Phineas Gage, a 19th century railroad construction foreman, survived an accident that blew a thirteen pound 3 foot by 7 inch iron rod through his cheek and out the top of his skull. He should have been dead, but he got up walked and talked.
His recovery was not unremarkable. Infection, delirium, pain. He may have survived a catastrophic injury but poor Phineas would never be the same.
From the book:
Phineas has a huge scar on his forehead and a small scar under his cheekbone, but otherwise he is physically healed. Yet Dr. Harlow has private doubts about Phineas’s mental state. Phineas is just not his old self. The new Phineas is unreliable, and, at times, downright nasty. He insults old workmates and friends. He spouts vulgar language in the presence of women. He changes his mind and his orders from minute to minute. The railroad contractors let him go.
This book is so fascinating I read it in one sitting. It being only eighty pages with numerous illustrations and photographs had nothing to do with it. And, it wasn’t all that gruesome. Rather, only a few stomach turning sections and the rest – fascinating.