Full text: Problems in eugenics

F. W. Mott.Medicine and Eugenics.403 
possible to institute a factorial analysis of an individual.” How far such 
analysis can be carried we do not yet know, but we have the certainty that 
it extends far, and ample indications in supposing that we should probably 
he right in supposing that it covers most of the features, whether of mind or 
body, which distinguish the various members of a mixed population like that 
of which we form a part. From such a representation we pass to the 
obvious conclusion that an individual parent is unable to pass on to off­ 
spring a factor which he or she does not possess. Since those individuals 
only which are possessed of the factors can pass them on to their offspring, 
so the offspring of those that are destitute of those elements do not acquire 
them in subsequent generations, but continue to perpetuate the type which 
exists by reason of the deficiency. It should be explicitly stated, however, 
that in the case of the ordinary attributes of normal men we have as yet 
unimpeachable evidence of the manifestation of this system of descent for 
one set of characters only, namely, the colour of the eyes. Moreover, 
if the evidence as to normal characteristics of man is defective—which in 
view of the extreme difficulty of applying accurate research to normal 
humanity is scarcely surprising—there is in respect of numerous human 
abnormalities abundant evidence that a factorial system of descent is 
followed.” (Bateson: Biological Fact and the Structure of Society.) 
This may be, as Bateson claims, true for certain well defined abnormali­ 
ties, e.g., polydactylism, brachydactylism, xeroderma pigmentosa, or 
for night blindness, but as applied to the inheritance of a diathesis or 
tendency, e.g., the neuropathic, Mendelian proportions are not shown as a 
rule, although there is evidence of segregation of the factor underlying the 
diathesis or tendency. 
With this brief introduction to my subject, allow me to consider the 
problem of Heredity and Eugenics in relation to insanity. Let me first 
define my terms : Heredity has been defined by Thomson as “ the genetic 
relation between successive generations, and inheritance includes all that the 
organism is or has to start with in virtue of its hereditary relation.” 
Heredity is a relation in successive generations which is sustained by a 
more or less visible material basis, the germinal substance. Eugenics is 
the science of racial improvement by the application of the laws of 
heredity, viz., by encouraging the survival and the propagation of the 
fittest in all classes of society, and by seeking to cut off the lines of 
inheritance of the unfit in all classes of society. However, we do not 
know enough about human genetics to predict always the fittest and the 
unfittest. Some of the greatest men the world has seen have sprung 
from the most humble and unknown stocks. Eugenics, therefore, 
should aim at giving every individual that is worth preserving in every 
class a chance of survival. A living wage, enough to ensure a sanitary 
dwelling and a sufficiency of nourishing food for parents and family, should 
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