Full text: Problems in eugenics

Magnan and 
FILLASS1ER.Medicine and Eugenics.371 
irritable, restless, excitable; he loses his sleep; he becomes the sport of 
illusions and hallucinations; and when, after repeated excess, he passes the 
saturation limit, or is made the subject of any other exciting stimulus, he 
then falls victim to an attack of alcoholic delirium.* 
This is characterized by hallucinations almost always of a distressing 
kind, very changeable, and reproducing either the ordinary occupations, or 
the dominant preoccupation of the moment. 
The intensity of the hallucinations varies, and they give place to different 
reactions; among the most frequent of which are the forms of alcoholic 
insanity known as the maniacal, the melancholic, and the idiotic. 
Is the patient given to absinthe? Then the symptomatology is different. 
In Absinthism the hallucination insanity is more active, more terrifying, 
sometimes provoking most dangerous reactions of extreme violence. It is 
accompanied by another syndrome of great gravity; all at once the absinth- 
drinker shouts out, grows pale, loses consciousness, and falls; the features 
contract, the jaws are clenched, the pupils dilate, the eyes turn upwards, the 
limbs stiffen, urine is passed, gas and faeces are smartly expelled. At the 
end of some seconds the face is contorted, the limbs shake, the eyes are 
turned convulsively in all directions, the jaws are snapped, the tongue pro­ 
truded between the teeth and severely bitten; a bloody saliva covers the lips; 
the face becomes injected, blue and puffy; the eyes become prominent and 
fill with tears, the breathing is stertorous; then the movements cease, the body 
becomes all relaxed, the sphincters loose their hold. A moment later the 
man raises his head, and looks about him with a dull stare. Coming to 
himself a little later, he has no recollection at all of what has happened; 
it is exactly like an attack of epilepsy. At other times the manifestation is 
less acute; the individual pales, some little twitches show at the corner of his 
lips, and for a moment he is completely ignorant of all that goes on around 
him; he has a vertigo. If these accidents recur, there may supervene an 
attack of delirium of great intensity, during which—contrary to what happens 
with the simple alcoholic, where a little lively interference serves to stop 
the delirium for a moment—the patient is heedless of all interference, and 
gives himself over almost automatically to acts of the most violent character. 
Sometimes also another symptomatic difference distinguishes the drinker of 
absinthe from the ordinary alcoholic, and that is the unheralded appearance 
of delirium; so much so that the individual has a sudden attack of delirium 
with hallucinations of great intensity without a single preceding tremor, or 
without his motor powers being markedly impaired. To sum up : to the 
credit of absinthe we must add the following symptoms; sudden delirium, 
epileptic attacks, vertigo, hallucinatory delirium more active and more impul­ 
sive than with alcohol, and sometimes very dangerous because unconscious. 
"* (See “ Alcoholism des Diverses forme du delire alcoolique et de leur traitement,” by Magnan, 
Delahaye, 1874 ouvrage traduit en anglais, Paris.)BB 2

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