Decapitation Experiment

Weird science: How long does a severed head remain conscious? In 1905, Dr Gabriel Beaurieux used the opportunity of the execution of the criminal Henri Languille by guillotine to attempt to find out. From a contemporary newspaper account of the scene:

When the head had rolled away from the scaffold and was lying in a pail, Dr. Beaurieux, head physician at the city hospital, caught it with both hands, raised it up in the air, and exclaimed in commanding voice:
"Languille! Languille!"
Terrible stillness for a moment. And, look! The dead head actually obeys! The eyelids open, and two eyes, abundant with life, glare questioning at Dr. Beaurieux—and then the lids close.
But the doctor has no mercy—he is experimenting. And once more he commands:
Again the eyelids open, and two soulless eyes attempt to see, to find a point in the space. A conscious struggle really is proceeding, until the lids again close. But for the third time Dr. Beaurieux raises the head up in the air:
This time in vain. The experiment had lasted thirty seconds, and now the question is:
Has the reflecting movement released other functions of the brain? Did Languille know that they called him, and that he had better awaken and answer? Gruesome it were, if he really had answered, for instance repeated his "Goodbye, you beautiful life!"

The execution of Henri Languille - source: wikipedia

The Racine Journal Times - Aug 23, 1905

     Posted By: Alex - Thu May 16, 2019
     Category: Death | Science | Experiments | 1900s

There are a number of stories that come out of the French Revolution that I remember from my studies at university. Charlotte Corday, who was convicted of assassinating Jean-Paul Marat, is a famous example of the "experiment" to determine consciousness after decapitation. Considering that the French abolished the guillotine in 1977, I wonder if the question was finally answered after two hundred years of its use.
Posted by KDP on 05/16/19 at 08:12 AM
There's a story like this from about the same period in Albert Camus's essay against capital punishment.
Posted by Dr. Fian on 05/16/19 at 09:55 AM
"head physician" - LOL
Posted by David Croney on 05/16/19 at 10:00 AM
I don’t believe it.
Posted by Judy on 05/17/19 at 08:33 AM
Worst science fair project ever!
Posted by Brian on 05/23/19 at 10:23 PM
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