Hermann Mesmer : An Astounding Development For Mental Health

1495 Words Aug 29th, 2014 6 Pages
Although Franz Mesmer was labeled as a fraud, he provided a basis for later psychoanalytic techniques such as hypnotism. As research of mental illness developed, mental disorders were classified as psychological illnesses instead of physiological illnesses. In light of this, physicians created ways to test the brain for mental illness: cranial capacity research and phrenology.
Figure 1. Cranial capacity research - credit: Dr. Stanley B. Burns
Figure 1. shows Dr. John Shaw Billings photographing a skull that is plunged under a tank of water to gauge its cranial capacity, which was thought to detect mental illness. Billings and his apprentice had to perform the procedure quickly because the skull would absorbed too much water if it was left under water for any longer than 45 seconds and it would of made the results inaccurate. Billings is most known for creating the predecessor to the National Library of Medicine, which was an astounding development for mental health.
Figure 2. Phrenology - credit: Dr. Stanley B. Burns
Figure 2. is one of the earliest portrayals of phrenology in practice. Phrenology is the belief that the brain is the organ of the mind, and each shaped region controlled a different part of the body. The bumps on the outside of the skull could tell the phrenologist about the patient’s character, thoughts, and emotions. The concept of regional localized parts of the brain was a huge statement of growth for neuropsychology. Phrenology became one of the most…
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