In the present number we publish an interesting article by Dr. Ira Van Giesen, Superintendent of the Pathological Institute of the Commission in Lunacy of the State of New York, upon the above subject. The necessity for a many-sided, comprehensive study of insanity is earnestly represented by Dr. Van Giesen. It is very much to the credit of the New York State Lunacy Commission that it has recognised the importance of the collaboration of skilled workers in various departments of science for the elucidation of the problems of mental and nervous disorders, and has established an adequately equipped institute where the work can be efficiently carried on. Each department of the institute is in charge of a trained investigator, and the whole is under the supervision of a Director. We question very much whether the like of this institute is to be found on the Continent—we refer, of course, only to the special department of work with which it is concerned. As for our own country, it may confidently be stated that we have nothing to compare with it. In London and Edinburgh the pathological laboratories in connection with the asylums are within easy reach of the great hospitals, where correlated branches of work are in vigorous existence; but this is a very different thing from having the several departments in association at a single scientific centre, in charge of officials working under one authority. Several inconveniences must attach to this dissociation of branches of work. Nevertheless we recognise the propriety of an attitude of grateful appreciation in respect to these departures. They certainly constitute a long step in advance of the condition of things obtaining elsewhere in the kingdom. Elsewhere local authorities have provided a mortuary in connection with their asylums, and of late we believe that a room “for the finer histological work”—a phrase somewhat familiar in official reports—has in many instances been added thereto. Immured therein the pathologist too often finds himself in need of the sympathy of workers in the sister sciences. Problems arise upon which he would fain have the light of bacteriology, of physiological chemistry, of animal experimentation, and his work must frequently remain stunted for the lack thereof. Such an institute as that now referred to is doubtless a costly undertaking, and could scarcely be expected from any local authorities in this country but the most wealthy, or from combination of the less wealthy. We anticipate that the Hospital for Acute Cases in the West Riding of Yorkshire will be opened shortly, and if, as we believe, there are to be in connection therewith various departments of investigation, this may perhaps with justice be described as the first step in this country in the direction of the ideal institute. Such a departure cannot fail to be watched with the greatest interest by those engaged in the treatment of mental diseases.
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