Phineas Gage

1823 - 1860

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Phineas P. Gage (1823–1860) was an American railroad construction foreman remembered for his improbable[B1]: 19  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 behavior over the remaining 12 years of his life‍—‌effects sufficiently profound that friends saw him (for a time at least) as "no longer Gage". [H]: 14  Long known as the "American Crowbar Case"‍—‌once termed "the case which more than all others is cal­cu­lated to excite our wonder, impair the value of prognosis, and even to subvert our phys­i­o­log­i­cal doctrines" ‍—‌Phineas Gage influenced 19th-century discussion about the mind and brain, par­tic­u­larly debate on cerebral local­i­za­tion,​​[M]: ch7-9 [B] and was perhaps the first case to suggest the brain's role in deter­min­ing per­son­al­ity, and that damage to specific parts of the brain might induce specific mental changes. Gage is a fixture in the curricula of neurology, psychology, and neuroscience,​​[M7]: 149  one of "the great medical curiosities of all time"[M8] and "a living part of the medical folklore" [R]: 637  frequently mentioned in books and scientific papers;[M]: ch14  he even has a minor place in popular culture. Despite this celebrity, the body of established fact about Gage and what he was like (whether before or after his injury) is small, which has allowed "the fitting of almost any theory [desired] to the small number of facts we have" [M]: 290 ‍—‌Gage acting as a "Rorschach inkblot"  in which proponents of various conflicting theories of the brain all saw support for their views. Read more on Wikipedia

Since 2007, the English Wikipedia page of Phineas Gage has received more than 5,413,693 page views. His biography is available in 35 different languages on Wikipedia (up from 33 in 2019). Phineas Gage is the 3rd most popular celebrity, the 146th most popular biography from United States (down from 132nd in 2019) and the 2nd most popular American Celebrity.

Phineas Gage is most famous for being the first person to have a metal rod go through his brain. This accident happened when he was working as a railroad construction supervisor. The rod went through his left cheek and exited through the top of his head.

Memorability Metrics

  • 5.4M

    Page Views (PV)

  • 79.76

    Historical Popularity Index (HPI)

  • 35

    Languages Editions (L)

  • 13.07

    Effective Languages (L*)

  • 1.59

    Coefficient of Variation (CV)

Page views of Phineas Gages by language


Among celebrities, Phineas Gage ranks 3 out of 184Before him are Wallis Simpson and Ötzi. After him are Jeanne Calment, Kaspar Hauser, Robert Wadlow, Lisa del Giocondo, Buffalo Bill, Lina Medina, Joseph Merrick, Simonetta Vespucci, and Black Dahlia.

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Among people born in 1823, Phineas Gage ranks 2Before him is Abdulmejid I. After him are Max Müller, Alfred Russel Wallace, Ernest Renan, Alexandre Cabanel, Gyula Andrássy, Jean-Henri Fabre, Sándor Petőfi, Édouard Lalo, Leopold Kronecker, and Li Hongzhang. Among people deceased in 1860, Phineas Gage ranks 2Before him is Arthur Schopenhauer. After him are Désirée Clary, Jérôme Bonaparte, Alexandra Feodorovna, Charles Goodyear, János Bolyai, Miloš Obrenović, Stéphanie de Beauharnais, Julia Pastrana, Princess Juliane of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, and William Walker.

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In United States

Among people born in United States, Phineas Gage ranks 146 out of 15,968Before him are Dale Carnegie (1888), Jon Voight (1938), Will Smith (1968), Ray Kroc (1902), Brad Pitt (1963), and Tupac Shakur (1971). After him are Madonna (1958), James Watson (1928), Vin Diesel (1967), James Brown (1933), Ray Charles (1930), and Barbra Streisand (1942).

Among CELEBRITIES In United States

Among celebrities born in United States, Phineas Gage ranks 2Before him are Wallis Simpson (1896). After him are Robert Wadlow (1918), Buffalo Bill (1846), Black Dahlia (1924), Monica Lewinsky (1973), Margaret Brown (1867), Rodney King (1965), Kim Kardashian (1980), Don King (1931), Peggy Guggenheim (1898), and Rosemary Kennedy (1918).