Full text: Problems in eugenics

R. Dupuy.Medicine and Eugenics.443 
children as those who simply 'present an intellectual deficiency, but we must 
equally consider in that category those who either at the same or at different 
times show a retardation, aù arrest or a regression as well in corporal and 
sensorial evolution as in psychical. Beyond this, if we consider that these 
subjects are in process of gjowth, that is to say, in a state of biological 
instability, if we notice alsc that the types of anomalies are so varied 
to such a degree that each oftckward child taken in his entirety constitutes 
a special clinical type, and that it is almost impossible to place him in a 
general classification—we might then appreciate the difficulties that are 
experienced in giving an idea of unity to this enquiry. In order to judge 
of a backward child, we must take account of his age, and proceed by com­ 
parison. Every child is backward who, for a given age, shows a retarda­ 
tion in body, mind, or spirit compared with other children of the same 
age.The new-born child has a vegetative life; the infant has an animal life, 
which becomes human the moment it is endowed with thought and speech. 
Puberty appears afterwards ; the subject is then capable of reproducing 
itself. What a number of stages a child must pass through before arriving 
at the age of marriage ! Now, to each of these stages there corresponds 
a whole series of evolutionary troubles which affect the subject either wholly 
or partially. Backwardness is the most important of these, but there exists 
also a condition characterised by exaggeration or inversion which we call 
perversion and deviation. The backward children, properly so-called, 
only therefore represent a certain number of abnormal children, the 
rest being subjects of perversion and deviation. Like backwardness, per­ 
version may be corporal, psychic, or sensorial. It may be in all three 
spheres, but this is rare. It may be only in one, and may only concern one 
system, one organ, one faculty, or one sense. This is the case with giants, 
prodigies of music or memory, juvenile dements, sexual inverts, etc., but 
very frequently backwardness is accompanied by perversion, or is caused 
by it ; so much so that infantile backwardness, as we conceive it to-day, is a 
mixed condition. It is not simply an arrest, a retardation, a regression, an 
immaturity, but a lack of balance, a disharmony of evolution. 
The causes of infantile backwardness are many. The condition may be 
congenital or acquired, sometimes it is mixed. It is congenital in conse­ 
quence of a weakening of the parental germ (senility, multiple gestations, 
alcoholism, syphilis, tubercolosis, physiological, poverty, paludism, 
arthritism, neuropathic condition, etc.). It is acquired in consequence of 
embryonic maladies, abdominal traumatism, or overstrain of the mother 
during pregnancy, premature birth, dystocia, whether maternal or foetal, 
infections of infancy, too rapid growth, or deficiency in nourishment. On 
this fact, however, we specially insist, that infantile backwardness, whether

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