Full text: Problems in eugenics

A. Bluhm.Medicine and Eugenics.389 
altogether in the hands of midwives, who seem to do more harm than good. 
In spite of this, the Chinese women of the higher ranks bring forth 
children with much more difficulty and pain than those of the lower ranks. 
It seems probable to me that the greater painfulness of childbirth depends 
in part on the greater sensibility of civilised people to pain, which we must 
not, without further consideration, put down as a sign of degeneracy, for it 
is connected, possibly to a considerable degree, with the higher develop­ 
ment of the nervous system, which is generally a condition of a capacity 
for culture. It is very difficult here to draw the line between the “ normal ” 
and the “ pathological.” The longer duration of labour can also, in part, 
be traced to this greater sensibility to pain, in so far as the first pains, 
which sometimes are not real labour pains but pains of pregnancy, are not, 
as such, felt by the women of uncivilised races. Among civilised races the 
painfulness of these throes often leads to the delusion that labour is pro­ 
longed. Just as little as in the case of painful labour, should we, without further 
consideration, attribute to degeneration every case in which there is a certain 
want of unity in measurement between the child’s skull and the mother’s 
pelvis. The poet’s word, “It is the mind which forms itself a body,” may be 
true in another sense, in that, to a certain extent, the development of the 
brain decides the size of the skull. The greater skull measurements of the 
civilised races are probably the outcome of “ selection ” through long periods 
of time. It is quite possible that the female pelvis has not increased in 
proportion, and has not accommodated itself to the enlarged skulls. 
Such a lessened adaptation is not degeneration. Unfortunately, there are 
not in existence enough exact measurements of the maternal pelvis and the 
skulls of the newly-born among primitive races to make it possible for us, 
through comparison with a similar number of cases among the civilized 
races, to arrive at a decision on this point. To our fellow workers “ from 
over the seas ”—from the Western States of America, from Canada, and 
from Australia—there is here presented a study which will repay them. 
Even though, to the obstetrician, the idea is familiar, that the measurements of 
the child and those of the mother’s pelvis usually agree—that with a small 
pelvis a small child is to be expected—this does not prove anything against 
our hypotheses. 
For here we are not concerned chiefly with an exact adaptation but with 
the fact that the child has only inherited from its mother the small stature 
generally associated with a small pelvis. 
The physician who relies on this presumed agreement frequently receives 
a disagreeable surprise when the father of the child is a big man. 
This example draws our attention to another factor which influences un­ 
favourably the capacity for bearing children among the nations, namely, 
the unavoidable mixing of breeds.

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