Plaster cast phrenological bust, a copy of the head of Victoire, a 24 year old microcephalic, possibly French
Phrenologists believed the shape and size of various areas of the brain (and therefore the overlying skull) determined personality. This is a plaster copy of a cast from the head of a 24 year-old woman called Victoire. She experienced microcephaly. Microcephaly is a disease in which the brain does not develop normally and her head circumference is therefore reduced. Phrenological heads such as this were used for demonstrations by phrenological lecturers. They were also used for training phrenologists. Phrenology was popular in the 1800s. However, it became controversial within medical circles, and was eventually dismissed by the medical profession as unfounded. Phrenology was still studied in the UK until 1967, when the British Phrenological Society finally closed.