This Danish University Has The World’s Largest Collection Of Human Brains


Stored in the basement of the University of Odense in Denmark, the world’s largest collection of brains is housed on countless shelves. This impressive collection of 9,479 organs was gathered over four decades until the 1980s, taken from the bodies of mental health patients.

Science Alert reports that the collection was curated by Erik Strömgren, a renowned Danish psychiatrist who devoted his life to this endeavor. The brains were preserved in formalin and stored in large white buckets, each labeled with a unique number.

“Maybe they could find out something about where mental illnesses were localized, or they thought they might find the answers in those brains,” said Strömgren and his colleagues.

The brains of mental health patients were collected without any consent from the deceased or their families, following autopsies conducted on the remains of those who had been admitted to psychiatric institutions across Denmark.

During that time, patients’ rights were not a top priority. On the other hand, according to a study conducted by the University of Copenhagen, society felt it necessary to protect itself from these individuals. This led to the sterilization of those committed to mental institutions between 1929 and 1967, and they had to obtain a specific exemption before 1989 to be allowed to get married.

“These were state mental hospitals, and there were no people from the outside who were asking questions about what went on in these state institutions,” he said.

Denmark considered “mentally ill” people, as they were called at the time, “a burden to society (and believed that) if we let them have children, if we let them loose… they will cause all kinds of trouble,” Vaczy Kragh said.

Several brains belonged to patients with neurological disorders and mental health problems.

“Because many of these patients were admitted for maybe half their life, or even their entire life, they would also have had other brain diseases, such as a stroke, epilepsy or brain tumors,” he added.


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