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'Bles Me What a Bump', c 1820-1830.

'Bles Me What a Bump', c 1820-1830.
4 0 c m
actual image size: 22cm x 32cm


Hand-coloured engraving published by T McLean of 26 Haymarket, London, showing a woman examining a man's head. The Viennese physician Franz Joseph Gall (1758-1828) proposed that the contours of the skull followed the brain's shape, with each region responsible for an aspect of personality or behaviour. Feeling the lumps was like reading the mind. He called his system organology, but it later became known as phrenology, derived from the Greek word 'phren' for mind. Phrenology never achieved the status of an accredited science, although the principle that many functions are localised in the brain is now widely accepted.

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© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

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