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An obsolete doctrine asserting each mental faculty is located in a definite part of the cerebral cortex, the size of which part varies in a direct ratio with the development and strength of the corresponding faculty; this size is indicated by the external configuration of the skull.
Synonym(s): craniognomy
[phreno- + G. logos, study]


Etymology: Gk, phren, mind
the study of the conformation of the skull based on the assumption that mental faculties are localized in particular sites on the surface of the brain. According to phrenologists, intelligence or other faculties of a person may be mirrored through elevations in the skull overlying the particular area of the brain.
A medical ‘discipline’ popular in the 18th to 19th century, which was based on the now-quaint belief that there was a relationship between the structure of the skull and mental traits


A theory, taken seriously for a time in the 18th century, that human characteristics were reflected in the relative growth of parts of the brain and that these could be detected by palpation of the skull bumps which, it was claimed, conformed to the shape of the brain.


Franz J., German-Austrian anatomist, 1758-1828.
Gall craniology - an obsolete doctrine. Synonym(s): phrenology
References in periodicals archive ?
dictionaries from the 1850s, the phrenological perspective of disability
Fowler's virtual hailing on the minstrel stage is doubly significant given the fact that his and his brother-in-law's office, Fowler and Wells--which doubled as a museum and a publishing house for the American Phrenological Journal and other publications--was just blocks down the street from the Mechanic's Hall on Broadway, one of the main minstrel venues in New York.
Fowler went to England to establish a phrenological publishing house and was replaced in the New York operation by Nelson Sizer, the manager of the firm's Philadelphia office.
Introductory Statement', Phrenological Journal and Miscellany, 1823, pp.
An emphasis on the combination of the physical and the intellectual was particularly evident in the phrenological treatment of the poet.
To the Fowlers, one of the most important ways to effect change, based on phrenological tenets, was to reform the American system of education.
The beheading of a sperm whale-"It should not have been omitted that previous to completely stripping the body of the leviathan, he was beheaded" (292)--dominates an entire chapter and is followed by a chapter on the beheading of a right whale; both chapters note their respective physiognomic traits and invoke, of course, the phrenological and physiognomic giants, Gall and Lavatar.
11 It is like the old phrenological theories of temper or character type.
Intermixed with great and obscure works of art were such riveting documents as turn-of-the-century French police-blotter records and asylum case studies diagnosing "female hysteria," and a Caligari's cabinet - ful of phrenological diagrams and taxonomical charts.
A decision to use photographs rather than drawings, or to omit illustrations from phrenological and physiological studies, suggested to readers how Darwin positioned his theories.
We are introduced briefly to phrenological influences on Chambers himself, and still more briefly to the taxonomical and physiological theories of the 1830s and 1840s, but we are left wondering what other texts readers had read, what other messages of social progress mingled with the Vestiges's narrative of natural evolution.