Review Phineas Gage

Discussion in 'Fame & Infamy' started by Doctor Omega, Mar 30, 2018.

  1. Doctor Omega

    Doctor Omega Moderator

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    Phineas P. Gage (1823–1860) was an American railroad construction foreman remembered for his improbable[B1]:19 survival of an accident in which a large iron rod was driven completely through his head, destroying much of his brain's left frontal lobe, and for that injury's reported effects on his personality and behavior over the remaining 12 years of his life‍—‌effects sufficiently profound (for a time at least) that friends saw him as "no longer Gage". [H]:14

    [​IMG]
    The iron's path, per Harlow[H]:21
    Long known as the "American Crowbar Case"‍—‌once termed "the case which more than all others is calculated to excite our wonder, impair the value of prognosis, and even to subvert our physiologicaldoctrines" [2]‍—‌Phineas Gage influenced 19th-century discussion about the mind and brain, particularly debate on cerebral localization,[M]:ch7-9 and was perhaps the first case to suggest the brain's role in determining personality, and that damage to specific parts of the brain might induce specific personality changes.[M]:1,378[M2]:C[3]:1347[4]:56[K2]:abstr

    Gage is a fixture in the curricula of neurology, psychology, and neuroscience,[5][M7]:149 one of "the great medical curiosities of all time"[M8] and "a living part of the medical folklore" [R]:637 frequently mentioned in books and scientific papers;[M]:ch14 he even has a minor place in popular culture.[6] Despite this celebrity, the body of established fact about Gage and what he was like (whether before or after his injury) is small, which has allowed "the fitting of almost any theory [desired] to the small number of facts we have" [M]:290‍—‌Gage acting as a "Rorschach inkblot" [7] in which proponents of various conflicting theories of the brain all saw support for their views. Historically, published accounts of Gage (including scientific ones) have almost always severely exaggerated and distorted his behavioral changes, frequently contradicting the known facts.

    A report of Gage's physical and mental condition shortly before his death implies that his most serious mental changes were temporary, so that in later life he was far more functional, and socially far better adapted, than in the years immediately following his accident. A social recovery hypothesis suggests that Gage's work as a stagecoach driver in Chile fostered this recovery by providing daily structure which allowed him to regain lost social and personal skills.



     
  2. Doctor Omega

    Doctor Omega Moderator

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