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[mass noun] The detailed study of the shape and size of the cranium as a supposed indication of character and mental abilities.
- ‘He finds himself drawn on a journey involving phrenology, the dodgy science of determining mental prowess from bumps on the head, involving a machine called a psychograph.’
- ‘In Bentham's day, the cutting edge of brain science was phrenology - the idea that you could read someone's character by feeling the contours of his or her skull.’
- ‘As the prototype for a normalizing physical anthropology, however, phrenology, with its value-laden stereotyping psycho-techniques, introduced new ethical problems.’
- ‘At this point, many no longer considered phrenology a legitimate science, and America was now looking to the most recent European import, the emerging field of psychoanalysis, to explain human behavior.’
- ‘Once a lively ‘science’, phrenology disappeared because what it proposed was incorrect and hence irrelevant.’
Early 19th century: from Greek phrēn, phren- mind + -logy.
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