About the SA Blog Network

Extraction of the Stone

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

Email   PrintPrint

Image of the Week #93, May 27th, 2013:

From: A Brief History of Mental Illness in Art by Ferris Jabr at Brainwaves.

Source: Extraction of the Stone of Folly by Hieronymus Bosch circa 1488 – 1516 (, via Wikimedia Commons)

Before mental illness was at all understood, in the Middle Ages people blamed mental problems on a “stone” inside their body, usually in the skull. This painting shows a man asking a surgeon to remove this troublesome stone. Surely the ensuing infection after such a medical procedure wouldn’t have helped the patient’s mental state much.

NOTE: This was a very difficult week to choose the Image. Apart from several other great images in Ferris’ post, there were also other posts chockful of interesting art, e.g., The Art and Science of the Diagram: Communicating the Knowledge of the Heavens, the Earth and the Arcane, Final Part by Clarissa Ai Ling Lee, and Protist-y art continued: the protist zodiac by Psi Wavefunction – check both of those posts out as well.

Previous: Why Are Barns Red? More
Image of the Week
Next: Wonderful Desmids

Rights & Permissions

Comments 3 Comments

Add Comment
  1. 1. Fanandala 4:54 pm 05/27/2013

    Very interesting, trepanning goes back far into the stone age, I have always wondered why it was done. Maybe this was an ancient belief.

    Link to this
  2. 2. Felixr 3:25 am 05/31/2013

    Monty Python…

    Link to this
  3. 3. sjfone 7:18 am 06/1/2013

    Good hands.

    Link to this

Add a Comment
You must sign in or register as a member to submit a comment.

More from Scientific American

Email this Article