Gage as a Cultural Icon

We learned early in our research that the interest in Gage extents far beyond the scientific and medical communities. His extraordinary story resonates with many people on many levels. "Phineas Gage" has been the name of several bands and is a user's name on numerous blogs, message boards, and social networking sites. There are plays, songs, videos, tee shirts, and art works inspired by Phineas. This page will celebrate the off-beat and wacky side of the Gage phenomenon with a few examples.

Visit the "Meet Phineas Gage Shop" on CafePress for prints, buttons, and a magnet based on the Phineas Gage Daguerreotype.

The Ballad of Phineas Gage by Dan Lindner is featured on the CD Mystery and Memories: Banjo Dan's Songs of Vermont Volume 3. It can be ordered on his web site Banjo Dan and the Mid-nite Plowboys. We enjoyed the song.

Television: We had never heard of Phineas Gage before we began to research the daguerreotype. Now that he is on our radar we seem to find him everywhere. Two television shows in the Spring 2009 season caught our attention:
• Season 5, Episode 1 of Medium aired an episode called Soul Survivor on February 02, 2009. It opened with Allison dreaming about Phineas Gage. Of course the name and the iron bar were the only items that had any relation to the real story.
• Season 5, Episode 17 of House aired an episode called The Social Contract on March 9, 2009. There was a discussion of Phineas Gage in relation to a patient who has frontal lobe disinhibition.

Ripley's Believe It Or Not, as could be predicted, seems to have told the Gage saga in all its formats. We have found references to a newspaper cartoon from 1929 or 30. We would love to see a copy of it if anyone can point us to a reprint. There is a Believe It Or Not Gage cartoon on now but we are not sure how it relates to the earlier strip.

The 1980s Ripley's Believe It or Not TV show starring Jack Palance featured a story on Gage. This is a TV show that is fondly remembered in several blogs as being a favorite. It is lamented that there is no video or DVD of the show. We would love to see the episode.

We have found several references to a Phineas Gage display at various Ripley's Believe It or Not museums. The displays are cycled in and out of storage and we do not know if it is currently on displays. A truly strange and totally incorrect image of a figure in modern overalls with a rod through his head shows up on several web sites including an album from a 2007 visit to the Ripley's location in Hollywood. To learn if the Gage figure is on display you might check the Ripley web site and contact a location near you. This is what we plan to do.

While much of the artwork that is inspired by Gage is rather gross this Skull Baritone stringed instrument by Aaron Andrews, "vaguely inspired by Phineas P. Gage", is quite elegant.

YouTube video sharing site is home to some truly bizarre Gage inspired videos. A search for "Phineas Gage" finds dozens of videos. Although some are videos of musical groups with "Phineas Gage" in their names, some deal with Gage and his accident. I will not link to them since they come and go. Some are silly, some offensive, and the "serious" ones often contain statements that we feel are at odds with the what we have learned in our reading. At one end of the range are lectures on psychology from Yale and at the other are incredibly childish efforts. If you have some time and a strong tolerance you can find videos that use Barbie dolls, crayon drawings, and amateur actors to tell some rather twisted versions of Gage's story. *YouTube update, April 2011: I browse the YouTube postings regurally and find most not very useful. I did find one posted last year that I feel is well done. It is called "Stabbed in the Brain: Phineas Gage" by "Vlogbrothers" and although there are a couple of things I question it is one of the best retelling of the story I have seen on YouTube.