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Phrenology Essay

Phrenology is a pseudoscience that evaluates one’s character by locating the bumps on the surface of the head. The inventors of this method found it efficient because there is no way a person can have bumps on the same spot.

This idea was generated by a famous German physician called Franz Joseph Gall. He carried out studies on people in different locations and found out that when the bump was located in a specific position the individuals who had them had common personality traits.

In phrenology the physicians locate a bump hence evaluate the distance between bumps in order to dictate the kind of behavior that is likely to be displayed by the person in question.

Today most people don’t appreciate phrenology like before because they associate it with other arts such as palm reading. They don’t understand how people can gauge their behavior by observing their bumps (Bain, 2004).

The studies done by Franz Joseph Gall suggest that the outside form of the skull reflect the actual form of the brain. He further found out that the other external parts of the body are interlinked with the brain.

Phrenology was later integrated into other fields such as criminology because this concept could explain the character exhibited by a criminal. Wyhe (2004) explains that the physician would run his/her hand on the surface of the patient’s head to feel the bump(s).

The bumps here don’t include scars that are found on the head because bumps are protrusions that are on the skull and can be used to define the form of the head.

Franz stated that the brain was comprised of 27 seven organs and each of them represented different characters in human beings. However, 19 of these organs were shared by man and animals hence man was distinct due to the remaining eight organs.

During the bump evaluation the actual dimension of the head was gauged. Due to the efficiency of this theory ancient employer begun to use it while selecting the best employees. Additionally, the technique was applied in relationships where partners employed it to evaluate their compatibility.

Phrenology was later rejected as a pseudoscience because it resembled astrology in so many ways. Besides, the advancement in scientific studies proved the technique to be misleading.

Franz did not take the criticism of his findings lightly because he had managed to make many people believe in his technique. In his studies the twenty seven organs of the brain had individual roles and the one that was felt by the touch of hand was the dominant character.

Phrenology tends to be in conflict with science and Holy Scriptures and that’s why other philosophers rejected it because there is no evidence concerning its efficiency.

Scientists argue that though several children may be fathered by one man or born by the same woman they exist as independent entities hence they have different behaviors which are influenced by their experiences and interests. Phrenology could be very wrong because you can not judge someone’s personality by their outward looks.

There are many times when we have been misguided by the outward looks because they don’t reflect the behavior portrayed by the individual.

Some people feel that behavior is hereditary such that the children tend to follow the footsteps of their parents. But they don’t actually imitate both parents because the child follows the footpath that is dominant that is the father’s or the mother’s behavior (Gregory, 2004).

In addition to that, there are those who view character as being repetitive in sequential generations. This means that the characters that were present among our forefathers will continue to exist in successive generations.

That’s why parents are amazed by the behavior exhibited by their children because neither of them possesses such personality.

However, there are other advanced techniques that have been developed to evaluate people’s behavior such as when they are lying. Most of these techniques are used in criminology to determine whether a suspect is guilty or innocent.


Bain, Alexander. (2004). On the Study of Character Including an Estimate of Phrenology, New York: Kessinger Publishing.

Gregory, R.J. (2004). Psychological Testing: History, Principles, and Applications. 4th Ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Wyhe V. J. (2004). Phrenology and the Origins of Victorian Scientific Naturalism. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing.

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