The National Encyclopædia


(from the Greek 'mind' and 'discourse') is, in the words of Dr. Spurzheim, the doctrine of the special faculties of the mind, and of the relations between their manifestations and the body, particularly the brain. The fundamental principles of Phrenology, and those in which it chiefly differs from other psychological systems are, that the manifestation of each of the several faculties of the mind depends on a particular part of the brain, and that, cæteris paribus, the degree of strength in which each faculty is manifested in each individual, depends on the size of its appropriated portion of the brain, or, as it is termed, its organ.

The first principle, that of the plurality of organs in the brain, is supported, 1, by the analogy of the other compound organs or systems in the body, in which each part has its special function; as, for example, in the digestive system, in which the stomach, liver, and other organs perform each their separate share in the common result of digestion of the food; 2, by the different degrees in which, in different individuals, the several mental functions are manifested; 3, by the phenomena of some forms of mental derangement, in which it often happens that the strength of some of the mental faculties is increased, while that of others is diminished, and in many cases one function only of the mind is deranged while all the rest are performed in a natural manner; 4, by the fact that the several mental faculties are developed to their greatest strength at different periods of life, some being exercised with great energy in childhood, others only in adult age; 5, by the phenomena of dreams, in which only a part of the mental faculties are at rest or asleep, while the others are awake, and, it is presumed, are exercised through the medium of the parts of the brain appropriated to them; 6, by the examination of the brains of individuals remarkable for some peculiar propensity or talent, in which a constant correspondence has been found in the development of a certain portion of the brain; and that thus the results of the observations upon which phrenology was first founded by dr. gall, exactly coincide with and confirm the arguments by which its truths may, á priori, be made to seem probable. Lastly, pain has sometimes been felt in an organ when the faculty with which it is presumed to be connected has been greatly excited; and when a faculty has been morbidly manifested during life, disease has sometimes been found to have affected the corresponding part of the brain.

Marvellousness is the sentiment which is principally manifested by a belief in miraculous and supernatural circumstances, and which leads men to be amused with everything that can excite their surprise and wonder.

Every power of the mind is regarded by phrenologists as a primitive faculty, and is considered to be manifested through the medium of a separate organ, which, 1, exists in one kind of animal and not in another; 2, varies in the sexes of the same species; 3, is not proportionate to the other faculties of the same individual; 4, does not manifest itself simultaneously with the other faculties, that is, it appears or disappears earlier or later than they do; 5, may act or repose singly; 6, individually, is propagated in a distinct manner from parents to children; and 7, singly, may preserve its proper state of health or be affected by disease.

In accordance with these rules Gall enumerated nearly thirty primitive mental faculties, which are admitted, with more or less of modification, by all the phrenologists of the present day. They were augmented by Spurzheim to thirty-five, and divided into moral, or affective, and intellectual. The affective faculties or feelings he again divided into propensities, including all those which produce only desires or inclinations, and sentiments, including such as not only produce a desire to act, but are combined with some other emotion or affection which is not mere propensity. The intellectual faculties also he distinguished into the perceptive and the reflective. The subjoined figures and the references to them will at once indicate this division of the mental faculties, and the situations on the exterior of the head which are supposed to correspond with the portions of the brain belonging to each, according to the system of Dr. Spurzheim. We have also added the figures by which the several organs were originally marked by Mr. Combe, before he adopted the enumeration of Dr. Spurzheim.

1. Amativeness is the mental faculty which produces the propensity to physical love, or, as it was termed by Dr. Gall, the instinct of propagation. The cerebellum is the organ of this function.

2. Philoprogenitiveness is the faculty which produces the feeling of love towards offspring. The seat of this organ is directly above the middle of that of amativeness; and the energy of the faculty is indicated by the general protuberance of the occipital bone. Though placed in the middle of the head, this organ is, of course, like all the others, double, and extends to an equal distance on each side of the median line.

3. Inhabitiveness. -- The existence of this organ, the propensity to inhabit particular regions or countries, which produces the love of home, and determines in each species the dwelling and mode of life which is best adapted to it, is regarded as doubtful. Dr. Gall placed in this situation the organ of pride in man, and that of the instinct in animals which prompts them to seek and inhabit the heights of mountains or fly high in the air, believing that faculties which are merely physical in brutes may become moral in man, and that there is an analogy between the feelings which prompt to the pursuit of moral and those which excite the desire of physical elevation. Mr. Combe and many of the Edinburgh school of phrenology name this the organ of concentrativeness, believing that it corresponds to the faculty of maintaining two or more powers in simultaneous and combined activity, so that they may be directed towards one object; a faculty disposing to sedentary pursuits, and a close and steady attention, especially by meditation, to a given object.

4. Adhesiveness is the propensity to attachment or friendship, by which individuals of the same or different kinds are induced to associate together, and which causes men to be attached to the various objects amongst which they are placed.

5. Combativeness is the natural disposition which men and animals feel in various degrees to quarrel or fight.

6. Destructiveness, or the propensity to destroy, is the feeling which is gratified by any kind or mode of destruction. Spurzheim ascribed to it the tendency to all kinds of destruction, whatever were their objects, or the mode in which they were effected. The seat of the organ of destructiveness is on each side of the head immediately above the ear, at No. 6; and its various degrees of development may be seen in a comparison of the width at this part of the heads of carnivorous and herbivorous animals. In order to discover its organ, Dr. Gall is said to have been in the habit of calling of calling together boys from the streets, to endeavour to make them fight. There were, of course, some who were fond of it, and others who were peaceable and timid: in the former the part of the head marked 5 was prominent; in the latter it was flattened or depressed.

7. Secretiveness is the propensity to act in a clandestine manner; to conceal emotion, and to be secret in thoughts, words, things, and projects. The organ of this propensity is immediately above that of destructiveness, at No. 7.

8. Acquisitiveness is the propensity to acquire. Its organ being found very large in notorious thieves, Dr. Gall considered that there was a natural disposition to theft. The seat of its organ is at the back part of the temples.

9. Constructiveness is the faculty which leads to construction of all kinds; guided by it birds build their nests, rabbits burrow, beavers make their huts; and men are directed by it to manufactures, the practice of the several branches of the fine arts, building, and various manual operations. Its organ is situated at the lower part of the temple, at 9.

10. Self-esteem is the sentiment which gives an individual a high opinion of himself, which in excess produces pride and arrogance, and when moderate and modified by other superior faculties imparts dignity to the mind, and renders it hostile to everything that is mean or degrading. The seat of its organ is at the middle of the upper and back part of the head (10), directly above Inhabitiveness (3), with which Dr. Gall confounded it.

11. Love of Approbation, according to Dr. Spurzheim, is the sentiment which makes us regard the opinion entertained of us, and induces the question -- what will the world or the people say? The organ is seated on each side of Self-esteem.

12. Cautiousness is the disposition of the mind which leads a man or an animal to take precautions in whatever he has to do; 'it doubts, says but, and continually exclaims take care' (Spurzheim). Its organ is situated on the upper lateral and posterior part of the head, between Destructiveness and Self-esteem.

13. Benevolence is the disposition of the mind from which result compassion, kindness, philanthropy, mildness, charity, and various other amiable social virtues. The seat of its organ is the upper and middle part of the forehead, just where the hair begins to grow.

14. Veneration. -- The organ of the faculty was called by Dr. Gall the organ of religion, and he believed that the disposition to the worship of God was directly proportionate to its development. When the organ of this sentiment is much developed, the head is remarkably elevated, and it was by observing (as Lavatar had before done) this peculiarity in the shape of the heads of very pious persons, that the position of the organ on the front part of the top of the middle of the head was determined.

15. Firmness is the faculty which gives constancy and perseverance to the other powers, and contributes to maintain their activity.

16. Conscientiousness is the fundamental and innate sentiment which disposes mankind to look and to wish for justice. Its situation is on the upper part of the head, on each side of that of Firmness.

17. Hope is the sentiment which induces men to believe in the possibility of whatever their other faculties desire; it is not mere desire, for that may continue without any hope of being ever gratified. Its organ is situated on each side of that of Veneration.

18. Marvellousness is the sentiment which is principally manifested by a belief in miraculous and supernatural circumstances, and which leads men to be amused with everything that can excite their surprise and wonder. Its organ is situated immediately in front of that of Hope.

19. Ideality. -- Dr. Gall regarded the organ of this faculty as the organ of poetry, finding it much developed in all the great poets of ancient and modern times The organ of this sentiment is placed by the side of Marvellousness, and the two frequently act together.

20. Mirthfulness or Wit. -- Spurzheim regards this faculty as affective, not as intellectual, in which view it is regarded by Gall, and by the principal phrenologists of the Edinburgh school. The organ is situated in the upper and lateral part of the forehead.

21. Imitation. -- Those who have this faculty highly developed are fond of acting and of imitating the gestures, voices, manners, and in general all the manifestations of man and animals. Its organ is situated at the front of the head, and on each side of Benevolence.

22. Individuality is in Spurzheim's arrangement the first of those intellectual faculties which perceive the existence of external objects and their physical qualities. Its organ is situated behind the root of the nose, and its greater development enlarges the forehead between the eyebrows.

23. Configuration is the power which takes cognizance of forms and figures generally. Its organ is situated in the internal angle of the orbit, and when large it pushes the eyeball outwards and downwards, giving the person in whom it is thus developed a somewhat squinting appearance, and making his eyes appear unusually wide apart.

24. Size. -- This is the faculty which measures the size of bodies, as distinguished from their form, which is appreciated by the preceding power. Its organ is placed at the inner corner of the arch of the eyebrow.

25. Weight. -- It is believed that the mind estimates the weight and resistance as well as many of the other qualities, of bodies, not by the sense of feeling, but by a peculiar internal operation, which must require a special organ. Dr. Spurzheim conjectures that its situation is behind the orbit, in the neighbourhood of Configuration and Size.

26. Colouring. -- There appears to be a peculiar faculty for the full appreciation of the relations of colour. The organ of this power, which must, from these and other similar circumstances, be regarded as an original faculty of the mind, is placed in the middle of the arch of the eyebrow.

27. Locality. -- This is the faculty by which we appreciate and remember the places occupied by objects around us; the mental power which makes the traveller, geographer, and the landscape-painter; which recollects localities, and gives notions of perspective. Its organ is placed above and on each side of the root of the nose.

28. Calculation might be called the faculty of arithmetic; whatever concerns number or calculation belongs to it, and hence Mr. Combe and many others speak of its organ as that of number. In those in whom the power of calculating is much developed, the external angle of the eyebrow is either much pressed downwards or elevated; the organ of this faculty being situated beneath that part of the brow.

29. Order. -- It is believed that there is a faculty which gives a disposition to arrange and keep things in order. Its organ is situated between those of Colouring and Calculation.

30. Eventuality. -- Individuals who have this organ large are attentive to all that happens around them, to phenomena, to events, to facts; they are fond of history and of anecdotes; are inquisitive, and desire information on every branch of natural knowledge. The organ is situated in the middle of the forehead, and those in whom it is much developed have a peculiar prominence of this part of the skull.

31. Time. -- The faculty of time conceives the duration of phenomena, their simultaneousness, or succession. Its organ is situated above the middle of the eyebrow.

32. Melody or Tune. -- The organ of tune bears the same relation to the ears as that of colour does to the eyes. The organ is placed above the outer part of the eyebrow, so that when much developed, it enlarges the lower and lateral part of the forehead.

33. Language. -- This is the faculty which makes us acquainted with arbitrary signs, which remembers them, judges of their relations, and gives a disposition to indulge in all exercises connected with words. Its organ was the first that Dr. Gall discovered; in his youth he observed that while he had great difficulty in committing his lessons to memory, there were many boys who could easily learn by heart even things which they did not understand so well as he did. He noticed that all these boys were 'bull-eyed,' that is, had a peculiar prominence of the eye-ball, which seemed to project from its socket. Subsequent observation enabled him to confirm the opinion that the organ of verbal knowledge is situated at the very back part of the orbit, which is, with the eye, pushed forward by it when it is much developed.

34. Comparison is the reflective faculty which discusses the sensations and ideas excited by all the other faculties, and points out their difference, analogy, similitude, or identity. Its organ is situated in the middle of the upper part of the forehead.

35. Causality is the reflective faculty which engages men in the study of the causes and origins of things, and which guides to the employment of processes of induction It is considered the highest and loftiest of the intellectual powers. The organ of Causality is at the upper part of the forehead, on each side of Comparison.

Although men of superior understanding are rarely deficient in frontal development, still there is many a fool, and many a shallow-pated coxcomb, with a finely-developed head.

The doctrine of Phrenology, notwithstanding this minute analysis, still remains a quæstio vexata. Physiologists appear to be unwilling to admit it into the great family of the sciences; yet there are numbers who still place implicit reliance on the leading principles of cranial developments. The subject is, at least, worthy of consideration. We should say that, 'in phrenology there was much that was both true and new; but that which was true was not new, and that which was new was not true!' Thus the doctrine of mental physiology, as regards the peculiar formation of the head, was evidently acknowledged and understood by the ancient Greeks, as illustrated by their statues and the figures of their gods and heroes; and in this leading principle of phrenology there may be some physiological truth; but the undulating system of organs is perfectly new, and peculiar to modern times.

The Greeks perfectly understood that a prominent front development was a manifestation of intellect; and that a low receding forehead and large cerebellum indicated stupidity and strong animal propensities. These principles were also received and promulgated a century ago by a German professor named Camper, who indicated the degree of intellect possessed by men and animals, agreeably to what he styled the facial angle, of which the annexed engraving, so far as it regards the human head, is a representation.

[ Odious engraving omitted ]

As this doctrine of cerebral organization appears to be based on something like physiological truth, on which the phrenologists have evidently raised their superstructure, we shall endeavour to show the distinguishing line where truth may be said to end, and the fallacies of modern phrenology to commence.

Blumenbach, a distinguished philosopher of Gottingen, notices three leading races of the human family, viz., the Caucasian, the Mongolian (inhabiting Central and Northern Asia), and the Ethiopian. The Mongolian and the Ethopian, or Negro, differ most from the Caucasian, and are greatly inferior in intellect. Blumenbach gives the preference to the Caucasian race in the scale of intellect. They received the appellation from Mount Caucasus, because it is generally supposed that civilization and the arts first sprang from that quarter of the globe. In the Caucasian race there are distinguishing marks of superior intellect; the head being larger, the forehead expanded, and the upper and fore part of it prominently developed. The characteristics of the Ethiopian or Negro race are a low receding forehead, cheek bones prominent, the jaws narrow and projecting, and the occipital part of the head extremely large; all tending to show an inferior degree of intellect, and a prepondering quantity of animal force.

These facts being admitted, it follows that there may be some physiological truth in the doctrine of Camper's facial angle, which consists of a line drawn from the projecting part of the upper jaw to the most prominent portion of the forehead; and according to the angle it describes is measured the degree of intellect.

Thus far have we entered into the physiological principles of phrenology, as understood by the ancients, and demonstrated by Camper; but in admitting that there may be some truth in the proposition that the frontal development of the cerebrum is indicative of intellect, and an extraordinary prominence of the cerebellum or posterior part of the skull, denotative of the animal propensities, it does not necessarily follow that an intellectually formed cranium contains a finely organized brain, or that superior mind and genius are its necessary concomitants; for these chiefly depend on the exquisite and beautiful organization of the cerebral and nervous tissues, duly attempered by the sanguiferous fluids and secretive juices, which afford their possessor the means of treasuring up his stores of knowledge, obtained through the medium of his external senses, and applying them with judgment to the passing events of life, or directing his genius to the pursuits of literature, science, or art. The fact is, that the organs of mind are too deeply seated within the recesses of the brain to be manifested with certainty on the external cranium; and although men of superior understanding are rarely deficient in frontal development, still there is many a fool, and many a shallow-pated coxcomb, with a finely-developed head.

(The principal treatises on Phrenology which the student should consult are, the works of George Combe, Gall, and Spurzheim; Wigan's Duaility of the Brain; Dr. Laycock, Mind and Brain; Bailey, Letters on the Philosophy of the Human Mind; Professor Bain, On the Study of Character).