Medical Definition of Craniology

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Craniology: The study of variations in size, shape, and proportion of the skull (cranium). Also known as phrenology, it 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 their head and noting each and every bump and depression in their skull. The individual mental faculties were believed to be contained in neat compartments in the cerebral cortex and the size of these faculties were supposed to be reflected by the configuration of the skull. The best known model of phrenology was that of Gall who marked off the places of twenty-six organs on the head.

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Reviewed on 12/27/2018

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