Full text: Problems in eugenics

Magnan and 
Fillassier.Medicine and Eugenics.377 
This disbalanced person, despite the number and variety of his complaints, 
by the very reason of their multiplicity was curable, and was actually cured 
in a few months at the asylum, although outside he had dragged along a 
most miserable existence for several years. 
Among these degenerates, we have also several cases of persecution- 
delusions, active and passive, who are very dangerous; notably the patient 
who fired at Dr. Giles in revenge for the tortures which the doctors had 
submitted her to; and another woman who said that she had been hypnotised 
at a distance by Sarah Bernhardt, and had threatened to kill her. The 
mother of this last person, herself also of unsound mind and very restless, 
protesting against the segregation of her daughter, had succeeded in gaining 
to her view two deputies, who, of course misinformed, had begun to take 
measures to put an end to this so-called arbitrary sequestration. In this 
group of degenerates we might mention the woman who, under the influence 
of illusions, insane reasoning, and ideas of persecution, became the 
murderess of the Abbe of Broglie. 
Are these facts rare? Alas, the following statistics will show how 
frequent are these manifestations of insanity among hereditary degenerates 
(page 376). 
These poor wretches are born with the mark of their parentage on 
them. Considering the site and spread of their lesions according to the 
localization of their functional troubles, the clinical types are very variable. 
But in spite of their diversity it is by insensible transitions that we are 
conducted from the top to the bottom of the ladder, from the idiot com­ 
pletely fallen from man’s estate to the high-class degenerate, intelligent 
but unbalanced. We have little to say here of the idiot who, in the back­ 
rooms of his spinal cord, mid-brain and hind-brain, lives a purely vegetative 
or else instinctive existence; peripheral stimuli indeed provoke reflexes) from 
the medulla or brain; but these are only simpile reflexes, and the centres of 
inhibition never come into play. As soon as the frontal region becomes free, 
the subject begins to enter the region of ideation and control; he ceases 
then to be an idiot, and is raised to the dignity of an imbecile. The 
localization of lesions to such and such a perceptive centre, covering a 
greater or less extent of the anterior region, explains to us that such and 
such a faculty has survived the shipwreck, and that there are such persons 
as “ partial geniuses,” or wise idiots. Among the feeble-minded and 
unbalanced persons, among whom are found those offenders whose cases are 
those of mental pathology, the lesions are not of a gross anatomical sort, 
but functional mischief, on which depend the modifications of the cerebro­ 
spinal activity. With them the prominent factor is the disharmony and lack 
of equilibrium, not only between the mental faculties and intellectual 
operations on one side, and the sentiments and leanings on the other, but 
the further disharmony between the intellectual faculties themselves, and 
the lack of equilibrium in the world of morals and character. A man
	        

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