Friday, October 19, 2007

History of psychiatry (part 6)

When I first graduated from medical school my uncle was very skeptical about my medical abilities, and I really wanted to have the chance to made him change his point of view on me. One day we were alone, me and him, where he asked me suddenly: can you know the personality of a person by examining his head?
I don't remember what I mumbled but I remember that I made him feel sure that am a bad doctor, and I made myself sure that I should not try to change his mind…

But I remembered my uncles question when I read about phrenology when I was reading about the history of psychiatry.

Franz Joseph Gall,
a doctor from the 18th century who was interested in anatomy and physiology of the brain as well as psychology, in his childhood he was having a friend with good language and memory abilities and large protruding eyes, so Gall thought since then that there may be a link between the shape of the head and the mental abilities.

Gall was especially interested in studying individuals who demonstrated extreme behaviors -- those who were especially gifted, or criminal, or insane -- and considered their particular skull prominences and depressions as representing those parts of the underlying brain that were over- or underdeveloped relative to their special characteristics
He identified 27 discrete brain "centers" of behavior, 25 of which have never been confirmed to exist. The two that he managed to hit on concerned language and word memory.
He is credited with being the first to clearly separate and identify grey (neural components) and white (conductive) brain matter functions.
Gall was the first to emphasize the principle of cerebral localization, in one of his books he said:
"There exists a form of partial insanity limited to the faculty of speech ...(a phenomenon) impossible if the faculty of spoken languagewas not the function of a particular part of the brain."

But it was Gall's student, Dr. Johann Gaspar Spurzheim (1776-1832),

traveling and working with Gall throughout northern Europe, who gave phrenology a name, a language, a system, and a literature, publishing extensively on the subject.


Anonymous said...

Dear Dr. El Bedri,

Some very interesting reading...i remember learning about phrenology in my psychology classes on college (i took many, before i changed my major to sociology)...i thought it a bunch of nonsense, but, who knows, right? i wonder what the good doctor thought about hair color, as that is what is on my mind at the moment...(here comes the stream of consciousness)...i love to "play" with the color of my hair, reds and black being my favorites. (i read that changing hair color is one of my "battie symptoms!")...well, it is black now, but i am shocked at how many WHITES are popping up...yes, i am elderly at 45...! i bought some reddish color and shall try it next, if only to hope it covers thr little whities! Here's the kicker...i thought i wanted black because it was kind of "romantic, a bit rebellious, goth" (another symtom, "teenage behavior"...oh, no!), but now i think the real reason is my love of the Middle East and East India and it's people and the prominance (sp?) of dark hair and eyes there. So. What say ye, Dr. El Bedri...? :)

i gave your name and blog address to another psychiatrist here (my son's medication doctor, another really nice psychiatrist i wish did therapy but does not...sigh). i am hoping he will visit the best blog on the web.

Best to you always, t.

Anonymous said...

i ment the shape of the skull and the bumps on the head, that sort of thing seemed to make no sense, not all of what you wrote.......t

saminkie said...

dear Tracy, it really make no sense, it is an old theory with only a historical significance, and regarding your hair color, whether it is red, black or whatever, whether you are 15, 25 35 45 , 55, 65, or 145, you will still be a nice lady whome I like what she writes the most...take care....byebye