Chapter 16c: Brain Exam

Now, the thought occurs that all this discussion of Kennedy's skull and scalp bypasses Exhibit A for the argument Kennedy was killed by a tangental gunshot wound--Kennedy's brain. 

Now, this should not be controversial, but, unfortunately, it is. The vast majority of single-assassin theorists find discussion of Kennedy's brain injuries revolting, and blindly defer to the experts whose bias and/or complicity we've exposed in the preceding chapters. 

And a large percentage of conspiracy theorists think such a discussion a total waste of time. Autopsy photographer John Stringer told the ARRB he failed to recognize the photos of Kennedy's brain as photos he was purported to have taken, and this allows these theorists to both reject the veracity of the photos currently in the archives, reject the descriptions of the brain included in the Supplementary Autopsy Report, which correspond to these photos. 

And that's too a close reading of the brain damage described by the doctors in the Supplementary Autopsy Report is strongly suggestive---that the doctors got it wrong. 

Some Thoughts About the Brain

One of the great complaints about the medical evidence is that the weight given for Kennedy's brain at the Supplemental Exam--1500 gms--is just too much. Some take from this that Kennedy's brain had been swapped out, and that a substitute brain had been studied in its place. 

Such thoughts go too far, in my opinion. In The Assassinations (2003) Dr. David Mantik and Dr. Cyril Wecht argued that this brain weight was much too heavy, while supplying data suggesting it may very well have been correct. They wrote that the upper limit of normal for a an adult male brain is 1605 gms. Kennedy was a larger than average man, whose brain could very well have been at that limit, or perhaps even larger. (The brain of William Pitzer, a Bethesda Hospital employee whose death aroused much speculation, is reported to have weighed 1625 gms upon removal.) Mantik and Wecht then wrote that soaking the brain in formalin would increase its weight by a mean of 8.8%, and that injecting the brain with formalin would increase its weight by a mean of 5.7%. Both procedures were purported to have been performed on Kennedy's brain. 

Well, let's do the math. If these procedures increased the weight of the brain by 14.5% (8.8 plus 5.7), as seems reasonable, Kennedy's presumably 1605 gm brain would have weighed as much as 1837 gms. But it only weighed 1500 gms. This suggests then that roughly 18% of the brain was missing.

Now, this is where it gets tricky. The autopsists, when asked for an estimate, said that roughly 33 % of the brain was missing. Something seems to be awry. But then look again. Although the means of the weight increase from formalin soaking and infusion were 5.7 and 8.8%, respectively, the highs were 19.2 and 31.8%, respectively. That's a 50% increase, when taken together. A 1605 gm brain, if soaked and infused with formalin, then, could have weighed as much as 2400 gms, more than the 2250 gms needed to correlate to the 1500 gm weight of the brain with the doctors' recollection a third of the brain was missing. 

But was there so big an increase? Probably not. It seems likely that the two procedures would overlap somewhat, and that the largest increase from performing both procedures would be smaller than the sum of the largest increase from performing each of the procedures. The fact remains, however, that a perfectly reasonable combination of a larger than average beginning weight for Kennedy's brain, a  smaller than estimated 33% loss of brain matter from the shooting, and larger than expected weight increase from the formalin can be found, and that this combination of factors makes the 1500 gm weight provided for Kennedy's brain, well, perfectly reasonable.

Let's try these on for size.

Suppose Kennedy's pre-mortem brain weighed 1500 gms. (This is not unreasonable in that the brains of Anna Nicole Smith, Vladimir Lenin, J.D. Tippit, Michael Jackson, Brittany Murphy, Martin Luther King, Whitney Houston, Marilyn Monroe, Lee Oswald, Dale Earnhardt, David Ferrie, Christopher Wallace, Janis Joplin, Dylan Klebold, River Phoenix and William Pitzer were reported to have weighed 1300, 1340, 1350, 1380, 1400, 1400, 1410, 1440, 1450, 1450, 1480, 1490, 1490, 1500, 1540 and 1625 gms, respectively.) 

Suppose the doctors over-estimated the amount that was missing, and that only 20% was actually missing. That's a 1200 gm brain. (James Jenkins, Humes' and Boswell's assistant, who handled the brain and infused it with formalin, told a 1991 conference hosted by Harrison Livingstone that the brain he infused was approximately the size of a woman's brain, and weighed 1200 or 1300 gms.) 

Suppose then that the formalin procedures added 25% onto this weight. 

These are all reasonable adjustments. And yet they arrive at the supposedly impossible number of 1500 gms. 

Now consider that 1500 is a nice round number and that it seems possible, even likely, that whoever weighed Kennedy's brain rounded up. 

Well, this means the formalin procedures would only have to have added 20% onto the weight of Kennedy's pre-formalin-infused brain. 

Sometimes what seems impossible is well within the grasp of the possible. 

So let's continue on this path, then, and examine Kennedy's brain injuries to see if if they conform with what we've come to suspect from studying his skull and scalp injuries. 

But first, let's go back, and remind ourselves why these injuries are inconsistent with the conclusions of those who've come before us. 

Brain Trajectory Comparison

While one of the reasons given by the HSCA pathology panel for rejecting the autopsists' description of the entrance wound was that they determined by looking at the autopsy photos that “the posterior-inferior portion of the cerebellum” was “virtually intact…It certainly does not demonstrate the degree of laceration, fragmentation, or contusion (as appears subsequently on the superior aspect of the brain) that would be expected in this location if the bullet wound of entrance were as described in the autopsy report,” the location they proposed was far far worse.

There are a number of problems with the cowlick entrance beyond that no one saw a wound in this location...

  • For one, a bullet entering the cowlick with the skull leaned as far forward as at Z-312 would have to traverse the brain just beneath the skull for a distance before exploding upwards; this seems unlikely, as the strong impact of a fragmenting bullet with the skull almost on edge would almost certainly guarantee a large “gutter” wound of both entrance and exit and rule out the small oval entrance identified in the autopsy photos.
  • For two, a bullet entering the HSCA’s entrance when Kennedy was leaning forward to the degree he was leaning at frame 312 of the Zapruder film would enter the skull at a point further forward than 20% of the brain, on the parietal lobe. Well, this makes no sense seeing as the bullet is purported to have created a channel running to the right of the mid-line of the brain for the length of the brain beginning on the tip of the occipital lobe, and ending on the frontal lobe.
  • For three strikes and out, the greatest damage apparent in the only released drawing of the brain appears to the left of the HSCA trajectory, with the largest section of intact brain directly in its path. As a fragmenting bullet is reputed to leave a trail the shape of an ever-widening cone, this makes no freaking sense.

Now let's presume our catcher dropped the ball, and that he now has to throw the batter out at first. 

Let's look, then, at the HSCA tracing of the brain as viewed from above, when matched up with a normal brain as viewed from above.

Well, heck, the occipital lobe has been disrupted, and presumably partially shredded. 

This is bad news for the cowlick entry folks. The occipital lobe in their take was inches away from the bullet's trajectory.

And here's more bad news for the cowlick entry folks.

Now, I know we already looked at this skull at the beginning of the last chapter. It's the skull of a prisoner shot while escaping, from a distance of 90 feet, by a guard using a rifle and cartridge more powerful than the rifle and carriage purported to kill Kennedy. But what I didn't tell you at that time was that in Louis Anatole La Garde's book Gunshot Wounds, from which this image was obtained, La Garde provided some info about the injury to the brain as well. 

Keep in mind that the bullet through this skull traveled a trajectory almost identical to what the HSCA's Forensic Pathology Panel claimed for the bullet killing Kennedy. Here's La Garde: "On the calvarium being removed the surface of the dura mater presented a state of intense congestion. To the right of the longitudinal fissure it was torn through for a distance of about 4 inches, about one inch from and parallel to it. A furrow corresponding to the injury of the dura was ploughed through the right hemisphere in the region of the superior frontal convolution about 1/2 inch deep."

Well, how about that? The Supplementary Autopsy Report of President Kennedy claimed a "longitudinal laceration" (which has long been presumed to be a bullet track, and is often described as a furrow) through Kennedy's brain ran "approximately 4.5 cm. below the vertex in the white matter."

A half-inch deep is about 12 mm. 4.5 cm is 45 mm. The furrow through Kennedy's brain was almost 4 times as deep as the furrow through the dead prisoner's brain, even though the bullets creating these furrows, according the HSCA FPP, sped along a nearly identical trajectory. 

The HSCA's trajectory is nonsense.

Now, La Garde said a bullet entering the skull at a lower point than the bullet entered the prisoner's skull would expend more of its energy upon entrance and make a more explosive exit from the top of the skull.

So maybe there's something to this lower furrow. Maybe Humes got it right, after all. 

The Canal Canal

In August 2006, while browsing the many online forums devoted to the assassination, I was surprised to find that John Canal, an ardent believer in the low skull entrance measured at the autopsy, was citing Dr. Humes' assertions about the laceration supposedly 4.5 cm below the vertex as evidence he was correct about the low entrance on the skull. Now, this was surprising to me at that time, because, as we've seen, the HSCA medical panel listed the lack of damage to Kennedy’s brain at the location of the low entrance as a reason to believe the actual entrance was four inches higher. 

I re-read the autopsy report to see if Canal had any basis for his statements.

The supplementary autopsy report signed by Dr. Humes on December 6, 1963 reports the damage to Kennedy’s brain as follows: “Following formalin fixation the brain weighs 1500 gms. The right cerebral hemisphere is found to be markedly disrupted. There is a longitudinal laceration of the right hemisphere which is para-sagittal in position approximately 2.5 cm. to the right of the midline which extends from the tip of the occipital lobe posteriorly to the tip of the frontal lobe anteriorly. The base of the laceration is situated approximately 4.5 cm. below the vertex in the white matter. There is considerable loss of cortical substance above the base of the laceration, particularly in the parietal lobe. The margins of this laceration are at all points jagged and irregular, with additional lacerations extending in varying directions and for varying distances from the main laceration.”  

Sure enough, by claiming that the laceration began 2.5 cm to the right of the mid-line, the same distance from mid-line as the bullet entrance to the right of the EOP, the supplementary report supported that the laceration 4.5 cm below the vertex came from the bullet entering to the right of the EOP.  

Something felt off, however. I looked up the word “longitudinal.” “Longitudinal: The word comes from the Latin longitudo meaning length. Hence, longitudinal means along the length, running lengthwise.” 

Now this, at first, confused me. But with some time, years actually, I came to understand that doctors use "longitudinal" in place of "vertical," and that a "longitudinal laceration" would be one that has a vertical aspect to it, that is, it runs up or down within the body. 

So this was a vertical laceration that ran from the posterior tip of the occipital lobe to the anterior tip of the frontal lobe... Well, this was just a fancy way of saying the upper lobes of the brain--the cerebrum--had been separated down the middle, and that the processes holding the hemispheres together had been torn. 

Well, right there, there's a problem, a red flag, if you will. If this laceration represents a bullet track, as per Canal, what are the odds this bullet track would run straight down the middle of the brain?

And yeah, I know that the Supplementary Autopsy Report suggests it was not right down the middle, but approximately 2.5 cm to the right of the middle. Well, that's an inch. If this were true, one would expect to see some of the right cerebral hemisphere to the left of the laceration. But, as demonstrated by the HSCA tracing of the photo taken from above, there was none. When moving from left to right, there's the intact left hemisphere, the laceration, and then the badly disrupted right hemisphere. 

When one re-reads the original autopsy report, signed on 11-24-63, moreover, one can see that the 12-6-63 placement of the para-sagittal laceration at a point matching the small entrance 2.5. cm to the right of mid-line was an afterthought, and perhaps even a deliberate deception. Here's the initial description of the damage to Kennedy's brain in the 11-24 report: "Clearly visible in the above described large skull defect and exuding from it is lacerated brain tissue which on close inspection proves to represent the major portion of the right cerebral hemisphere. At this point it is noted that the falx cerebri is extensively lacerated with disruption of the superior sagittal sinus." And here it is again in the summary: "The fatal missile entered the skull above and to the right of the external occipital protuberance. A portion of the projectile traversed the cranial cavity in a posterior-anterior direction (see lateral skull roentgenograms) depositing minute particles along its path. A portion of the projectile made its exit through the parietal bone on the right carrying with it portions of cerebrum, skull and scalp. The two wounds of the skull combined with the force of the missile produced extensive fragmentation of the skull, laceration of the superior saggital sinus, and of the right cerebral hemisphere."

Well, heck, within the original autopsy report, the doctors claimed that upon entrance the bullet broke into two portions, and that there were two bullet tracks within the brain--one that ran straight across the brain from back to front (apparently along the superior sagittal sinus) that did not exit, and one that exited from the top of the right side of the head. 

Now, no evidence for this second trajectory was offered in the 12-6 Supplementary Autopsy Report. So Canal was not insane to assume the 2.5 cm from mid-line laceration discussed in the 12-6 report suggested the supposed entrance communicated with the supposed exit. 

Where Canal's supposition falls flat, however, is right there in his source material, the 12-6-63 Supplementary Autopsy Report on Kennedy's brain prepared by Dr. Humes. It provided but one measurement for the longitudinal laceration they presumed to be a bullet track. This suggests this laceration not only ran straight across the brain, but that it did not ascend or descend within the brain, a la the trajectory proposed by the autopsists.

And it gets worse. As we've seen, the lone measurement provided was for the distance of the laceration's base beneath the vertex (i.e. highest point) of the brain: 4.5 cm. This 4.5 cm measurement is, however, far too small to support the bullet trajectory pushed by the autopsists, Canal and Sturdivan. An entrance by the EOP would be around 12 cm below the vertex.

Hmmm. The only possible explanation I can come up with that would make the brain damage described by Humes compatible with the low bullet entrance he'd described is that Humes and Boswell, career pathologists, became confused as to the location of the vertex, and incorrectly assumed the far back part of the parietal lobe was the vertex.

Let's see if this makes sense.

The exhibit below is an attempt to depict the HSCA and Warren Commission trajectories through the brain, along with the presumed canal through the brain.

Well, heck, the trajectory proposed by the Warren Commission, that is, the trajectory proposed by the autopsy doctors, who actually handled the brain, in Exhibit 388, runs along the top of the cerebellum. 

Now, as shown in the HSCA's drawing of the superior view of the brain, the top of the cerebellum was intact, but the occipital lobe was disrupted. 

So...were the autopsists correct about the bullet trajectory? And brain damage? But wrong about the placement of the wound track at 4.5 cm below the vertex?

No, it appears not. While their trajectory is roughly consistent with the posterior part of the brain--assuming, that is, that a high-velocity bullet could pass so close to the cerebellum without causing any damage--it is thoroughly at odds with the anterior part of the brain. 

Here, see for yourself:

Note that the right frontal lobe (on the upper left side of the drawing) has been disrupted, all the way to the front tip. Now this is in keeping with the doctors' description of the brain in the Supplementary Autopsy Report. But this is bad news for those believing the autopsists got it right. The bullet, in their take, erupted from the skull two inches or so rearward of this damage. While a few small fragments are presumed to have continued forward from the exit location, and to have embedded themselves in the vicinity of the right eye socket, it seems most unlikely these small fragments would do as much or more damage to the frontal lobe as the nearly intact bullet appears to have done to the parietal lobe.

Something's just wrong. 

The laceration noted at autopsy fails to align with any of the trajectories proposed by the government. Not with the trajectory pushed in the autopsy report prepared by the military. Not with the trajectory pushed in the Clark Panel's report prepared for the Justice Department. And not with the trajectory pushed in the Forensic Pathology Panel's report prepared for the U.S. House of Representatives. 

This is quite the quandary. 

Let's re-read some descriptions of the brain wounds, then, and see if we can make sense of this. 

"Gutter" Talk

The first person to observe the damage to Kennedy's brain was Secret Service agent Clint Hill, who looked down into Kennedy's head while spread out atop the limousine, mere seconds after the shooting. Hill would later note that there was a skull piece about the size of his palm missing from above Kennedy's right ear, and that "It looked like an ice cream scoop had gone in and removed the brain from that area."

Now, this would seem to be a reference to a "gutter wound." It is not a reference to a normal exit, nor to a longitudinal laceration more than two inches deep in the brain.

Well, then, what did it look like at Parkland? We've already been over this, but it bears repeating that Dr. William Kemp Clark, the only Parkland doctor to closely inspect the surface of Kennedy's brain, said the wound resembled a tangential wound of both entrance and exit. Now this confirms Hill's impression. The wound he saw was on the surface. 

Well, then, what did it look like at autopsy? Upon first inspection? Quotes along this line are hard to come by, but James Curtis Jenkins, an assistant to Dr.s Humes and Boswell, told writer William Law in 1993, that, after inspecting Kennedy's brain "My impression of the brain was that the damage to the area of the brain, the extensiveness of it, did not quite match the extensiveness of the wound. In other words, the damage to the brain seemed to be a little less than you would expect from (the damage to the skull)." Now, the words "the damage to the skull" were in parentheses in Law's book, In the Eye of History, and presumably reflect that Jenkins ended his thought without ending his sentence. It should be added then that Jenkins spoke at the JFK Lancer Conference in Dallas on November 22, 2013, and said much the same thing he'd told Law 20 years before. He reported that the "damage to the brain did not correlate to the damage to the skull," and that the brain (if it were truly an exit for a bullet entering the skull behind and below this large hole, as subsequently proposed by Dr.s Humes, Boswell, and Finck), should have been "butterflied"--which one can only assume means spread outward--but was not.

So that's it. Before the brain was removed, observers noted a large hole on the skull, and a gouge out of the underlying brain, but saw nothing to indicate this disruption derived from below. 

Now let's take a look at the Clark and HSCA Forensic Pathology Panels' discussions of the canal Canal assumed to be a bullet track...

Groove is in the Brain (na na, na na, na na)

The Clark Panel: “The right cerebral hemisphere is extensively lacerated. It is transected by a broad canal running generally in a posterior-anterior direction and to the right of the midline. Much of the roof of this canal is missing as are most of the overlying frontal and parietal gyri. In the central portion of its base can be seen a gray brown rectangular structure measuring approximately 13 x 20 mm. Its identity can not be established by the Panel”. 

The HSCA Forensic Pathology Panel: “On the right cerebral hemisphere is an anterior posterior cylindrical groove in which the brain substance is fragmented or absent. This groove extends from the back of the brain to the right frontal area of the brain and contains within the depths of its central portion a grey brown rectangular area. The majority of the panel considers this to be a blood vessel in the Sylvian fissure.” 

Well, ain't that something? Neither panel provides a measurement for the depth of this canal or groove. 

As both panels were pushing that the bullet entered at the cowlick, and exploded from a location near the coronal suture, moreover, it appears they were trying to sell that this canal/groove connected these locations. When the measurement and descriptions provided by the autopsists showed it did not... And the HSCA's drawing of an autopsy photo...showed it did not. (The HSCA's trajectory, let's recall, included that the bullet traveled considerably to the right within the skull, which was grossly at odds with both the description of the longitudinal laceration in the Supplementary Autopsy Report--"para-sagittal"--and the HSCA's Figure 32--a drawing of the brain as viewed from above.)

Well, what then of this canal, or groove? Its location fails to align with any of the trajectories proposed by the government. And is also inconsistent with its being a "gutter" wound of both entrance and exit...

Something's just wrong.

Now, the thought occurs that what's wrong is the assumption...first suggested by the autopsy doctors with their dubious claim the laceration/canal/groove began the same distance from the mid-line as the bullet hole near the EOP, and then propagated by writers such as Dr. Michael Baden (in his HSCA testimony and 1989 book Unnatural Death), Dr. Michael Levy (in the November 2003 issue of Neurosurgery) and John Canal--that this laceration/canal/groove marked a bullet's passage through the brain. The doctors did not conclude as much in their report, after all, even though they'd inspected the skull, and held the brain in their hands, and would have been in perfect position to claim the entrance on the skull correlated with the beginning of the laceration/canal/groove.

Hmmm. There was no entrance at the back of this canal or groove. And no exit at the front of this canal or groove. In fact, this canal or groove had no readily identifiable beginning or end. 

It seems clear, then. NO bullet traveled along this course. 

And, strangely, I'm not the first to suggest as much.

Finck on the Run I

From the 3-11-78 HSCA deposition of Dr. Pierre A. Finck.  

Dr. PETTY. All right. Then there is just one other thing I would like to show you and that is the photographs of the brain which show you the cerebellum and of course the cerebellar hemispheres and the brain stem. Are these of any value to you in attempting to locate the area of the bullet perforation?
Dr. FINCK. I see extensive damage to the right hemisphere and the left hemisphere. I see blood under the thin meninges but on the basis of the photograph of the brain I cannot show an entry or an exit in the brain if that is what your question is.
Dr. PETTY. No, that is not quite what I asked. Can you tell where the penetrating gunshot wound went? I am not asking for entrance or exit but the course.
Dr. FINCK. The track. I cannot identify a track.

Dr. BADEN. Dr. Finck has been referring to 46, 47, 48 and 50 photographs.
Dr. PETTY. Just one further question. Do you see any damage to the cerebellar hemispheres in these photographs that could have been caused by a missile?
Dr. FINCK. I don't know.

Dr. PETTY. All right. Now does anybody have any other question they would like to ask of Dr. Finck?
Dr. LOQUOVAM. If a missile had entered at this point, would it have entered the posterior cranial vault and produced subarachnoid hemorrhage in the cerebellar hemisphere? I have pointed to color picture No. 43 at the point of entrance that Dr. Finck is saying the entrance is and I am referring to the four color photographs of the brain in which I see no subarachnoid hemorrhage other than postmortem to the -- My question is, if this is the point of entrance, isn't that at the level of the posterior cranial vault where the cerebellar hemispheres lie and would we not see subarachnoid hemorrhage if a slug had torn through there?
Dr. FINCK. Not necessarily because you have wounds without subarachnoid hemorrhage.
Dr. LOQUOVAM. You can have wounds in the brain without a missile track slug tearing through brain tissue?
Dr. FINCK. I don't know. I cannot answer your question.

It appears from this that Finck, a supposed expert on gunshot wounds, agrees with my assertion the laceration or groove identifiable on the brain photos, was not actually a bullet track. 

And is not remotely bothered by this.

This is truly hard to swallow. 

Humes Doubles Down...

From the 2-13-96 ARRB deposition of Dr. James J. Humes, when reviewing the photos of the brain... Jeremy Gunn does the questioning.

Q. Do you know how the left cerebellum came to be disrupted? 
A. I would have to presume by the explosive force of the missile as it entered near there. There seems to be a laceration in the mid-brain here, see? 
Q. Can you point out where the laceration in the mid-brain is? 
A. Right there. 
Q. Is the mid-brain above or below the cerebral cortex? 
A. Oh, below the cerebral cortex. 
Q. Was the-- 
A. This is basically probably the lesion that was fatal. 

Q. The one to the mid-brain? 
A. Yes. Presumably. 

Q. Okay. Now, there is reference in that paragraph to a longitudinal laceration of the right hemisphere, and it then goes on to say that the base of the laceration is situated approximately 4.5 centimeters below the vertex. Is that laceration visible on the photographs of the basilar view of the brain? 
A. Well, not very clearly. Not very clearly. 
Q. Would you expect-- 
A. I presume it's in through here. 
Q. Would you expect that laceration to be visible on the superior view of the brain? 
A. I don't know. I can't tell from this. 
Q: Could we have the photographs of the superior view, colors 50, 51, and 52? 
A: Okay. 
Q. Is that laceration which is 4.5 centimeters below the vertex visible on the photograph of the superior view of the brain? 
A. You know, laceration is a bad way to describe it. It's a big disruption. I guess we called it a laceration because that seemed like as good a word as any. But it significantly destroys much of that right cerebral hemisphere. 
Q. So I'm clear, is there a laceration that comes down, that goes from what you're describing as back to front that is 4.5 centimeters below the top of the skull and a separate laceration that goes down near the mid-brain? 
A. Yeah, I guess so. 
Q. Do those two lacerations connect to each other? 
A. I don't know. 
You can't tell from here. 
Q. "From here," you're referring to this-- 
A. From the photographs. 
Q. Dr. Humes, did you take a section from the right cerebellar cortex? 
A. According to the supplementary report. I did. 
Q. Why did you take a section from the right cerebellar cortex? 
A. Just to be more all inclusive. For no particular reason. 
Q. Did you take a section from the left cerebellar cortex? 
A. It doesn't appear that I did. 
Q. Is there a reason for not taking one from the left cerebellar cortex? 
A. No. No. If there is, I certainly can't recall what it would have been. 
Q. When you removed the brain, which part of the brain did you cut in order to remove it? 
A. The brain stem. 
Q. Was the brain--were you able to ascertain whether the brain stem had received any damage prior to the time that you made the incision? 
A. It was my impression that it had, yes. 
Q. Was the brain stem already disconnected at the time that you-- 
A. No, it was not disconnected. 
Q. How was it that you had the impression that it was--that it had received some kind of laceration or injury? 
A. Well, one of these photographs shows you, as I tried to point out earlier, the one that was here a few minutes ago-- 
Q. The basilar view? 
A. Yeah, the basilar view shows this disrupted-looking area right there. That's the brain stem. 
Q. Looking at the basilar view, are you able to ascertain whether either the left or the right cerebellum has been disrupted? We touched on this issue before, but I just wanted to return to that. 
A. In this photograph, it would appear the right cerebellum has been partially disrupted, yes. 
Q. But not the left cerebellum? 
A. Not the left. The left seems pretty intact.
Q. From the superior view of the brain, are you able to identify any disruption of either left or right hemisphere of the cerebellum? 
A. They both look pretty good from above. You can see both sides. That shows you why pictures don't always tell the whole story. 
Q. What this seems to be pointing to is two separate lacerations of the brain, one going through the right cerebrum and the other one high along the--or 4.5 centimeters from the vertex, the other one going low and hitting the brain stem. Is that-- 
A. I object to the two separate. I think they're all extensions of one another. 

Q. So it is one projectile going through that's causing-- 
A. Partially the projectile and partially the explosive force of the missile, and I can't evaluate with any certainty which is which. 
If you ever saw a high-speed photograph of a missile going through a block of wax--many times people use this to demonstrate speeds of missiles-- you'd see that the explosive force is much larger and destructive, really, than the single path--the path of the bullet is like an ice pick, relatively narrow in its effect, but it's the force that's expended as it goes through that is much more dangerous and disruptive. 
Q. Was there a non-disrupted portion of the brain between the portion that was 4.5 centimeters below the vertex and the portion that goes through the brain stem? Or was it all-- 
A. I think there's very little of the right cerebral hemisphere that was not in some way damaged by this. Very little. Maybe the tip of the temporal lobe, possibly, was not particularly involved, but as you can see from the photographs, most of the right cerebral was very seriously injured.

So, there you have it. Humes--who had relatively little experience with gunshot wounds--was under the belief a Mannlicher-Carcano bullet passing through brain would expend such force it would essentially explode the brain, and took from this that no track through the brain would be identifiable at autopsy. Apparently, he'd been taken in by the myth propagated by Olivier and Sturdivan and the velocity boys over at the Aberdeen Proving Ground.

As Humes didn't know this, moreover, he didn't know enough to lie about the lacerations to the mid-brain. 

And he wasn't alone...

And So Does Boswell...

From the 2-26-96 ARRB deposition of Dr. J. Thornton Boswell, when reviewing the photos of the brain. Jeremy Gunn is once again the questioner.

Q. From that photograph, the way that it appears in the photograph, is the left hemisphere of the cerebellum disrupted? 
A. A little bit. Certainly the midline is torn. See, the falx comes down between these two and then is connected to the skull above, and that's been torn away, and all this has been disrupted, the connections between the two lobes. And there's hemorrhage, fragmentation, a lot of fragmentation of the right lobe. The only part of the right lobe that's intact are these two areas right here, like this. 
Q. Now, did the bullet wound--if we're thinking of President Kennedy standing erect or sitting erect, did the bullet wound go from a lower part of the brain--again, we're talking back 2.5 centimeters to the right of the EOP and then go in an upward direction out of the right temporal parietal area? 
A. Yeah, the bullet entered probably behind the cerebellar pons here, back in there, and then it was coming back up this way and I guess it probably would have come through the brain at some point, through the brain, but it's going to hit the calvarium up right at the top. And then that explosion is the thing that's going to sort of disperse all the tissue here and bone and the scalp overlying. So it's coming from down here, up through. 
Q. From a lay perspective, it would seem to me, based upon what you've said, that the disruption in the cerebrum would be more towards the point of entrance and lower. 
A. I think it's probably going to be at the point of exit. I think when the bullet hits the calvarium above, that's when the explosion took place, because all the bone was just crushed at that point. And a lot of force is extended all the way throughout the calvarium--or throughout the cranial vault, and that's when a lot of this damage took place. 
Q. Was there any disruption to the mid-brain? 
A. Oh, it's totally demolished. This is mid-brain right here, and everything there is gone-- well, not gone, but it's stretched--but I don't know what caused that, whether that was the bullet hitting something or whether it was the tugging on the falx. You see, the falx is intimately associated with all the structures in the mid- brain, and between the two. 

Q. What I'm not understanding--and this, I'm sure, comes from my lack of medical training--is that it seems as if there is a laceration that goes through the mid-brain, which I would characterize as the lower part of the brain. 
A. Yes. 
Q. But there's also a laceration that goes near the vertex of the brain, which would strike me as being the upper. Also, it seems as if there is some suggestion that the portion between that upper and lower laceration is relatively more intact than the upper and lower portions. Is that correct or incorrect? 
A. I think you're right, but the forces causing this are multiple: the explosive force of the bullet hitting the calvarium, the upper surface; the explosion of the falx, because that all stretched at the same time, and it is pulling brain against bone, and then separating from both eventually. And so all that trauma is taking place at the same time or in a very brief interval. But not much of this could be caused by bullet entering.
 Of course, fractures took place at two stages. A lot of fractures took place when the bullet entered the cranial vault, and then they really took place when the bullet went out. 
Q. Could any of the left cerebellum have been disrupted by either the entrance or the exit? 
A. Well, see, the dura encapsulates all the lobes of the brain, and they're all intimately attached. And when you start tugging on the dura in any one place, or especially in multiple places, is when the--that explosion really expanded the whole cranial vault. And those membranes are really being pulled and pushed in all directions, and they're going to do all kinds of--this kind of trauma. 
Q. So, in other words, even though the bullet would have entered near the right cerebellum, the right cerebellum could emerge intact, whereas the left cerebellum could be disrupted? Is that fair? 
A. Yeah. 

Q. Could we look at the ninth view, please? This corresponds to black and white photographs Nos. 20, 23, 24, 25, and color photographs Nos. 50, 51, and 52. It's described in the 1966 inventory as the "superior view of the brain." The first question is: Do the photographs appear to you to be accurate representations of the brain as you observed it at the time of the supplementary examination? 
A. Yes. 
Q. Dr. Boswell, I'd like to show you a document that is marked as Exhibit No. MI 12, which is one of the Rydberg drawings from the Warren Commission report. Notice that in Exhibit MI 12, the bullet appears to be going in a straight line through the brain. Are you able to tell by examining the superior view of the brain in the ninth view whether the bullet, in fact, proceeded in a straight line? 
A. No. I don't think there's any way of making that determination. 
Q. Was it possible to determine the course of the bullet through the skull by an examination of the brain? 
A. Not of the brain.
 It was a little bit easier by examination of the skull, but the right hemisphere of the brain is just so torn up, and there's no way of determining a track. But we did find--we have a good wound of entrance, and then we have metallic fragments, I believe in the--around the right orbit. So that gives some sense of direction as far as the shooter. 
Q. By examining the brain by itself, are you able to determine to a reasonable degree of medical 
certainty whether there was one or more than one bullet wound to the head? Again, just by examination of the brain. 
A. The only clue, I think, is the fact that the scalp is reasonably well intact, and we only have one wound of entrance on the scalp. And by the same token, we only have one wound of exit. It's huge, but--now, if he was shot with this one from behind first and then shot secondly in the same place with a second one, that would be impossible to tell. But then you would have to have another wound of exit someplace, which you don't have.

Well, well. Boswell knew nothing of wound ballistics. He, as Humes, appears to have been of the opinion that once a bullet enters a brain, all bets are off. The bullet tugs on the falx. The bullet tugs on the dura. The knee bone's connected to the thigh bone... It's crazy town. And it's a waste of time to try to figure out the bullet's trajectory. 

He, as Humes, failed to appreciate the significance of the longitudinal laceration through the mid-brain. In other words, he didn't know enough to know what he was better off not knowing...or reporting... 

This brings us back to Finck...

Finck on the Run II

From the 5-24-96 ARRB deposition of Pierre A. Finck. Jeremy Gunn is once again in the driver's seat.

Q. Can you tell anything about direction of wounds in a brain by looking at the brain in its fresh state? 
A: Direction of the bullet path? 
Q: Yes. 
A: No. 
Q: Why is it that you would not be able to tell anything about bullet path by looking at a brain? 
A: I don't know.
 Can you repeat your question? 
Q: Sure. It's just, the question is - let me try a different question. What I am interested in knowing is what kind of information a competent prosector can determine by looking at a fresh brain when that brain has been subjected to a missile? 
A: Well, it would depend upon the case and the degree of destruction of the brain, and I can't 
answer yes or no. 
Q: Sure. I just want to know what kinds of information and how you would be able to tell 
information by looking at the fresh brain. 
A: That would depend upon the case really. I can't answer by yes or no. 
Q: I'm not asking you to answer yes or no, so it shouldn't be any question about that. But just what kind of information can be gained by looking at the fresh brain? 
A: The extent of brain damage, that would be my answer. 
Q: That's the only thing you would be able to tell us, the gross damage? 
A: But again, it depends upon the case. 
Q: Well, and I'm just - all kinds of cases, what other kinds of things might you be able to 
determine? What's the range of possibilities? 
A: I don't know about the range of possibilities.

Note that Finck is incredibly hesitant to say that one can sometimes determine the direction of fire by the damage to the brain. And that, even better, one can sometimes make this determination at autopsy--before the brain's been fixed. 

We can suspect, then, that Finck was afraid he'd be asked to look at the brain photos, and defend his earlier conclusions re the location of the wound on the back of the head, and the bullet's trajectory through the brain. Piecing this stuff together had been his job, after all, at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. 

It seems more than a bit suspicious, then, that he avoided doing as much for the HSCA and ARRB...

And a bit strange that none of Kennedy's autopsists were willing to point out a bullet track on the photos they had taken to demonstrate the damage to Kennedy's brain...

And extremely telling that they, instead, relied upon their blind belief high-velocity bullets disrupted brains in incomprehensible ways...

The Tale of Two Hemispheres

They were wrong, of course. Dead wrong. As demonstrated in the Blasts From the Past section of the preceding chapter, a full-metal jacket bullet heading straight through the skull without significant deformation--and retaining the requisite energy to crack a windshield, dent a windshield strut, and chip a concrete curb hundreds of feet away after exit--would not explode the brain at the range from which Kennedy was presumed to have been fired upon, and would leave a readily identifiable track through the brain. 

Now I know I'm no brain surgeon, so there's always the possibility I missed something that a brain surgeon wouldn't have missed. But, in the words of Nobel Prize-winner Robert Zimmerman, you don't need to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows... 

Here's how the wind is blowing--away from the conclusions pushed by Humes et al. And here's why: the explosive force he mentioned in his testimony--which he used as a one-size-fits-all explanation for the damage to Kennedy's brain--was the temporary cavity created by a high-velocity bullet as it passes through the brain. Now, he's right. Such a cavity could explode a skull. But here's the thing: the explosion of the skull is caused by the expansion of the brain...

Well, think about it. Which is more resistant to expansion? Brain matter? Or bone? 

Bone, right? So why would Kennedy's skull explode BEFORE his brain had fully expanded. It wouldn't, right?

Well, then, how do we know that it didn't?

Because Humes' report on the brain PROVED it didn't. Here it is: "When viewed from the vertex the left cerebral hemisphere is intact. There is marked engorgement of meningeal blood vessels of the left temporal and frontal regions with considerable associated sub-arachnoid hemorrhage. The gyri and sulci over the left hemisphere are of essentially normal size and distribution. Those on the right are too fragmented and distorted for satisfactory description."

Are we really supposed to believe that the temporary cavity of a high-velocity bullet passing through the right hemisphere of the brain an inch or less from the mid-line would expand, and explode, the right hemisphere to such an extent it would blast off the roof of the skull several inches away, but fail to fully expand, and disrupt, and tear, the left hemisphere, an inch away?

I mean, how does that even make sense?

Well, the thought occurs that the expansion of the right hemisphere happened so rapidly that even a brief delay in its spreading to the left hemisphere would force an explosion of skull on the right side, which would release pressure and thereby spare the left side. 

But what might cause this brief delay?

Well...the falx and corpus callosum--which, respectively, separate and connect the two hemispheres--were both lacerated. Could the increased intracranial pressure attendant to the bullet's passing through the right hemisphere spawn lacerations at the mid-line? And could this pressure dissipate with the explosion of the skull? Just in time to stop this pressure from ripping up apart the left hemisphere?

I don't know. 

Still, let's think up an analogy. You have an empty aquarium, with a glass lid. You stick a thin plastic divider in it to separate it into two halves. You fill both halves up with water. You add some green Jello mix into the left half. And make some green Jello. You add some red Jello mix into the right half. And make some red Jello. You then shoot a bullet through the red Jello, just to the right of the plastic divider. 

Now, here's the thing. According to many of those studying the Kennedy assassination, there could be a small hole on the side of the aquarium where the bullet entered, a huge hole on the top of the aquarium where the bullet exited, and 25% of the red Jello splattered all over the wall, but no red Jello mixed in with the green Jello, and no significant disruption to the green Jello.

I don't buy it--even if the divider was torn... And here's one of the reasons why... The Army's study of wound ballistics conducted during the Bougainville Campaign actually touched on this issue, and suggested such a scenario was unlikely. While discussing the effects of 6.5 mm rifle ammunition upon the human brain, it reported: "Extensive damage was sometimes observed in one hemisphere of the brain, when the traversing missile track lay entirely in the opposite hemisphere."

Yeah, I know it says "sometimes." But, as we've seen, the damage to the right hemisphere of Kennedy's brain was on the extreme side for this kind of ammunition. Quite extreme. Tony Hawk extreme. 

So why, since the opposite hemisphere to that in which the missile track lay entirely would sometimes suffer "extensive damage," did the left hemisphere of Kennedy's brain suffer so little damage? Something doesn't add up.

There is another reason why this is important, for that matter, and that is this. Doctors have tracked the survivability of various head wounds, and have come to conclude that wounds involving one hemisphere are far more survivable than wounds involving both hemispheres. As but one example, Prognostic Factors and Treatment of Penetrating Gunshot Wounds to the Head, first published in the journal Surgical Neurology in 2003, tracked 265 penetrating gunshot wounds to the head. These had an overall mortality rate of 65% (172/265). The article reveals further that: 1) 53 of the bullet trajectories were bihemsipheric (involving both hemispheres of the brain), and that 96.2 of these wounds were fatal; 2) 35 of these bullet trajectories were transventricular (passing through a ventricle), and that 97% of these were fatal, and 3) 5 of these wounds involved the posterior fossa (the base of the skull at the back of the head), and that 100% of these were fatal. 

Now, let's recall that neither of the proposed bullet trajectories through Kennedy's brain (from one inch to the right of the EOP to the large defect and from the supposed cowlick entrance to the large defect) involved the left hemisphere, the ventricles, or the posterior fossa.

So let's do the math. 96.2% of 53 is 51. 97% of 35 is 34. And 100% of 5 is 5. Well, this means that 97% (90 of 93) of the gunshot wound victims receiving a bullet on these three trajectories died. And that, conversely, 52% (90 of 172) of the remaining victims who'd received a penetrating gunshot wound to the head survived.

Well, this suggests that Kennedy, should he have actually been wounded in the manner suggested by the government (that is, by a bullet entering on the back of his head and exiting through the top of his head, with its passage restricted to his right hemisphere), had a roughly 50/50 chance at survival.

More Boer Gore Lore

And no, I'm not kidding. In the last chapter we looked at the autopsy protocols of men killed by rifle fire in the Boer War, and demonstrated that the wounds received by these men were not remotely as severe as the wound received by Kennedy. Well, what was not revealed at that time was that some of those receiving a bullet similar to the bullet received by Kennedy...and traveling on a trajectory similar to that presumed of the bullet killing Kennedy...actually survived. 

The 1905 Journal of the Royal American Medical Corps features Notes on Seven Cases of Perforating Gunshot Wounds of the Skull, by Major G.E. Moffett. For this article, Moffett recounted the details regarding seven gunshot wounds to the head received during the Boer War in which the victim survived, and then reported on the condition of these victims five years on.

Here is an edit of his discussion of Cases 1-4 (Cases 5-7 told the stories of two relatively minor gutter wounds and one shrapnel wound)... 

(Note: all four of these wounds came courtesy a German Mauser.)

Case 1: "The wound of entrance, received while the man was retiring, was small and circular (half an inch in diameter), and was situated over the right parietal eminence, three and a half inches above Reid's base line, and three inches posterior to meatus. A piece of depressed bone could be distinctly felt beneath the margin of the bony aperture. The wound of exit, much larger than that of entrance, with irregular and jagged edges, was situated somewhat posteriorly to the right frontal eminence, about five and half inches above base line, and two inches anterior to meatus. A considerable quantity of brain substance protruded from this wound." 

Now here is an illustration created to demonstrate the approximate location of this man's wounds. 

The operation to save this man's life was then detailed: "...a wide semi-circular flap including both wounds was deflected, and after removal of a large quantity of pulpified brain substance and some clots from the neighbourhood of both wounds, the trephine was applied at the posterior edge of the aperture of entrance, and a piece of deeply depressed bone, three quarters of an inch in diameter, was elevated and removed; some more clots and disorganized brain substance, together with several splinters of the inner table, which had been driven through the lacerated dura, were also removed. At the aperture of exit both tables were found much splintered, necessitating the removal of several small spicula and some pulpified brain substance. There was a considerable amount of fissuring in the neighbourhood of both apertures...One of the fissures from the aperture of exit extended anteriorly for a distance of two and a half inches, while the lateral radiations reached the temporo-parietal suture...Both apertures were well beveled, the wounds irrigated with a warm saturated boric solution, the deflected flap sutured into position..."  

The man's present condition was then described: "General health excellent...mental condition quite normal...but on right side he is practically deaf...patellar tendon reflex...greatly exaggerated on left side...but he walks quite well without (although better with) the aid of a stick...muscles of both upper and lower limbs somewhat atrophied..." 

(Note that the trajectory of this bullet was quite similar to the trajectory pushed by the autopsy doctors. And yet the top of this victims's head didn't explode across the plaza. And this victim survived.)

Case 2: "The wound of entrance, received while the man was retiring, was situated over the left parietal eminence, that of exit an inch to the left of the sagittal, and bordering on left coronal suture, a distance of four inches intervening between the wounds. A large quantity of pulpified brain matter protruded from the wound of exit."  

Now here is an illustration created to demonstrate the approximate location of this man's wounds. 

The operation to save this man's life was then detailed: The surgeon "deflected a semi-circular flap including both wounds, and exposed a small depressed fracture at the wound of entrance, at the posterior angle of which the trephine was applied, and the depressed bone elevated and removed, together with some small fragments of the inner table more deeply embedded in the brain. From the aperture of exit a large quantity of pulpified brain substance and some small spicula were removed. Both bony apertures were bevelled, the scalp wounds, which were in an unhealthy condition, were incised, and after gentle irrigation with saturated boric solution, the flap was sutured into position..." 

The man's present condition was then described: "When I last examined him he was to all appearance in robust health; speech perfect...walks without any halt whatsoever...He still has an epileptic form fit occasionally..."

(Note that the trajectory of this bullet is quite close to the trajectory pushed by the HSCA--from high on the back of the head to the top of the head along the coronal suture. And yet this victim survived.)

Case 3: "The wound of entrance was situated two inches above inner extremity of right orbit, that of exit, from which brain matter was protruding, four inches above right external auditory meatus, the track being through upper third of right ascending convolutions."

Now here is an illustration created to demonstrate the approximate location of this man's wounds. 

The operation to save this man's life was then detailed: The surgeon "explored the wounds by raising two small semi-circular flaps, embracing each wound separately. Several small loose fragments of bone, which had been driven into the brain at the aperture of entrance, were removed, the margins of the aperture having been enlarged for this purpose with gouge forceps. At the wound of exit a large quantity of protruding brain substance was removed, also some blood bony fragments could be detected, the wound in the dura was enlarged, and a small subdural clot removed, after which the brain pulsated freely. After gentle irrigation of the wound, both flaps were sutured into position..."

The man's present condition was then revealed: "He states he feels perfectly well, but occasionally experiences a peculiar sensation on the side of the head affected...He appears to be very nervous...The heart's action is somewhat disordered...Is very anaemic..."

(Although this bullet traveled from front to back rather than back to front, it nevertheless covered a similar distance through the upper brain as the bullet in the HSCA's trajectory. And yet he survived...)

Case 4: "The wound of entrance was situated two inches above and the same distance anterior to the left auditory meatus; that of exit five inches above and nearly an inch posterior to the meatus."

Now here is an illustration created to demonstrate the approximate location of this man's wound. 

The operation to save this man's life was then detailed: The surgeon "deflected a large semi-circular flap, including both wounds, and exposed a deep gutter fracture connecting the apertures of entrance and exit. There was considerable fissuring of both tables on either side of fracture. The jagged edges of the gutter were excised, and the opening in skull enlarged with gouge forceps, after which a large number of splinters which had been driven into the brain and some pulpified brain substance and clots were removed. The apertures and scalp incision were dealt with and dressed as in the previous cases."

The man's present condition was then revealed: "his general appearance (is) that of a man in perfect health, physique excellent...The aperture in skull caused by the fracture and enlarged at the operation has closed in very considerably."

(So here we have a gutter wound along the left side of the head. Once again, pulpified brain substance was apparent in the defect. And once again, the patient survived. There is a significant difference between this gutter wound and Kennedy's wound, however. And that is that the bullet creating this wound did not explode and leave bullet fragments in the brain. And that a large piece of this victim's skull did not blow skywards as a result.) 

Now, here's the question. Why did this victim live, while Kennedy died? Did a slight difference in impact angle, and a slightly greater velocity, push the bullet striking Kennedy beyond the point of break-ability, and did that make all the difference? 

When one thinks about it, moreover, it seems possible that the comparatively slight amount of damage created by the bullets in Cases 1-4 was a result of these bullets having been fired from hundreds of yards away from their victims. While Moffett reported that these wounds were Mauser wounds, he never mentioned the range from which these Mausers had been fired. 

So maybe that explains Cases 1-4.

But that still wouldn't explain why more recent studies involving military ammunition support this possibility--the possibility, to be clear, that the bullet trajectories described by the Warren Commission and HSCA were not hopelessly lethal trajectories. Managing Military Penetrating Brain Injuries in the War Zone, in Neurosurgical Focus (2018), for example, shared the outcomes of 102 victims of brain trauma, that were either military bullet-related (60) or blast-related (42). This study found that 98% (40 of 41) of those within whom the offending projectile traversed the blue "danger zone" marked on the image below, died or remained in a vegetative state, while 64% (39 of 61) within whom the projectile avoided this region (marked by the cingulate gyrus on top and second cervical vertebrae on bottom, and anterior commissure at front and tentorium/posterior fossa at back) survived. 

Still, we've forgotten something, haven't we? And that's the "laceration in the mid-brain...below the cerebral cortex" mentioned by Humes in his ARRB testimony--y'know, the one he said was "basically probably the lesion that was fatal." 

This laceration was inches away from either of the bullet trajectories proposed by the government's experts.

So what caused it? Was such a lesion the inevitable result of the passage of a high-velocity bullet through the right hemisphere? 

Apparently not. Pathology of Trauma, by Dr. Alan Moritz (a mentor to Dr. Russell Fisher of the Clark Panel, and a member of the panel himself) holds: "The essential characteristics of penetrating violence to the skull are high velocity, short time of effect, and high load per unit area. The impact area is usually small. The gunshot wound is the most frequent representative of this type of violence. Generally, the energy of the impact exceeds the breaking point of the skull and the striking object penetrates the dura and causes an open brain wound. The energy tends to be consumed by the destruction of tissue in the area of impact rather than to be transmitted to remote areas of the brain and therefore does not characteristically cause distant lesions."

(Now, to be clear, Moritz used the word "lesions" in its strictest sense, that is, as a synonym of laceration or wound. He was not trying to claim bruises could not be found on the opposite side of the brain from a bullet's entrance. In fact, he wrote, just paragraphs later "Not only may the brain sustain superficial injury near the site to which external violence was applied but similar or even more severe superficial injury is often incurred contralaterally." These superficial injuries (or bruises) are often called contra-coup injuries, and will be discussed later.)

Well, then, was the laceration to Kennedy's mid-brain caused by something other than the passage of a bullet through its right hemisphere? Like the tangential impact of a high-velocity bullet near the top of his head?

Shear Brain Attack

Now, I suspect you know the answer. Of course, the tangential impact of a high-velocity bullet at the top of Kennedy's head could do the damage noted by Humes. 

Shear Injuries of the Brain, an article in the 3-11-67 Journal of the Canadian Medical Association, proves this in spades. It reports on the deaths of 37 men and women, 23 of whom were killed as the result of an auto accident, 11 of whom were killed as the result of falls from between 5 and 30 feet, and 3 of whom were killed as the result of a physical attack. None of their brains were lacerated, or displayed blood clots on their surface. Only 14 of them suffered a skull fracture. These 37 people died, essentially, because their mid-brain got broke. 

Here's the more scientific explanation offered in the article: "In all cases, the splenium of the corpus callosum and in most the superior colliculi were damaged...Scattered small hemorrhages, gliosis, and ruptured axons with secondary Wallerian degeneration were the principle pathologic features of all 37 patients. In all instances, the axonal and blood vessel damage was located in the diencephalon. It was always asymmetrical and rarely superficial."

Now, it might take awhile to figure out what all this means... But at least we have something to go on.

If Kennedy's death had been caused by the impact of the bullet on the top of the skull, as opposed to the passage of the bullet through the brain: 1) The splenium of the corpus callosum would be damaged; and 2) the diencephalon would be damaged. 

Well, first...where are they? And second...were they?

Here's an anatomy drawing in which the locations of the corpus callosum and diencephalon are revealed. Note that the diencephalon is just below the splenium (tail) of the corpus callosum.

So what about the corpus callosum? Was it damaged?

While discussing the brain, the Supplementary Autopsy Report revealed: "there is a laceration of the corpus callosum extending from the genu to the tail. Exposed in this latter laceration are the interiors of the right lateral and third ventricles."

And, on this point, the autopsy doctors were not alone. After viewing the autopsy photos of the brain taken from above, the Clark Panel concurred: "it can be seen that the corpus callosum is widely torn in the midline."

And the HSCA panel made it three for three. Within its report on the medical evidence it noted that "Laceration of the corpus callosum within the deep margins of the wound of the right cortex is also evident." 

Well, there it is. The corpus callosum was torn. But the Canadian study didn't just say corpus callosum, did it?  It said the "Splenium of the corpus callosum." Well, multiple sources have it that the "splenium is the thickest and most posterior portion of the corpus callosum." So yes, I think the "tail" discussed in the autopsy report means the Splenium. One down, one to go.

Still, this led me to wonder if a laceration of the corpus callosum was routinely encountered in gunshot wounds restricted to one side of the upper calvarium, where the HSCA placed the wound. The corpus callosum, after all, was in the mid-brain, below the location of both the HSCA's entrance and its exit. Would a bullet heading straight through the right cerebrum, a la the HSCA testimony of Baden and Sturdivan, widely tear what is purported to be one of the toughest parts of the brain, below its passage? 

To be clear, the corpus callosum is not a single nerve, or fiber, that can be easily torn. 

Here is the definition of corpus callosum, according to Wikipedia.

"The corpus callosum (Latin for "tough body"), also callosal commissure, is a wide, thick nerve tract consisting of a flat bundle of commisural fibers beneath the cerebral cortex in the brain...It spans part of the longitudinal fissure, connecting the left and right cerebral hemispheres, enabling communication between them..." 

And here again is the corpus callosum in context. Note that the genu is far below and forward of where the Warren Commission and HSCA placed the exit for the fatal bullet. Now remember that the genu was torn and that this laceration extended back to the third ventricle and splenium.  

Now let's reveal that the Supplementary Autopsy Report notes that "When viewed from the basilar aspect the disruption of the right cortex is again obvious. There is a longitudinal laceration of the mid-brain through the floor of the third ventricle just behind the optic chasm and the mammillary bodies. This laceration partially communicates with an oblique 1.5 cm tear through the left cerebral peduncle." 

And now let's recall that Dr. Finck later added to this description of a wound extending vertically through the mid-brain, by telling General Blumberg that: "There is a parasagittal laceration of the right cerebral hemisphere, extending from the frontal to the occipital lobes, and exposing the Thalamus. The Corpus Callosum is lacerated." 

And now note as well that the Clark Panel reported "the peduncles have been lacerated, probably incident to the removal of the contents from the cranium."

And that the HSCA pathology panel noted simply that "The cerebral peduncles are likewise lacerated."

Now let's review. 
  1. The rear half of the corpus callosum sits above the diencephalon.
  2. The corpus callosum was lacerated, exposing the thalamus.
  3. The thalamus is part of the diencephalon and is separated from the hypothalamus, the other part of the diencephalon, by the third ventricle. 
  4. There was a laceration through the floor of the third ventricle. 
  5. The cerebral peduncles are directly below the diencephalon. 
  6. The cerebral peduncles were similarly lacerated.
  7. The 1967 Canadian study said two areas of the brain were damaged in all 37 brains they'd dissected: the corpus callosum and the diencephalon. Both were damaged in Kennedy. These 37 brains, let's recall, were the brains of those who'd died from a blow to the head. The damage to Kennedy's brain, then, suggests the possibility he was killed by the impact of the bullet on his skull, and that the subsequent destruction of his right cerebrum was not the direct cause of his death. 
Now, this led me to wonder if the Clark Panel in general, and Russell Fisher specifically, were trying to hide something. Why did they claim the lacerations on the peduncles were "probably" post-mortem injuries? Was a laceration of the peduncles inconsistent with a bullet's entrance in the cowlick?

And more to the point...are lacerations of the mid-brain--in the corpus callosum and below--more suggestive of an explosive tangential impact at the top of the skull, or a perforating wound entering on the back of the head, and exploding from the top of the head?

I decided to find out...

But what I found surprised me. Yes, really. After all this time digging through all this manure, I still can be surprised. 

The Lindenberg Hindenburg

It was from re-reading the Supplementary Autopsy Report--and trying to understand the significance of a lacerated corpus callosum--that I stumbled onto the peculiar case of Dr. Richard Lindenberg, an expert on brains and brain damage, who'd immigrated from Germany to the U.S. after WWII, and was called upon to serve his new fatherland as a medical consultant to the Rockefeller Commission. 

My quest led me to Trauma to the Corpus Callosum, an article published in the November 1988 American Journal of Neuroradiology, when the following lines jumped out at me: "The mechanism of callosal injury has been debated for a long time...Lindenberg (16-18) et al proposed that shear-strain forces, acting in conjunction with direct blows to the vertex of the head, superior to the level of the corpus callosum, were responsible."

Now, first of all, yes, this is the same Lindenberg who consulted for the Rockefeller Commission.... And second of all, yes, it turns out that he claimed damage to the corpus callosum could be linked to a blow to the top of the head in three separate articles published between 1955 and 1966.

Now, here's the crazy part. His co-author on the first of these articles (Lesions of the Corpus Callosum Following Blunt Mechanical Trauma to the Head--published in the 1955 American Journal of Pathology) was none other than Dr. Russell Fisher, leader of the Clark Panel, and a mentor and colleague to the majority of doctors on the Rockefeller and HSCA Forensic Pathology Panels. 

This article revealed that injuries to the corpus callosum were often accompanied by lesions in subjacent structures (septum pellucidum, fornices, caudate nuclei, and dorsal thalami). It then argued: "the vertical alignment of all these lesions presupposes that the impact area on the skull must have been located above the horizontal level of the corpus callosum and the impact directed toward the base of the skull. Indeed this was true in 48 of our cases. In the cases in which the impact area was close to or within the midline, the lesions frequently extended over the entire cross section of the corpus callosum. In cases with more laterally located impact areas, the area of damage to the corpus callosum was usually smaller and asymmetric...In none of our cases was the impact directed against the lateral portions of the skull or against the occipital protuberance with spreading of the force in the horizontal plane." It then concluded: "In 51 cases, or 16 percent of our series of cases with blunt mechanical trauma to the head, the corpus callosum was found to be damaged...The extent of the lesions varied from involvement of the entire corpus callosum to small, single, traumatic hemorrhages or foci of necrosis confined to a circumscribed area. Only one case showed complete tearing. The lesions occurred with or without skull fracture. The most plausible theory as to their pathogenesis is that they are caused by sudden stretching and shearing forces due to elastic deformation of the skull and brain at the moment of the impact. In all cases, the force was vertically directed."

Wow. These guys knew damn well that the laceration to the corpus callosum observed at autopsy and depicted in the autopsy photos made no sense if the bullet impacted by the EOP, and probably knew it made little to no sense if the bullet impacted at Fisher's newfound location in the cowlick. In both cases, after all, the primary force upon the brain would have been forward, and not downward.

That the injuries to Kennedy's brain suggested he'd been at the receiving end of a violent downward force, moreover, might explain why the HSCA pathology panel rotated Kennedy's skull in its drawings, and misrepresented what would have been a slightly upwards bullet trajectory, as a slightly downwards bullet trajectory.

(Now, I know some are thinking I've pulled some sort of switcheroo here, as the lacerations of the mid-brain discussed by Lindenberg and Fisher in their article were attributed to blunt mechanical trauma, as opposed to bullets. But they're wrong. Dr.s Joel Kirkpatrick and Vincent DiMaio, in their 1978 article Civilian Gunshots Wounds of the Brain, discussed 42 civilian rifle and handgun injuries to the brain. They noted that but three of the brains in their study showed no signs of increased intracranial pressure. They said the rest showed pressure marks on the underside of the brain. They then offered "Lindenberg states that such pressure marks occur acutely when the head is deformed by blows to the vertex. The findings here would support his contention..." So, there you go. It's okay to use Lindenberg's observations about mechanical injuries when discussing gunshot injuries. Just ask Kirkpatrick and DiMaio.)

In any event, it sure seems that Lindenberg--the top brain trauma expert to ever advise the government on the nature of Kennedy's wounds--had his doubts about Fisher's theory of the wounding. 

Three excerpts from the report he provided the Rockefeller Commission give him away.

The first part is this: "Instead of leaving a distinct wound canal through the brain, the bullet produced a severe injury in the right cerebral hemisphere commencing in the posterior parietal region near the border of the occipital lobe, becoming larger anteriorly." Well, wait a second. How can a high-velocity bullet tear through a brain and not leave a track? This goes against everything ever written on wound ballistics. It seems apparent then that Lindenberg knew full well the damage to the brain failed to align with the entrance in the cowlick proposed by his friend Fisher, and had decided to wave this off as no problem. When it was, in fact, a huge problem.

The second part is this: "The corpus callosum seen between the hemispheres is grossly intact."

Well, hold on. According to our old friend Merriam-Webster, the word "intact," when used in connection to a living body or body parts, means "having no relevant component removed or destroyed."

So... was Lindenberg trying to hide that the corpus callosum was, in Fisher's words, widely torn?

It appears so. Here was Lindenberg, the pre-eminent expert on brain injuries among those who'd inspected the autopsy photos, failing to note the laceration of the corpus callosum. And this even though he'd written numerous papers on lacerations of the corpus callosum... 

And the third part is this: "At the base of the brain there are a small defect in the tuber cinereum and non-hemorrhagic tears in both peduncles of the midbrain. These alterations are probably postmortem artifacts."

Note the pattern. Fisher and Lindenberg both dismissed the tears in the peduncles as artifacts. Were they trying to avoid that having lacerations of the corpus callosum and peduncles was suggestive of a downward blow applied to the vertex of the skull, which in this situation would suggest the bullet impacted at the supposed exit defect?

I mean, think about it. Fisher and Lindenberg wrote an article together linking vertical tears through the mid-brain from the corpus callosum down below to downward blows at the top of the head, and then studied the photos of Kennedy's brain showing this pattern, and then separately but similarly reported that the lacerated peduncles were probably created post-mortem, i.e. that those incompetent military doctors probably created this damage--so we don't need to worry about the clear implications of this damage. 

So...did they know what they were doing? That is, hiding from the record that the damage to the brain suggested a different scenario than what they were proposing?

I suspect so. Observe the image below. I have added red stars to mark the location of lacerations in the mid-brain noted at autopsy, or by Lindenberg himself. (The location of the third ventricle and cerebral peduncles are approximated based on the previous drawing.) I have added blue stars to mark the location of lacerations subjacent to the corpus callosum discussed in Lindenberg and Fisher's article. (The location of the caudate nuclei and dorsal thalami are approximated based on drawings found online.) The blue stars are all within the range of the red stars. 

One should keep in mind, moreover, that Kennedy's brain was not sectioned, and that the damage noted by the doctors, and marked with red stars, was all viewed from above and below. It seems certain then, or at least as near to certain as anything can be on this case, that the areas marked by the blue stars, and posterior to the blue stars, including the diencephalon, which could only have been observed through dissection, were also damaged.  

Well, from this it seems clear that Dr.s Fisher and Lindenberg should have suspected--and publicly raised--the possibility Kennedy was struck on the top of his head, at the location long presumed to be an exit.

There's also this. Within Lindenberg's report to the Rockefeller Commission are a number of suspicious "mistakes" that only make sense when one assumes he was twisting the evidence to support the conclusions of Russell Fisher and the Clark Panel. As detailed in How Five Investigations into JFK's Medical/Autopsy Evidence Got It Wrong, by Dr. Gary Aguilar and Kathy Cunningham, Lindenberg 1) supported the single-bullet theory by insisting that Governor Connally gave no indication of being struck after frame 223 of the Zapruder film, 2) said the ring of abrasion around Kennedy's back wound indicated the shot came from above, and 3) claimed the trail of fragments visible on Kennedy's skull x-rays were "distributed along an axis extending from the entrance hole to the frontal region." Now, none of these assertions were true. All were debunked by the HSCA, or by subsequent study of the Zapruder film and x-rays. They all lent credence to the single-assassin scenario pushed by Lindenberg's friend Russell Fisher. And all were demonstrably false.

Now, this might go too far. But let's consider Lindenberg's background. For one, he was a Captain in the Luftwaffe during World War II. So he knew how to follow orders and not ruffle feathers. Even while working for monsters. For two, he came to the U.S. in 1947 as part of Operation Paperclip, a government program designed to herd Germany's top scientists over to the U.S. side of the America/Russia range war. Now, some of these scientists were former Nazis. This may not be true for Lindenberg, but it doesn't really matter. For the fact remains that Lindenberg owed his career to first the Nazis and then the American military, the first of which was pure evil, and the second of which was a suspect in the assassination of President Kennedy...and that he had no real incentive in saying anything that would cast doubt upon the single-assassin conclusion...such as, ding ding ding, that the damage to the brain suggested the bullet impacted at the top of the skull, and drove the brain down down down. 

In any event, we can add Fisher and Lindenberg to the Finck column of doctors who presumably should have known better, but played along to get along. And even get ahead. 

Still, what are we to make of this? 

Clearing up Confusion, Considering Contusions, and Coming to Conclusions

Let's refresh.

The closest eyewitnesses to Kennedy's assassination thought the fatal bullet impacted near his right temple or at the top of his head above his ear--at the location of what was later claimed to be the exit of this bullet. 

The Zapruder film--which was withheld from the public for many years after the assassination--shows Kennedy getting knocked down up impact. Well, this, too, suggests he'd received a blow to the top of his head, at the site of the supposed exit.

And the Harper fragment, which was withheld even from the doctors--and was presumed to have exploded from the exit location--well, it displays some internal beveling, which, in turn, suggests a bullet impacted at the supposed exit.

Now this brings us to the brain. As we've seen, neither of the two trajectories pushed by the government's experts makes any sense when one looks at the damage to the brain. 

And we've unveiled as well that some of the damage came from above. 

Now, this would appear to support that Kennedy was killed in the manner suggested by the recollections of the witnesses, the downward snap of his head in the Z-film, and the beveling apparent on the Harper fragment. 

But what of the laceration/canal/groove noted by those examining the brain and autopsy materials? Isn't that at odds with the fatal bullet's impacting at the top of Kennedy's head above his ear?

Not necessarily. We've overlooked that the laceration/canal/groove could have been created from above--from the tangential strike of a high-velocity bullet along the midline of the skull, that, while leaving a furrow or gutter along the outside of the brain, simultaneously drove the roof of the calvarium--a large portion of the parietal bone and frontal bone--down deep into the brain, before they snapped into pieces and, at least in part (the Harper Fragment), shot off through the sky. 

When one accepts that this unexamined possibility is correct, and that the fatal bullet struck at the supposed exit defect, a lot of otherwise suspect evidence suddenly falls in line.

We previously mentioned what are called contre-coup (or contra-coup) injuries of the brain, bruises obtained from the smashing of the brain against the inside of the skull. These are frequently found opposite the point of impact, to such an extent, even, that the prevalence of these bruises can be used to determine the direction of impact. As explained by Dr. Michael Baden, in his book Unnatural Death (1989): "If the back of the head strikes the pavement in a fall, there is a bruise on the back of the head and a fracture under it, but the bruise on the brain will be on the front, not beneath the others. The brain's momentum drives it against the front of the skull. This is a contra-coup injury." 

That these bruises can be caused by gunshot wounds, moreover, is not exactly a secret. Here's Dr. Vincent J.M. DiMaio, in Gunshot Wounds (1999): "Examination of the brain in gunshot wounds reveals contusions around the entrance site in about half the cases. These are probably due to inbending of the bone against the brain at the moment of the perforation. Contusions are equally frequent at the exit, although they do not necessarily occur in the same cases as entry contusions. Contusions can also be seen on the inferior surface of the frontal lobe."

So, where, then, were the bruises on Kennedy's brain?

According to the Supplemental Autopsy Report, there was "marked engorgement of meningeal blood vessels of the left temporal and frontal regions with considerable associated subarachnoid hemorrhage." The Clark Panel, in its report, agreed: "The left cerebral hemisphere is covered by a generally intact arachnoid with evidence of subarachnoid hemorrhage especially over the parietal and frontal gyri and in the sulci." And the HSCA Forensic Pathology Panel concurred: "The left cerebral hemisphere is covered by intact arachnoid beneath which dark brown to black subarachnoid hemorrhage is most prominent over the frontal and parietal gyri and within the adjacent sulci."

It’s undoubtedly supportive for Dr. Clark's claim of a tangential wound, then, that the left side of Kennedy’s brain, the area opposite the large defect by the temple, was bruised, and that this bruising was not restricted to the frontal lobe, opposite the purported cowlick entrance.

And yes, I know that subarachnoid hemorrhage is on the surface of the brain and is not necessarily an indicator of underlying contusion to the brain. But the brain itself, we should remember, was not sectioned, nor dissected. So we have no knowledge of what lay beneath the surface of the left hemisphere, and can only speculate based on what was on the surface. 

And besides, we have Dr. Humes' word on it. When describing Kennedy's brain to the Warren Commission, he testified: "There were irregular superficial lacerations over the basular or inferior aspects of the left temporal and frontal lobes. We interpret that these later contusions were brought about when the disruptive force of the injury pushed that portion of the brain against the relative intact skull. This has been described as contre-coup injury in that location."

It should also be noted that the subarachnoid hemorrhage on the left hemisphere was not the only area of damage to Kennedy's brain to be consistent with the large head wound's being a tangential wound. Forensic Neuropathology, by Jan E. Leestma (2008), relates: "Tangential wounds may cause significant injuries, especially from high-velocity missiles. These may produce gash-like wounds and form gutter-like depressed fractures in the skull. In such cases, the underlying brain will have extensive superficial contusions adjoining the fracture, even if the dura remains intact, which are caused by the slapping effect of the inbending bone." This suggests that, in opposition to the damage one would see on a brain that had simply exploded outwards, the cortex or outer layer of a brain that had received a tangential wound--where the skull had been pushed inward--would have severe contusions or even lacerations adjacent to the defect on the skull. Hmmm. It would seem to be consistent then that both the Clark Panel and the HSCA Pathology Panel, after studying the photographs of the brain, noted that the mid-temporal region of the right side of Kennedy's brain--the region just below the large defect--was "depressed," and its surface "lacerated." 

The broad point made by Leestma--that the damage to the brain beneath and adjacent to the large defect could reveal whether or not an impact occurred at this location--is supported by numerous articles, moreover. Dr. Charles Petty, a member of the HSCA pathology panel, in his 1980 book Modern Legal Medicine, Psychiatry, and Forensic Science, reported: "When a stationary head is struck by a firm, heavy object...the point of impact will be, to a greater or lesser extent, marked by abrasion, contusion or laceration of scalp." The right hemisphere of Kennedy's brain revealed abrasion and contusion. Whether or not one can isolate these injuries and associate them with an entrance, as opposed to an exit, however, remains to be seen. 

The tearing and loosening of the falx cerebri, a process of the membrane (the dura mater) that adheres to the inside of the skull, and stretches down between the brain's hemispheres, is less ambiguous, however. This loosening, which was first noted by Dr. Boswell on the back of the autopsy face sheet, (“Falx loose from sagittal sinus from the coronal suture back”), and was later supported by Dr. David Mantik's optical density measurements of the skull x-rays, (which showed the brain had come loose of its moorings, and had settled at the back of the head), suggests the bullet creating the large head wound impacted near the top of the head (the location of the sagittal sinus, and the center of the area of loosened membrane), and not on the back of the head. War Surgery, one of the first books on wound ballistics, written by the French World War I surgeon Edmond Delorme, spells this out, moreover, declaring: “At the aperture of entry the dura mater is torn and loosened: at the exit it is perforated, but not loosened.” Delorme would almost certainly have seen dozens of head wounds caused by rifles similar to Oswald’s Mannlicher-Carcano. His observations should not readily be dismissed.  

And there's reason to believe they are not. Larry Sturdivan, of all people, in his chapter on wound ballistics written for The Forgotten Terrorist, offers "The dura does not remain intact at the site of 
the entry wound." Perhaps then he was thinking of Delorme. 

But, if so, he should have thought some more, and realized that Delorme's observation was one of the keys to solving the JFK head wound mystery. I mean, it only makes sense. The dura is not attached to the brain; it is adhered to the inner surface of the skull. It resides beside the arachnoid, a thin membrane, which adheres to an even thinner membrane, the pia mater, which covers the brain itself. As a consequence, then, of this configuration, there are three separate levels of possible bleeding inside the cranium above the brain itself: epidural (between the skull and the dura); subdural (between the dura and the arachnoid); and subarachnoid (between the arachnoid and the pia mater). 

Well, think about it. A bullet exploding upwards from the substance of the brain would tear through the pia mater and arachnoid as it exits the brain, and then tear through the dura as it hits the skull and tears through the skull. It would not come between the dura and the skull upon exit, and apply such force to the dura that would be stripped from the skull. But it would do so when entering the skull...especially if it entered on a tangent.

And no, this isn't just empty speculation. Mechanisms of Brain Impact Injuries and Their Prediction: a Review, an article in the September 2012 issue of Trauma, better makes the case. It reveals: "A direct impact to the skull produces local stress areas, causing a slight inbending of the skull bones that 'slap' the brain tissue directly underneath...The amount of this deformation of tissue underneath the impacted skull may be sufficient to create injurious strains to brain tissue as well as to cerebral vessels. The area of damage to the underlying brain may also spread laterally from the impact site. The rebound from this elastic deformation of the skulls as it returns to its original position can cause the dura to separate from the skull..." 

So, yeah, a tangential impact of a bullet on a skull will lead to a greater area of elastic deformation of the skull than a through and through trajectory. And a larger amount of torn dura...

It was this last revelation, by the way--that the dura would not be loosened at exit--that pushed me past the tipping point to where I could no longer look myself in the eye and say I merely suspected the fatal bullet impacted at the supposed exit defect. 

I have concluded as much. I have. I might doubt my own existence at times. But I feel quite confident the bullet killing Kennedy hit him on the top of his head, at the supposed exit defect. 

Some Sentences on the Fragments

Alas, we reach the fragments... While it is readily apparent that bullets striking a skull at an angle receive more resistance than those entering straight-on and are far more likely to break-up in the manner of the partial bullet found in fragments in the presidential limo, there is a particular detail about one of these fragments that is rarely recognized, and highly suggestive the fatal bullet struck at a tangent. 

Here it comes: CE 569, the base of the bullet, was all copper, and completely devoid of the lead it once encompassed. 

The significance of this fact has long been overlooked. It comes into focus, however, while reading through Manual of Forensic Emergency Medicine by Ralph Riviello, published 2009. There, in a chapter by Dr.s Ronald F. Sing and J. Michael Sullivan, it is explained that with some tangential wounds "As the bullet strikes the skull, the impact separates the bullet from the jacket." They then proceed to claim that the "lead has greater density and mass as it travels into the skull" and that, at this same time, "the lesser mass of the metal jacket is deflected off the skull..." 

Hmmm... IF the bullet whose fragments were found in the front compartment of the limo exited from Kennedy's skull intact and broke up upon hitting the windshield strut, as claimed by Dr. Baden, among others, why oh why was the base of this bullet missing its lead? This bullet is presumed to have broken into pieces upon impact with the windshield strut. It makes little sense that the lead from the base of this bullet would continue forward without its copper jacket. I mean--continue forward where? Only one impact was noted on the windshield strut, and only one impact noted by the rear-view mirror--and that impact, in Baden's scenario, anyhow--was almost certainly caused by the now-empty copper base of the bullet. So what happened to the lead?

Does it not make more sense to assume the lead separated from the outer shell when the bullet struck the skull on a tangent, as described by Dr.s Sing and Sullivan? In such a scenario, the lead could continue onward after slicing across the top of the head and brain...only to be deflected by the skull and end up hitting the curb down by James Tague.

Chapter 16d: Confirmation and Disappointment