The sampling is made somewhat easier by the fact that Bentham had arranged for his body to be preserved after his death as an “auto-icon” that could be displayed at gatherings of his friends, should they miss him.
The Telegraph reports:
[Bentham] was notably eccentric, reclusive and difficult to get hold of. He called his walking stick Dapple, his teapot Dickey, and kept an elderly cat named The Reverend Sir John Langbourne.
In 2006, researchers Philip Lucas and Anne Sheeran suggested his unique character was driven by Asperger’s syndrome, after studying biographies which described a young Bentham as ‘having few companions his own age’; and being ‘morbidly sensitive.’
Now scientist hope to test the theory with science. Recent studies have suggested that autism is around 82 per cent heritable and there are specific regions in the genetic code linked to traits.
The research coincides with a rare public showing of Bentham’s head, which is usually “deemed too distasteful to show, and is now kept in safe where it is removed just once a year to check that skin and hair are not falling off.” There’s a photo of it below, but if you care to see it, you can check out the “What Does It Mean To Be Human? Curating Heads” exhibit at University College London, which is running through February 28th, 2018.
photo of Bentham’s preserved head below
just warning you
it is kind of creepy