Full text: Problems in eugenics

i6oSection II.F. Houssay. 
only then an anticipation of natural selection with a view to social economy, 
in itself a valuable thing, and specially with a view to the reduction of evil 
examples and moral contagions which result from the enlargement of the 
group of unfit, artificially supported by the help of the fit. 
Without developing the subject further, we see that the views here 
expressed fall into line with Darwinian theory, and it seems that by the 
simple application of the principles which follow from them, the group of 
defectives, considered at a given moment, could be rapidly extinguished, 
and that society thus cleansed could for a long period pursue a life of 
lessened burden and better health. 
This, however, by itself would be a one-sided view which would leave 
out of account a whole aspect of the problem of the deepest interest and 
importance. For the group of defectives, while naturally extinguishing 
itself on the one side, yet in its other direction is perpetually renewed and 
extended by fresh recruits resulting from degeneration gradually introduced 
into the families of healthy persons. 
In order that success may crown the work, we must not only hasten 
artificially the destruction of this group which would naturally ensue, but 
we must also—perhaps the most urgent of all—hinder this group from re­ 
forming itself at the same rate. At least we must, if in such a matter absolute 
success is unattainable, restrain as far as possible the speed with which the 
defective kind tend to recruit their ranks. 
To this end, it is of the utmost importance to enlighten ourselves on the 
origin and perpetuation of defects by heredity; and with this object in 
mind we must cling to the principles on which rest the Lamarckian doctrines. 
Much clinical data is already available, and a still larger amount could be 
collected. We recognise already as fundamental factors, alcoholism, syphilis, and 
more generally all intoxications which arise either spontaneously or as the 
result of contagious diseases, as well as certain diatheses, among which the 
arthritic diathesis must be counted. Everything which tends to restrain the 
action of these factors is of capital value from the point of view now under 
consideration. It may seem that by covering so wide a field we should be overstepping 
the limits of Eugenics, which, by our former definition, fixes its outlook on 
the poor degenerates whose various incapabilities form a surcharge on the 
healthy, and whose naturally felonious or criminal propensities constitute a 
social danger. But the social losses do not result only from the useless cost 
of help to the incapable or the upkeep in prisons of the numerous 
delinquents. If degeneracy among the well-to-do seems a private misfortune, though 
it does not recoil on the body politic as a whole, being prevented from 
doing so by the wealth of the family, does not this suggest an error in our 
theory ? Is not intellectual and moral retrogression, when it overtakes the

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