Why academician Bekhterev wanted to create a

History 20/02/20 Why academician Bekhterev wanted to create a “Museum” brilliant brains in the USSR

Officially established in the Soviet Union the philosophy of materialism argued that “consciousness is an internal state matter.” So, the roots of talent, genius and other outstanding personal qualities should be sought in the structure of the nervous system. This goal was supposed to create all-Union Pantheon of brains of great men – a huge collection of preserved human brains.

the Idea spondylitis

the Idea of a Union of the Pantheon, open to everyone, belonged to the neurologist Vladimir Bekhterev, head of the Leningrad Institute of Reflexology of the brain. As explained by the academician in the fall of 1927, the creation of a Pantheon has two aims. First, to perpetuate the memory of prominent figures and the preservation of their brain and the documents describing them in creative ways. Second, comprehensive scientific study of the brain “due to the specific characteristics of their giftedness”. It was assumed that in the Pantheon of the first case will be transferred is preserved in formalin the brains of the chemist Dmitri Mendeleev, composer Anton Rubinstein, the writer Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin and others.

the initial project, the Soviet authorities had to issue a decree authorizing the Committee of the Pantheon for the removal and dissection of the brains of outstanding people. Official representatives of the Committee was to become the Professor of anatomy not only in Leningrad, where it was planned to arrange the Pantheon, but in the other cities of the Union. The more that the “fiery period of building the USSR”, as emphasized by Bekhterev, “people burn out quickly”: the scientist cited the example of recently deceased Yesenin, Kustodiev Vasnetsov, Dzerzhinsky and other talented people.

the Fate of ideas

ironically, very soon from skull extracted the brain of academician Bekhtereva, who died under mysterious circumstances on 24 Dec 1927 insoon after the visit to Stalin. It was assumed that the brain spondylitis will be the first all-Union exhibit of the Pantheon. But without the initiator of the development of his project went quite the wrong way, which is expected Bekhterev.

In January 1928, the CEC established a Commission “to consider the question of the organization of the Union of the Pantheon”, which included the Communist rector of the Academy Mikhail Pokrovsky, as well as Commissars of education and health, Anatoly Lunacharsky, Nikolai Semashko. The first two, having studied the documents spondylitis, did not share his enthusiasm. Demonstration of genius in the form of exhibition “preserved” brain, obviously, was too extravagant idea for its time. Semashko was not against the creation of the Pantheon, but considered that it should be placed in the walls of the Moscow Institute for the study of the brain at the Commissariat, where he had kept Lenin’s brain, dissected into 30 thousands of fragments. To transport drugs to Leningrad, as asserted Semashko, a difficult and dangerous undertaking. According to the Commissar, in Moscow already had brains, the policy of George Plekhanov, Professor of General Seeds, and a collection of brains “middle men” of different nationalities. In may 1928, the CEC did not support neither the initial concept spondylitis or offer Semashko.

“the death of Bekhterev – initiator of the organization of the Union of the Pantheon – the issue discussion to remove”, reads the resolution. However, the idea to explore the brains of the Communists have not given up: in the 1930-ies and later many prominent people in the USSR were buried with empty skulls. Their brains came to study at the Moscow State Institute of the brain, organized in 1928, the Laboratory for the study of the brain of V. I. Lenin. Here and there was a Pantheon of brains of outstanding people, not available to public visitors. On the shelves of the Institute was kept placed in the paraffin brain Mayakovsky, Pavlova, Lunacharsky, Stanislavsky and other geniuses. No breakthrough scientific results of their study brought. In 1989, the Institute of the brain was aboutan open institution, but the brains of gifted people still have not exhibited the management of the Institute believes that it is unethical in relation to their relatives.

Timur Sagdiyev

© Russian Seven

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