The Man Who Died and Lived Essay

Submitted By rebekah7998
Words: 1169
Pages: 5

The Man Who Lived and Died There are people who believe that personality comes from our soul and that there is not a single existing person who can take that away; however, that belief is nothing more than a false notion. I can say this with such confidence due to a case study of a man during the year of 1848. It was about a man who went through a life changing and gruesome injury. Phineas Gage was that man and he influenced theories and discoveries about the brain being responsible for a person’s personality to transpire. Phineas Gage is famous for many reasons that are deemed important to understand. Before understanding why he is famous, what exactly he has influenced, and why all this is important to know, his story must be understood first. It is the story of how a man survived and died at same time in one day. Phineas Gage’s story is important to know for the reason of understanding personality and the brain.
The story takes place in the year 1848. An accident occurred for an unfortunate man named Phineas Gage. He was the foreman of a railway construction crew. The crew was working for the contractors preparing the bed for the Rutland and Burlington Rail Road near Cavendish, Vermont (Thagard). Gage made a mistake that caused an accidental explosion with the blasting powder that ended up having a 4-foot long and ¼-inch thick iron rod going through his face (Morris&Maisto). This unfortunate event caused the outcome of his prefrontal cortex to become severely damaged and to have basically zero if not little existing functioning ability. Gage was a lucky one and survived the incident. With great astonishment, he even remained conscious and was able to talk as well as being able to walk a portion of the distance to the doctor (Thagard). While being taken care of by John Harlow, a local expert doctor, Phineas was able to live for another 12 years of his life before dying (Hammond). John Harlow even noted that the tamping iron rod was found behind him with blood and pieces of brain still attached on it. As stated by the doctor, the rod went through under the left cheekbone and through the top of the head (Costandi). According to Thagard, even his memory and skills seemed to be undamaged after the gruesome accident. The type of person that he was and that his family and friends knew him as did not survive the accident. Phineas Gage started to feel like he could get back on his feet again. In fact, it was only some months after the accident that he felt strong enough to continue working again (Thagard). Although Gage felt confident about the idea of going back to his work, some did not feel the same way. The contractors, who employed Gage, were apprehensive and tentative on the idea of reinstating him and therefore were reluctant to do so (Thagard). After the accident, Phineas Gage was completely different from the man he was before. Before the accident, Gage had a well respected image amongst the town people that knew him. He was considered the most capable and efficient foreman, a man with a well balanced mind, and a shrewd smart business man (Thagard). However, after the accident had occurred, Gage did not have those characteristics. Despite the fact that Gage’s basic cognitive, intellectual and language skills continued to be in standard condition and essentially undamaged, the ability to reason, primarily in a social perspective, was unquestionably impaired (Thagard). He developed habits and deviant behaviors that he never partaken before. He was considered fitful, irreverent, grossly profane, as well as, disrespectful and discourteous (Thagard). The affects of the accident also negatively changed his goal-directed behavior. He was incompetent to settle on any of the plans he devised for future actions (Thagard).
Phineas Gage is the first patient that had allowed us to learn about our brain and the relation it had with not only our functioning of the frontal parts of the brain but also with our