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Jotes and Comment.

The MEDICO-PSYCHOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF Paris.-At the opening of the sitting of the Society on the 25th of November, 1918, M. Colin, President, in an eloquent address made reference to the critical period through which the nation had recently passed. To strangers, familiar only with the boulevards of Paris, France had appeared to be a decadent country, but this appreciation showed a profound ignorance of the true spirit of France. France did not require to be rehabilitated; France had continued to be, even after 1870, the “ soldier of the ideal," while Germany was brutally preparing its later aggression. Just as earlier, after the first empire, France had tended to exalt Germany as the home of poetry and good feeling, after 1870 it tended to exalt Germany as the model of efficiency. Against both these tendencies the President warned his audience, for German hatred of France is far from being extinguished. Suitable references were made to the losses sustained by the Society during the war, and with considerable emotion the President referred to the fact that the Secretary of the Association, M. Ritti, was a native of Strasbourg.

After sending messages to similar societies in the allied countries, on the motion of M. Semelaigne the Society adopted the following resolution: “ The Medico-Psychological Society declares that even after Germany shall be again admitted into the ranks of civilized nations, the Society will abstain from every relation with German scientists who shall not have publicly admitted and disavowed the crimes committed by their compatriots in the course of this war."

In proposing this motion the speaker referred to the document prepared by the scientists of Lille, presenting to the Institute of France and other bodies the records of the atrocities, which they themselves had witnessed. The Academy of Medicine on receipt of this report had decided to postpone all collaboration with German scientists until they had publicly disapproved of the atrocities committed by their government during the war. The scientists of Lille especially emphasized the fact that the infamous acts committed by the Germans were not to be considered merely due to the government, but were carried out with the hearty cooperation of the individual soldier, not necessarily the professional soldiers but men recently drawn from civil life. “Those responsible for the policies of Germany have willed this war, but the people in arms have approved it and have carried it out with measures of ferocious cruelty, without scruples of conscience, without any movements of indignation.”

THE DEFECTIVE, THE SURGEON AND THE LAW.-Not so long ago a wave of “ Efficiency" swept over our country, and was accepted and adopted with characteristic celerity by all classes and kinds of men. Its origin lay in rapid evolution of large enterprise, in the centralization of commerce in busy marts and in concentration and specialization of mechanical skill in enormous factories. It was based upon a theory of the subdivision of labor, and it looked to the perfection of automatic action in the individual, that some small part of each fabrication might be his contribution to an intricate and expansive mechanism. It was not a new idea, but an old one carried to an extreme degree, for society is naturally an assembly of different human characteristics, each one assisting in the “silent and concealed work of centralization." Guizot (History of Civilization in Europe) attributes the beginnings of this centripetal force to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when man began to advance “the execution of a plan which he has not himself conceived, or which, perhaps, he does not even understand.” But Guizot accredited man as an “intelligent and free artificer," an assumption alien to the philosophy of the modern apostle of Efficiency. And his illustration was singularly apt in its application to the theory of this later day: “Conceive a great machine, of which the idea resides in a single mind, and of which the different pieces are confided to different workmen, who are scattered, and are strangers to one another; none of them knowing the work as a whole, or the definitive and general result to which it concurs, yet each executing with intelligence and liberty, by rational and voluntary acts, that of which he has charge."

From the shop and the forge the doctrine of Efficiency invaded the university, and old and honored curricula yielded to a system of intellectual training which aimed to perfect certain attributes of the mind at the expense of others. The classics, the humanities, the lessons of history, of philosophy and of art-all that contribute to broad culture, the allurements of life and the beauties of this world—were thrust aside in a mad rush for the " practical."

a The final step in this evolutionary system, not content with perfecting the individual of the present, sought to purge the future of inferior beings. The philosophy of Eugenics afforded an opportunity to project the doctrine of Efficiency for the benefit of coming generations, and laws were enacted in several states of the Union, looking to the prevention of procreation by the sterilization of the unfit.

These statutes generally authorized commissions, as in New York (1912), for instance, "To examine into the mental and physical condition and the record and family history of the feebleminded, epileptic, criminals and other defectives confined as inmates in the several state hospitals for the insane, state prisons, reformatories, and charitable and penal institutions of the state, and if, in the judgment of the majority of said board, procreation by any such person would produce children with an inherited tendency to crime, insanity, feeble-mindedness, idiocy, or imbecility and that there is no probability that the condition of any such person will improve to such an extent as to render procreation by any such person advisable, or if the physical or mental condition of such person will be substantially improved thereby, that then the board shall appoint one of its own members to perform such operation for the prevention of procreation as shall be decided by said board to be most effective."

In order to test this law, a husky male inmate of the Rome State Custodial Asylum for Feeble-Minded was selected and the operation of vasectomy was prescribed for him. The proposed victim was 22 years of age with mental development of a child of eight. Appropriate legal procedure was taken to bring the case before the Supreme Court of the state, and testimony was taken.

Dr. Bernstein, superintendent of the institution, stated that he was not in favor of the operation, and did not know of a case in the 1300 in his care upon whom it would be desirable to operate ; " that it would not help the boy, and it would not help society." He asserted that the boy would need just as much care after the operation as before, and emphasized the need by the present generation of protection from the frightening and raping of girls just as well as the possible and problematical relief of the next from delinquents.

Dr. Fernald, superintendent of the Massachusetts School for Feeble-Minded, testified “That he had never seen an authorized medical statement based upon the actual facts which would justify claims made for the results in Indiana where such a law is in operation ; that the operation of vasectomy does not in the slightest interfere with the physical act of sexual intercourse; that illicit intercourse would result, and the effect thereof would be the exchanging of the burden of feeble-minded for the burden of sex immorality or sex diseases and of insanity resulting in that condition which would be quite as serious."

Mr. Justice Rudd, in delivering his opinion, touched cleverly upon the eugenic, moral, social and economic questions involved in the case.

The law of heredity cited by Dr. Bernstein, “ We are taught that the dominant traits appear in three-quarters of the offspring, and recessive traits appear in one-quarter, when the parentage is mixed as regards traits; that it is only in cases of feeblemindedness of both parents that you would look generally for an increase of feeble-mindedness among offspring," was interpreted by the court in the following terse epigram: “In other words, that when one parent is feeble-minded and the other of normal mental capacity, the tendency is recessive, that is, toward the normal"; the expert's conclusions were further accepted that "vasectomy would not change any of the criminal tendencies of the feeble-minded at all; it would only eliminate the one element of procreation ; . . . . would tend to create a class of people who would .. .. go back to promiscuous sexual relations .... and that such illicit intercourse is a promoter of disease and general demoralization."

The laws of Eugenics, so far as they are known, deal with generalizations ; “ with the inheritance of traits; with changes in

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