Medical Definition of Phrenology

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Phrenology: The study of variations in the size, shape, and proportion of the cranium. Phrenology was a pseudoscience of the 18th and 19th centuries, based on the belief that a person's character could be learned by looking with care at the shape of the person's head and noting each and every bump and depression in the skull. The individual mental faculties were believed to be contained in neat compartments in the cerebral cortex, and the sizes of these faculties were supposed to be reflected by the configuration of the skull.

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Reviewed on 10/30/2018

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