Phineas P. Gage Essay

915 words - 4 pages

Phineas P. Gage was born in 1823. He was a railroad construction worker outside a small town of Cavendish, Vermont. On September 13, 1848, Phineas suffered from a traumatic brain injury, which caused severe damage to parts of his frontal brain due to his accident at work.
The day of Phineas accident, he was performing his work duties on the construction of a railroad track. His duty was to set explosive charges in holes drilled into large pieces of rock so that they could be broken up and removed. He had to fill the holes with gunpowder, with a fuse, and then pack in sand with a large tamping iron. Because gage was distracted on September 13, 1948, he forgot to fill in one of the holes with sand. In result, when he went to pack down the sand, the tampering iron sparked against the rock and exploded the gunpowder. This situation caused the three-foot iron to blow through Gage's head right below his left cheekbone. Gage only suffered from minor blood loss and his left pupil reacted to direct light for ten days after the accident. Luckily, Phineas Gage survived this dramatic incident and after his recovery he went back to work.
Gage's accident effected him with many personality changes. His physician Dr. J.M. Harlow noticed that Gage's personality was radically altered after the accident. Gage was fitful, irreverent, indulging, manifesting but little deference for his fellows, impatient of advice when it conflicted with his desires. Before Gage's accident he possessed a well-balanced mind, was known as a smart businessman, energetic, and was persistent in executing all of his plans of operation. His friends and acquaintances said he was no longer "Gage" due to his completely changed mind. After his injury he lost his job with the railroad construction company. By 1850, he was healthy enough to work. He spent a year as a sideshow attraction at P.T. Barnum's New York museum. After that job he worked in New Hampshire as an assistant, and for about seven years, as a coach driver in Chile. He was also worked on a farm before his death. Gage moved to San Francisco with his mother in 1859. Sadly on May 21, 1860 Gage past away.
Neurologist Antonio Damasio has written significantly on Gage and other patients that he studied on with similar injuries. Damasio viewed Gage's case as playing a crucial role in the history of neuroscience, and stated that Gage's story "was the historical beginnings of the study of the biological basis of behavior". Gage's case inspired the development of frontal lobotomy, which now is a psychosurgical procedure that leads to emotional response and personality traits. On the other hand, historical analysis doesn't support this claim because Gage's injury didn't have enough influence on the development of this practice.
Gage not only...

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