I know that many of us have heard about Einsteins brain going missing, so I have to wonder what the problem is with brains and why is it so hard to keep track of them. It's not like you can accidentally run them through the wash cycle, or leave them in the garage, ya know? Something seems to be a tad off, if you ask me.
Charles Whitman’s Brain
Photo credit: Gaetan Lee
In the 1950s, the Austin State Hospital (formerly the Texas State Lunatic Asylum) began collecting the brains of its deceased patients to determine if mental illness had a physical component. These brains were preserved in jars that were carefully labeled with the patients’ names and diagnoses, with around 200 specimens canned and shelved over approximately 30 years.
In 1986, storage space was becoming a problem. The hospital offered to give the brains to anyone who wanted to use them as a research tool. With major universities vying to get them, the collection was eventually transferred to the University of Texas in 1987.
Among the brains was that of Charles Whitman, the infamous ex-Marine who climbed a tower at the University of Texas in 1966 and started shooting. By the time he was shot dead by police, Whitman had already killed 16 people and wounded 32 more. Earlier, he had killed his wife and mother. Whitman left a note requesting that someone look at his brain to find a reason for all the thoughts he’d been having. Later, it was discovered that he had a brain tumor. In the mid-1990s, researchers took a look at the university’s collection of brains, which had only been gathering dust until that time. When they searched for Whitman’s brain, they couldn’t find it. Along with about 100 other brains, it had disappeared.
Various people at the university came up with different excuses to explain the missing brains. The possibilities included that the brains had been moved, thrown away, placed in storage elsewhere, or returned to the state asylum. The state said they never got the brains back.
According to a December 2014 update, between 40 and 60 of the brains were destroyed by the university because they had degraded to the point of being unusable for research. However, the university said that Whitman’s brain was not among them, now claiming that they had never received his brain in the first place.
Call me crazy, but if I were in charge I'd want to know just what happened to all those missing brains. Evidently someone isn't keeping very good records, or there is a thriving black market for human brains that we don't know about! Are we maybe feeding a zombie colony somewhere?
Coffee out on the patio this morning.