Episode 137: Smollop: Phineas Gage

I may earn money from the participating companies linked in this post: Bookshop.org (supporting my nearby independent bookstore Bluebird & Co, in Crozet, VA) and/or Audible. My podcast is sponsored by Audible and Care/Of.

What I am about to describe is going to be the worst thing I have ever read on this podcast.



As someone with a psychology degree, I have watching for this one to come down the pike. (I briefly considered warning Gareth that Mr. Gage might show up someday, but that would have been Bad Form.) Gage is the darling of the academic psychology set: memory, cognition, personality, mood, pain tolerance…

…and lobotomy. (Go away, Dr. Freeman, no one was speaking to you. Keep your ice picks to yourself, there’s a good lad. Ya creepy bastard.)

C’mon, it’s just a headache, how bad can it be? Man up.

Warren Anatomical Museum at Harvard Medical School: The Phineas Gage Case:

An Odd Kind of Fame: Stories of Phineas Gage * Malcolm Macmillan: author’s website

Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story About Brain Science * John Fleischman

The Only Living Man with a Hole in His Head * Todd Colby Pliss

Oh, that hole in the front is a stress fracture from the giant hole in the back. My bad, man. Carry on.

The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons: The History of the Human Brain as Revealed by True Stories of Trauma, Madness, and Recovery * Sam Kean


The image of the impaled priest in The Omen


The Phineas Gage Fan Club web site

Roadside marker/momument in Cavendish, Vermont

P T Barnum’s museum, Bridgeport, Connecticut


Adding more to the growing mythos of don’t let Carla babysit: like I said, not only did I know all about the Gageman, but the image I had in mind while I listened to Gareth’s soul slowly wither during this episode? A certain priest in a certain horror movie from the 70’s who suffered a similar fate:


Oh, looky looky, it’s on YouTube. Thank you, YouTube.


Bands from this episode:

  • Distracted Tamping
  • Spark in the Hole
  • Phineas’ Oxcart
  • Holebrain
  • Volcano Bone
  • Brainchunks
  • Cave Dick
  • Harlow’s Triumph


Remember, friends don’t let friends dig their fingers around in their brainmeat. Not without washing their hands, they don’t. Safety first.

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