Number of pages
SourceJournal of the History of the Neurosciences, 26, 4, (2017), pp. 385-405
Article / Letter to editor
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Journal of the History of the Neurosciences
SubjectDI-BCB_DCC_Theme 3: Plasticity and Memory; Neuropsychology and rehabilitation psychology; Neuro- en revalidatiepsychologie
Much has been written about the development and reception of Franz Joseph Gall's (1758-1828) ideas in Western Europe. There has been little coverage, however, of how his Schädellehre or organology was received in Eastern Europe. With this in mind, we examined the transmission and acceptance/rejection of Gall's doctrine in Vilnius (now Lithuania). We shall focus on what two prominent professors at Vilnius University felt about organology. The first of these men was Andrew Sniadecki (1768-1838), who published an article on Gall's system in the journal Dziennik Wilenski in 1805. The second is his contemporary, Joseph Frank (1771-1842), who wrote about the doctrine in his memoirs and published an article on phrenology in the journal Bibliotheca Italiana in 1839. Both Frank and Sniadecki had previously worked in Vienna's hospitals, where they became acquainted with Gall and his system, but they formed different opinions. Sniadecki explained the doctrine not only to students and doctors but also to the general public in Vilnius, believing the new science had merit. Frank, in contrast, attempted to prove the futility of cranioscopy. Briefer mention will be made of the assessments of Johann Peter Frank (1745-1821) and Ludwig Heinrich Bojanus (1776-1827), two other physicians who overlapped Gall in Vienna and went to Vilnius afterward. Additionally, we shall bring up how a rich collection of human skulls was used for teaching purposes at Vilnius University, and how students were encouraged to mark the organs on crania using Gall's system. Though organology in Vilnius, as in many other places, was always controversial, it was taught at the university, accepted by many medical professionals, and discussed by an inquisitive public.
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