Full text: Problems in eugenics

F. W. Mott.Medicine and Eugenics. 
formerly at the Manor Asylum. The pedigrees he has obtained show con­ 
clusively that we must judge the right of a patient to propagate who has 
had an attack of insanity by a full consideration of his pedigree. Certain 
pedigrees which I have are of interest in relation to the question of alcohol; 
they are numerically insufficient to draw any conclusions, all we can say is 
they are indicative of a devitalisation of the germ when chronic poisoning 
occurs in successive generations. (Figs. 7, 14.) 
Statistics Relati?ig to 3,118 Relatives 
They show the following facts :— 
1. In the insane offspring of insane parents, daughters are much more 
numerous than sons. 
2. Amongst insane members of the same family (brothers and sisters) 
sisters are more numerous than brothers. 
This may be correlated with the fact that more women are in asylums 
than men. There are several reasons for this : general paralysis, which 
is a fatal disease, is three times more frequent in men than in women; the 
recoveries in women do not bear the same proportion as in men. Now, 
why should women be more liable to become insane than men ? I will briefly 
summarize the causes which, in my opinion, are operative :— 
1. The physiological emergencies connected with reproduction, i.e., the 
menstrual periods, child-bearing, and the cessation of the period of repro­ 
duction, the climacterium. 
I would also add as an important and perhaps the only cause in many 
instances the enforced suppression by modern social conditions of the repro­ 
ductive functions and the maternal instincts in women of an emotional 
temperament and mental instability. 
Anticipation or Antedating. 
Dr. Maudsley has observed that Nature tends to mend or end a de­ 
generate stock. Now, how could Nature best end or mend a degenerate 
stock ? Obviously by segregating in a relatively few germs all the unsound 
elements, leaving the others as it were free. The accompanying figure 15 
helps to explain this theory. 
Assuming the intensity of inheritance is constant for each chromosome or 
other unit of germ-plasm, but to vary with the number of the germinal 
units tainted, we have as a result of the mating of these two tainted stocks 
all degrees of manifestation of ancestral characters from perfect normality 
to the most profound disease. The more numerous the tainted germinal 
units the greater will be the chance of the disease appearing in the offspring. 
On the other hand, the oftener reduction, with its possible random arrange­ 
ment, has occurred—i.e., the greater the number of generations—the less 
will be the chance of any particular character finding a place in the inheri­ 
tance (Nettleship).

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