they measured my head, some on 'em,

Category: Mind | Type: Discussion | Title: Great Expectations (in Context) | Author: Charles Dickens | Ch: Chapter XLII

The science of phrenology (Search) was enormously popular and appears not only in Dickens but in other novelists such as Charlotte Brontë and George Eliot. Phrenologists claimed to derive information about the nature of the mind, its psychological, emotional, moral, intellectual, and creative capacities, from the contours of regions of the skul,l and, depending on the practitioner, including the eyes, nose, and mouth. Phrenology envisioned the brain to be displayed in twenty-six to thirty-six segments, depending on the practitioner, or independent organs (cautiousness, mirth, hope, amativeness, benevolence, language, acquisitiveness, adhesiveness, etc.). Important to Dickens is the conviction of many phrenologists that these characteristics could be developed and controlled by the person's will. Dickens' friend and family physician, Dr. John Elliotson, who had introduced him to mesmerism, was elected in 1824 the first president of the London Phrenological Society. 

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