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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 ?
The day will also feature many examples of 19th century medical history, with costumed historians depicting medical experts of the period, including a traveling dentist and a phrenologist.
physician and phrenologist Johann Spurzheim directed his readers to
In the Old Catacombs of Mexico and Peru, cranial distortions are found which would set at defiance the profoundest phrenologist who ever undertook to measure the human intellect with a pair of compasses .
But leaving this hint to operate as it may with the phrenologists, I would merely assume the spinal theory for a moment, in reference to the Sperm Whale's hump.
His opponents range from bumbling phrenologists, who believed bumps on the skull determined intelligence, to overt racists, who peddled fables of long-heeled Africans unable to stand on their own.
The thorough-bred wanderer's idiosyncracy I presume to be a composition of what phrenologists call "inhabitiveness" and "locality" equally and largely developed.
In fact, it is a recommendation from a mid-nineteenth-century German police expert who had absorbed the theories of phrenologists.
By Kathleen Hom Nineteenth-century phrenologists believed that the shape and size of various parts of the brain, as reflected in a personAAEs skull, determined personality.
It is an indisputable but conveniently overlooked fact that trait-and-factor career counseling was widely practiced in the United States at least 35 years before Frank Parsons provided this service and that the practitioners were phrenologists.
These included phrenologists, herbalists, hydropaths, lay midwives, spiritual healers and purveyors of home remedies and patent medicines (Martyr 2002).
Various skull shapes and sizes were pored over by nineteenth and early twentieth century phrenologists placing origins throughout the Pacific and into Asia, South Asia, Arabia, and North Africa.
Moreover, some contemporary findings--there is evidence, for instance, that some minor mouth deformities indicate uterine trauma and are correlated with violent behaviour--may suggest that the phrenologists were right in principle and merely mistaken on detail.