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The Tremendously Complicated Problems of Practical Eugenics
By Prof. J. E. Wallace Wallin, Director Psycho-Educational Clinic of the St. Louis Schools, In an Address. EUGENIC or generative hygiene Is pre ventive Individual and race nyglene raised to the tenth power. No measures for in dividual or collective betterment aro more fun damental'than the hygiene of generation. To bo well born is the fundamental prerequisite of being well-bred. Generative hygiene con templates not only the regulation of tho function of mating, but also tho establishment of those conditions which will insure normal healthy generative processes In the father and mother. Society should prevent degenerate or antl eugenical matings. It is alleged that about 15 per cent of the present generation produces 50 per cent of the next generation, and that this producing minority represents the poorer, lower or eugenically inferior elements of the population. Without conceding that this esti mate ts strictly correct, it is within the bounds of truth' to say that all enlightened students of race betterment are agreed that palpable degenerates should not be permitted to marry. But we are not all agreed that the eugenically unfit can be diagnosed infallibly, or oven to a measurably satisfactory extent. So far as re lates to mental degenerates thero are now In general use two methods of study by which it is hoped to make eugenic diagnosis?first, the hereditary study of ancestral strains by the methods of heredity research; and secondly, the psychological observation or testing or study of the level of intelligence and of mental deviation. The only essential preliminary to making re liable hereditary, no less than medical or psychological, diagnosis is prolonged training 1 in the scientific methods of collecting, examin ing, analyzing aud interpreting facts. Many heredity charts are based on the sheerest guess work, ou data gathered by persons quite lack ing in scientific discrimination and quite un skilled in the art of hereditary, psychological, or medical diagnosis. It is one thing to send out field workers, usually teachers, nurses and social workers who are novices In the methodology of scientific research, to Interview parents, relatives, friends, enemies, clergymen, physicians and court officers with regard to the mental condition of the contemporary or an cestral relatives of the cases under investiga tion; and then on the basis of the field-workers' reports, have someone else who has probably never seen or examined a siugle relative, con struct awo-inspirlng heredity charts, with a multitude of squares and circles, definitely and most minutely labeled and evaluated. But It Is quite a different matter to assume that because certain symbols have been stamped on a piece of cloth, the correctness of the marking or the accuracy of the hearsay or snapshot estimations and diagnoses has thereby been conclusively established. Once the accuracy of the heredity diagnosis has been established, it is quite a different thing to as sume that the condition of feeblemindedness or Insanity found In a given rorebear Is the all sufficient or determining cause of'the feeble mindedness or insanity found 'In the "tainted" offspring. Unfortunately this assumption Is usually made by the average field-worker without further ado. The presence of feebleminded ness in the direct or indirect ancestral lines Is regarded as the sufficient explanation of the feeblemindedness found in the descendants. The fact is, there is frequently a plurality of causes responsible for any case of biologic variation, and no one but an experienced ex pert?and quite frequently not even the expert ?will be able to determine Indubitably which Is cause or which Is accidental antecedent or accompaniment. The apparent accuracy of many heredity charts Is wholly deceptive and misleading. In my own clinic I am constantly confronted with such cases as this?a feeble minded child with diphtheria or typhoid at, say, three, and with a grandfather or uncle or cousin who was alleged to be "feebleminded," "queer" or "peculiar." What Is the prime cause here? How should such a case be charted? As In herited, or acquired feeblemindedness? There is no unequivocal reply. Let us disabuse ourselves of the smug belief that heredity diagnoses are so easy that they can be made by any one, or that we have located the causative agent when we have put a certain square or circle upon a chart. There are hundreds of thousands of mentally abnor mal individuals in whom the causes lie con cealed in deepest obscurity. As a matter of fact, there Is no psychlo measuring rod In existence by which we can automatically or mechanically identify accu rately high grade mental degenerates or de fectives, by which we can unerringly dis tinguish between*high grade feebleminded and ?eckward cases, and by which we can de termine whether the abnormality in high grade defectives Is or Is not anti-eugenic in character. But it is precisely the eugenlcally unfit persons who grade nearest the standard of mental normality whom it Is most necessary to identify, because these Individuals are the most numerous, they are the moBt prolific breeders and constitute the gravest social and moral offenders. It is quite easy to identify the lowest grades of defectives by existing methods, but they are usually sterile and hence Bet no eugenic problem. Not only so; It 1b quite probable that many normal persons are carriers of trans missible degenerate strains, but there is at present no infallible method, whether psycho logical, hereditary, or medical, by which these individuals can be identified. Therefore, while we all believe In the domi nant force of heredity and in the teachings of negative eugenics so far as concerns the pre vention of palpably degenerate matings, the ordinary field worker and the ordinary mental tester are frequently utterly unable reliably to differentiate between the eugenlcally fit and unfit. Nor do I know that there is any experi mental or scientific warrant for the dictum that "weakness should marry strength." In the first place, I do not know that there Ij any authority who can make out an Infallible chart of the eugenlcallv weak or the eugenlcaily strong traits which exist In the parties of a given marriage union, whether normal or high grade defective. In the second place, 1 know of no one who can guarantee that when weak ness marries strength the progeny will all be normal or that the weak traits will not eventually crop out as recesBlves in later generations. The cautions which I have sounded against ?llpshod hereditary and psychological diagnoses may be reinforced by reference to a recent clinic case: A young man of Russian-German descent, twenty-one years one inontn old at the time of the examination In January, 1914, the fourth of six children, born In Pennsylvania, removed to Germany at the age of six, remained there eleven years, returning to America four years ago. The history of the case Indicates that he was born on time, but the birth conditions were difficult; that animation had to be established by slapping; that the mother was very nervous; that the child was very puny for some time after birth; that he was bottle-fed; that he was unable for some time to assimilate va rious artificial foods, but finally began to grow rapidly on condensed milk. At four he had whooping-cough, and hurt his head severely by running against a hinge on a door, which rendered hlrn unoonsclous for a while, but he apparently recovered. At five he fell into a limekiln, but only his hands were elightly burned before he was rescued. Some what later, after his removal to Germany, his caretaker reported that he had had a strange spell?crying out In his Bleep, kicking, and jumping out of bed In a frenzy of excitement, although apparently unconscious throughout the entire performance. Spells of crying and kicking, without any attempt to wander about in the room, recurred several times during the following two weeks. As a child and a youth he was more or less queer; he never took any Interest in games or sports, and never had any Intimate boyhood friendships. He had a continuous record of outbursts, beating and slapping his sisters, en gaging in fights and brawls with comrades and teachers, of lying and stealing, and of bragging and boasting. His relations with his mother were almost always strained. His school history is one record of incompatibility and maladjustment. While staying at home he was constantly clashing with his mother. She punished him severely (he was "beaten until black and blue"), taunted him for his failures, nagged at him and forced him to apply himself to intellectual pursuits. He was so nervous and irritable that he could not endure his sister's piano practice, and accordingly started to demolish the In strument with a hammer. He would waylay the postman to see if any school circulars were sent to his parents. He ran away, and when Ihe police were notified he tried to kill himself by hanging by a cord attached to a gas fixture. He was sent to an asylum for tne insane, where he remained for six weeks, and where he was examined by three physicians, who pronounced him "not demented," but deficient and in need of protective oversight, and who counselled him to control his temper. In 1910 ho returned with his parents to America. His first exploit here was to run away from n boarding house in which he had been placed under kindly supervision. For some timo he led the life of a vagabond, sleep ing In parks and out-houses, and getting his food no one knew where. He broke Into a house In New Jersey and was sent to Jail. On his re lease ho joined "robber bands." He was ftnally taken In hand by the Salvation Arniy, In New York City, and was sent to a half-brother, a landscape architect, in Minneapolis, who found a place for him as a clerk; but one day he struck his brother's wife because she would not let him wear her husband's new coat. He was thereupon placed in a private boarding house, but soon enlisted In the navy. At the Norfolk Training School ho got along fairly well until he began to Bteal?"but not," as he affirmed, "before tho others stolo from me." Here he was court-martialed several times for insubordination. On the battleship Min nesota he alleges that he was constantly teased and bullied by tho sailors. On ship he was in disgrace most of the time. Ills entire Income disappeared in fines. He talked freely of his "scrapes" to the social worker, of sailors clubbing officers, of his getting possession of money from drunken sailors, of hlB attempt to desert with another man at Vera Cruz. Finally he knockod a lad down because, as he says, "he stole from me." was court-martialed and dis honorably discharged in July, 1913?after about two and a half years of service. The boys on the battleship took up a collection and sent him to his parents. Ills record Blnce his return home has been one of Insolence, disobedience, defiance, unem ployment and loafing. He belongs to that large army of borderland cases who are not quite feebleminded nor yet palpably Insane, but which make up the group of "unstables" who occupy the twilight aone between the distinctly amented on the one band, and the mentally disordered on the other hand?a group of moral and mental inferiors, sometimes manifesting traits of high grade moral Imbecility and some times presenting the aspects of constitutional inferiority, or psychopathic constitution, or mnsked or psychic epilepsy. These twilight states between sanity and insanity and between Bubnormalltv (I. e., feeblemindedness) and normality cannot bo diagnosticated by mere schemes of intelligence tests. Incidentally it may be said that these types of abnormal individuals should be diagnosed much earlier in their careers than Is usually done. They should be picked out in the ele \ nientary and secondary schools, and be sub jected to appropriate educational and physical treatment. In the second place, In the boy eugenically unfit? Certainly he ought not to marry as long as he remains Industrially Incompetent, as long as his prospective of life is distorted, and as long as ho manifests pronounced emotional instability and violent outbursts of temper. But is he unfit for eugenic procreation? We are in no position to dogmatize about this. The ancestral history is largely negative in respect to neuropathic taint. One paternal aunt died of tuberculosis, two paternal uncles died of heart disease, and one maternal brother tiled Insane. The latter Is said to have been perfectly normal until he received r severe blow on the head from a falling saddle. After recovery a second violent attack occurred during his honeymoon voyage across the ocean, and was said to have been brought on by sea sickness. Shall we say that the taint of in sanity was inherent, and that the accident merely removed the barriers? Or shall we say that the disease was of accidental origin? There is no conclusive evidence for either view. Coming to the boy's Immediate family, w? find that the oldest child, a sister, was pre maturely born dead. The mother attributes the fatal prematurity to a severe fright caused by a fire which broke out in the room she was occupying. The second child died at the age of one from sunstroke. Her head was left ex posed to a hot sun by a careless attendant. The other children are apparently normal, ex cept a sister attending a boarding school, who Is said to be capricious, high tempered. In discreet, and a flirt. She likes the sensational, and has kleptomaniac tendencies. The father is a well-educated, cultured gentleman who has held responsible govern ment and ecclesiastical positions here and abroad, while the mother also possesses a good education, having at one time taught In a high school. However, she is said to be very high spirited, and Is subject to occasional violent outbursts of temper which often culminate In a fainting Bpell with loss of consciousness and stiffening of limbs instead of convulsive movements. The husband reports that her hysterical manifestions date back at least to the time of their marriage. On her way to America before marriage aha was In a shipwreck. From this experience she suffered a severe nervous shock. Shall -we say that the abnormal manifestations of the mother are hereditary, or that they are due to the severe nervous shocks caused by fright experienced in a shipwreck and in a flre7 An unequivocal answer is scarcely possible. Shall we say that the abnormalities of the son are due to a neuropathic taint transmitted by the mother, or that It is duo to difficult birth, to the head blow received at the age of five, to the punishment he.received from his mother, and to the influence of her abnormal behavior, or to a combination of environmental and hereditary factors? Is it not clear that when the factors are so complicated as in this case?and this ease Is typical of thousands of others?we are not Eolving the problem by stamping an heredity symbol on a chart, and assuming the correct ness of the symbol. Who Is ready to affirm that this boy, provided he could be trained to live a normal life and to marry a normal girl, would bo unfitted for eugenic procreation? Who is able to demonstrate that he would or would not be so fitted? The fact is, eugenic diagnosis is not far enough advanced to permit of unequivocal answers in thousands of cases difficult to diagnose. While it is important, therefore, that we recognize ihe difficulties involved In the correct diagnosis of anti-eugenic stocks, it must not be forgotten that the most Important factor in eugenical hygiene is the prevention of the propagation of inherently, that is hereditarily, weakened, defective and degenerate strains. Cut Along This Line, Then Fold Ivlusic for Your Piano Rest s J1 I J J1 ? ^ ight a - long, For Ira so much in rres from no, When I ask her to love gets so strong that my hear - ing gets weak, m in -wrong I don't know crest love That I can't tell her dear words a wed And J near - ly go out of mi Refrain Just say those words o - ver to your own true lov - er, Toot express And that's how it soundswhen I hear Su-sie Copyright, 1916, by the Star Company. 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