Full text: Problems in eugenics

426Section IV.F. W. Mott. 
and offspring the liability to the child of an insane parent becoming insane 
tends rapidly to fall. (Figs. 16 and 17.) Now, besides the fact that this shows 
Nature’s method of eliminating unsound elements of a stock, it has another 
important bearing, for it shows that after 25 there is a greatly decreasing 
liability of the offspring of insane parents to become insane, and therefore 
in the question of advising marriage of the offspring of an insane parent 
is of great importance. Sir Geo. Savage recently said that this statistical 
proof entirely accorded with his own experiences, and that if an individual 
who had an hereditary history had passed 25 and never previously shown 
any signs he would probably be free, and he would recommend marriage. 
Another important fact was elicited, viz., that in 58 8% of the 508 off­ 
spring of insane parents the first attack in the offspring occurred at an age 
20 or more years earlier than in the parent. Similar tables and curves 
(Figs. 18 and 19) compiled from 193 pairs of uncles or aunts and nephews 
and nieces show the same fact but not to so marked a degree. 
As a leading article in a recent number of the British Medical 
Journal refers to this question of anticipation tending to the ending or 
mending of a degenerate stock being used as an argument against measures 
being taken to prevent the propagation of the unfit, I particularly desire 
to impress upon my audience the fact that I have always laid great stress 
upon the necessity of segregating congenital imbeciles now that Nature, by 
man’s aid, does not kill them off as formerly. Moreover, it is highly desir­ 
able to follow up those members of the family who are sane, and par­ 
ticularly those who are discharged as cured, in order to see whether Nature 
has really mended that degenerate stock. 
Recurrent Insanity and. Propagation. 
One of the great arguments advanced for sterilization has been that 
recurrent cases of insanity breed lunatics between their respective dates of 
admissions to asylums. I have no doubt this is the case, but before Parlia­ 
ment would consider such a procedure it would require the strongest and 
soundest evidence that life segregation or sterilisation would appreciably 
diminish the numbers of the insane. 
I have endeavoured to ascertain some facts relating to this question. 
The inference that can be drawn is that about one-fifth of the recurrent 
cases or approximately one-twentieth of the female admissions have children 
after their first attack of insanity and of 31 such cases examined, 73 
children were born after the first attack of insanity in the parent. A 
number of these were cases of puerperal insanity. I am unable to give 
exact figures as to the fate of these children, but a good proportion of them 
died in infancy, and the majority of them would be too young to decide 
which might become insane.

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