The Morbid Anatomy Museum recently acquired a 19th-century phrenological death mask. Liza Young, a museum studies student at St. John's University, tracked down its history.
First, though, Young supplies a quick reminder of what phrenology was meant to do and what that meant about the people whose heads were most likely to end up as the models for practice busts.
To briefly sum up the essence of a fascinating practice, each lump of the skull was believed to correspond to a particular moral or immoral temperament localized within a specific area of the brain, which would swell or dip in relation to the volume of the temperament’s presence.
In order to hone the new science, phrenologists studied the skulls of exceptional characters on the opposing ends of the spectrum: the most brilliant of men and the most errant. However, the only abundant cache of skulls available was provided by the local executioner. Yes, following death by guillotine or some such unfortunate fate, scientists would make a cast of the head, now relieved of its body, and study the plaster copy for the lumps of the brain that would, they believed, mark the subject as the criminal he was now known to be. While it cannot be stated indisputably that the bust in question was cast from a criminal (the length of his neck suggests he was not guillotined, unlike these men), it is safe to say that he was indeed dead. This conclusion is evidenced by the opening of his eyes, which would have been unbearable for a living model. Understanding the ultimate end of the model is very likely as close to identifying him as I will able to come, so let’s put a pin in that and move forward to where this man lived out his life before it was cut short.
With so many costumes adorning this election season, you might think the Halloween get-ups are overkill. Think again, because David Ng and B.R. Cohen are here to present the official universal survey about your candy favorites for the 2016 hierarchical delineation of candy virtue.
University of Zurich researchers used transcranial magnetic stimulation, a noninvasive method of inhibiting activity in parts of the brain, to “turn off” people’s ability to control their impulses. They focused on the temporoparietal junction, an area of the brain thought to play an important role in moral decisions, empathy, and other social interactions. They hope […]
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