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Left Abe, Right Abe

left abe lincoln, right abe lincoln

Using life masks of Lincoln owned by the Chicago History Museum, scientists have determined that Abraham Lincoln had an unusually asymmetrical face. Lincoln had a condition called cranial facial microsomia — the left side of his face was much smaller than the right. The results of the study have been widely reported, including in The Independent, in which Leonard Doyle writes:

Lincoln’s contemporaries noted his left eye at times drifted upwards independently of his right eye, a condition now termed strabismus. Lincoln’s smaller, left eye socket may have had a displaced muscle controlling vertical movement, said Dr Ronald Fishman, who led the study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology.

Most people’s faces are asymmetrical, Dr Fishman said, but Lincoln’s case was extreme, with the bony ridge over his left eye rounder and thinner than the right, and set backwards.

So what did I think when I read that?

Right. Fodder for “Left Face, Right Face.”

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2 Comments

  1. Amazing article on Lincoln! Even his tie and shirt collar are asymmetrical – so are his facial lines and wrinkles. Wonder if the asymmetry continued on into his brain and internal facial structures? Did his condition have any obvious side effects besides the eye socket muscle – like headaches, tics or mental illness?

  2. One thing that’s interesting to me is that the complete face is so much more interesting and full of character than either half. I suppose that’s usually the case, but it does seem especially so in Lincoln’s case, as if he had forced his two limited halves into an effective whole by a surpassing act of will.

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