Phineas Gage

A photo of Phineas Gage in 1850, holding the tamping iron that caused his brain injury. He was a construction foreman (in charge of blasting) on the railroad, age 27, when an accidental early explosion occurred. The explosion drove a tamping iron (large iron rod, 1.25 inches in diameter) into his head. A large part of his left frontal lobe was destroyed.

After the accident, with the bar still in his head, it is reported that he sat up, talked, and walked to a wagon. Sitting in the wagon for the 3/4 mile ride into town, he was seen by a doctor. The doctor said:

"When I drove up he said, "Doctor, here is business enough for you." I first noticed the wound upon the head before I alighted from my carriage, the pulsations of the brain being very distinct. The top of the head appeared somewhat like an inverted funnel, as if some wedge-shaped body had passed from below upward. Mr. Gage, during the time I was examining this wound, was relating the manner in which he was injured to the bystanders. I did not believe Mr. Gage's statement at that time, but thought he was deceived. Mr. Gage persisted in saying that the bar went through his head. Mr. G. got up and vomited; the effort of vomiting pressed out about half a teacupful of the brain [through the exit hole at the top of the skull], which fell upon the floor."

The doctor removed some coagulated blood, some of the protruding brain, and some skull (bone) fragments, then bandaged his head and cheek.

Gage survived but his personality and temperament were changed. Later in his life, some social skills and personal skills returned and he worked as a stagecoach driver in Chile and later as a farmworker in Santa Clara County, California.

He died of an epileptic seizure (which was being treated by bleeding) in San Francisco, CA on May 21, 1860 at age 37.
Date & Place:
1823 - May 21, 1860
Updated Sep 13, 2019

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Ancient Faces
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The man who changed medicine's understanding of the brain.
Sep 13, 2019 · Reply
S Himaneesh
9 favorites
Dec 31, 2017 · Reply
Becky Kelly
Wow. Amazing.
Sep 13, 2019 · Reply
Breda J Bergin
Handsome face ..
Sep 13, 2019 · Reply
Kathleen M. Davis-Pinney
Breda J Bergin I thought the same thing the minute I saw him🙋🏻👍🏻
Sep 17, 2019 ·
Giusy De Stefanis
So sad.
Sep 13, 2019 · Reply
Patricia Hardy Mcallister
Oh he sad!
Sep 13, 2019 · Reply
KellieAnne Foreman
7 favorites
phinnis gage!
Sep 13, 2019 · Reply
Trudie Cruey
this is amazing info----what a struggle he must of had
Sep 13, 2019 · Reply
Cassandra Brecht
Ah yes...Phinneus Gage...we studied him in Cognitive Psychology.
Sep 13, 2019 · Reply
Carol McCreary
Phineas Gage. Very interesting story.
Sep 13, 2019 · Reply
Jessica White
He became very cruel though
Sep 13, 2019 · Reply
Cassandra Brecht
Jessica White Yes, he was a totally different person afterwards.
Sep 13, 2019 ·
Alana Doss
A miracle for the time. TBIs are so difficult to handle anyway. I can't imagine how hard his journey must have been in that time.
Sep 13, 2019 · Reply
Harley Neumann
I read a book about him for school one time! It was awesome:)
Sep 13, 2019 · Reply
Diana Nares
Psychology 101
Sep 13, 2019 · Reply
Carol Piquard Compton Weir
Very handsome.
Sep 13, 2019 · Reply
Susan W. Milam
It’s amazing he survived at all!
Sep 13, 2019 · Reply
Charlotte A. Mack
Whoa . .
Sep 13, 2019 · Reply
Dan Quaglia
My history teacher RIP in high school taught us about him
Sep 13, 2019 · Reply
James Dignan
73 favorites
Phineas Gage. Studied him at university as part of my psych course.
Sep 13, 2019 · Reply
Jason Breedlove
I’ve read about him in my research on the frontal lobe
Sep 13, 2019 · Reply
Carol Strube
Wow what a story.
Sep 14, 2019 · Reply
Janice Scott
Looks so young too
Sep 14, 2019 · Reply
Michael Spencer
David Dustin Shattuck and wife Phoebe Jane (Gage) Shattuck, circa 1860-1870. Phoebe was Phineas' sister, and he may have died at the home of David and Phoebe in San Francisco. It was David Dustin Shattuck who had Phineas' body exhumed from his grave in San Francisco and returned Phineas' skull and iron to Harvard in 1868. David and Phoebe are my wife's 3rd great grandparents. Photo from personal collection.
Sep 14, 2019 · Reply
Jan Stevenson
What other interesting and educational info are you keeping on Andrea's historical family?
Sep 14, 2019 · Reply
Paula Costa
Sep 15, 2019 · Reply
Sonya Renee Reece Isbell
Wow. Remarkable that he survived that accident
Sep 16, 2019 · Reply
Jim Keilman
He was tamping gunpowder with it when the accident happened, not a very safe job.
Sep 23, 2019 · Reply
Rob Thomsen
By the way ... this is a Daguerrotypie, isn't it?
Oct 09, 2019 · Reply
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