The Curious Case Of Phineas Gage
We all have that slight tickle of curiosity when it comes to the most amusing yet heart wrenching case studies in the history of Psychology and Neuroscience. One of the most experimented yet not known case was of an American railroad construction foreman, Phineas P. Gage. His miraculous survival of an accident was the talk of the Town of Neuroscience during the 19th and 20th centuries and is still discussed with great interest.
During his work hours, he was directing a work gang blasting rock while preparing the roadbed for the Rutland and Burlington Railroad. It was around 4:30 p.m, when the accident happened. He was having a word with his fellow worker who was standing behind him, and before he could open his mouth a tamping iron sparked against the rock and entered the left side of Gage’s face in an upward direction. It passed through his lower jaw, continuing upward through the upper jaw and possibly damaged the left side of his brain, and then came out from the top of his skull through the frontal bone.
You would have probably calculated his time of death till now. Well, that’s what is the twisting point here. Nothing Happened to him!
After the accident Gage soon started acting as if it wasn’t a big deal. He spoke within a few minutes only and with a little help sat in an oxcart, with not even a hint of pain. Is that even possible?
Edward H. Williams, the famous physician found Gage sitting in his chair outside the hotel, with only one line “Doctor, here’s business enough for you”
Maybe he wasn’t injured physically but his brain surely was dismantled with psychological issues. His friends observed changes in him and concluded that he was “no longer Gage”. This is the reason why he’s considered as ‘one of the great medical curiosities of all the time’ and ‘a living part of medical folklore’, frequently mentioned in books and scientific papers.
He was indeed “one of the greatest understatements of medical history”
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