Untangling the myths about Phineas Gage

Phineas Gage is probably the most famous patient in the field of neuroscience. His story has been told over and over in psychology and medical courses. In 1848, Gage was injured when a large steel rod was driven through his skull by an explosion. Gage, the story goes, lived for 12 years following the severe damage to his brain, but he was a changed man. He became a “dirty, scary, sociopathic drifter”, apparently due to the damage to his frontal cortex.

But is that what really happened? This interesting article digs deeper to find out how Gage lived out his life, and attempts to debunk the many myths about his changed behaviour.

Recent historical work, however, suggests that much of the canonical Gage story is hogwash, a mélange of scientific prejudice, artistic license, and outright fabrication. In truth each generation seems to remake Gage in its own image, and we know very few hard facts about his post-accident life and behavior.

Source: Phineas Gage, Neuroscience’s Most Famous Patient – Slate – Pocket

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