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The Guillotine

Is There Life After Decapitation?


Guillotine circa 1792

Guillotine circa 1792

< Introduction > History of the Guillotine

In a scientific effort to determine if any consciousness remained following decapitation by the guillotine, three French doctors attended the execution of Monsieur Theotime Prunier in 1879, having obtained his prior consent to be the subject of their experimentation.

A Look of Astonishment

Immediately after the blade fell on the condemned man, the trio retrieved his head and attempted to elicit some sign of intelligent response by "shouting in his face, sticking in pins, applying ammonia under his nose, silver nitrate, and candle flames to his eyeballs." In response, they could record only that M Prunier's face "bore a look of astonishment."

Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin

A guillotine is an instrument for inflicting capital punishment by decapitation that came into common use in France after 1792 (during the French Revolution). In 1789, Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin first suggested that all criminals should be executed by decapitation - by means of a “machine that beheads painlessly”. A decapitation machine called the Guillotine was built and used during the French Revolution. Joseph Guillotin was born in Saintes, France in 1738 and elected to the French National Assembly in 1789.
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