The Physiognomical System of
Dr. Franz Joseph Gall and Dr. Johann Gaspar Spurzheim
See also: History of Psychiatry homepage
The Physiognomical System of Franz Joseph Gall Johann Gaspar Spurzheim, phrenologists, phrenology, 1815 AD
JOHANN GASPAR SPURZHEIM (1776-1832)
MD Vienna & Paris, LRCP, phrenologist, born near Treves in the Rhineland, died at Boston, Massachusetts
The physiognomical system of Drs. Gall and Spurzheim, 1815 London, Baldwin et al. (pp. xviii +571 +plates) pp. 164-74, 208-12, 271, 276-83, 557-8
The Physiognomical System Of Drs. Gall And Spurzheim; Founded Oh An Anatomical And Physiological Examination Of The Nervous System In General, And Op The Brain In Particular: And Indicating The Dispositions And Manifestations Of The Mind. By J. G. Spurzheim, M. D. 1815.
Observations On The Deranged Manifestations Of The Mind, Or Insanity. J. A Spurzheim, M. D. Licentiate Of The College Of Physicians Of London, Physician To Ted Austrian Embassy, Author Of The "Physiognomical System On Des. Gall And Srunzeux," Etc. 1817. (Title-page of J. G. Spurzheim's Observations on . . . insanity, 1817)
On the Influence of the Diseases and Wounds of the Brain upon the Manifestations of the Moral and Intellectual Faculties. In order to prove that the brain is exclusively the organ of the mind, I have said that its functions are more or less disturbed by the diseases and wounds of the brain . . . In the writings of Morgagni, Haller and others, a great number of slight injuries of the brain are quoted, by which the faculties of the mind were disturbed . . . Several authors have even maintained that every injury of the brain produces necessarily some derangement of the functions of the mind.
On the other hand, there is a great number of observations according to which the most considerable injuries of the brain have not done any harm to the manifestations of the soul. A person was wounded in the head by a shot, and the ball remained in the brain . . . However this man lived for several years after the accident without manifesting the least derangement of the intellectual faculties . . . A stag drove its horn into the head of a hunter through the orbit, so that the end of the horn came out at the top of the hunter's head. Notwithstanding this accident the hunter walked home two leagues on foot. A great number of similar examples have been noted, partly as extraordinary observations, partly in order to prove that the brain is not the organ of the mind, and that the functions of the intellectual faculties are independent of the organization. There are still many more examples of derangement in the intellectual faculties, while not the least defect could be discovered in the brain. And in many cases of mental alienation, instead of finding out any cause in the brain, an evidently diseased state has been observed in quite different parts, as in the liver, bowels &c. . . .
In order to rectify these facts, opposite in appearance, we must consider two questions : Was it possible before now to judge exactly of diseases and wounds of the brain in respect to their nature? And was it possible before now to judge perfectly of the effects produced in the manifestations of the intellectual faculties by such diseases and wounds ? It is evident that it was impossible to make exact anatomical observations upon an organization which was not only unknown, but in respect to which there were notions quite erroneous, nay entirely opposite to its real structure; and it is beyond doubt that hitherto this was the case with the internal structure of the brain .. .
Hence it is necessary to inquire what changes can take place in the cerebral mass in general, or in any of its particular parts. And it is also necessary to consider whether a derangement may happen which cannot be observed by the five external senses ? If anybody die by being struck by a thunderbolt, or in consequence of the gout in the stomach, or of hydrophobia, or of tetanus, no derangement is discovered in the nervous system; are we therefore authorised to say that the nervous system has not suffered any change ? .. .
We are of opinion that all the derangements of the manifestations of the mind result immediately from any change in the brain. . . It is also true that very considerable injuries of the brain produce sometimes very slight perturbations in the manifestations of the mind; and that very slight injuries of the brain are accompanied often with the most violent accidents. But this also happens in other parts of the body . . . It remains to mention certain observations, where half the brain was completely destroyed by suppuration, while the manifestations of the intellectual faculties remained . . . In this objection, and generally in injuries of the brain, the duplicity of the nervous system has been forgotten. One half of the brain may be destroyed, and the other half continue to exert the manifestations of the mind .. . as long as the respective organ is not utterly destroyed on both sides.
Let us examine whether it was hitherto possible to judge exactly of the derangement of the manifestations of the mind . . . All the reports relative to the wounds of the head, to the injuries of the brain, and preservation of the manifestation of the mind, are consined to the following expressions : — The patient continued to walk, to eat and drink; he had his consciousness entire, viz. he knew all around him; he manifested some memory and judgment; consequently he possessed all the faculties of the mind, and nothing was disturbed. But if a person of a meek and peacable character, after being wounded on the brain by a stone, become quarrelsome and morose; if another, whose actions were irreproachable, after being wounded on the head feel an irresistible inclination to steal; it is evident that these persons have preserved consciousness, memory, judgment and imagination; but can we infer that the injuries of the brain have not produced any derangement of the manifestations of the mind ? Moreover, animals have consciousness, memory and judgment; are they therefore men ? If a man by any disease be brought down to the faculties of a dog, and preserve the functions of the five external senses, memory and judgment, would he therefore have lost no characteristic faculty of human nature ? . . . Finally, if persons by a commotion of the brain, or by a sit of apoplexy, lose the memory of proper names, or of a language, and if they preserve the functions of the five senses, memory and judgment, have they lost nothing at all ? Thus it is evident that now the manifestations of this, and then of that faculty of the mind may be deranged or destroyed, though the patient preserves the faculties which are said to constitute the whole intellectual being. It follows also that it has hitherto been impossible to judge exactly of the effects of diseases and injuries of the brain, because all physiologists considered only the general attributes of the understanding, and were quite ignorant in respect to the special faculties. Hence, inquiries into the injuries of the brain, in respect to mental alienation, must be made with more exactness than it has hitherto been possible to make them.
On the Plurality of the Cerebral Organs.
As it is demonstrated that the brain is exclusively the organ of the manifestations of the mind, it is to be investigated whether the whole brain must be considered as one single organ, or whether it is composed of as many particular and independent organs as there are particular and independent manifestations of the mind. On this subject there are the most ridiculous, absurd, and contradictory opinions in philosophical writings. Those who admitted the simplicity of the soul, inferred from it that its organ must be single; others, who examined the particular faculties of the soul, maintained that the manifestations of every special faculty must be attributed to a particular organ.
As soon as philosophers began to think of the beings of nature, it was necessary to make divisions. Moses speaks of a division into brutes which live and feel, and into those which reason. The Greek philosophers called, with Thales, soul the cause of every phenomenon . . . Consequently soul, or anima, was all that which gave life and sensation . . . the intellectual part which reasons, was called mens . . . The subdivisions of understanding into perception, memory, judgment, and imagination; and the sub divisions of will into inclination, desire, affections, and passions, are generally known . . . others admit several kinds of memory, as a local, verbal memory, a memory of facts, and another of time . . . As the principles, or the faculties, were divided and subdivided, so different seats were assigned to them. The reasonable soul was commonly placed in the head the unreasonable in the viscera of the abdomen. The ventricles of the brain have been considered at all times as of principle importance .. . Willis considered the corpora striata as the seat of sensation and attention, the medullary mass as the seat of memory : he placed reflection in the corpus callosum, and derived the moving spirits from the cerebellum .. . Boerhaave said that imagination and judgment ought to be attached to different seats, because the former is active in sleeping and dreaming, the latter in watching. Haller and Van Swieten fancied that the internal senses occupy different places of the brain; but they considered the organization of the brain as too complicated, too intricate, and too difficult to permit us to hope to point out the seat of memory, of judgment, or that of imagination . . . Soemmering speaks . . . of different provinces of the brain.
Thus it follows from all these quotations, which might be extremely multiplied, that the idea of the plurality of the seats or organs is very ancient, and that those who maintain that Gall first invented it are mistaken. It is only to be determined which are the faculties, and which are the respective organs ?
On our Method of pointing out the Functions of the Brain. After having considered the principles of the physiology of the brain, that is, after having demonstrated that all faculties of the mind are innate; that their manifestations depend on the brain; and that the manifestations of every faculty depend on some particular part of the brain : finally, after having examined the means which have been employed in order to determine the functions of the different cerebral parts, and after having proved that the functions must be determined according to the development of the respective organs, I shall now develop our peculiar mode of examining the functions of the brain. In treating of the plurality of the organs, we have seen that a great number of philosophers, physicians, and ancient and modern physiologists, have divided the functions of animal life; and that they have attributed different faculties to different parts of the body; but before Gall, no special organ of the faculties of the mind has been discovered .. . At the beginning he compared the form and size of the whole head only with the general faculties of the understanding, without thinking that the moral sentiments reside also in the brain. He looked for particular organs of memory, judgment, and imagination [the three ancient divisions of the mind]. Not succeeding in this way, he left all the notions of philosophy, and compared . . . individuals who excelled in any one kind of functions, and examined the whole form of their heads . . . However, he met with exceptions . . . Considering his first observations, where he distinguished a good memory by the development of some particular part of the brain, viz. by prominent eyes, he then looked only for particular organs, in comparing them with the natural vocations of different persons : that is, when he was acquainted with any individual who manifested any function in a high degree; if, for instance, he observed any mechanician, musician, sculptor, draughtsman, mathematician, endowed with such or such faculty from birth, he examined their heads to try whether he might point out a particular development of some cerebral part. In this way, he found in a short time, in musicians and mechanics, the development of particular cerebral parts. He indeed observed that the respective organ is always much developed, if the same great talents are innate, while the rest of the head presents quite different shapes in the same individuals. At the beginning, he confined his observations to men of partial genius . . . It is also important to observe the characters of uncultivated people, who are least capable of dissimulation. Being physician to the Establishment for the Deaf and Dumb at Vienna, Gall was well circumstanced for this purpose; he could observe the natural state of their manifestations, and their different degrees of susceptibility of education. To this end he also called together in his house common people, as coachmen and poor boys, and excited them to make him acquainted with their characters.
Gall investigated particular organs according to the principal actions of men, and he named the organs according to these actions. He observed, for instance, individuals who are born mathematicians . . . poets &c., and if he found that some part of their brain was always more developed than the rest, he called these cerebral parts, organ of mathematics, of music, of philology, of metaphysics, of poetry &c. In the same way he observed individuals who from birth were stubborn, proud, courageous, thieves, murderers, religious &c., and if he found that the size of some cerebral part was corresponding to these actions, he called these parts of the brain, organ of pride, of firmness, of courage, of theft, of murder, of religion .. . He was also bold enough to speak to every person in whose head he observed any distinct protruberance. In our travels, we have been able to obtain much information; to observe a great number of distinguished persons, and to compare their organization; in one word, to collect innumerable facts in our visits to establishments for education, in hospitals for idiots and madmen; in the houses of correction, in prisons, and in our intercourse with different nations and with all classes of society.
On the diseased State of the Brain, and on the Derangements of the Manifestations of the Mind. It may now be conceived why we cannot accede to the common division of mental diseases. This is founded upon a division of the faculties of the mind. But I have shown that, till the present time, the particular faculties of the mind were not known; and hence it was impossible to make a true division of their derangements. If my division of the faculties be true, the derangements of the mind will be divided in the same manner. There will be derangements of propensities, of sentiments, and of intellectual faculties. All derangements will be considered as the result of the disturbed organs immediately or mediately. Every reasonable mode of treatment then must be determined according to the cause; and if this cannot be pointed out, the whole curative proceeding will be vague and merely experimental.
end Gall and Spurzheim
Modern psychiatry is attempting to map various mental illnesses like depression, anxiety and schizophrenia into different parts of the brain. The problem is that almost every region of the brain is activated for most thinking processes. (see below)
Phrenology, like blood letting, is an extinct scientific theory of the 19th century. It says that personality traits are located in distinct parts of the brain. By rubbing the hand over the scull, you can feel the general shape, including bumps. This was then used to calculate a "horoscope style" interpretation of your personality.
(From Samuel Wells and Samuel R. Wells, after O.S. Fowler)
1. AMATIVENESS.- Connubial love; attachment of the sexes to each other; adapted to the continuance of the race.
Excess: Licentiousness and obscenity.
Deficiency: The want of affection, and indifference toward, the opposite sex.
A. UNION FOR LIFE.- Desire to pair; to unite for life; and to remain constantly with the loved one.
Excess: The almost impossibility of transferring our affections from one to another.
Deficiency: Want of conjugal affection.
2. PHILOPROGENITIVENESS. - Parental love; fondness for pets, and the young and helpless generally; adapted to the infantile condition.
Excess: Idolizing and spoiling children by caresses and excessive indulgence; a slave to maternal duties.
Deficiency: Neglect of the young.
3. ADHESIVENESS. -- Love of friends; disposition to associate. Adapted to man's requisition for society and concert of action.
Excess: Excessive fondness for company.
Deficiency: Neglect of friends and society; the hermit disposition.
4. INHABITIVENESS. -- Love of home; desire to live permanently in one place; adapted to the necessity of a home.
Excess: Prejudice against other countries.
Deficiency: A roving disposition.
5. CONTINUITY. [or Concentrativeness] -- Ability to chain the thoughts and feelings to one particular subject until it is completed.
Excess: Prolixity; tediously long stories.
Deficiency: Excessive fondness for variety; has several irons in the fire at once; seldom finishes what has been commenced; very transitive and impatient.
E. VITATIVENESS.- Love of life; youthful vigor even in advanced age.
Excess: Extreme tenacity to life; fear of death.
Deficiency: Letting go, and yielding up life, when one might still live.
6. COMBATIVENESS. -- Self-defense; love for discussion - resistance; the energetic go-ahead disposition.
Excess: A quick, fiery, excitable, fault finding, contentious disposition.
Deficiency: Cowardice; want of courage and self-defense.
7. DESTRUCTIVENESS. - Executiveness; propelling power; the exterminating feeling.
Excess: The malicious, retaliating, revengeful, and murderous disposition.
Deficiency: Tameness; inefficiency, and want of resolution.
8. ALIMENITIVENESS, -- Appetite; enjoyment of food and drink. Excess: Gluttony; gormandizing, intemperance.
Deficiency: Daintiness; want of appetite and relish.
9. ACQUISITIVENESS.-- Economy; the disposition to save and accumulate property.
Excess: Miserly avarice: theft; extreme selfishness.
Deficiency: Prodigality; inability to appreciate the true value of property; lavish and wasteful.
10. SECRETIVENESS. -- Policy; management. Acquisitiveness gets, Secretiveness keeps.
Excess: Cunning; disguise; hypocrisy; intrigue.
Deficiency: Want of tact and restraint; openness; bluntness of expression.
11. CAUTIOUSNESS. -- Prudence; carefulness; watchfulness; solicitude. Excess: Fear; timidity; procrastination.
Deficiency: Careless; blundering; heedless: reckless.
ASPIRING AND GOVERNING ORGANS.
12. APPROBATIVENESS. -- Love of praise; affability; ambition to be approved and promoted.
Excess: Vanity; self-praise; and extreme sensitiveness.
Deficiency: Indifference to public opinion, or to praise or blame; and disregard for personal appearance.
13. SELF-ESTEEM. -- Dignity, manliness; love of liberty; nobleness; an aspiring and commanding disposition.
Excess: Extreme pride; an arrogant, domineering spirit.
Deficiency: Clownishness; servitude, and lack of self-respect and personal appreciation.
14. FIRMNESS. -- Decision; stability; perseverance; fortitude; unwillingness to yield.
Excess: Obstinacy; wilfullness.
Deficiency: Fickle-Minded. No dependence can be placed on one without Firmness -- there is no stability or decision of character in such a one.
15. CONSCIENTIOUSNESS. -- Justice; integrity; sense of right and duty, and power to resist temptations.
Excess: Censoriousness; scrupulousness; remorse; self-condemnation; unjust censure.
Deficiency: No penitence for sin, or compunction for wrong-doing; self-justification in all things.
16. HOPE. -- Sense of immortality; expectation; looking into the future with confidence of success.
Excess: Extravagant promises; castle building and anticipation of impossibilities.
Deficiency: Despondency; gloom; melancholy; foreboding evil.
17. SPIRITUALITY. -- Intuition.; perception of the spiritual; the prophetic cast of mind.
Excess: Belief in ghosts, hobgoblins, witchcraft, etc.
Deficiency: Lack of faith; extreme incredulity, like the "doubting Thomas;" dark skepticism.
18. VENERATION. -- Devotion; reverence worship adoration; respect for the aged, authority, and for antiquity.
Excess: Idolatry; superstition; worship of images and idols.
Deficiency: Disregard for things sacred and venerable.
19. BENEVOLENCE. -- Kindness; sympathy; desire to do good; philanthropy; disinterestedness.
Excess: Giving alms to the undeserving; too easily overcome by scenes of suffering.
Deficiency: Extreme selfishness; indifference to suffering; no sympathetic regard for the distressed.
20. CONSTRUCTIVENESS. -- Mechanical ingenuity; ability to invent; use tools; construct.
Excess: Attempting perpetual motions, and other impossibilities.
Deficiency: Inability to use tools or understand machinery; lack of skill in planning, contriving, and dexterity in mechanism.
21. IDEALITY. -- Love of the perfect and beautiful in nature and art; refinement; ecstasy; poetry.
Excess: Fastidiousness, and a disgust even for the common duties of life.
Deficiency: Roughness; vulgarity; want of taste or refinement; disregard for the beautiful.
B. SUBLIMITY,--Fondness for the grand and sublime, the magnificent, the wild and romantic, as Niagara Falls, mountain Scenery.
Excess: Extravagant representations; magnified statements; fondness for tragedies.
Deficiency: Indifference to the grandeurs of nature; hears the thunder and views the terrific lightning without emotion.
22. IMITATION. -- Power of imitating; copying; working after a pattern; attitude for different pursuits.
Excess: Mimicry; servile imitation.
Deficiency: The ability to conform to the manners and customs of society.
D. AGREEABLENESS. -- Blandness and persuasiveness of manner, expression, and address; pleasantness; insinuation; the faculty of saying even disagreeable things pleasantly.
Excess: Affectation; blarney.
Deficiency: Want of ease of manner; inability to make one's self agreeable or acceptable when among strangers.
23. MIRTHFULNESS. -- Wit; fun; playfulness; humor; ability to joke, make fun, and enjoy a hearty laugh.
Excess: Ridicule and sport of the infirmities and misfortunes of others.
Deficiency: Extreme gravity and seriousness; indifference to all joyous play, amusements, and hilarity.
24. INDIVIDUALITY. -- The desire to see; ability to acquire knowledge by observation; the looking faculty.
Excess: An insatiable desire to see; a tendency to stare; prying curiosity; extreme inquisitiveness.
Deficiency: A want of practical knowledge derived from personal observation; inability to notice external objects.
25. FORM. -- Memory of shapes, forms, faces the configuration of things; aids in spelling, drawing , modeling, etc.; when large, one seldom forgets countenances. Deficiency: A poor memory of faces, shapes, etc.
26. SIZE. -- Ability to judge of size, length, breadth, height, depth, distance, and weight of bodies by their size; of measuring angles, perpendiculars, etc.; ability to judge accurately of the proportion which one body holds to another.
Deficiency: Unable to judge by the eye between small and large; seldom judges correctly the dimensions of an object.
27. WEIGHT. -- Gravity; ability to balance one's self, required by a marksman, sailor, or horseman; also the ability to "carry a steady hand."
Excess: Excessive desire to climb or go aloft unnecessarily.
Deficiency: Inability to keep one's balance; liability to stumble.
28. COLOR. -- Judgment of the different shades, hues, and tints, in paintings; the rainbow, flowers, and all things possessing color, will be objects of interest.
Excess: Extravagant fondness for colors; a desire to dress with many colors.
Deficiency: Color blindness; inability to distinguish or appreciate colors, or their harmony.
29. ORDER -- Method; system; arrangement; neatness and convenience. "A place for things, and everything in place."
Excess: More nice than wise; spends too much time in fixing; greatly annoyed by disorder; old maidish.
Deficiency: Slovenliness; carelessness about the arrangement of books, tools, papers, etc.; seldom knows where to find anything, although recently used.
30. CALCULATION. -- Ability to reckon figures by mental arithmetic; to add, subtract, divide, multiply; cast accounts, etc.
Excess: A disposition to count everything.
Deficiency: Inability to understand the most simple numerical relations.
31. LOCALITY. -- Recollection of places; the geographical faculty; desire to travel and see the world.
Excess: A roving, unsettled disposition.
Deficiency: Inability to remember places; liability to get lost; can not tell the points of the compass.
32. EVENTUALITY. -- Memory of events; the love of history, anecdotes, facts, items of all sorts; a kind of walking newspaper.
Excess: Constant storytelling to the neglect duties.
Deficiency: Forgetfulness; a poor memory of events.
33. TIME.-- Recollection of the lapse of time; day and date; ability to keep the time in music, march and dancing; to be able to carry the time of day in the memory.
Excess: Drumming with the feet and fingers, much to the annoyance of others.
Deficiency: Inability to remember dates.
34. TUNE. -- Love of music, and perception of harmony; power to compose music.
Excess: A continual singing, humming, or whistling, regardless of propriety.
Deficiency: Inability to comprehend the charms of music, or distinguish one tune from another.
35. LANGUAGE. --Ability to express ideas verbally or in writing, and to use such words as will best express our meaning; memory of words.
Excess: Volubility of expression; great talkativeness; more words than thoughts.
Deficiency: Extreme hesitation in conversation; inability to select appropriate language for the expression of ideas.
36. CAUSALITY. -- Ability to reason and comprehend first principles; the "why and wherefore" faculty; originality.
Excess: Too much theory, without bringing the mind to a practical bearing. Such a mind may be philosophic, but neither practical nor scientific.
37. COMPARISON. -- Inductive reasoning; ability to classify, and apply analogy to the discernment of principles; to compare, discriminate, and illustrate; to draw inferences, etc.
Excess: "Splitting hairs," or unnecessary criticism.
Deficiency: Inability to perceive the relation of things.
C. HUMAN NATURE. -- Intuition, discernment of character; perception of the motives at the first interview. Excess: prying into the character of another to the exclusion of duties, and at the sacrifice of courtesy and politeness. Deficiency: Misplaced confidence; supposing everybody honest.
By Steve Rudd:Contact the author for comments, input or corrections.
Send us your story about your experience with modern Psychiatry
Go To Start: WWW.BIBLE.CA