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Concerning Habitual Drunkards

Extract

In the Scotsman of January 19th and 23rd are two long communications treating in a very full, clear, and impartial manner of the proposed legislation for the cure and control of habitual drunkards. The writer, speaking of the joint petition of the British Medical and Social Science Associations to Parliament, very properly describes it as altogether wanting in precision, sensational in its philanthropy, as exhibiting a stupendous credulity, and as presenting in various other respects objectionable features which are calculated to defeat its object. From the beginning an evil genius seems to have inspired the advocates of measures to control so-called habitual drunkards; and we cannot call to mind any other cause which has suffered so much from the utterly indiscreet zeal of those who have supported it. Mr Dalrymple, who worked so hard to induce the legislature to grant him an Act, cared only, in collecting and presenting his data, to obtain evidence that was favourable to his views, and ignored all suggestions that did not chime with them. The proposed title of his Bill was as great a blunder as it was possible to make. It was not likely that the House of Commons would pass an Act authorising the locking up of drunkards, but a more discreet person than Mr. Dalrymple, possessed of his zeal and energy, might, perhaps, have induced it to make such an addition to the Lunacy Acts as would have allowed genuine cases of dipsomania to be certified and kept under control for a certain time. Those who have taken up Mr. Dalrymple's mantle seem to have taken up with it his want of knowledge and his want of discretion; for we regret to observe that they are going on his lines, and using the discredited evidence which he used; following which course, they will, though they are calling for a remedy for a real evil, do no good whatever, but advertise their incapacity to deal with the subject.

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The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: -
  • EISSN: 2514-9946
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
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Concerning Habitual Drunkards

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