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Sir Terry Pratchett, Godfather[1] of retrophrenology

“You can go into a shop in Ankh-Morpork and order an artistic temperament with a tendency to introspection. What you actually get is hit on the head with a large hammer, but it keeps the money in circulation and gives people something to do.”

~ Sir Terry Pratchett on Retrophrenology

Retrophrenology (r-phreno for short) is the practical application of Phrenology. Instead of merely observing the bumps on the head of the subject, retrophrenologists attempt to find the bumps that cause problems, and remove them. Likewise, bumps with positive effects are often added.


Of Phrenology[edit]

The Illuminati secrets of Phrenology, unveiled for the first time

Phrenology was discovered by Franz Joseph Gall in 1800. He was influenced by the Ancient Greece concept of humorism, which postulates that the mind is influenced by four types of fluids in the body. Drawing from Hippocrates' work and Hypocrites in general, he developed a system whereby the attitude and aptitude of people can be determined by examining the subject's head. Over the years, he classified human behaviour into twenty-seven (27) different nodes, the chief of which are as follows:

  1. Irritability
  2. Violence
  3. Sense of language
  4. State of sagacity
  5. Pride and vanity
  6. Sense of satire or witticism
  7. Kindness or benovelence
  8. Poetic ability
  9. Tendency to lie

Of Retrophrenology[edit]

“Thienthe ith more important than recognition.”

~ Igor on Fame and fortune

Discovered in the late 1600s[2] by a particularly clumsy Igor, Nikola Tesla fell asleep on his table in the midst of a crucial experiment. Due to nature of the experiment and the nature of Dr. Tesla, Igor tried to wake him up. After failing to do so for hours, Igor decided to hit Dr. Tesla's head in certain spots with a hammer, previously thought to focal points of consciousness. When Dr. Tesla woke the next day, and Igor noticed immediate changes in his personality[3]. With scientific precision and inane curiosity, Igor retraced the precise indentations that he made on Dr. Tesla's skull, and a new science was born.

Modern Retrophrenology[edit]

Modern retrophrenology has evolved from the "Hit and Hope" method to greater sophistication. Innovations in 21st century technology forwarded various technological advances that revolutionized the progress of increasing the sophistication of retrophrenology which have benefited from the endlessly receding boundaries of science which have pushed the development of new possibilities in bringing forward rapid new ideas when it comes to upgrading the previous static knowledge of this study, encouraging scientist to come up with new and novel inventions to further the cause.

After years of extensive study, phrenologists and retroprhenologists have come to an agreement that traits are most prominent when they exude from the skull, vulgarly known as a bump, while lack of showing in the same trait is known as a depression, vulgarly know as pothole, or an indent.


Prior to making any move, retrophrenologists must first consult with phrenologists[4] on the exact reading of the subject, submitted in a phrenology report, phreno for short. As each subject has different skull structure, precise calculations are made using the Cray XT5[1] supercomputer to determine current traits and desired traits. Therefore, to ensure that the patient achieve the desired results, bumps and indents must be enforced upon the skull.


Pictured here is the slight depression on George W Bush's head on the language capacity node

For the purpose of reducing a negative trait below the desired level, indentations must be made on the subject's skull. There are two methods of doing this, and also divided within the division itself are the old-schoolers and the technophiliacs.


Indentations are made with a drill, boring a small hole on the skull. Users of this method are known as whiners. The technophiliac section are called weiners while the old-schoolers are called wings. Users of the drill often advertise that drilling sensation and the whining sound will often sooth the patient, as with most brain surgeries, it is done without anaesthetics.

Hammer and Chisel[edit]

The hammer and chisel faction are split into two factions. Those intent on using new technologies are called head-bangers while the more orthodox faction are called hammer heads. This faction claims that the repetitive banging of the clients head creates a vibration that will compliment the treatment.


Post-ops photo of Steve Jobs, with Sagacity node amplified

To generate bumps on the patient's head, there are two ways. To this day, retrophrenologists are still debating the benefits of the vacuum method and the screw-and-pull method. The "vacuum" faction are known as suckers while the screw-and-pull faction are often called screwed[8].

Vacuum suction[edit]

Vacuum suction relies on using industrial strength vacuum pumps to pull out the section of the skull of the corresponding nodes. This method is by far the preferred method used as suckers say it does not require invasive surgery.


The screw-and-pull method are often used by the whiners(see above) as they just need to change the bit to a screw-driver bit. Screws[9] are drilled into the patient's skull and pulled out with the help of a plier.

Amateur Retrophrenology[edit]

Amateur r-phreno is done by people who are not members of the Guild. Despite the guilds (attempted) enforcement, it is still very much a part of society's daily activities and could not be eliminated. Examples include:

Side Effects[edit]

Retrophrenology has long been known to cause certain undesirable side effects. Chief among these have been a significant chance for a failed subject to develop SEHS, but this is a risk common in modern medicine. Likewise, placing incorrect bumps can cause at least as many problems as Retrophrenology can cure. Alert your doctor if you experience:

  • Headaches
  • Fractures
  • Blindness
  • Sweaty palms
  • Childish sense of humor
  • Lunacy
  • Cramps
  • Urges to destroy
  • Sitcom acting in a broken elevator
  • Tendency to call a yellow, curved fruit a Bananananana[10]
  • Tendency to worship Dr. House.

See Also[edit]


  1. He didn't invented it, but he sure as hell made it famous
  2. Look, Igors weren't that keen on copyrights and patents and all that jazz, so phrenology got patented first by Gall and the other Igors suddenly realize the potential. As Igor would have had it, "We were more into the thienthe."
  3. Less swearing and throwing things, for a start
  4. Refer to The Guild of Retrophrenology vs. The Union of Phrenologists [1911] ruling whereby both parties agree not hit each other over the head.
  5. Because it make things HOLY!®
  6. Similarities with Jackhammers unintentional. Batteries sold separately.
  7. Do I really need to tell you which is which?
  8. Their members often come up and say "Yeah, we're screwed and we like it!" and "We like screwing people". Sad, isn't it?
  9. And other objects of various shapes and sizes
  10. Yes, another Terry Pratchett reference