It is not surprising that weakmindedness should be common amongst the habitual frequenters of prison, but the proportion of those who become certifiably insane is small. How very few are there of our ordinary asylum patients who come from the slums, or at least the criminal class. Is it that, in these less cultured individuals, crime and alcoholic excess take the place of insanity, each of them being a signpost marking distinct paths of degeneration, or does insanity exist, but is not recognisable as such? The unavoidable importance placed upon conduct in determining insanity amid the ordinary respectable conditions of life may prove misleading in the case of those in whom what is commonly called bad conduct is a normal condition. A distinguished alienist tells how he was once called to see a lady, and on being introduced to her she spat in his face. Without more ado he sat down and certified her. It may be that many amongst the criminal classes suffer from there being no possible obverse to this picture. I have seen men sent into an asylum suffering from delusions of long standing whose condition never caused their friends a serious thought till some Monday morning they refused to go to work, and before next pay-day they were certified. I have seen men sent to prison for habitual failure to support their wives or for neglect of their children where there seemed to be distinct mental enfeeblement, not certifiably obtrusive like a delusion, but in the particular circumstances as potent a factor in the lapse of conduct.
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