Full text: Problems in eugenics

A. Marro.Biology and Eugenics.123 
I have added 100 insane of the Manicome of Turin, taken by chance 
amongst the new entries of 1886, amongst whom I have completed this 
study. I commenced by classing the age of the parents in three periods, that 
is to say, immaturity, complete maturity, and decadence. In order to mark 
the period of immaturity I took as limit the age fixed by legislation after 
which a man can marry without the consent of his parents, 25 years. I 
limited the period of perfect development between 26 and 40 years. I 
marked the period of decadence from 41 years onwards, because oculists 
admit that presbyopia commences at this age and at this age man has usually 
a tendency to stoutness, the first indication of the slackening of the vital 
movement, and as a natural consequence, the decline of the biological 
powers. Having thus divided parents of the subjects observed by me according 
to the different ages, my observations have shown that the number of 
criminals was in excess amongst the descendants of parents either very 
young or old, compared with what one observed amongst the people living 
at liberty. This result being obtained, I wished to find out if there existed a con­ 
nection between the special forms of crime in which the characters of the 
condemned reveal themselves and the peculiarities of character belonging to 
the different parental ages at which they had been begotten. 
The psychical conditions which pre-dispose to criminality consist sometimes 
in a greater impressionability of character, in consequence of which the 
mind reacts with great promptitude to the agencies which come to excite it, 
and offers less resistance to seductions of various kinds which flatter its 
passions. Sometimes, on the contrary, criminality has its origin in really 
morbid impulses which take their origin from a condition of depression 
of mind, from a lack of affectivity or from a delusion of persecution. 
Now we can recall that the first conditions predisposing to crime are 
found in conjunction with the state natural to youth. With youth one 
usually notes an exaltation of feeling which naturally is found united with 
incapacity of reflection, lack of foresight, and leads easily to indulgence in 
pleasure, to an aversion to continued and uniform occupations, which most 
professional work demands, because the powers are not yet well propor­ 
tioned, and also to inhibitory mental representations, while it lacks power 
of resisting impressions which arrive at the common sensorium. 
On the contrary, the qualities which mark depression, melancholy, lack 
of affectivity and a tendency to delusions of persecution, may a friori 
be considered as inherited from two aged parents, because in old age the 
decline of physical forces is reflected upon the moral forces. Man tends 
to become discontented with everybody; prudence, circumspection, and 
egotism become more marked with him. To sum up, in his mind there 
prevails a condition of depression which deprives him of confidence in his

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