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Exposing Adventism - Phrenology

In 1864 the Whites visited Dr. Jackson's health reform institute in Dansville, New York. Mrs. White brought her sons Edson and Wille to Dr. Jackson for a phrenology reading (for which Dr. Jackson charged five dollars per reading). She wrote to some close friends sharing her elation with the doctor's flattering findings:

"I think Dr. Jackson gave an accurate account of the disposition and organization of our children. He pronounced Willie's head to be one of the best that has ever come under his observation. He gave a good description of Edson's character and peculiarities. I think this examination will be worth everything to Edson." ( Ellen White to Bro. and Sister Lockwood, Sep. 14, 1864, from Jackson's clinic in Dansville, New York, L-6-1864, White Estate, as quoted in Dr. Ronald Numbers, Prophetess of Health.)
The inflation calculator at http://www.westegg.com/inflation/ shows that $5 in 1864 would be worth $79.05 today.

When James was healthy, she had spoken of how "large and active" were his "cautiousness, conscientiousness, and benevolence." She noted that these had "been special blessings in qualifying him for his business career." However, during his illness these "special developments, which had been a blessing to him in health, were painfully excitable, and a hindrance to his recovery." (Ellen White, "Our Late Experience," Review and Herald, Feb. 27, 1866; James White to Ira Abbey, June 27, 1873)


 
Our Observation

Phrenology was a complex process that involved feeling the bumps in the skull to determine an individual's psychological attributes. Franz Joseph Gall first believed that the brain was made up of 27 individual 'organs' that created one's personality, with the first 19 of these 'organs' believed to exist in other animal species. Phrenologists would run their fingertips and palms over the skulls of their patients to feel for enlargements or indentations. The phrenologist would usually take measurements of the overall head size using a caliper. With this information, the phrenologist would assess the character and temperament of the patient and address each of the 27 "brain organs". This type of analysis was used to predict the kinds of relationships and behaviors to which the patient was prone. In its heyday during the 1820s-1840s, phrenology was often used to predict a child's future life, to assess prospective marriage partners and to provide background checks for job applicants.

Gall's list of the "brain organs" was lengthy and specific, as he believed that each bump or indentation in a patient's skull corresponded to his "brain map". An enlarged bump meant that the patient utilized that particular "organ" extensively. The 27 areas were highly varied in function, from sense of color, to the likelihood of religiosity, to the potential to commit murder. Each of the 27 "brain organs" was found in a specific area of the skull. As the phrenologist felt the skull, he could refer to a numbered diagram showing where each functional area was believed to be located.
The 27 "brain organs" were:
1. The instinct of reproduction (located in the cerebellum).
2. The love of one's offspring.
3. Affection and friendship.
4. The instinct of self-defense and courage; the tendency to get into fights.
5. The carnivorous instinct; the tendency to murder.
6. Guile; acuteness; cleverness.
7. The feeling of property; the instinct of stocking up on food (in animals); covetousness; the tendency to steal.
8. Pride; arrogance; haughtiness; love of authority; loftiness.
9. Vanity; ambition; love of glory (a quality "beneficent for the individual and for society").
10. Circumspection; forethought.
11. The memory of things; the memory of facts; educability; perfectibility.
12. The sense of places; of space proportions.
13. The memory of people; the sense of people.
14. The memory of words.
15. The sense of language; of speech.
16. The sense of colors.
17. The sense of sounds; the gift of music.
18. The sense of connectedness between numbers.
19. The sense of mechanics, of construction; the talent for architecture.
20. Comparative sagacity.
21. The sense of metaphysics.
22. The sense of satire; the sense of witticism.
23. The poetical talent.
24. Kindness; benevolence; gentleness; compassion; sensitivity; moral sense.
25. The faculty to imitate; the mimic.
26. The organ of religion.
27. The firmness of purpose; constancy; perseverance; obstinacy.

Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phrenology

 
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Unless otherwise noted, all original material on this ExposingAdventism.com website is 2007-2008 by Gilbert Jorgensen. Careful effort has been made to give credit as clearly as possible to any specific material quoted or ideas extensively adapted from any one resource. Corrections and clarifications regarding citations for any source material are welcome, and will be promptly added to any sections which are found to be inadequately documented as to source.