|Photo courtesy of Mac via Flickr|
Edward Mordake was reportedly an English heir, scholar, and a musician. He was considered a bright and charming man, and said to be quite handsome when viewed from the front. However, on the back of his head, there was a second twisted face. The duplicate face could neither eat nor speak out loud but was seen to "smile and sneer while Mordake was weeping."
As told in Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine in 1896:
"The eyes would follow the movements of the spectator, and the lips "would gibber without ceasing". No voice was audible, but Mordake avers that he was kept from his rest at night by the hateful whispers of his "devil twin", as he called it, "which never sleeps, but talks to me forever of such things as they only speak of in Hell. No imagination can conceive the dreadful temptations it sets before me. For some unforgiven wickedness of my forefathers I am knit to this fiend – for a fiend it surely is. I beg and beseech you to crush it out of human semblance, even if I die for it."
Mordake reportedly begged doctors to have his "demon face" removed, claiming that it whispered to him at night, but no doctor would attempt it. As an adult, he lived in complete seclusion, refusing visits from members of his own family. Edward committed suicide when he was 23 years old. He reportedly left behind a letter requesting that the "demon face" be destroyed before his burial, "‘lest it continues its dreadful whisperings in my grave."
Such a birth defect might have been a form of craniopagus parasiticus (a parasitic twin head with an undeveloped body), diprosopus (bifurcated craniofacial duplication), or an extreme form of parasitic twin (an unequal conjoined twin). There is some debate as to whether Edward Mordake existed at all, but instead was the literary creation of Charles Lotin Hildreth. History tends to blur the line between fact and fiction. There have been other well-documented cases of conjoined twins, so it is possible that the story is based on a grain of truth.
So, why is this posted on "Frightening Friday?" I don't find the abnormality frightening, it is what it is. What I do find "frightening" is that the poor man suffered (in the way he did) until he committed suicide.