When Ellen White was a very young girl a new 'science' was being developed. This discipline, known as Phrenology, involved determining one's character and personality by examining his skull. This theory was based on the belief that the brain is actually made up of several different organs, about thirty-seven in number, which were individually responsible for a person's traits. The passions and the lower functions were apparently located in the back of the head. We have already seen a passage from Ellen White's pen indicating that wigs worn over the back of the head and even hair pinned up in that area would cause baldness and finally insanity.
The patient would actually submit to having his skull examined by the Phrenologist. I have often heard the term, "You should have your head read". I was never aware of its true meaning until now.
Ellen White actually took her two sons to be examined by a Phrenologist for a fairly handsome sum of five dollars apiece. This represented a good deal of money in those days.
All of this fascinating material is available in the book by Ronald Numbers called "Prophetess of Health; Ellen G. White". The point I want to make here is that this type of reading of someone's head is really the same as palm reading which is available from any fortune teller at a county fair. God has very harsh words concerning this type of behavior. The warnings about His people consulting seers and fortunetellers is very stem indeed. "There shall not be found among you anyone who bums his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination, a soothsayer, or an ogre or a sorcerer or a charmer, or a medium, or a wizard or a necromancer. For whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord; and because of the abominable practices the Lord your God is driving them out before you.' (Deut. 18:10-12) God groups fortunetellers and spiritualists with those heathens who burn their children as an offering to their god. The penalty for those who practiced witchcraft was quite clear. "You shall not permit a sorceress to live." (Ex. 22:18)
By consulting a Phrenologist, Ellen White is in effect doing the same as consulting a fortuneteller or a palm reader. She is guilty of going against God's counsel in these matters. By the way Ellen White also had her head read after getting two favorable reports about her sons. I'm sure you can guess the diagnosis and doubtless Mrs. White was very unhappy with the verdict. Yes, she was diagnosed as being hysterical!