One of the most profound stories I can remember ever being told was that of the famous “Boston Crowbar case”, Phineas Gage. Phineas P. Gage (1823–1860) was an American railroad construction foreman now remembered for his improbable survival of an accident in which a large iron rod was driven completely through his head, destroying much of his brain's left frontal lobe, and for that injury's reported effects on his personality and behaviour.
A remarkable event to say the least! He survived! Testimony to the magnitude of what we are as human…much more than we think. To survive this supernatural yet disastrous event is unimaginable. Nearly two centuries after this man died, we still marvel about what it really means to have our brain in our heads! Phineas provides medical science with an incredible opportunity to understand what the frontal lobes contribute to human capabilities.
I often wondered why his story has not been taken up by big present day film production houses. But then again, we often do not want to think too much when we are being entertained. Understandably so, for it is more a “visceral need” than an intellectual one!
I think about Phineas and query where his story sits in one of Christopher Booker’s great plots. Maybe he is a “Tragedy”, or a “rebirth”: plots which I’ve yet outlined. I find his story an epic one. I hope that this blog might make you wonder … Who was Phineas Gage?