Verum Fabula – True Story

"If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do things worth writing." – Benjamin Franklin

The Curious Case of Edward Mordrake.

Hello!

Something more on the serious side.

Well, by now you might’ve figured I’m a medical student. It’s no news  that “Strange” cases would excite me.
This one definitely did.

Ever heard of two-faced people?
This one case is. Well, literally!

Saw this one picture trending on social networking sites.
Did a couple of hours worth research on it.
Deemed it may be possible.
*picks up axe and swings it like a Mythbuster*

Please stay with me as I unravel this mystery.

This guy.

He’s Edward Mordrake.

DATE

Now, I have no clue as to the date of this picture.
My take on it is, it would be around late 19th century.

Reason :
-According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_camera), the first commercial camera began sales at the consumer level at around 1885, and I don’t see any reason why a picture may be clicked using any other camera.
-An article was published in the “Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine” (see later) in 1896.
-The article stated his death. I believe if an article was published in a professional Journal, the death must not be very long ago.
-Internet sources reveal he died around the age of 23 years.
-Given this picture, he looks around the same age, within 20-23 years.

Hence, late 19th century – 1890-1900.

SYMPTOMS/SIGNS

-He had a face occupying the posterior part of his skull.
-The face couldn’t talk, but could laugh or weep :  “it would be seen to smile and sneer as Mordrake would weep”. Though Edward gave a history that he couldn’t sleep at night because of  the “hateful whispers of his ‘devil twin'”
-Eyes would “follow movements of spectators” and lips would “gibber without ceasing”.
– He, thus, wanted it removed, however, no surgeon would attempt to remove it, fearing it might cost him his life.
-The face seemed to be that of a beautiful woman, which was “lovely as a dream, hideous as a devil”.

The excerpt from “Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine” is as follows :


As you can see, the story looks very much supernatural. Apart from this, there are no other records of Edward Mordrake, it’s only the word of mouth that we have the given information.

INVESTIGATIONS

Well, firstly let me tell you one thing. I’m a medical student. I may not YET know a lot about this topic, however, I do know one thing, this is very much a case of Siamese/Conjoined twins.

This is my classification :
CONJOINED TWINS –> PARASITIC –> CEPHALOPAGUS

Here, they are conjoined.
Parasitic, because the development is asymmetrical. The part is vestigial, it is dependent on the fully–formed fetus for it’s nutrition and needs.
Cephalopagus is attachment of the Siamese to the head i.e. both the Siams are attached to ONE skull.

Theoretically, the chance of survival is very slim, because the brain is underdeveloped and malformed.

POINT 1 – Such twins may have a hard chance of living, hence 23 years seems a lot of time for him to live. I may be wrong here, but this is my take.

POINT 2 – Such twins are ALWAYS MONOZYGOTIC. In lay language, they are ALWAYS IDENTICAL twins. THEY CAN NEVER BE OF OPPOSITE GENDER. Hence, the “lovely as a dream” seems to be impossible.
But we know the power of the word of mouth and how often stories tend to metamorphose.

POINT 3 – The case complained of  “whispers” and moving of the eyes. However, in parasitic twins, the second part would be equal to dead. It wouldn’t be able to accomplish the above-mentioned complaints.
However, if a medical journal has published it, there may have been actual proof at that time.

POINT 4- There are no records, as such, apart from the book.
I know, for a fact, that Medicine doesn’t work that way. EVERY case has to be documented.
Things may have been different then though.

DIAGNOSIS

Well, I leave it for you to decide : Myth or Truth?

My take is that, the word of mouth spreads like fire, twisted and turned in it’s own will.
Well, all we can do, is accept that there WAS such a man, however, it may not have been like the way it has been  described.

Hope you enjoyed this read.

Please like/share/leave a comment so I can know where I stand.

Thanks for reading!

-yC

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125 comments on “The Curious Case of Edward Mordrake.

  1. sanjhunt
    July 3, 2013

    I remember seeing a similar case on television when growing up in the seventies. It was an Asian man (who was alive at the time) who had a partially formed twin attached to the side of his skull. Unlike the man in the above story, he seemed rather well-adjusted and functioned normally, came off as a friendly, outgoing person.
    As for the voices and such that Mr Mordrake experienced, that would be strictly psychological. I can imagine one would have a certain sense of horror attached to having a face on the back of one’s head.

  2. heligany
    August 20, 2013

    Could it be a case of a chimera?

    • phillip7
      December 15, 2013

      That is what I was wondering. That could explain the opposite gender, though I have never heard of a case where one did not fully consume the other. I am not a doctor or have any medical training, but have read a lot on the subject and did a report when I was studying molecular biology.

  3. Chera
    August 25, 2013

    Myth. And by the way. You’re a very smart person.

  4. Leslie Mercer (@LeslieKMercer)
    September 1, 2013

    This is interesting, however I am going to say a myth. If there was a face-like growth, I would venture to say there would be no language from the growth and only in his mind…poor guy! Also, the first thing I thought of was that the photo seemed more recent…and fake like.

    • Madison
      September 9, 2013

      Definatly fake. The picture is photoshopped too. but I do believe there was such a man with a face on the back of his skull. The whispering must of been a effect of insanity. Somthing must have been wrong with his brain in this case. It may also have been the horror of another face on his skull, Laughing or smiling as if it were another person. It probably lead him to believe it could do other things like speak. I do think its an interesting story and they should make a horror movie about it. But they do not have any real proof

      • Mark Christensen
        October 30, 2013

        OK, I’ll make one. edwardmordrakemovie.com

        mark

      • bubz
        February 8, 2014

        The whispering must of been a effect of

      • summer
        February 12, 2014

        Not photoshopped as I first saw this picture when I was a small child and I am now 48.

      • Nathan
        May 14, 2014

        Agreed. You can see an odd distorted ring around his head, leading me to believe it was shopped in. Also, the quality alone looks far too good, dare I say early smart phone pixelation? I would imagine it holds some truth, but would think it was not able to laugh when he cried. That’s all dramatics played up by folklore. Nonetheless, that shit would be absolutely horrifying to live with.

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  6. Rylee
    September 13, 2013

    Maybe he had a brain virus from the way his skull was formed and developed schizophrenia which was why he herd voices, so I say true but maybe happened different :)

  7. Renee
    October 13, 2013

    There might have been an element of truth somewhere in it, but I don’t think this photo is real. It looks like a wax depiction of the person as described by legend. I just look at the pic and it makes me think Madame Toussaud (sp?), 50’s circa black and white photo, museum, Scooby Doo, joke… If it were a picture taken of the real subject, in the time he was said to have lived, it would have been/looked much older, possibly tin type/ cabinet card style. THAT looks like a still from a campy 50’s horror movie. ARRRGGGhhh! He’s coming for you!

  8. Kat
    November 7, 2013

    Awesome and interesting article BUT there IS a case of conjoined twins where the parasitic twins head could smile and blink (quite recently, the 1st baby was formed and her sisters head and very small amount of upper body was attached to the ‘whole’ twins head. Surgery was performed and the parasitic twin was removed but the surviving baby ended up dying of complications.) Soooooo, Mordrakes case COULD be true and real. ANYTHING is possible and nature can make Many mistakes with the makeup of DNA etc. Just such a pity there aren’t any really good leads on relatives or a body that could be exhumed.

  9. Meop
    November 28, 2013

    What about cases of the siamese babies (I cant remember their names particularily) that had only one body and just a head attached to the others’. The head would cry and need to be suckled by a pacifyer and would laugh and respond(barely) to stimulus from the mom. They do, in theory share, the same brain and brain waves/electical signals in this case so moving of the mouth and eyes could be possible if it were true. There are siamese twins with fully developed heads and brains that have lived for along time but I’m guessing that’s due to modern medicine.

    Anyway, most of my information is from TLC and tv as opossed to actual medical school but I cant see any reason why this wouldn’t be true other than the head whispering things and it being female.

  10. Faith
    December 3, 2013

    Myth. It seems farfetched that it would’ve been craniopagus twins. Did you check the credibility of that one source? You stated it was a medical journal but it was obviously written way after the late 19th century because of the language. I think it was an urban legend that was passed down and I don’t think this Edward Mondrake existed as described on the internet. It’s entirely too far-fetched.

  11. Brad Hudson
    December 8, 2013

    Wow imagine if it was true that he heard it whisper but yet he may have had a mental dieses (excuse the mispelling) that cause him to hear the voices

  12. Puddin Twain
    December 13, 2013

    It looks like a wax head in the photo. Telltale gloss at certain creases of the skin, and there appears to be the faintest seam just behind/below the ear down the neck. Not as much time was spent creating the second face on the back if my perceptions are correct.

    As for the description that the second face was feminine, that may be an “impression” from the features –as that was all anyone had to go by. There is much that happens with maturation to the bones and structures, and the twin may not have had certain underlying structures to support such indicators. Also, there would not have been a visible Adam’s apple on that side, a visual cue that would have been passively perceived.

    Having known several people that suffered from strokes, Alzheimer’s, or epilepsy, I have drawn conclusions about the brain that may not be mainstream perceptions. One stroke victim couldn’t fathom the difference of time, all their memories ran together and overlapped. One Alzheimer’s sufferer could see and speak to their dead relatives, and did so much to the great irritation of their superstitious nurse. But there are other examples.

    For instance, one person that had lost much of their memory due to repeated seizures did indeed appear to have a second personality that fought for dominance. They were avid music lovers and recalled to me an experience when they became lucid during an absence seizure and instructed themselves to put down the guitar. This was shocking for them, and they described the interaction as having to deal with a very dull child. In my own interactions with them, they sometimes appeared to be a stranger to me and at other times they were warm as should be expected from someone that you’ve known for twenty years. The “stranger” had a different set of facial expressions, a different way of speaking, and was oddly mechanical and somewhat robotic. Therefore, after reviewing, I believe it is entirely possible that there could be some division of the brain that the alternate face often revealed of its inner workings.

    This same epileptic long-time friend/acquaintance also spoke frequently of suicide, which is not uncommon among those suffering with epilepsy. Much of their life they had been normal, functional, and the onset of the medical problems did not happen until sometime after they had made a career for themselves. The epilepsy robbed them not only of their memories but also of their livelihood. They remember enough about what they have lost to spend a lot of time mourning it daily. Perhaps some similar awareness of loss happened here, where development after a period of peaceful living, and over time, took some turn that began to dissolve their quality of life that the drastic difference led them to endlessly mourn that which was lost. In that respect, a sneer on the man’s twin face may have revealed both sides of the same coin, the raw emotional release of their sorrow as well as the self-loathing at t he source of it.

    So from all that I have seen, experienced, learned, I wouldn’t say that the story is altogether impossible. There may be some bits that can be better explained after some thought and context interpretation have been explored.

  13. brian henry
    January 2, 2014

    think you nailed it

  14. Sara Pearson
    January 5, 2014

    Thanks for doing the medical research. There’s probably some truth to it. But like most stories, it was exaggerated quite a bit over the years.

  15. Indy
    January 16, 2014

    Actually twins CAN be of different gender because 2 students in my school are twins and one is a boy the other is a girl, as for Edward, most likely a fraud to draw attention to himself.

    • Trish
      February 6, 2014

      Conjoined twins like this story is referencing are monozygotic (one egg that splits) therefore they have to be the same sex. What you are referencing is called fraternal twins. Fraternal twins come from 2 different eggs and develop separately in the womb…since they are each from their own egg they can be of opposite or same gender. Fraternal twins are basically just siblings that share a womb and birthday. :)

  16. zane
    January 17, 2014

    interesting story. definitly old. as the book says the info is taken from lay sources. i’d investigate medical procedure and standards in the late 19th century to gain an understanding of their standards then. medical science as come a long way since blood letting and the like.

  17. Jim
    January 31, 2014

    My question would be why is there only one picture of this man? Anything is possible I guess but you would think that if there are so many details about his life that were recorded why not more photographic evidence, esp from the medical community. I think its natural for people to want this to be true and there may have been a man with this name with a deformity but the story as a whole seems a bit fiction.

    • mark christensen
      January 31, 2014

      but as a writer, fiction would have went more out of control with the content, it is to perfectly groomed in its personal details to be made up and the made up version
      would have shown it’s elaborations much more.

    • D Rutherford
      February 6, 2014

      No photographs exist of the real man, if, indeed there was one. This is a wax

  18. D Rutherford
    February 6, 2014

    This isn’t a photograph of Edward Mordrake. It is a wax interpretation of what people thought he may have looked like. No photographs exist of him, and I very much doubt this ‘interpretation’ bears any relation at all – if any

  19. Sandra Dodd
    February 7, 2014

    IF it was a photo, it could easily have been taken by a professional photographer. I don’t understand why you wanted to date it after home photography. Professional photographers went door-to-door, too, all the time.

    There are other accounts of faces with moving eyes and mouths, so I don’t think you’re claim that it would be practically dead is valid.

  20. Claire
    February 8, 2014

    Don’t know if this guy is real or not, but I’m going to take issue with point 3. Please look up Manar Maged. She was born in the last decade with a parasitic head. Although that head is much more developed, it could blink and move its mouth independently of Manar. If you want another example, a little girl named Lali was born this year with facial duplication. All four eyes blink. But yeah, I doubt the head was talking

  21. Dave C
    February 8, 2014

    I ain’t buying this. The face looks entirely fake. The guy trims his own hair one way but doesn’t trim the 2nd face in a similar way, plus has a beard? All that hair just conveniently hides the adhesion line where it was attached to his skull.

  22. Cherry
    February 9, 2014

    There are no pictures of the real Edward that black and white is of a wax figure made in his remberance no one actually knows what he looked like that’s why in some stories it’s a beautiful woman and in others it’s a Demond face

  23. sarah
    February 9, 2014

    What kind of medical program are you in? One at a community college?

  24. Anonymous
    February 9, 2014

    Your writing style is at once too casual, condescending and self-congratulatory. You’ll want to work on your bedside (or blog-side, as the case may be) manner.

  25. Amanda Michelle Cochran
    February 9, 2014

    I found this article and comments about Edward Mordrake to be very informative : http://thehumanmarvels.com/125/from-the-archives-edward-mordake-poor-edward/deformity

  26. Dean Simons
    February 11, 2014

    yeah ive searched the internet for more information on this poor fellow the picture is a waxwork of an interpretation of what he looked like its a shame no real pictures exist but i do think there is some truth in this tale

  27. Andrew
    February 13, 2014

    The photograph is actually that of a wax figure made long after the death of any real Edward Mordrake. This is a 20th century rendition of a 19th century story. No known photos of the actual person exist . However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the person did not exist. Though I do believe details of the story have been changed through the course of history.

  28. Andrew
    February 13, 2014

    Also, as a medical student you should know that you should never reference Wikipedia as a source

  29. CatastropheGirl
    February 14, 2014

    why would anyone with an education cite wikipedia, or snopes? come on. Give me real citations, that are medically proven and legit sites, and then lets talk.

  30. Mike
    February 15, 2014

    That’s not actually a photograph of him. There are no photographs that are known to exist. The photo you posted is actually a wax representation of him, nobody knew what he looked like. Besides, photographs from the 1890-1900’s era didn’t look quite that clear and sharp, that wasn’t the sitting style of the era (for photographs) and most were in sepia tone, not black and white.

  31. andrew
    April 17, 2014

    I believe that the picture MAY be fake. But think about this for a second. Back then, they more than likely did not document it or record the facts and is all word of mouth. Because back then a lot of things were not documented BC it was seen as an abomination. And was more than likely hidden from the world and records or they may have just died during birth or killed BC they did not have the technology we have now! But you see now in 2000s we see people born like it and its documented. They were probably afraid back then. Just think about it. BC the government and scientists hide things from us now. Same back then. So who can be certain??

  32. Paradise alano
    April 17, 2014

    I feel bad for him

  33. Julie Patchouli
    April 22, 2014

    Reblogged this on Julie Patchouli.

  34. Loonypotterhead3825
    April 28, 2014

    Myth. It canNOT be real. What’s next? Voldemort in the back of the head of a guy named Quirrel? Btw, you’re really smart.

  35. Ryleigh
    May 23, 2014

    I just feel like there would be more pictures documented with a case like this. Whenever we see something out of the norm or “supernatural” if you will, would you really only take one picture? But no other pictures of him can be found, which leads me to believe its fake. It would be an interesting story if it was real, but without more photos to prove it, it all seems a bit sketchy to me.

  36. Pingback: THE CASE OF EDWARD MORDRAKE: FACT OR FICTION? | HORROR REPORT

  37. Hi, all the time i used to check web site posts here in the early hours in the break of day, because i love
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