James Hinshelwood


In 1901, James Hinshelwood, a Scottish ophthalmologist and eye surgeon, published a study in which he used the term word blindness. The study presented information about a number of children who had been referred to Hinshelwood because they couldn't read. Hinshelwood posited that there was a region in the brain responsible for reading difficulty and that this area was probably damaged. "By the term congenital word blindness, we mean a congenital defect occurring in children with otherwise normal and undamaged brains characterised by a difficulty in leaning to read . and where the attempts to reach the child by the ordinary methods have completely failed" (Hinshelwood, 1917).

As part of the reading "syndrome" Hinshelwood described the children's letter reversals and spelling problems, and reading comprehension problems.

Hinshelwood also introduced the term strephosymbolia or "twisted symbols" to refer to reading difficulties.

Writings of James Hinshelwood

 Hinshelwood, J. (1895). Word blindness and visual memory. Lancet, 2, 1564-1570.

Hinshelwood, J. (1896). The visual memory for words and figures. British Medical Journal, 2, 1543-1544.

Hinshelwood, J. (1898). A case of 'word' without 'letter' blindness. Lancet, 1, 422-425.

Hinshelwood, J. (1899). Letters without word blindness. Lancet, 1, 83-86.

Hinshelwood, J. (1900) Letter-, word- and mind-blindness. London: H. K. Lewis.

Hinshelwood,, J. (1900). Congenital word-blindness. Lancet, 1, 1506-1508.

Hinshelwood, J. (1902). Congenital word-blindness, with reports of two cases. Ophthalmic Review, 21, 91-99.

Hinshelwood, J. (1904). A case of word-blindness, with right homonymous hemianopsia. British Medical Journal. 2, 1304-1397

Hinshelwood, J., (1907) Four cases of congenital word-blindness occurring in the same family, British Medical Journal, 1907, 2, 1229-1232.

Hinshelwood, J. (1911). Two cases of hereditary congenital word-blindness. British Medical Journal, 1, 608-609.

Hinshelwood, J. (1912). The treatment of word-blindness, acquired and congenital. British Medical Journal, 2, 1033-1035.

Hinshelwood, J. (1917). Congenital word blindness. London: H. K. Lewis & Co.

Writings about James Hinshelwood

Coles, Gerald (1987). Hinshelwood's legacy. Chapter 1 in The learning mystique (3-27). NY: Pantheon Books.

See also: http://www.audiblox2000.com/book2.htm for a short history of Hinshelwood's work.