A Hundred Years of Psychology, 1833-1933

By J. C. Flugel | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIII
PHYSIOLOGICAL PSYCHOLOGY

TURNING, finally, to brain physiology, we know that at the beginning of our "hundred years" there had been a strong movement away from the theory (implied in phrenology) that various mental functions or capacities were connected with narrowly specific areas of the brain, in favour of the view that there existed only a much more general correspondence between certain levels of activity and certain major divisions of the brain--a view for which Flourens, more than any other single individual, was responsible. In our first period, from 1833 to 1860, there had been no evidence of sufficient weight to change this belief, though the fairly frequent observation made in hospitals that sensory, motor and intellectual functions were independently or unequally affected was not easy to harmonize with Flourens's view that all parts of the cortex were equally concerned in all these functions. Phrenology, too, still had its followers (as indeed it has to-day), but such further arguments as were brought in its support quite failed to convince the learned world even of its general thesis of the precise localization of functions in special areas.

All at once, at the beginning of our second period, the situation altered. Discoveries were made, and continued to be made throughout the earlier part of this period, which pointed once again to localization of specific functions, though not of the kind that the classical doctrines of phrenology demanded. In 1861 there died in a Paris hospital a man who had been an inmate for thirty years, and

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