The Shape Of Your Head Indicates Everything! 19th Century Quackery- Phrenology

Fowler & Wells, Phrenologists – The Art of Reading The Shape Of Your Head.

phrenologyWhat sort of foolishness did people believe in the 19th century? Phrenology, which might sound silly today, was studied and taken seriously by many people.

Phrenology is the “science” of reading character traits by the shape of your head. And of course there were plenty of experts – phrenologists – who could perform such accurate assessments.

Of course it is a pseudo-science, that is absurd, and yet there are still people today who believe in Phrenology. You can put them in the same class as Flat Earthers and Creationists.

In this ad from 1857, Fowler & Weller, Phrenologists, explain all the traits that may be scientifically discovered with an examination. An excerpt from their ad:

New York.
A Correct Phrenological Examination
Teaches us scientifically — the most useful of all knowledge — OUR OWN SELVES — OUR DEFECTS, and how to OBVIATE them ; our natural talents, and thereby in what pursuits we can and can not succeed; discloses to parents their children’s innate Capabilities, callings, dispositions, defects, and means of improvement —  nor can as little money be spent on them as profitably as in learning their PHRENOLOGY

Sounds a bit like a fortune telling or a self-improvement course.

The Science of Phrenology

Without going into a long explanation, here is a good summary from the website History of Phrenology

Phrenology was a science of character divination, faculty psychology, theory of brain and what the 19th-century phrenologists called “the only true science of mind.” Phrenology came from the theories of physician Franz Joseph Gall (1758-1828). The basic tenets of Gall’s system were:

1.The brain is the organ of the mind.
2. The mind is composed of multiple, distinct, innate faculties.
3. Because they are distinct, each faculty must have a separate seat or “organ” in the brain.
4. The size of an organ, other things being equal, is a measure of its power.
5. The shape of the brain is determined by the development of the various organs.
6. As the skull takes its shape from the brain, the surface of the skull can be read as an accurate index of psychological aptitudes and tendencies.

So it was believed that by examining the shape and unevenness of a head or skull, one could discover the development of the particular cerebral “organs” responsible for different intellectual aptitudes and character traits. For example, a prominent protuberance in the forehead at the position attributed to the organ of Benevolence was meant to indicate that the individual had a “well developed” organ of Benevolence and would therefore be expected to exhibit benevolent behavior.

In phrenology the organs (parts) of your brain include; sense of cunning; pride, arrogance, love of authority; poetic talent; faculty of language; mechanical skill; murder, carnivorousness; ambition and vanity.

All of these traits could amazingly be discovered and quantified by taking measurements of the skull!

If you desire to find out more, you can read about it here first-hand from their book published in 1890.

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