Franz Josef Gall
Researched and written by:  Dennis T. Cheng
 I attest that the following biography is a product of my own original work. 

     One of the most well known scientists of the 18th century, Franz Josef Gall was a renowned anatomist, and physiologist.  He was most widely known for his concepts of localized functions in the brain, and cranioscopy (later referred to as phrenology).  Gall’s main goal was to develop a functional anatomy and physiology of the brain as well as a revised psychology of personality as “organology” ( 
Gall’s Life
     Franz Josef Gall was born on March 9, 1758, in the village of Tiefenbronn in Baden, Germany to a family of devout Roman Catholics (  Gall began his education with his uncle, a catholic priest, then continued in schools in Baden and Bruchsal.  In 1777, at the age of 19, Gall went to Strasbourg and began medical studies under Jean Hermann.  It was here that Gall developed his interest for research, particularly the natural sciences and comparative anatomy. 
     Gall also married a young woman named Miss Leisler, (whose first name was not recorded) while he was in Strasbourg (  Even though Gall was married, he had a number of mistresses, one of whom eventually gave birth to his son, Hamann (  Because of this, Gall’s marriage was not a happy one, but he would not let this interfere with his work.  Gall was quoted as saying, “Neither sin nor friends will ever leave me” (as cited in 
     In 1781, Gall left Strasbourg for Vienna where he continued his studies under van Swieten.  In 1785, Gall received his doctorate in Vienna and began a successful medical practice (  In 1800, Gall began working with his pupil, Johann Christoph Spurzheim, who worked as his research assistant and collaborator.  It was through this work that Gall began to develop his theories of brain localization and phrenology (initially known as cranioscopy) (  This led him to develop his main goal, which was to develop a functional anatomy and physiology of the brain as well as a revised psychology of personality known as “organology” (  Gall was ultimately able to identify 27 separate discrete brain “centers” of behavior, 19 of which were shared by men and animals, and the other eight specific to humans (see Appendix A).  Twenty-five of these brain “centers” have never been found to exist, but the two that Gall did manage to identify had to do with language and word memory ( 
     Even with the extreme popularity of Gall’s lectures, the church did not approve of his ideas at all, and considered them to go against religion.  Both religious leaders and scientists were offended by his work.  On December 24, 1801, Gall received a handwritten message from the Emperor Francis I prohibiting his lectures and research to continue due to moral and religious contradictions ( 
     Shortly after this message from the Emperor, Gall and Spurzheim left Vienna in 1805 to travel throughout Europe to spread his ideas and to gather evidence to help support them (  They traveled to Germany, Holland, Switzerland, and Denmark, visiting hospitals, schools, prisons, and insane asylums (  There were mixed reviews about his ideas, but was well received in certain circles.  Gall continued to give many lectures to fellow scientists, and eventually earned respect from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), whom was said to have been the first to deal with the brain and its parts ( 
     In November 1807, Gall and Spurzheim arrived in Paris.  Gall settled here and began teaching and lecturing.  In 1810, Gall published his main work “Anatomie et physiologie du systeme nerveux en general, et du cerveau en particulier, avec des observations sur la possibilite de reconnaitre plusieurs dispositions intellectuelles et morales de l’homme et des animaux, par la configuration de leur tetes” (  The first two volumes were written along with Spurzheim, but shortly after the second volume was published, Spurzheim left Gall and moved to England in 1813 to continue work on phrenology (
     In 1825, Gall’s wife, Miss Leisler, died in Vienna, and Gall remarried a woman whom he had had a long relationship with, Marie Anne Barbe (  In 1826, Gall’s own health began to fail.  He began showing signs of cerebral and coronary sclerosis, and on August 22, 1828, Franz Josef Gall suffered a fatal stroke and died in his home in Paris (
The Theory of Phrenology
     Franz Josef Gall first began to develop his ideas concerning the brain and its functions in his teenage years.  He began to observe friends and see close connections between their appearances and their abilities.  One friend, who possessed sophisticated linguistic abilities, also possessed a prominent frontal skull.  Another observation was that boys who had “large flaring eyes” seemed to be better at memorization.  From these observations, Gall began to believe that there was a possible connection between physical characteristics and talent or abilities ( 
     Through all these observations, Gall eventually concluded that different regions of the brain control personality traits and abilities (  Gall believed that the external shape of a person’s skull would determine the shape and size of the brain, and any change in the brain would cause changes in the external form of the skull (  Gall began doing numerous observations and measurements of the skulls of friends, family, and pupils.  Later on in his life, Gall and his associates began to observe and measure people with many different personality traits and characteristics.  Individuals who demonstrated extreme behaviors, such as criminals, people who were gifted, and the insane, were especially interesting to Gall ( 
     From these studies, Gall concluded that prominences and indentations in the skull represent those parts of the brain which were over or underdeveloped according to their function.  Gall believed that an unusually pronounced area would indicate an overabundance of a particular talent or trait, and that a depression in the skull would indicate a lack of such talents or traits.  According to Gall, studying these bumps and dents in the skull would determine a person’s personality strengths and weaknesses.  “Cranioscopy,” or phrenology, as Spurzheim and others liked to call it, was the term given by Gall to describe such an analysis (;; 
Criticisms of Gall’s Phrenology
     Even though Gall had many supporters and followers, many were still opposed to his idea of phrenology.  Religious leaders and scientists were both offended by Gall’s ideas, and the Church believed that his theory went against what they had taught (  The scientific community also criticized Gall’s work, stating that Gall had no real scientific evidence to support his theory (  Also, since the structure and idea of phrenology was logical and easy to learn, many “quacks” began to use and abuse it for their own profit.  This caused increased opposition towards phrenology and considered it a money-making fraud (;
Contributions of Gall’s Phrenology
     Despite these criticisms, Gall continued to conduct his research and eventually made many contributions to “real science” (  His most significant contribution was his theory of phrenology.  It set the foundation for what eventually developed into extensive studies of brain functioning (  Another contribution was Gall’s work on localization of word memory, and speech/language.  As a result of this work, Gall is credited as the first to relate impairments of the brain to wounds or damage to the brain (  Gall also was the first to discovered that the white matter of the brain contained fibers (axons), and that the gray matter contained cell bodies (neurons) ( 
     Despite the criticism and opposition towards his theory and ideas, Franz Josef Gall continued his research and became one the most influential people in history.  His work led to many other scientific branches to become developed such as craniology, psychognomy, and anthropometry ( 

                                                             Appendix A
Gall suggested that the brain was divided into 27 separate “organs,” each corresponding to a discrete human faculty, though he identified 19 of these domains as being shared with other animal species. 
The first nineteen are organs common to men and animals; the final eight are specific to humans:
1. The instinct of reproduction (located in the cerebellum).
2. The love of one’s offspring.
3. Affection; friendship.
4. The instinct of self-defense; courage; the tendency to get into fights. 
5. The carnivorous instinct; the tendency to murder.
6. Guile; acuteness; cleverness.
7. The feeling of property; the instinct of stocking up on food (in animals); covetousness; the tendency to steal. 8. Pride; arrogance; haughtiness; love of authority; loftiness.
9. Vanity; ambition; love of glory (a quality “beneficent for the individual and for society”).
10. Circumspection; forethought.
11. The memory of things; the memory of facts; educability; perfectibility.
12. The sense of places; of space proportions. 
13. The memory of people; the sense of people.
14. The memory of words.
15. The sense of language; of speech.
16. The sense of colors.
17. The sense of sounds; the gift of music.
18. The sense of connectness between numbers.
19. The sense of mechanics, of construction; the talent for architecture.
20. Comparative sagacity.
21. The sense of metaphysics.
22. The sense of satire; the sense of witticism.
23. The poetical talent.
24. Kindness; benevolence; gentleness; compassion; sensitivity; moral sense.
25. The faculty to imitate; the mimic.
26. The organ of religion.
27. The firmness of purpose; constancy; perseverance; obstinacy. 




If you want more information about this web site, please send an email to Dr. Megan E. Bradley