The Dreams Of Santiago Ramón Y Cajal
The Dreams of Santiago Ramón y Cajal
The Spanish anatomist Santiago Ramón y Cajal (1852-1934) explored the microscopic world of the brain and found a landscape inhabited by distinctly individual cells, later termed neurons. "The mysterious butterflies of the soul," he called them, "whose beating of wings may one day reveal to us the secrets of the mind." Although he ranks among the greatest scientists in history, the name of the Nobel Prize-winning "father of modern neuroscience" is not as well-known as that of Darwin, Pasteur, Galileo, Einstein, Copernicus, and Isaac Newton.
The second half of the nineteenth century saw a revolution in the study of the mind. Cajal was a contemporary of Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), whose radical theories would scandalize the next century. Before he was a neuroanatomist Cajal conducted psychiatric experiments and before Freud became a psychiatrist, he worked in neuroanatomy. In public, Cajal spoke respectfully about Freud, but in private, Cajal rejected the man and his theories. In order to disprove Freud's "lies," Cajal started to record his own dreams in a diary, part of a notably personal book project, which he worked on from 1918 until his death in 1934. For reasons unknown, Cajal never published...