Happy Birthday Phineas Gage (1823 - 1860)

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Blackleaf99

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The single most amazing humanist story I have ever read. And my candidate for the toughest human being that ever lived.

Phineas P. Gage (1823–1860) was an American railroad construction foreman now remembered for his improbable survival of an accident in which a large iron rod was driven completely through his head, destroying much of his brain's left frontal lobe, and for that injury's reported effects on his personality and behavior. He survived the accident, recovered and eventually went back to work for the rest of his life continuing as a positive contributor and member of society.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phineas_Gage

354px-Phineas_Gage_GageMillerPhoto2010-02-17_Unretouched_Color_Cropped.jpg
 

The_Lone_Beagle

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Wow! I'm a big Phineas Gage "fan" and I didn't know that it was his birthday!

To make this more relevant to rocketry, one might say:
"Some are born great, and others have greatness blown through their skulls and orbital frontal lobe by a black powder charge (after an inadvertent, momentary lapse of attention)...don't let this be you! (but if it does happen to you, cooperate with all scientific research and donate your body upon your death, thankyouverymuch!)."
 

soopirV

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That's a name and story I haven't thought much of in quite awhile...his case is still relevant in neuropathology.
 

dhbarr

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My favorite part is how this ( and similar cases ) show us : brains, where we exist, are funny things full of misunderstood chemistry.

If there's a problem with my chemistry and/or physiology, I should seek appropriate assistance. Just as I would do if I received a blow to my spleen.
 

Zeus-cat

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So do you think he ever said, "... the last thing I need is another hole in my head!" Cuz, if I was him I think I would say it all the time.
 

cbrarick

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Actually, wikipedia has it all wrong.

Mr. Gage was a model citizen prior to his accident. He was a deacon in his church, and was a engineer or scientist of his time, blasting rock for the railroad. He was quite accomplished and his tamping rod was a custom made piece.
He did survive both the initial accident, where the tamping rod was blown through his frontal lobe. He even survived a infection and brain surgery where the rest of his frontal lobes were removed.

However, that's where wiki goes completely sideways, but also explains why his case is studied by cognitive neuroscientists.

After his recovery, he was a womanizing, gambling alcoholic wreck. The only work he was able to secure was as a side-show freak, the man who survived having a rod blown thru his head. After some years he ended up in California where his sister acted as his legal guardian, because he couldn't manage his money and would blow it all on girls and booze. He died there and eventually when they were moving his grave due to construction, his skull and tamping rod were obtained by Harvard Medical School, where they are on display.
Neuroscientists are enamored with him because we know his baseline behavior - he was well known, and his post injury behavior. The difference has to be due to his frontal lobe loss......

I have about a dozen books from my doctoral program if we need references.....
 

The_Lone_Beagle

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Actually, wikipedia has it all wrong.
However, that's where wiki goes completely sideways, but also explains why his case is studied by cognitive neuroscientists.
IMO, the most reliable sources of info are the primary sources...chiefly Dr. Harlow, who actually worked with him and spent considerable time with him, and went to considerable effort to document and then retrieve his body/skull decades later, because he recognized the importance of this case.

Because of the notoriety of the case, and the availability of his skull, as technology improves there are people taking second looks ("Monday morning neuroscientists", shall we say?)...anyway, in the last 10-20 years some person named Macmillan has come along with all sorts of alternative theories, some of which are quite at odds with the primary sources. I haven't read any of his stuff, but the little of the summaries I've read have struck me as making some leaps without much in the way of evidence.

For history buffs out there, the original writings by Harlow are:
https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM184812130392001 (behind a paywall...really? Something first published in 1848 is still behind a paywall?)

https://ia600608.us.archive.org/19/items/publications213mass/publications213mass.pdf
 

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