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Dr Spurzheim's Phrenology
The first claim put forth by the teachers and professional demonstrators
of phrenology makes it a system of mental philosophy, besides at the
same time presenting a much more popular aspect as a method whereby the
disposition, character and natural aptitude of the individual may be
These two features of the subject are quite distinct from each other,
for, while it can serve as a reliable guide for reading character only
on the assumption of its truth as a philosophic system, yet the
possibility of its practical application does not necessarily follow
from the establishment of the truth of its theoretical side.
Two of the earliest founders of the science of anatomy, Erasistratus and
Herophilus, who lived in the age of Ptolemy Soter, taught that the brain
was the seat of sensation and intellect, and that there was therein a
certain degree of localization of function. Galen later taught that the
brain is the seat of the soul and intellect. From these facts of history
the system of phrenology, though formulated by Dr. Gall, Dr. Spurzheim,
the Fowler Brothers and others, rests upon deductions derived from the
teachings of the demonstrators of anatomy and students of philosophy.
The formulated system of phrenology is very generally believed to be a
modern expansion of an old empirical philosophy, but, according to Dr.
Gall's account, it arose with him as the result of independent
observations. The popularity of phrenology has waned in the public mind,
and cultivation of the system is confined to a few enthusiasts, such as
pose as teachers of it as a vocation. These claim that phrenology is a
practical and important science and that it rests upon the following
First--That the human brain is the organ of the mind.
Second--That the mental powers of man can be analyzed into a definite
number of measurably independent faculties.
Third--That these faculties are innate, and each has its seat in a
definite region of the brain.
Fourth--That the size of each of these regions is the measure of the
power of manifesting the faculty associated with it.
The faculties and their localities, as originally constructed by Dr.
Gall, were for the most part identified on slender grounds. His
procedure was as follows: Having selected the place of a faculty, he
examined the heads of his friends and casts of persons with that
peculiarity in common, and in them sought for the distinctive feature of
their characteristic trait. Some of his earlier studies were among low
associates in jails and lunatic asylums, and some of the qualities
located by him were such as tend to perversion to crime. These he named
after their excessive manifestations, and thus mapped out organs of
theft, murder, etc. This, however, caused the system to be discredited.
Later his pupil, Dr. Spurzheim, claimed that the moral and religious
features belonging to it greatly modified these characteristics of Dr.
Gall's work. The chart of the human head as invented by Dr. Gall
represented 26 organs; the chart as improved by Dr. Spurzheim makes out
35 organs. This is the chart now generally used and which is shown on a
preceding page. The number specifies the location of each organ, which
is followed by its phrenological name, and classified as follows:
Propensities. (1) Amativeness. (2) Philoprogenitiveness. (3)
Concentrativeness. (4) Adhesiveness. (5) Combativeness. (6)
Destructiveness. (6a) Alimentiveness. (7) Secretiveness. (8)
Acquisitiveness. (9) Constructiveness.
Lower Sentiments. (10) Self-esteem. (11) Love of Approbation. (12)
Superior Sentiments. (13) Benevolence. (14) Veneration. (15)
Conscientiousness. (16) Firmness. (17) Hope. (18) Wonder. (19) Ideality.
(20) Wit. (21) Imitation.
Perceptive Faculties. (22) Individuality. (23) Form. (24) Size. (25)
Weight. (26) Color. (27) Locality. (28) Number. (29) Order. (30)
Eventuality. (31) Time. (32) Tune. (33) Language.
Reflective Faculties. (34) Comparison. (35) Causality. The judgment of
the phrenologist is determined by the size of the brain in general, and
by the size of the organs that have been formulated, and these are
estimated by certain arbitrary rules that render the boundaries of the
The controversy over phrenology has served undoubtedly the very useful
purpose of stimulating research into the anatomy of the brain.
It is generally conceded that any psychological theory which correlates
brain-action and mental phenomena requires a correspondence between the
size of the brain and mental power, and generally observation shows that
the brains of those whose capacities are above the average are larger
than those of the general run of their fellow men.
A study of the cuts and comparison of the sizes of different heads and
their shape will prove very entertaining with most any group of persons
intellectually inclined, and it will be found that persons who are
naturally good readers by instinct of human nature can, with its help,
make remarkable readings in the delineation of character.
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