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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Cerebral Automatism, the Brain, and the Soul in Bram Stoker's Dracula.

Neither literary critics nor historians of science have acknowledged the extent to which Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897) is indebted to late-Victorian neurologists, particularly David Ferrier, John Burdon-Sanderson, Thomas Huxley, and William Carpenter. Stoker came from a family of distinguished Irish physicians and obtained an M.A. in mathematics from Trinity College, Dublin. His personal library contained volumes on physiology, and his composition notes for Dracula include typewritten pages on somnambulism, trance states, and cranial injuries.Stoker used his knowledge of neurology extensively in Dracula. The automatic behaviors practiced by Dracula and his vampiric minions, such as somnambulism and hypnotic trance states, reflect theories about reflex action postulated by Ferrier and other physiologists. These scientists traced such automatic behaviors to the brain stem and suggested that human behavior was "determined" through the reflex action of the body and brain-a position that threatened to undermine entrenched beliefs in free will and the immortal soul. I suggest that Stoker's vampire protagonist dramatizes the pervasive late-nineteenth-century fear that human beings are soulless machines motivated solely by physiological factors.[1]


  1. Cerebral Automatism, the Brain, and the Soul in Bram Stoker's Dracula. Stiles, A. Journal of the history of the neurosciences. (2006) [Pubmed]
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