Audio history of the psycograph, automated phrenology machine

 Psycograph Psyco-0 Seen here is the Psycograph, an automated phrenology device from the early 1900s. Of course, phrenology was the idea that you could glean great knowledge about someone's personality based on the shape of their skull. (More Psycograph ad images scanned by John Karp are here.) Over at MindHacks, Vaughan points to this fun audio documentary on the Psycograph, from the podcast series This Week in the History of Psychology.
MP3: David Baker on the psycograph, the 1930s' automatic phrenologist


  1. The Museum of Questionable Medical Devices in Minnesota used to have a working Psychograph. My partner and I got our heads ‘read’ and got the nifty little printouts. It was a neat take on it, and no more accurate than a general horoscope. The Museum closed and the items were sold to the Science Museum of Minnesota. While the Psychograph is still on display, patrons can’t get their heads read. According to the owner of the MoQMD, there’s only one person in the world who can fix them when they break, and he’s getting old.

  2. I actually got assessed by that machine one time when I attended one of the annual conventions of the American Psychological Association. The machine even provided me with a typed printout of its findings. From what I recall, it worked better as a scalp massager than a personality measure.

  3. Rob @ #2: But, is there an automated retrophrenology machine?

    You mean a machine that takes the results from your Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory test and dents your head accordingly?

  4. You can bash phrenology all you like, but I know that it’s a genuine science.
    I was phrenologized, and it concluded that I was incredibly credulous! Take that, doubters!

  5. Right… It starts with a free phrenology test, and then they’ll tell you about intergalactic warlords :(

  6. Fancy looking machines have been used to lend an air of authority to pseudoscience for centuries. Yesterday we had the psycograph, today we have the lie detector and a bunch of crap owned by the Church of Scientology.

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