The Sorrows of Young Werewolf (eyeteeth) wrote,
The Sorrows of Young Werewolf

Holy crap, it's Phineas Gage!

Sometimes when I obsess at people about Walter they obsess back about Phineas. I'm always sorry to have to tell them that there's no evidence his story had any effect on the history of psychosurgery. In fact there's not a lot of evidence for the story itself as it is usually told: the part about Phineas's getting a tamping rod through the head in a freak railway accident is undisputed, but the part about his personality changing afterward dates to 1868 -- twenty years after the accident. The primary doctor in the case, a guy named John Martyn Harlow, doesn't say anything about this at all. In fact he attributes Phineas's amazing recovery in part to his "iron will." Personally I rather like the idea that Phineas took a tamping rod through the eye -- and out the back of the skull, leaving a two-inch hole that never healed -- and remained more or less mentally intact. Harlow reports that when he arrived on the scene Phineas was, incredibly, conscious, and said to him, "Doctor, here is business enough for you."

By the way, if you were wondering about another connection with dubious, soul-crushing science, I don't think John Martyn Harlow was related to Harry Harlow. Harry's real last name was Israel: he changed it so no one would think he was a Jew (which he wasn't, so fair enough).

Lastly, as of last weekend it is no longer my secret shame that I have never seen the Bela Lugosi Dracula. And I was surprised to learn that the best thing about it isn't Bela. The best thing about it is Dwight Frye as Renfield, a part the writers had the good sense to expand until it's considerably larger than Harker's. This is what I'm talking about. Ooh, Mr. Renfield!

Oh, and for what it's worth, ooh, Mr. Gage!
Tags: beautiful men, bela lugosi, dwight frye, harry harlow, operation cease and desist letter, phineas gage, stix, theflieslikeittooandiliketheflies, walter freeman
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