Synopses & Reviews
In 1848 a railway construction worker named Phineas Gage suffered an accident that made him a major curiosity of medicine and a significant figure in psychology and neuroscience: an explosion caused a tamping iron to be blown completely through his head, destroying the left frontal lobe of his brain. Gage survived the accident and remained in reasonable physical health for another eleven years. But his behavior changed markedly after the injury, and his case is considered to be the first to reveal the relation between the brain and complex personality characteristics. Yet almost nothing is known about him, and most of what is written is seriously in error.
In this book Malcolm Macmillan, a leading authority on Gage, covers all aspects of this fascinating story. He describes Gage's family and personal background, the context of his work and the accident, and Gage's subsequent history. He analyzes contemporary medical and newspaper reports of the accident and its consequences, and evaluates the treatment Gage received from Dr. John Martyn Harlow. He also looks at Harlow's own life and work. Macmillan examines Gage's place in the history of how functions came to be localized in the brain. He explores the many ways that Gage's tale has been represented and misrepresented through the years in popular, fictional, and scientific works. One of Macmillan's primary aims is to rescue the case from the predominantly fantastic accounts so that its real contribution to modern neuroscience can be understood. Partly for this reason, the appendices include facsimiles of Harlow's 1848 and 1868 reports, the primary sources about Gage, and previously unpublished CT scans of Gage's skull madein 1982.
"An Odd Kind of Fame is a meticulously researched and fascinating chapter in the history of neuroscience." Charles G. Gross, Professor of Psychology, Princeton University
"This fascinating book is as compelling as a detective story. I could not put it down, and I learned so much. It is a brilliant combination of serious scholarship and popular history that will surely attract many readers." Michael Ruse, Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy, Florida State University
"Malcolm Macmillan has long had an interest in the history of the neurosciences. He is a thoughtful scholar who knows more about Phineas Gage than anyone else." Stanley Finger, Professor of Psychology, Washington University, and Editor, Journal of the History of the Neurosciences
"I highly recommend An Odd Kind of Fame to anyone interested in the history of neuroscience." Randolph W. Evans, MD, Journal of the American Medical Assocation
"The book's success lies in...Macmillan's skill as a writer...and his passion for collecting and presenting evidence." Ian Glynn, Nature
"Thanks to Macmillan, Phineas Gage can now take his appropriate place in the history of medicine." Jonathon Erlen, The Quarterly Review of Biology
The true story of the first case to reveal the relation between the brain and complex personality characteristics.
About the Author
Malcolm Macmillan is Adjunct Professor in the School of Psychology at Deakin University, Australia.
Table of Contents
Background to fame -- Early receptions: popular and medical -- The implications of Harlow's treatment -- The wonderful journey -- The damage to Gage's psyche -- Localization: the background -- Localization: the beginnings -- Localization in the brain -- Gage and surgery for the brain -- Gage and surgery for the psyche -- Gage, inhibition, and thought -- The popular stories -- The scientific stories -- The hidden portrait -- A realistic conclusion.