Phrenology Diagrams: Does The Shape Of Your Head Tell Us Who You Are?

Phrenology  is a pseudoscience primarily focused on measurements of the human skull, based on the concept that the brain is the organ of the mind, and that certain brain areas have localized specific functions or modules. Developed by German physician Franz Joseph Gall in 1796,the discipline was very popular in the 19th century. According to his theory, your  character, thoughts, and emotions can be predicted by looking at the shape of your skull.

Diagrams below come from ‘Vaught’s Practical Character Reader’, a book on phrenology by L. A. Vaught published in 1902.

In the preface we read:

“The purpose of this book is to acquaint all with the elements of human nature and enable them to read these elements in all men, women and children in all countries. At least fifty thousand careful examinations have been made to prove the truthfulness of the nature and location of these elements. More than a million observations have been made to confirm the examinations. Therefore, it is given the world to be depended upon. Taken in its entirety it is absolutely reliable. Its facts can be completely demonstrated by all who will take the unprejudiced pains to do so. It is ready for use. It is practical. Use it.”

As disturbing as it sounds today, it has been influential on 19th century psychiatry and neuroscience.

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