Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

citizens as exhibited by their walk. The author first made a number of observations to determine the conditions of normal progression, and found that in good people, the right pace is longer than the left, the lateral separation of the right foot from the meridian line is less than that of the left, and the angle of deviation of the axis of the foot from a straight line is greater on the right side than on the left. Comparing these results with those obtained from the study of forty criminals, he found that, in the latter the pace was shorter than the normal, a fact which did not seem to coincide with the greater robustness, or 'toughness,'of these individuals. The left pace was longer than the right, the lateral deviation of the right foot was greater than that of the left, and the angle formed by the axis of the foot with the straight line was greater on the left side than on the right. It would thus seem that, in general, the gait of the criminal betrays a marked preponderance of power of the left foot over the right, - a true sinistrality. Dr. Peracchia has not only distinguished criminals in general, but bas laid the beginnings of the differential diagnosis between various sorts of evil-doers, and asserts that he finds a characteristic gait by which he is able to distinguish from others and from each other, thieves, assassins, and ravishers.” 1 This sinistrality of gait is in accordance with another fact not hitherto mentioned, that there is a much larger proportion of left-handed individuals among criminals than among honest people; and there is also an extraordinary proportion of ambidexters among them, the number being three times greater among male criminals and four times greater among female criminals than among honest people.

Although the anatomical and physiological peculiarities of the criminal naturally claim the chief consideration, yet they are by no means the sole evidences of atavistic degeneration, but a detailed consideration of the others will not be possible in the present paper.

If the criminal is a degenerate, we ought to find distinguishing traits of savagery in his habits and customs. In brief, such is the case. Chief among these customs is that of tattooing, which occurs much more frequently among them than among honest people of the same amount of development. Again, their sensibility is much more obtuse, all the sense being duller than in their

1 Medical Record, Sept. 3, 1887. Quoted from La Riforma Medica, No. 147, 1887.



honest neighbors. Their physical insensibility accords well with that of savages, who are able in their initiations at the time of puberty, to endure tortures that a

white man

could never support.

To the student of morbid psychology, nothing can exceed in interest an inquiry into the sentiments and passions of these unfortunates; their instability, their vanity, their thirst for vengeance, their cruelty, their love of wine and gambling, all are set forth at length for him who cares to read. Even in their writing, they are not as honest people are; and, in the frequency with which they use hieroglyphics, it is possible to see a marked sign of atavism.

Thus we have seen that in every community, there is a class which wages persistent war against civilization. They are in the world but not of the world, and they are a twin relic of barbarism as much as ever slavery was.

In his remarkable study, The Jukes, Mr. R. L. Dugdale has shown what a force for evil

was, and the misery and crime she and her descendants fastened on this State through many long years. Every city is raising up Jukes innumerable to fill our prisons and insane asylums, so that the social waste of modern civilization is a spectacle terrible to contemplate. Through many struggles and with many haltings, it has now come to be generally conceded that when a man has certain anomalies in his intellectual sphere, he has no individual rights, but is an enemy to civilization and must be cared for as such in an asylum. He is not given the benefit of the doubt that, if left to himself, he will do no harm either to himself or others, but the possession of certain intellectual faults and vices is prima facie evidence that he must not be given the chance.

Will the time ever come when the possession of certain physical anomalies will also be evidence that the person in whom they occur is an enemy of the race ? Will the law ever say that an individual such as those we have been studying, must give bonds, as it were, that the community shall suffer no harm from him?

The temptation to dwell on such a pleasing solution of present evils is great, but it is not my part to indulge in dreams that only others can bring to realities. The problem is one for Social Economy to solve, and Science can but point the way.

i Lombroso, p. 319.


BY C. L. DANA, A. M., M. D.,



(Read Wednesday Evening, September 7, 1887.)

There are few sanitary questions more fundamentally important to a nation than those which concern the mind and nervous system. Infectious fevers cause waste of life and money, consumption decimates the rising generations. From all this society speedily recovers. No plague ever destroyed a nation.

But on the health of mind and the nerves depend the moral strength, the intellectual progress, the social order and the very integrity of national institutions. · So far as the matter was related to public health, it was not consumption, or cancer, or fevers, that caused the decadence of Rome; but the fact that the frames of its ruling classes became rank with degenerative taints and that morbid passions, criminal impulses, mania and convulsive neuroses sapped the strength of the nation. The nervous system alone has failed to reach its ultimate development and completest differentiation. It is still growing, still plastic, and subject, therefore, most sensitively to the influences of heredity and environment. We have the same stomach as arboreal man, but the brain grows larger with every century, or its intimate structure becomes more finely and delicately organized.

A nation, especially a young nation, should, therefore, watch with anxious care the development and increase in the number of persons suffering from the chronic neurosos or psychoses. Where these prevail excessively it means that a nation's youth is tainted, that its degeneration and decline have begun, or that it is withering in a neurotic old age, like China with its millions of meconomaniacs.

I have said enough to justify an interest in the problem, one phase of which I present tonight. There is no fact more wellestablished than that the American nation possesses a very bigla

degree of nervous sensitiveness, and that its percentage of chronic nervous and mental diseases is greater than the average. Further, there is now no more striking social feature than that of the immense tide of foreigners which swells upon our shores.

Do the two facts bear any relation of cause and effect? Is this a conservative or injurious factor in our national health?

Let me, to begin with, cite a few of the facts now quite well known, regarding the matter of immigration.

The number of immigrants which have come to this country since the foundation of the Government is 14,266,760, the annual average being now about 400,000. In the last 13 years the number has been 5,396,416.

In 1880, the percentage of foreign-born population was 15.3 or over one-eighth of the total population, the actual numbers being : Natives,

43,475,840. Foreign-born,

6,679,943. The number of native and foreign-born adults is shown in the following:

Above 21

[ocr errors]

years old,

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

In other words the foreign-born make up over one-fourth of our adult white population, and nearly one-fourth of the total adult population.

There are in all 13,011,646 persons of foreign parentage.

The percentage of foreign-born is greater in the north and west where it ranges from 45 to 52; it is high in New England and the Middle States (10 per cent. to 36 per cent.) and it is practically nothing in most of the Southern States. The Germans form the largest proportion (29.44 per cent.), the Irish next (27.76 per cent.), English and Welsh 11.17, British American 10.74, Scandinavian 6.59. The Irish percentage is decreasing, the German continues about the same, that of all other countries is decidedly increasing.

The census of 1880 shows that, while foreign-born citizens were 154 per cent. of the population, they furnish more than 281 per cent. of our insane, nearly 22 per cent. of our prisoners, more than 34 per cent. of our paupers in almshouses, and nearly 44 per cent. of the inmates of workhouses and houses of correction.

I shall consider in this paper:
1. The relation of immigration to the mental diseases.
2. Its relation to mortality from nervous diseases.
3. Its relation to the sick-rate of nervous diseases.

I. IMMIGRATION AND INSANITY. With regard to the subject of immigration and insanity, there has been a diligent collection of statistics and some very forcible writing to show that the class of persons in question contributes immensely to swell the numbers of our insane. This impression has become almost a popular belief.

In 1883 Dr. Pratt (Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 1), read a paper upon this subject, in which he gave the statistics and drew conclusions of the kind just referred to. The following tables give the main facts on this point :

1850. 1860. 1870. 1880. Native insane,

13,559 18,258 26,205 65,651 Foreign-born insane,

2,051 5,784 11,227 26,346 Ratio of insane to sane.


1880. Native,

1 to 1545 1 to 1559 1 to 1258 1 to 662 Foreign-born,


1 to 1093 1 to 717 I to 497 1 to 250 From these tables the deduction is made that our foreign-bord population, which forms one-eighth of the aggregate population, contributes one-third of the cases of insanity. Further investigation, we are told, shows that the largest part of the foreign-born insane belongs to the pauper class. In connection with this there are placed the facts that the proportion of persons of unsound mind is greater in the United States than in any other known country (except Ireland), being in 1880 in the proportion of 1 insane and idiotic to 297 persons of sound mind. Ratio of sane to insane and idiotic in 1880:

United States. Eng. and Wales. Scotland. Ireland.
1 to 297

1 to 362 1 to 326 1 to 260 Natives,

1 to 314 Foreign-born, 1 to 220 While our aggregate population has increased two-thirds in the past 20 years, the insane population bas, it is said, increased four-fold. The immigrant is largely blamed for this.

I propose to show that while there is some justice in this view, the true facts have not been yet fairly presented.

To begin with, the statement that the foreign-born, while form

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »