Full text: Problems in eugenics

F. W. Mott.Medicine and Eugenics.427 
Recurrent insanity and epilepsy, with which it is closely allied, in relation 
to hereditary transmission, is one of the most important problems requiring 
scientific investigation by complete family histories and construction of 
pedigrees, and I can conceive no more important work on the relation of 
heredity to insanity than the following up, systematically, the history of 
children born in the sane intervals of cases admitted to the asylum and 
subsequently discharged. 
From the statistics of relatives a computation has been made of the pro­ 
portion of offspring who were born after the the first attack of insanity in 
the parent; it was found that 46 offspring out of 581 were born after the 
first attack of insanity in the parent, i.e., 7'9%. That is to say, in the 
case of 529 insane parents, the birth of only one-twelfth of their 590 off­ 
spring would have been prevented by sterilization or life segregation of the 
parent after the first attack of insanity. These figures refer to the offspring 
which become insane, but there are a large number of offspring who do not 
become insane, and these would be cut off if life segregation or sterilization 
were adopted.Single and Dual Neuropathic Inheritance. 
Every pedigree is a study in itself and occupies a whole book if sys­ 
tematically carried out as regards inheritance of characters, and the classi­ 
fication of the same is a matter of considerable difficulty. We have not 
enough systematic pedigrees yet to form precise data and conclusions upon, 
but perhaps I may be permitted to refer to indications from the examination 
of pedigrees of three generations which I have obtained myself and com­ 
bined with those obtained by Dr. Wilson White and Dr. Daniel. I will 
divide them into two groups :—• 
Group 1. Those with a double pathological inheritance, that is, both 
ancestral stocks show insanity, feeble-mindedness, drunkenness, epilepsy, 
suicide, or nervous disease of various kinds, direct or collateral, within two 
generations. In these 18 families there were 116 children born alive, and 
100 reached adolescence, and among them were 39 insane, suicides, or 
sufferers with nervous disease, and 61 apparently normal. Thus 39% of 
the offspring reaching adult age were affected. But these are probably 
selected pedigrees, and are not numerous enough to draw definite conclusions 
from. Group 2, in which there was an insane inheritance on one side only. 
Ninety families were examined. Of 384 children born alive 40 died in 
early life; there were 33 insane, suicide, or nervous disease, and 311 normal. 
Thus 9'6% of the offspring reaching adult age were affected. 
The conclusion which possibly might be drawn is that a child born of a 
dual neuropathic inheritance stands on an average a chance of being insane 
four times as great as where only one stock is infected. This, however, 
applies to the mass and not the individual. 
It might be argued that there are a certain number of imbeciles who 
could be allowed all social privileges excepting reproduction; this would
	        

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