Phrenological bust by LN FowlerPhrenological bust by LN FowlerThe History of Phrenology on the Web

by John van Wyhe

George Combe's A System of Phrenology, 5th edn, 2 vols. 1853.

Vol. 1: [front matter], Intro, Nervous system, Principles of Phrenology, Anatomy of the brain, Division of the faculties 1.Amativeness 2.Philoprogenitiveness 3.Concentrativeness 4.Adhesiveness 5.Combativeness 6.Destructiveness, Alimentiveness, Love of Life 7.Secretiveness 8.Acquisitiveness 9.Constructiveness 10.Self-Esteem 11.Love of Approbation 12.Cautiousness 13.Benevolence 14.Veneration 15.Firmness 16.Conscientiousness 17.Hope 18.Wonder 19.Ideality 20.Wit or Mirthfulness 21.Imitation.
Vol. 2: [front matter], external senses, 22.Individuality 23.Form 24.Size 25.Weight 26.Colouring 27.Locality 28.Number 29.Order 30.Eventuality 31.Time 32.Tune 33.Language 34.Comparison, General observations on the Perceptive Faculties, 35.Causality, Modes of actions of the faculties, National character & development of brain, On the importance of including development of brain as an element in statistical inquiries, Into the manifestations of the animal, moral, and intellectual faculties of man, Statistics of Insanity, Statistics of Crime, Comparative phrenology, Mesmeric phrenology, Objections to phrenology considered, Materialism, Effects of injuries of the brain, Conclusion, Appendices: No. I, II, III, IV, V, [Index], [Works of Combe].


It early occurred to Drs Gall and Spurzheim, that the . appetite for food is an instinct not referable to any of the recognised faculties of the mind, and they therefore were disposed to view it as a primitive power, having a separate organ ; but they did not discover its situation.

In the sheep, the olfactory nerves, which are very large, are perceived to originate from two cerebral convolutions' lying at the base of the middle lobe of the brain, adjoining


and immediately below the situation occupied by the organ of Destructiveness in carnivorous animals. The sheep is guided in the selection of its food by the sense of smell ; and the inference early occurred to me, that these parts might be the organs of the instinct which prompts it to take nourishment. Corresponding convolutions occur in the human brain, but the functions of them were not ascertained, owing to their situation presenting obstacles to the determination of their size during life. The conjecture, however, seemed to be plausible, that they might serve a similar purpose to that which they were supposed to perform in the sheep.

This subject attracted the notice of that ingenious phrenologist Dr Hoppe of Copenhagen, and he treated of it in two valuable communications, published in The Phrenological Journal, vol. ii. pp. 70, 484, (See also vol. iv. p. 308.) He is of opinion, that, besides the nerves of the stomach and palate, of which alone he conceives the sensations of hunger and thirst to be affections, there must be also an organ in the brains of animals for the instinct of nutrition (taking nourishment for the preservation of life), which incites them to the sensual enjoyments of the palate, and the activity of which is independent of hunger and thirst. " How," says he, December 1823, " should the mere sense of hunger, more than any other disagreeable or painful sensation, make the animal desire food, the necessity of such not being known to him by experience ? This could only be effected by instinct ; because either an instinct, i. e. the immediate impulse of an organ, or else experience and reflection, are the causes of all actions.

" We observe, that the chicken is no sooner out of the egg, than it picks the grain that lies on the ground, and the new-born babe sucks the nipple. Is this to be explained without the supposition of an organ analogous to that which makes the duckling immediately plunge into the water, or makes the kitten bite the first mouse it meets with ?

" Neither am I able otherwise to conceive how the newborn animal can discriminate what is useful for its nutrition ; that, for instance, the chicken never mistakes gravel for


grain, and that the wild beasts always avoid poisonous plants without ever tasting them. " When the child, even enjoying perfect health, sucks till the stomach is filled, in a literal sense of the word, it surely feels no hunger or thirst; yet, if laid to the breast, it will continue sucking, even sometimes having thrown off the last draught from overfilling." " If nothing but hunger and thirst impelled man to take food, he would, when satiated, have no appetite for meat and drink ; yet we every day observe people that cannot resist the temptation of surfeiting themselves both with meat and drink, though they know it to be noxious, and others again that never are tempted to gluttony." Dr Hoppe adds several other reasons in support of an organ of the instinct of nutrition, and sums up his views in the following words : " According to my opinion, hunger and thirst must be discriminated from the desire of food which we call appetite ; for those I consider as only affections of the stomachical and palatic nerves, caused by the defect of necessary supply ; but appetite as an activity of a fundamental animal instinct, which has in the brain an organ analogous to the rest of the organs. Yet there is a very intimate connexion between these ; thus, nothing can more effectually rouse appetite than hunger." In lecturing on Phrenology, I had for some years pointed out the part of the brain above alluded to as the probable seat of this faculty ; and Dr Hoppe, without being aware of this circumstance, or the reasons on which the conjecture was founded, arrived at a similar conclusion with respect to a neighbouring part of the base of the brain. He proceeded even so far as to point out an external indication of the size of the organ. " Regarding the organ for taking nourishment," says he, 28th December 1824, " I have been led to think, since I wrote last, that the place where its different degrees of development are manifested in the living body, is in the/0**a eygomatica, exactly under the organ of Acquisitiveness, and before that of Destructiveness. Before I had thought at all of Phrenology, I was struck with the remark-


able breadth of the face or head of a friend of mine, caused, not by prominent cheek-bones, as in some varieties of mankind, but more toward the ears, by the great convexity of the zygomatic arch. Knowing that this individual was exceedingly fond of good living, and that, even in spite of a very powerful intellect, and propensities moderate in almost every other respect, he was prone to indulge too freely in the joys of the table, I afterwards thought that this form of the head, and tendency of the mind, might bear a nearer relation to each other than had at first occurred to me ; and in some other persons, notoriously fond of good eating and drinking, I found a confirmation of my suppositions. This prominence of the bony arch, I think, must be an absolute consequence of the part of the cranium lying under the temporal muscle being pushed outwards, and diminishing, in that direction, the space of the fossa. Besides this greater convexity of the arch, the part also of the skull situated immediately above it, under the organ of Acquisitiveness, will in this case be observed to be more full and protruding. The breadth of head produced in this way can by no means be mistaken for a mere prominent cheek-bone, nor for the organs of Acquisitiveness, or Destructiveness, or Constructiveness, situated higher, behind, and in front of it. Having found the said parts in some persons much compressed, in others less so, and, as I think, the disposition of mind always proportionate to it, and not yet having met with any exceptions, I cannot but hold my opinion to be true."

Dr Hoppe considers that the organ of Alimentiveness is likewise the organ of the sense of taste. " That the sensation of taste,1' says he, " only passes through the nerves, and is perceived in a part of the brain, is a supposition, I think, sufficiently proved. Now, it appears to me as highly probable, and by analogy agreeing with other experiences, that it is one and the same organ which tastes (viz. distinguishes and enjoys), and incites us to taste, or, in other terms so take food and drink. This, according to my opinion, is the organ of appetite for food, and consequently it may also


be named the organ of Taste (gustus), and stands in the same relation to this one of the external senses as the organ of Tune to the sense of Hearing.''

Dr Crook of London mentions that several years before the publication of Dr Hoppe's papers, he himself had arrived at similar conclusions with respect to this faculty, and the position of its organ. " Three persons," says he, " with whom I had become acquainted in the year 1819, first led me to suspect that a portion of the brain situated near the front of the ear (next to Destructiveness), was connected with the pleasures of the festive board. From that time to the end of 1822, above a thousand observations were made ; as they tended to confirm this view, several phrenological friends were informed of the result. From 1823,1 no longer doubted that the anterior portion of the middle lobe was a distinct organ, and that its primary use was the discrimination and enjoyment of meats and drink. It was difficult, however, to hit the fundamental power. The situation of the organ, under the zygomatic process and the temporal muscle, frequently precluded the possibility of accurate observation. But, notwithstanding, well marked cases, both of a positive and a negative kind, were investigated. These conclusions were embodied, and read to the Phrenological Society of London, on the 8th of April 1825. Two months before, though it was not known in London, a letter had been received in Edinburgh from Dr Hoppe of Copenhagen, giving the same portions of the brain to the sensations of hunger and thirst. The coincidence was felt to be remarkable, and by myself particularly so, as I had, in 1821, conceived a similar idea, but discarded it upon considering the dependence of these feelings upon the stomach and tongue.'1

Dr Crook, misled, no doubt, by the erroneous title (" On the Conjectural Organs of Hunger and Thirst") prefixed to Dr Hoppe's communications in The Phrenological Journal, errs in supposing him to consider those sensations as connected with the organ in question. On the contrary, he and


Dr Crook concur in rejecting this idea, and in there locating the sense of taste.

The external part to which Dr Hoppe alludes, was formerly included by Dr Spurzheim within the limits of Destructiveness ; but in Dr Gall's busts and plates, that organ was not carried so far forward, and the function of the part in question was marked by Dr Gall as unascertained. Dr Spurzheim latterly coincided in the soundness of the views of Dr Hoppe, in so far as to regard the organ as that of " the propensity or instinct to feed ;" but he dissented from Dr Hoppe's opinion that this propensity discriminates what is useful for nutrition, and likewise from the notion that it produces delicacy and nicety of taste. " All," says he, " concurs to prove that the above-mentioned portion of the brain is the organ of the instinctive part of nutrition, or of the desire to feed. It exists not only in carnivorous but also in herbivorous animals. The goose, turkey, ostrich, kangaroo, beaver, horse, &c. have a middle lobe as well as the duck, eagle, pelican, tiger, lion, dog, &c. The desire to feed is common to all animals, and the carnivorous animals require the organ of Destructiveness in addition to that of the instinct to feed." He remarks as a corroborative circumstance, that the anterior convolutions of the middle lobes are developed from the earliest age, sooner than many other parts, and both in man and in the lower animals are proportionally larger in the young than in adults. " This propensity,'1 he adds, " is particularly assisted by the smell, and the olfactory nerve is in all animals in the most intimate communication with the middle lobes ; so much so, that, in the ox, sheep, horse, dog, fox, hare, rabbit, &c. the internal part of the middle lobes seems to be almost a mere continuation of the olfactory nerve. In man also, the external and greater root of the olfactory nerve is in connection with the anterior convolutions of the middle lobes. Farther, the middle lobes are in particular communication with the nervous bundles, which constitute the anterior lobes, and the anterior external portion of the crura-


in other words, the organs of the intellectual faculties ; and the propensity to feed puts into action many of the perceptive powers, and the voluntary motion of many parts, before the food is transmitted to the stomach for digestion."

This faculty is termed Gustativeness by Dr Crook ; but Dr Spurzheim confines the sense of taste to the gustatory nerve, regarding the propensity to feed as the whole amount of the function. " This view," says Dr Crook, " approximates so closely to my own, that it is only in very extraordinary cases that the manifestations of the one can be clearly distinguished from those of the other ; but one decided case I met with in 1827, in which no part of the cerebrum existed, yet during the eight days' life of this imperfectly formed creature, there had been incessant craving for food, which it took in very considerable quantity, but without any apparent discrimination as to taste or flavour. To admit the instinct to eat to be the primitive power, would subvert the first principle of physiology,-the inseparable connection between organ and function."

If this case was really as here reported, it would unquestionably form a serious obstacle to the admission of the view taken by Dr Spurzheim ; but so many facts of an opposite tendency have been observed, that it is not unreasonable to suspect, that, in a case so anomalous, the organ may have been confounded with some other part at the base of the skull.

Dr Vimont treats largely of this faculty, and regards it as established. The olfactory nerve in man, he says, is composed of two nervous portions ; one deeply hid in the brain, and springing from three very distinct roots (Plate 78, fig. 1). Two of these roots take a direction outwards towards the fissure of Sylvius ; and the other, which takes a contrary direction, is covered by the optic nerve. These three roots, after advancing forward, join into one, and form the olfactory nerve, which terminates in a slight pulpy swelling (renflement) of an oval form, from which soft filaments proceed through the openings of the ethmoidal bone to the mucous membrane of the nose (vol. ii. p. 139). The external of


these roots loses itself in the fibres of the cerebral convolution which manifests the choice of aliments. This explains the effects of smells in exciting the appetite. The organ in abuse, says he, gives rise to gluttony and drunkenness ; and also to the love of smoking.

" Every body,'' says Dr Vimont, " knows how generally children are chargeable with being gluttons. Desirous to satisfy myself how far this tendency, in them so unquestionable, coincided with the development of the organ of Alimentiveness, I examined forty-eight heads of young children, from five to twelve years of age ; and I can affirm that in all of them, without exception, this region was very apparent. I possess in my collection eleven skulls of children from two to seven years of age ; in all, the part of the skull over the organ of Alimentiveness is marked in a striking manner. As might be expected, however, the development is not equally great in them all.''-Traité de Phrenologle, tom, iii. p. 174.

When in Philadelphia in February 1839, Dr Morton shewed me two skulls in his collection, illustrative of this organ. The one was the skull of a Dutch officer who had served in Java. Its size was large, and the anterior region was very favourably developed, the coronal region was broad, although only moderately high ; the organs of Love of Approbation and of several of the propensities were large, and Alimentiveness was very largely developed. " I received," says Dr Morton, " the following memorandum regarding this skull from Dr Doornick, late physician to the hospital in Batavia in the Island of Java. Dr Doornick twice visited Philadelphia, and died within a few months in New Orleans." '' It was the skull of a Dutchman," says he, " Ayhom I knew well, and who was born in Utrecht of a noble family. He was several years a captain in the army at Batavia, where he died in the prime of life. He was remarkably handsome, not deficient in talent, and of an amiable disposition, but wholly devoted to conviviality and dissipation, which finally destroyed his fine constitution and his life." The other skull is


that of a cannibal named Peirce. In it the organs of Destructiveness and Alimentiveness are very largely developed, and the moral organs, particularly those of Conscientiousness and Cautiousness, are deficient. Dr Morton furnished me with the following account of Peirce, contained in a letter addressed to him by William Cobb Hurry, Esq. of Calcutta, by whom the skull was sent to Philadelphia. " With respect to the cannibal Peirce," says Mr Hurry, " all that is known of him is, that he was a native of Scotland or the north of Ireland, and a seaman. He was a convict in Van Dieman's Land, and escaped with others to the woods. Hunger compelled them to prey upon each other, until only Peirce and another were left. A romantic tale might be made from Peirce's own narrative of the feelings with which these two men watched each other till, overcome with fatigue, the last of the band fell a victim. Peirce was relieved by a party who fell in with him, and the cannibalism of which he had been guilty, being attributed to necessity, was not punished. From that time his propensities acquired their full development, and he succeeded repeatedly in persuading his fellow prisoners to escape with him for the sole purpose of killing them and devouring their flesh. He used to return secretly to the depot, and persuade a fresh victim, assuring him that he had been sent by others who were waiting him in the woods. He was at last caught ; and being asked if he knew where one of his companions was, deliberately drew an arm out of his jacket, and threw it to the soldiers. Mr Crockett, from whom I had this account, and who gave me the skull, is the Colonial Surgeon, and attended Peirce in the hospital both before and subsequently to his crimes. He stated to me his conviction that Peirce was insane ; which, however, did not prevent him from being hanged." It is probable that the privations which Peirce endured when he first escaped, may have induced diseased action in his brain, and that the organs may have continued in this state during the time when he committed the latter enormities. The organs of Alimentive-


ness and Destructiveness are predominantly large, and seem to have taken the lead in his insane condition.

An interesting case of disease of this organ, observed in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, is recorded in The Phrenological Journal, vol. vii. p. 64. The patient had awakened at five o'clock on the morning of the day of his admission, " craving for food,'' as his sister related ; and had been " eating continually'' from that time till sent to the Infirmary about noon. His stomach was greatly distended by the quantity of food he had swallowed, yet he still complained that he was dying of hunger. At this time, and till next morning, he was delirious, but subsequently he became dull. Twenty-four hours after his admission, when roused by loud or repeated questions, he answered imperfectly, but to the point, and frequently muttered " hunger, hunger, hunger, ifs hunger." He complained of pain at the exact locality of the organ of Alimentiveness, and there alone. The reporter of this case has appended to it his observations in regard to the points to be attended to in estimating the size of the organ ; which, from its situation, is a matter of difficulty. " It is nearly parallel," says he, " to the zygomatic arch, which is often rendered prominent by it when large ; but, the distance of the arch from the proper parietes of the skull being variable, this is not a certain guide. The temporal muscle opposes an obstacle, but may itself be used as a means of removing the difficulty in part. When the organ is larger than its neighbours, the lower part of the temporal muscle is pushed outwards, making it appear as if lying on a pyramidal instead of a vertical-sided cranium, the base of the pyramid being downwards ; when small, the reverse occurs. If the organ be very large, it will affect the socket of the eye-ball, pushing the latter up and forward, not as in Language down and forward : when both are large (at least in one instance I have seen this), the eye looks imprisoned by a fulness extending almost around it.''

In the Journal de la Société Phrénologique de Paris, vol. ii. Number 5, the case of a woman call Denise, detailed in the


Annales de la Médecine Physiologique (Oct. 1832), is taken notice of, as furnishing a curious example of insatiable appetite for food. In infancy she exhausted the milk of all her nurses, and ate four times more than other children of the same age. At school she devoured the bread of all the scholars ; and in the Salpétrière it was found impossible to satisfy her habitual appetite with less than eight or ten pounds of bread daily. Nevertheless she there experienced, two or three times a month, great attacks of hunger (grandes faims), during which she devoured twenty-four pounds of bread. If, during these fits, any obstacle was opposed to the gratification of her imperious desire, she became so furious, that she used to bite her clothes, and even hands, and did not recover her reason till hunger was completely satisfied. Being one day in the kitchen of a rich family, when a dinner-party was expected, she devoured, in a very few minutes, the soup intended for twenty guests, along with twelve pounds of bread'! On another occasion, she drank all the coffee prepared for seventy-five of her companions in the Salpétrière ! Her skull is small ; the region of the propensities predominates ; and the organ of Alimentiveness is largely developed. Many similar instances of voracity are recorded by medical writers.1 The same Journal (October 1835) contains an interesting paper by MM. Ombros and Théodore Pentelithe, " On Alimentiveness, or the Sense of Hunger and Thirst, as a primitive cerebral Faculty.'' These gentlemen, besides referring the sense of Taste to the organ under discussion, maintain, with much reason, that it is the cerebral seat also of hunger and thirst. That these sensations are in reality cerebral phenomena, is evident from various conclusive facts and experiments ;2 and the identity, of the organ of the

» See Phil. Tram. vol. xliii. p. 366 ; Good's Study of Medicine, 2d edit, vol. i. p. Ill, 112 ; Elliotson's Blumenbach, 4th edit. p. 304 ; and Dr A. Combe's Physiology of Digestion considered with Relation to the Principles of Dietetics, p. 32.

* See Dr A. Combe's Physiology of Digestion, chap, ii., and his Observations on Mental Derangement, p. 246.


propensity to feed with that of the sensation of hunger, appears from the circumstance, that hunger and the desire to eat always go together-just as courage is the concomitant of the propensity to oppose, and anger is universally attended by the propensity to inflict suffering. MM. Ombros and Pentelithe mention several cases of voracity, where pain or heat was felt at the temples, or disease of the organ of Alimentiveness was found after death. In other cases they observed a great and small development of it in combination with much and little fondness for eating. They conceive that drunkenness and the love of smoking tobacco arise from this faculty, and that hydrophobia and various other diseases are affections of the organ. The latter conclusion receives countenance from a case reported by M. David Hichard, in the same number of the Journal de la Société Phrénologique, p. 490.

Several years ago, Dr Caldwell published in The Transylvania, Journal of Medicine (for July, August, and September 1832) the opinion, that the passion for intoxicating liquors arises from derangement of Alimentiveness. Instead of mere remonstrance with the drunkard, therefore, he recommends " seclusion and tranquillity, bleeding, puking, purging, cold water, and low diet," as the means of cure. These, he states, have been found successful by the physician of the Kentucky Lunatic Asylum. Dr Caldwell's view is confirmed by the fifth case published by MM. Ombros and Pentelithe-that of an old and confirmed drunkard, in whose brain they found a distinct erosion of the left organ of Alimentiveness. There are cases of morbid voracity on record, where post mortem examination has shewn disease in the brain, and none in the stomach.1

On the whole, there seem to be very strong grounds for holding that the part of the brain above described is the organ of the propensity to eat and drink, of the sensations of hunger and thirst, and perhaps also of the sense of taste. " This organ," however, said Dr Spurzheim, " though indi-

1 See Monro's Morbid Anatomy of the Gullet, &c., 2d edit., p. 271.


cated by reason and comparative anatomy, is merely probable, and can be confirmed or rejected like every other, according to direct observations alone, in comparing cerebral development in relation to the special propensity. I possess many facts in confirmation." I regard the organ as now ascertained.

Vol. 1: [front matter], Intro, Nervous system, Principles of Phrenology, Anatomy of the brain, Division of the faculties 1.Amativeness 2.Philoprogenitiveness 3.Concentrativeness 4.Adhesiveness 5.Combativeness 6.Destructiveness, Alimentiveness, Love of Life 7.Secretiveness 8.Acquisitiveness 9.Constructiveness 10.Self-Esteem 11.Love of Approbation 12.Cautiousness 13.Benevolence 14.Veneration 15.Firmness 16.Conscientiousness 17.Hope 18.Wonder 19.Ideality 20.Wit or Mirthfulness 21.Imitation.
Vol. 2: [front matter], external senses, 22.Individuality 23.Form 24.Size 25.Weight 26.Colouring 27.Locality 28.Number 29.Order 30.Eventuality 31.Time 32.Tune 33.Language 34.Comparison, General observations on the Perceptive Faculties, 35.Causality, Modes of actions of the faculties, National character & development of brain, On the importance of including development of brain as an element in statistical inquiries, Into the manifestations of the animal, moral, and intellectual faculties of man, Statistics of Insanity, Statistics of Crime, Comparative phrenology, Mesmeric phrenology, Objections to phrenology considered, Materialism, Effects of injuries of the brain, Conclusion, Appendices: No. I, II, III, IV, V, [Index], [Works of Combe].

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