Thursday, 4 July 2019

GPM Collection: Phrenology Craniometer

In the GPM collection, we have many strange and fascinating artifacts that would have been used in the medical field in Pioneer times...

Will you become a criminal? Be overly cautious? Have a poor memory? Find out your fate by learning about the uses and history of this weeks featured artifact - the Phrenology Craniometer


Metal Craniometer from GPM Collection

Phrenology, a science popular from the early to the mid-nineteenth century, was dedicated to the discernment of one's character or traits of personality from readingthat is, feeling the shape and size ofthe bumps on one's skull according to the hypotheses of Franz Joseph Gall (1758–1828). At the time, this practice functioned as a kind of science-based fortune-telling experience. 
Detail of Metal Craniometer from GPM Collection

The shape of your skull could tell any number of things about yourself such as your propensity to destructiveness, secretiveness, self-esteem, cautiousness, benevolence, hope, ideality, wit, individuality, form perception, colour perception, memory of things, time perception, and metaphysical spirit.


Image result for phrenology craniometer

This method, however, depended on anecdote and striking confirmation rather than rigorous experimental testing of Gall's theory. Originally claimed to be based on empiricism, eventually phrenology was deemed a pseudoscience when
it was found that since skull thickness varies, the surface of the skull does not reflect the topography of the brain, invalidating the basic premise of phrenology. Even still, phrenology retained popularity well into the 20th century, especially in Britain and North America.  

Come by our Roxborough building to see more of the interesting tools that would have been used by Pioneer medical professionals...

Information Sources:
Phrenology -https://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/psychology/psychology-and-psychiatry/phrenology#1O128phrenology
Franz Joseph Gall -
https://www.britannica.com/biography/Franz-Joseph-Gall#ref234757 

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