Phrenology is basically the study of personality through the study of the shapeof the skull. The basis of this theory is that the brain conforms to the shapeof the head and its contours. This pseudoscience says that because we haveisolated where different parts of personality come from we can tell how dominantthis trait would be in a person`s life by the size of the piece of the brain.
Wehave since proven that this theory is not true. Franz Joseph Gall is consideredto be the founder of the direct scientific link between the morphology of theskull and personality traits. Gall was one of the first scientists to considerthe brain the home of all mental activities. His main work was called TheAnatomy and Physiology of the Nervous System in General, and of the Brain inParticular. In this article he put forth five points that phrenology was basedon in general. 1. That moral and intellectual faculties and innate. 2.
Thattheir exercise or manifestation depends on organization. 3. That the brain is anorgan of all the propensities, sentiments, and faculties. 4. The brain iscomposed of many particular organs as there are different propensities,sentiments, and faculties which differ from one another.
5. That the form of thehead or cranium represents the form of the brain, and thus represents therelative development of the brain organs. Gall linked the faculties with precisebrain localizations through careful observation and expensive experimentalmeasures. Johann Spurzheim`s contribution to phrenology was also great. Hehelped Gall in a study of brain injuries with the phrenology concept Gall hadcreated. He also studied many cases of aphasia following victim`s cranialinjuries in battle. In 1832, he arrived in America, which was at that timedesperate for insight into human personality, and started on a lecture circuitthat eventually killed him only six months into it.
While Spurzheim was inAmerica he managed to inspire two young, frustrated evangelists whose names wereLorenzo Niles Fowler and Orson S. Fowler. These two are largely responsible forspreading phrenology throughout the country. They traveled from town to towncarrying the truth of phrenology. They offered lectures, readings, and toevaluate the charteristics of total strangers through the bumps and valleys ontheir heads. Soon everyone from small-town folk to the rich and famous weregetting readings. It became a fad throughout America.
Hairstyles were changed toshow off attractive phrenological features. Employers wanted people with certainphrenological profiles. They even asked for a reading by the Fowler`s as areference. The Fowler`s New York office, called the Phrenological Cabinet becameone of the most visited attractions in town.
It served as a museum of sorts alsocontaining hundreds of heads of famous people. The Fowler`s also published agreat amount of material. They put out the American Phrenological Journal andMiscellany, many books and materials on phrenology, and they published the firstvolume by a young writer named Walt Whitman. They were considered the leadingphrenologists of their time. Caesar`s phrenological bust (left) **Franz JosephGall Phrenology was a craze in the 1800s. Everyone wanted to have a reading.People even wanted to show off their more exciting phrenological features bychanging their hairstyles. The craze went as far as employers only wantingcertain characteristics found in their phrenological profiles.
The only problemwith all of these things is that phrenology has no scientific basis at all. Thecraze went as far as employers only wanting certain characteristics found intheir phrenological profiles. The only problem with all of these things is thatphrenology has been proven wrong.
First of all, it appears that most of Gall`searly research was done on criminals and the insane. This led him to place theftorgans and murder organs in the brain. Spurzheim later got rid of these andreplaced them with such things as benevolence and self-esteem. Second of allscientists know today that personality is not isolated in different parts of thebrain. The parts interact in a way that wasn`t realized in the 1800s. Whilephrenology still has its advocates for the most part it has been proved wrongand is out of date. Phrenology has been important though.
It has brought aboutpsychological theories that might not have been thought of for years. It hasinfluenced some of the great thinkers and writers of our time. Such as EdgarAllen Poe, Walt Whitman, Queen Victoria of Great Britain, and hundreds ofothers.
It has allowed us to move on to a new way of thinking that will mostlikely carry us into the future as a society or possibly to another new line ofthinking that is even more accurate than current thought. In conclusion I thinkthat phrenology has been one of the best mistakes made in psychology. If we canlearn this much from a theory that is so wrong just imagine what we will learnwhen someone comes up with something that is actually right.BibliographyCompton`s Encyclopedia World Book Encyclopedia The History of Phrenology188.8.131.52/phreno/intro.html www.dcn.davis.ca.us/~btcarrol/skeptic/phren.htmlwww.epub.org.br/cm/n01/frenolog/frenlink.htmPsychology