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The Evil of Irresponsible Criticism

Extract

Perusing certain remarks made recently by a Mr. Berdoe in a lay paper, anent a therapeutic enquiry by Dr. Berkley at the City Asylum, Baltimore, and weighing these after a consideration of criticisms to be found in the British Medical Journal of September 18th and September 25th last, the thoughtful ratepayer—especially of the Metropolis, where Mr. Berdoe's superfluous energies find a vent—may well pray to be saved from his friends. Everywhere, and especially, probably, in the Metropolis, any painstaking investigation having for its object the determination of means whereby mental disorders may be arrested before they pass into the interminable night of chronic dementia, would be cordially approved of by those who contribute to the maintenance of county asylums, which look to become vast hostelries for the incurable in mind. Dr. Berkley records in the Bulletin of the Johns Hopkins Hospital for July, 1897, the results of the administration of thyroid extract in cases that “had either passed, or were about to pass, the limit of time in which recovery could be confidently expected.” We need not here describe Dr. Berkley's work, of which our readers can judge in the original. We content ourselves with the observation that it is the record of the trial of a medicinal agent, carried out scientifically, and for the benefit of the patient. To Mr. Berdoe, however, it appears that Dr. Berkley's work was “a study of poisoning, as a poison might be tested on an animal.” Viewing the matter in this lurid light, Mr. Berdoe felt forcibly that the interests of the public were in jeopardy, and, thus agitated in mind, was constrained to seek out a sympathetic confidant, whom he found in the Daily Chronicle. The “up-to-date” and democratic organ upon which Mr. Berdoe's choice fell was far too astute to miss the opportunity of heading a letter “Experiments on Lunatics;” and consequently we find his feelings concentrated under that harrowing title in an issue of the above newspaper. Those members of the profession who may have seen his letter, though it may be denied them to gauge the intensity of Mr. Berdoe's feelings, will not fail correctly to estimate his action in this matter. They cannot but regret that he should have condescended, not merely to have addressed his strictures upon a medical colleague to a lay organ, but further—to quote from our medical contemporary above-mentioned—to have made statements which “are not accurate,” and to have given “a very unfair version of the facts.”

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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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The Evil of Irresponsible Criticism

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