Full text: Problems in eugenics

412Section IV.F. W. Mott. 
The above table shows the proportion of males to females; the latter 
are much more numerous; it will be observed that owing to a lower death- 
rate of the femades, they tend to accumulate. This is no doubt due to 
the fact that general paralytic males are three times as numerous as 
females, whereas other non-fatal forms of insanity are much commoner in 
females. It will be observed that of the 3,042 relatives who are at present 
or have been in the London Asylums 1,533 still remain resident, a little 
more than half. I shall have occasion later to refer at length to some 
important deductions made from the age incidence of the first attack of 
insanity in these insane relatives. Nature and Nurture. 
No child is born insane, though it may be born feeble-minded either 
from actual organic disease or inborn germinal cerebral deficiency. The 
former being an acquired character is not heritable, a fact of very con­ 
siderable importance in diagnosis and segregation with the view of pre­ 
vention of transmission of feeble-mindedness. 
We should endeavour to study every case of nervous or mental disease 
as a biological problem, ascertaining as far as possible what the individual 
was born with, ancestral inheritance (Nature); what happened during 
development after conception (congenital); finally what happened at or 
after birth (nurture). The collection of statistics and pedigrees merely 
relating to the question of certifiable insanity or epileptic fits is quite 
inadequate for scientific purposes, as the neuropathic predisposition mani­ 
fests itself in many ways; and it is necessary to seek the first stages and 
less obvious conditions of degeneration in a stock. Morel, who studied 
this question more than fifty years ago, pointed out that nervous irritable 
weakness, the neurotic temperament, neurasthenic predisposition, may be 
the first evidence of degeneration of a stock. The inborn morbid neurotic 
temperament may be manifested in a variety of ways by the behaviour 
and conduct observed in various members of the stock. The signs of 
degeneracy which may be exhibited are self centred narrow-mindedness in 
religious beliefs, fanaticism, mysticism, spiritism, an unwholesome con­ 
tempt for traditional custom, social usages, and morality, a vain spirit of 
spurious art and culture, a false self-loving vanity in the pursuit of a 
sentimental altruism, or by eccentricities of all kinds; such signs of 
degeneracy are often combined with talent and even genius, especially of 
the constructive imaginative order; but the brilliant intellectual qualities 
of a degenerate are invariably associated with either a lack of moral sense 
or of sound judgment and highest control. Time, chance, circumstances, 
and opportunities play an especially important part in moulding and 
determining the career of a neurotic stock; circumstances and environ­ 
ment may favour one member and he rises on the tide of fortune to an 
eminent position, whereas another, unfortunate or less fortunate, but with

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