Full text: Problems in eugenics

372Section IV.Magnan and 
These clinical facts, already so eloquent of themselves, are corroborated by 
physiological experiment (i.) The intoxication from alcohol comes to extend 
over a gradually longer period, and a new element enters; the condition of the 
subject is modified (2). In the end, we see no longer merely functional 
troubles, transient disturbances which leave after them only a 
slight malaise; a more profound action has set in; the nutrition is altered in 
every organ, every system, every tissue. The alcoholic intoxication has 
become chronic; his memory weakened, his judgment impaired, his imagina­ 
tion ruined, his association of ideas reduced, his moral sense lowered, 
apathetic, indifferent, and blunted, the victim is handed over defenceless to 
the caprice of his instinctive appetites. From the physical point of view, 
presently medullary mischief becomes prominent; pins-and-needles, numb­ 
ness, formication, abnormal sensations of cold and heat, cramps, super­ 
ficial or deep hyperassthesia, cutaneous or muscular ansesthesia, weakness, 
trembling of the legs and arms, excretory paresis; in a word, all the 
phenomena which attach to diffuse myelitis, to which Hallopeau has drawn 
attention (3). Soon appear little apoplectic or epileptiform strokes, accom­ 
panied perhaps by a transient paresis of arm or leg, perhaps with a thickness 
and embarassment of speech, which may resemble word-hesitation; and 
sometimes one sees inequality of the pupils. Some of them look like 
general paralytics, but when the acute symptoms due to the alcoholic bout 
have faded, there reappears the common chronic alcoholic; the others, 
less in number, pass on into general paralysis (4). Sometimes also, as a 
result of too copious libations, of a traumatism, of an infectious disease, 
or indeed any other cause, there bursts! upon the chronic alcoholic an attack 
of delirium tremens. 
Of these various forms of simple alcoholic intoxication we have prepared 
the following table :— 
We may note that the patients for alcoholic delirium show a diminution, 
while the chronic alcoholics are on the increase. We have already indicated 
that to-day the first class of these are admitted to hospital; but besides this, 
clinical progress now enables us better to pick out, among the noisy com­ 
pany of alcoholic delirium, the manifestations of chronic alcoholism; and 
these are very frequent. 
From the racial point of view, this poisoned population is not, unfor­ 
tunately, sterile, and, as is often repeated, “ The drunkard begets nothing 
that is any good.” Bourneville has given to this effect statistics which 
have become classical (5). 
Among 3,271 children on his list, this author noted that in 1,156 cases 
the father had been an excessive drinker, in 100 excess was attributed to 
(1) Magnan—Rapport sur le service centrale, 1906. 
(2) Magnan—De VAlcoolisme. 
(3) Hallopeau—General Archives of Medicine. 
(4) Magnan—The -place of alcoholism in the etiology of general paralysis. 
Congress of Lyons, 1891. 
(5) Bourneville—Clinical and therapeutic researches on hysteria, epilepsy, 
and idiotism.

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