structure) of the skull. Oh, sure, you have a system for predicting the stock market; whats next phrenology? Syn:… … Wiktionary
phrenology — noun Etymology: Greek phren , phrēn Date: 1805 the study of the conformation of the skull based on the belief that it is indicative of mental faculties and character • phrenological adjective • phrenologist noun … New Collegiate Dictionary