Phrenology

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.  The distinguishing feature of phrenology is the idea that the sizes of brain areas were meaningful and could be inferred by examining the skull of an individual.  Following the materialist notions of mental functions originating in the brain, phrenologists believed that human conduct could best be understood in neurological rather than philosophical or religious terms.  Developed by German physician Franz Joseph Gall in 1796, the discipline was very popular in the 19th century, especially from about 1810 until 1840.


vintage phrenological chart

Phrenological thinking was influential in 19th-century psychiatry and modern neuroscience. Gall’s assumption that character, thoughts, and emotions are located in the brain is considered an important historical advance toward neuropsychology.

 

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