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The times dispatch. [volume] (Richmond, Va.) 1903-1914, October 26, 1913, Image 56

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How We Detect the Feeble Minded and Save Them trom Crime
to Decrease the Number of Criminals
by Scientifically Diagnosing Mental
and Moral Defectives and Placing
Them Where They Can Do No Harm
and Where There May Be Hope for
Their Redemption.
NEW YORK Is the first metropolis In the
world to scientifically systematize the
study nnd disposition of its mentally
and morally deficient child population ? its
"potential criminals."
"With 15,000 oi these unfortunates reported
by public and private schools and protectories,
nnd with city institutions lor 6uch cases hav
ing a total capacity of less than 5,000, the need
of such a centralized method of examination,
classification and continuous observation, la
manifest. The lifting out and sequestration
of the morally deficient, on account of their
contaminating Influence. Is of first Importance.
For the first time this Is made possible and
effective by the "clearing house" method, with
lis scientific means of diagnosis and its super
vision of all cases discovered.
The organizer and head of the Clearing
House for Mental Defectives is Dr. Max Gus
tav Schlapp, an eminent authority on mental
diseases, both here and In Germany, professor
of neuropathology in the .Post Graduate School
and Hospital. He also occupies the post of
psychiatrist to the Society for the Prevention
of Cruelty to Children.
By Dr. Max Gustav Schlapp,
Director of the New "iork Clearing House for Mental Defectives.
EVERY 'arge city faces a grave problem in
connection with its child population of
mental defectives. These unfortunates
must to regarded as potential criminals. In
many Instances they are already morally, aa
well as mentally, deficient, and have a con
taminating influence upon normal children in
tie schools, in the streets, in the homes
wherever they are free to come and go. The
problem is to discover these cases early in
their development, to place them where there
is hope for their redemption, thereby limiting
the bad influenco they exert and reducing the
supply of underworld material.
Up to the present time no metropolis has
put into operation a satisfactory solution of
this problem. Each maintains various public
institutions to whlcn the mentally deficient
are committed, often without any exhaustive
examination inio their condition, without thor
ough Inquiry into their personal and family
history and without means of systematic ob
servation of their subsequent careers.
Facilities lor the care and treatment of
these cases are always Inadequate. Lack of
system in their discovery, diagnosis and com
mitment results in overcrowding existing in
stitutions with a larse percentage of compara
tively mild cases while many others for whom
immediate attention is imperative ? for the
public good as well as their own?are neg
This state of affairs in New York City is at
tempted to be met by the establishment of a
Clearing House for Mental Defectives?a cen
tral organization of efficient examiners, nurses
and social workers?conducted under the De
partment of Public Charities, to which all
cases are sent aa discovered, which makes ac
curate diagnoses of all cases, classifies them,
and recommends commitment according to the
urgency of the cases and existing facilities
for their treatment.
The first step In attempting to solve the
problem of tho mentally deficient child is to
discover as accurately as possible the degree
of his defectiveness. The observer, noticing
the Mongolian idiot as he sits staring stupidly
ahead of him, with open mouth, will say that
It is no difficult matter to see that he is defin
itely deficient. It. is true that no mental test
is required in this case. The dcfects are ob
vious. But it is also true that this helpless
idiot does not represent that class of mental
defectives which, is most dangerous to society.
It is the high-grade imbecile and the moron
that constitute the real menace to the com
munity. In the case of these high-grade de
fectives diagnosis was formerly difficult and
uncertain. It depended to a great extent on
the subjective standard of the examiner. For
instance, there was no segregation of these
cases in the schools, for no child who could
learn to read and writo was regraded as
feeble-minded. "Stupid," "dull" or "stubborn"
they might be called, but they were not recog
nized as definitely defective, because there
was no standardized scale of mental develop
ment by which they could be measured.
Rinet and Simon, two French psychologists,
undertook to standardize a scalo of tests
whereby the mental ago of an individual might
be objectively determined with some degree of
precision, just as his height and weight have
been determined for a long time. Other psy
chologists have submitted tests for the detec
tion of feeblemindedness, but. the Binet-Simon
scale is most widely accepted and is the one
we use in the Clearing House. By means of
this scale we can tell not only that a child Is
defective, but also approximately HOW iIa
fective he is?for example, whether he has
developed to the ago of three years, seven
I)r. Max (iustav Schlapp, l'rotessor of Neuropathology, Post Graduate
School and Hospital, New York, and Director of the Clearing Houso
for Mental Defectives.
years or ten years, etc. In scores of cases
that come to the Clearing House it would bo
difficult to tell the place of an individual in
the scale of mentality without these tests.
Examinations at the Clearing House begin at
10 o'clock in tho- morning. The examiner
comes into tho clinic, where the patients,
most of them children, sit with their shawled
mothers, waiting. Each has a little ticket
which tells his number, and he waits his turn.
Nearly every ono has also a letter from or is
accompanied by a teacher, a nurse, a social
worker or a probation officer.
The attitude of the patient toward the ex
amination makes all the difference in the
world. The idea that an ordeal is at hand must
be dispelled. The examiner speaks cheerfully
to the patient, calling him or her by name, and
inviting him in to "see some pictures," "play
6omo games," or what not. It is surprising
how well this works, especially with the chil
dren. It is only tho exceptional patient who
resists, weeps, and refuses to be reassured.
Almost always he follows tho examiner read
ily into the little room where the test is to be
made, for tho feebleminded aro singularly
credulous and confiding.
The name and address of tho patient, with
his clinical number, are all ascertained from
the card which ha gets when he enters the
clinic. The examination begins with a ques
tion as to his birthday, and how old he is.
NText he is asked about his school training;
does he go to school? If so, where? If not,
did he so to school at one time, and for how
long? Did he go to school in Europe, etc.
This information la necessary for a proper
e&timute of the patient's pertormance In the
tests. An Italian woman of thirty, who has
never gone to school in her life, will react dif
ferently from an American child of twelve,
who is at present In school, even though they
may bo at the same stage of mental develop
After these facts have been ascertained,
either from the patient or those who accom
pany him, there is no stereotyped method of
procedure. Almost every case requires a
slightly different manner of approach. A
feebleminded man twenty-five years old is apt
to tly into a temper if the examiner, estimat
ing his mental age at four years, starts off
with the question, "Are you a man or a
woman?" Tha retarded child of eleven years
collapses in discouragement if the first task
set for him is .to put dissected bentences to
After long experience, however, one attains
an extraordinary degree of facility In estimat
ing a patient and In quickly deciding which
questions aro most suitable as an approach
to his case. Thus the actual order of tho
questions and tests cannot be stereotyped, but
the questions themselves are always exactly
the same, for the form of each question has
been standardized as well as the answer to it,
and the time in -which tho reply is to be g^ven!
J 2 3 <f 5 6 7 8 9 10 II 12 15 M 15 16 17 18 19 20 Vr?
Dr. Schlapp'a Chart, Showing the Ages of 1,000 Mentally De
ficient Children Brought to the Clearing House by Parents and
from Public and Private Schools. It Will Be Seen That
the Periods of Pu
bcrty and Adole
scence Reveal the
Highest Percentage
of Mental Deficien
cy?350 in Every
1,000; Ages, too.
When Public School
Attendance Is Com
pulsory, and When
Moral Delinquency
Ib Mont Apt to
Manifest Itself.
When a test Is passed successfully, tbe ?*'
aminer marks it plus (+); vhen tha P*
falls In a test the examiner marks it
(?). When t- o patient makes a mistake no
indication of this fact is given him. He 13
encouraged to feel that he's meeting with un
qualified success. Tne examiner keeps going
forward into the more difficult tests till the
patient has failed in all the tests for a given
year; he keeps going backward into the easy
tests till the patient has successfully answered
all the questions in a given age. Tho mental
age is then determined by beginning: with the
age where all answers arc correct, and adding
a year of menial age for every five pluses bo
yond that age.
On the back of the Blnet blank the examiner
records a summary of tho oa$a. noting the
mood of the paMent, whether ho is frightened,
amiable, apathetic, or interested, speech de
fects, and any peculiarities o! reaction that
may be noteworthy. This summary is taken
into account when the physician estimates
the Blnet test as an aid in his diagnosis.
The most difficult cases are those of the
feebleminded adult3, particularly the foreign
adults. They are sometimes inclined to take
a gloomy view of the situation, to be resent
ful, feeling that they are suspected of being
"crazy." These have to be handlea carefully
if any results of value a?-e to ba obtained.
But the majority of feebleminded patients,
both children end adults, are quite docile, and
co operate readily In tns te?ts.
Our purpose Is to register every mental
defective in New York. W? hope to this end
to inaugurate and carry out the system of
finger prints, not with any idea of stamping
the patient as ev?n a potential criminal, but
as establishing the absolute identity of the In
dividual with his reccrii in tha Clearing House.
After the mental age has been established by
the Blnet Test, a member of the r.edical staff,
all trained neurologists makes a thorough ex
amination which includes the family history as
far back as tho patient's parents can possibly
recall, a personal history cf the patient and a
thorough physical examination. With all this
data In mind, a diagnosis is made and a course
of treatment decided upon, if Id ?my way
medical care can Improve the general "condi
tion of the patient. If it is a clear ca.Be of
amentia, for which nothing but Institutional
care can avail, tho one moat fitted to tho degree
of feeblemindedness Is selected and recom
mended to the patient's parents and guardians.
Scientific Evidence of Thought T ransference or
"Mental Telepathy"?
Bj Prof. Sir Oliver Lodge, F.R.S., D.Sc.,
President of the British Association for the
Advancement of Science.
uIf j/a expect not the unexpected ye shall not
find truth."? Hcraclitus.
IN a recent nrticlo I spoke of the question
"whether consciousness apart from brain
has any meaning" as the fundamental Issue.
But this Important and profoundly difficult
question is not the immediate phenomenon that
the Society for Psychical Research has been
investigating, is the phenomenon under
discussion. The possible existence of con
pciousnefs apart from brain (however obvi
ously consciousness requires brain to manifest
itself here and now) is not a phenomenon at
all, but h. hypothesis?one that 1 spoke of as
eminent!? debatable, though 1 admitted that it
was the forking hypothesis to which I have
been xnysMf led by long continued study of
n considerable range of obscure psychical facts.
Such a hypothesis does not rest solely on the
occurrence Of simple telepathy, on which the
present discussion hinges; It Is sustained by a
good deal more.
The experimentally observed fact Imme
diately under consideration Is the transference
*>'. iho.ught or mental Impression between a few
living people, i e., between such ns have the
faculty sufficiently developed, without the uss
oi their normal sense organs, the conditions
cl transfer being not yet known. But what the
explanation of this fe.et may be is an open ques
1.1:1. !; may possibly be due to br-ln waves,
er some kind of syntonic material o ethereal
< onueciion between brains; for, though I think
taat unlikely, it is what fonio people have sug
gested and provisionally hold, finding in It an
obvious analogy with wireless telegraphy; and
i; that can be proved to be the explanation no
question of conscl usnesa apart from brain
ccrtd arise, 1. e., no such hypothesis would in
that ca.;e be necessary to account for simple
The process would then take Its place a3 an
extension of, or addition to tho already known
^j^thocis of transmitting thought?speech, writ
;:jg, gesture, code tignalling, etc. Some of
tbesa methods would seem mysterious to a
lavage. Just ad telepathy may seem mysterious
to ua so long as we are unacquainted with the
:..echanis:n of the process. On anything b?v
yond affirming the bare fact I have been care
ful not to dogmatize, though I myself a:n in
clined to maintajn 'hat telepathy i? not a
physical process, pan passu with the other ot
long known methods of communication, but
a sign or incipient outcome of a faculty auo
a method essentially different.
As to evidence of the existence of such a
faculty, if a record is wanted, it is contained
in a mass of papers published in the Proceed
ings of the Society for Psychical Research, for
? serves as the hypothetical and most nearly
or'hodox explanation of a multipilleity of <>he
tomena which without it would be even morn
mysterious; it Is the minimum hypothesis,
which we feel bound to stretch to the utmost
before going beyond it. If, however, direct
first-hand laboratory experience of the rudi
mentary stages of such a faculty is wanted?
as it ought to be?it must be looked and
waited for, and experiments must be tried from
time to time, as in any other chance <~* success
is likely to occur if observers are patient,
though it is not always at hand, and my expe
rience shows that sooner or later sufficiently
sensitive or capable recipients?persons with
adequate receptivity?will be found. Perhaps
they are commoner than we think, because
the test is so seldom applied. I have now an
apparatus set up for examining whether traccs
of the faculty exist widespread in normal peo
ple. and 1 shall make report to the Society for
Psychical Research in due course.
Hut. whether incipiently widespread or not.
and however it be explained, the faculty of
telepathic receptivity certainly exists in a few
people, though even in them it is by no means
always and under all circumstances available.
In that respect it differs from an inorganic
property like radio-activity?though that, too,
appears limited to a few substances and is not
conspicuous or widespread.
The Society for Psychical Research has dona
more in the way of detecting fraud than any
single person; partly, no doubt, by reason of
Us wide experience; but it has also had a large
experience of genuine phenomena, and by ap
plication of the comparatively simple principle
of telepathy to cases whore its application is
not superficially obvious and where any other
explanation involves a greater departure from
normality it has done a good deal to mitigate
superstition, to give a rational explanation of
at least one kind of so-called ghost, and gen
erally to induce a sane and softer treatment of
n number of uncommon but genuine expe
J iences.
It is sometimes said?Sir Br.van Donkin
eitho: says or clearly implios?that the existence
of telepathy would contradict established
knowledge. If that were true, it wouid indeed
br: an absurdity, but telepathy does nothing
of tiie kind; it enlarges and expands, it opens
up a new chapter, but it dees not contradict.
By psychical research our knowledge of fact is
supplemented, but in no other way changed.
The unwelcome facia will i;t into the coherent
scheme of science in due course, and will dis
place nothing already there, though they will
remove some mistaken accretions ? tiie begin
nings of a prematiffre fence or boundary. If
biologists have formulated for themselves a
theory that a material mode of access is the
only access to mind, and material methods the
only possible means of psychic intercommu
nion, that theory, weil founded as it is on the
positive side, may have to give way on the
negative side and the word only be eliminated
from the statement before it is true.
Subject to correction by further experience,
1 am ready provisionally to agree that possibly
the only way in which mind can act on in
organic matter is through or by the aid of the
brain nerve and muscle system of some living
animal, and. conversely, that the material uni
verse acts, and perhaps only can act, on mind
by an inverse process through the sense or
gans of a living person. At any rate, there Is
sreat uniformity of experience in support of
A New Portrait of Sir Oliver Lodge.
these commonplace theses. Hut if 1 aiu asked
the totally dift?:rent qucBtlon whether it Is
likely that mind c;;u ever directly act on ruind
without any material concomitant or interven
tion, I should hav?. to say that I know no fact
against it, and should wish to bo 3imply agnoa
tic on tho subject were it not for tho telopathlo
evidence which In rrceent times has come to
our knowledge. And even then?for any inter
pretation or demonstration, for any manifesta
tion of tho occurronce?a physiological system
of brain nerve and muscle must still be util
ized, since this is the essential condition, by
which wo can obtain a record of the fact or
convoy knowledge of it to the world. I said
this more briefly, but I thought clearly enough.
in my former article.
I know that it annoyB most scientists to see
the word "discovery" used of a thing which
to them seems impossible, namely, the direct
intercommunication between mind and mind,
apart from the operation of normal and recog
nized sense organs. But I know what the word
"discovery" means in science, and I take full
responsibility for its use iu this connection.
1 will, for their edification and amusement,
gibbet myself further, so I go out of my way
to say that I nuite expect that the process
which we call telepathy, whose laws I should
be glad to understand, will be found applicable
to, and will so to speak explain, or at any rate
be closely connected with, those long-testified
to aEd frequently encountered experience which
simulate, and perhaps in some rare cases truly
represent, communications from another order
of mental existence which is normally disso
ciated frotn ordinary matter.
To flum up. Any one who limits his range of
inquiry to the general categories of already
acquired knowledge has a sufficiently rich and
extensivo field, and, by surrounding himself
with a definite boundary, is in a very strong
position. Entrenched in such a fortress, Sir
Ray Lankoster and those who think with him
look with pitying eyes on us, who, after some
exploration inside, have ventured outside the
walla, and they regard with contempt any
assertions as to what lies beyond the pale.
They are like the orthodox mariners of old who
limited themselves to the shores of the Medi
terranean. cruising round Its coasts and grad
ually becoming familiar with every port. The
world as known to the ancients was their do
main. and it was impious to sail out through
the Pillars of Hercules Into the ocean beyond.
Venturesome explorers who transgressed those
limits and from time to time returned with
legends of times and other unusual phenomena
were doubtless received with disapprobation
and incredulity, still more so if they ventured
to deduce the possible existence of a new con
tinent, which as yet confessedly they bad not
reached, from evidences derived from drifting
logs and a Sargasso Sea.
That is my view of the position, and. unless
we strangely limit the possibilities of progress
before the human race in tho aeons of the
future, surely tho most advanced and modern
man of science must admit, In a lucid interval,
that posterity will regard him as one of tho
ancients, as one, too, perhaps, who is patheti
cally struggling amid a welter of ignorance to
hold fast to his traditions, to secure himself in
his fertile little oasis of materialistic knuw
edfie, to defend It against the hosts of barba
rians, and to resist the unwelcome incursion
of even friendly messengers from alien and
distant lands.
Meanwhile, wo are accused of lying, of mega
lomania, of foliy and of madness. I-?et It be ao.
I for one am in no hurry. I am not sorry that
the present state of ignorance and prejudice
surrounding this subject in the minds of! a
large number of scientific men in tho year 1913
should be put on record, lamentable though it
be, else posterity, familiar with a mass of
developed knowledge, will hardly credit the
curious obstruction which pioneers in this do
main still have to encounter. Secure in the
progress of the human race, we shall bide our
time, -cultivate our gardons and pass on befor*
any wealth of fruits can be gathered In.

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