Phrenological View of Black Hawk, 1838
This page from the American Phrenological Journal purports to discuss personality traits of the Sac and Fox Chief Black Hawk, who led his nation in the Black Hawk War of 1832. Many Americans of the time considered phrenology, which arrived at conclusions based on the measurements of the human head, to be a science. Phrenology’s founder, the German physician Franz Joseph Gall, suggested that individual brain functions took place in specific physical locations within the brain. He mixed this observation with his period’s emphasis on “faculty psychology,” which viewed the mind as a set of separate elements related to discrete personal characteristics. In the text accompanying the above illustration we can see the author naming some of these characteristics as “secretiveness,” “combativeness,” cautiousness,” and “ideality,” as well as “intellect” and feeling.”
Gall’s emphasis on individual mental functions’ location in specific parts of the brain remains a proposition not without scientific, medical foundation, but, as the above item shows, his followers often took it to a level of specificity that far exceeded the modest data - skull measurements - to which they had access.