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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 ?
This article argues that career counseling existed in America as early as the 1870s in response to these societal forces and that the first practitioners of this field were phrenologists.
In their study The Female Offender (1893), the Italian phrenologists Cesare Lombroso and Guglielmo Ferrero too warned of this possibility, claiming woman "would become excessively erotic, weak in maternal feeling [and would, through] her love of violent exercise, her vices, and even her dress, increase her resemblance to the sterner sex" (187).
Phrenologists entered the ranks of tea leaves readers and circus palmists.
Another point of difference between phrenology and modern science is that phrenologists believed that abstract characteristics and qualities also had corresponding organs in the brain.
Drawn together by their intellectual natures, both women were abolitionists, Spiritualists, and phrenologists.
Chakras Phrenologists massage the head to feel lumps, which identify traits, and the client can then nurture or encourage their talents.
In this respect, Poe parallels Calvinist doctrine (from a detractor's perspective) with the insanity defense; the narrator suggests his culpability is minimized if the cause comes from spiritually wrought depravity, just as phrenologists and defense lawyers minimized culpability if the cause was physically wrought depravity.
Because the educational theories and pragmatic applications of American phrenologists put great emphasis on literacy and writing instruction, this paper looks at how certain leading phrenologists in mid-nineteenth-century America conducted nothing less than an educational crusade to revise the teaching of reading and writing in the emergent public school system.
It is as though phrenologists, under the pressure to conform to the prevailing standards of scientific rigor, went from measurements of the surface of the skull to determining cranial capacity.
The different Faculties of the Mind were then excited as l aid down by Phrenologists, Such as Mirth when she instantly broke forth into a hearty Laugh.
Ariela Gross notes that "the introduction of a `scientific' discourse about race into the courtroom, traces its roots to the well-documented rise of `racial science' among phrenologists and medical doctors during [the mid-nineteenth century.
Poe himself had been examined by phrenologists and he may have believed himself to have had a well-developed organ of time--consider, after all, just how expansive Poe's famous forehead is