Full text: Problems in eugenics

Magnan and 
Fillassier.Medicine and Eugenics.375 
alcoholic attack to which they are tributary; the alcohol has, in fact, set in 
action their insane tendencies. The result is that these people are cured of 
their drinking attacks, but this is replaced by a psychosis far more lasting 
than that awakened by the excitement of alcohol (i). All the mental 
forms may be observed; maniacal, melancholic, idiotic; delirium, poly­ 
morphic or systematic; fixed ideas, monomanias about words or numbers; 
every sort of phobia, obsessions, impulses—symptomatic manifestations 
which call for close attention. When they have for their object sexual 
perversion, theft, arson, or homicide, all these conditions give rise to the 
most delicate questions from the point of view of philosophy, psychology, 
sociology, or medical jurisprudence. 
Among these victims of perverted instinct received at the bureau 
may we mention some examples? Here is a wretched youth of 22 
who had been impelled, in spite of all his efforts to resist, to plunge 
a knife into the buttocks of the girls that he met. It was after 
having struck his third victim, a stranger to him like the others, near 
the Church of the Trinity, that he was arrested. The act, accompanied by 
a genital spasm, was followed by a great relief. Here is another, whose 
sexual erethism knew no bounds at the sight of a woman’s handkerchief; 
for such thefts he had been sentenced four times; he never removed anything 
but the handkerchief, carefully leaving everything else in the pocket which he 
had picked. Another unfortunate, obsessed by the number three, had just been 
attempting to remove three of his teeth, though he had only succeeded with 
two. All his actions were in combinations of three; at table he asked for 
three rolls, three helpings of meat, three of cheese, three glasses of wine. 
He gets three ties, three diaries, three pencils; he writes three letters of 
three pages, and on one of them, addressed to his sister, he writes her name 
along with that of her nurse and her dog, to make three. 
Another victim was sometimes seized with an irresistible need to bark; 
if he tried to resist, he felt a gripping sensation at the base of his 
chest, with a painful point in the epigastric region; he was also in 
pain with severe irritation of the hands and feet, like electric dis­ 
charges, he said. As soon, however, as he could bark, in imitation 
of the yelping of a dog which had once bitten him, he at once 
calmed down and felt relief. To give satisfaction to this imperious 
need to bark, and sometimes to laugh and weep without reason, he 
had hired a room in a hotel at the end of a corridor, and there he 
relieved and discharged himself, as he said, by barking, sometimes for more 
than an hour. Although the room was a separate one, he barked so loud 
that the lodgers complained, and once knocked him about; but in spite of all 
his efforts he had not been able to cease barking. He had also occasional 
impulses to tear, to smash, to steal, to say objectionable words; he had also 
the insanity of doubt, the fear of touching things, and several other phobias. 
(1) Magnan—Report, 1906.

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