The Society of Mutual Autopsy or la Société d'autopsie mutuelle, was organized on October 19, 1876 by members of the Society of Anthropology of Paris. Its purpose was to facilitate research on any links between personality & ability and brain morphology by creating a system whereby members' bodies, upon death, would be donated to the Society for study.
The primary tool used by the Society to organize these donations was a sort of living will which accomplished two main tasks. The first was to make clear the intention of the donor to have his or her body delivered to the Society upon death. The second was to present to the Society a description of the donor: their personality, skills, habits, faults, etc. to allow for more complete research by the Society on the connection between these and brain morphology.
Though little-known outside of anthropological circles until recently, the Society of Mutual Autopsy has been the subject of some academic study, and is most notably featured in the 2003 book The End of the Soul by historian Jennifer Michael Hecht. Read More