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The Evil of Unrestricted Zeal

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But, while we condemn libel on a professional brother, while we protest, alike in the interests of humanity and of our profession, against any stupid effort to excite prejudice against the proper use of new methods, we would denounce any real “experiment” upon lunatics unhesitatingly. It is not too much to say that such a procedure would be cowardly, immoral and infamous. On similar grounds we are inclined to condemn the practice of pressing into the service of science criminals under sentence of death. This has, however, been occasionally carried out. Thus Küchenmeister gave twenty cysticerci cellulosó, on two occasions, to a criminal; and it is recorded that “afterwards” nineteen tapeworms were found in his intestines; and thus the converse of feeding pigs with the proglottides of the tænia was experimentally manifest. It appears to have been reserved for a Viennese specialist to make what is probably the first experiment upon an insane person, and we record the fact with regret and reprobation. Those members of the Association who attended the Moscow Congress, and who heard the discourse of Krafft-Ebing on general paralysis, may be already aware of the circumstances; for we gather from an account of the proceedings of the Congress (as they related to Psychiatry) which appears in our French contemporary, Annales Médico-Psychologiques (Nov.-Dec., 1897), that this address made mention of the experiment alluded to. The announcement, it is stated, caused considerable surprise and emotion, as we can readily believe. It would appear that a certain specialist in Vienna, whose name is not disclosed, being desirous of throwing light upon the question of the relationship between syphilis and general paralysis, conceived the idea of inoculating with the former disease nine general paralytics taken at random from his clinique. Of these six remained free from syphilis, but three contracted it, the conclusion being that syphilis was not the cause of the general paralysis in these latter cases. The moral laxity which permitted this shameful indulgence of scientific curiosity was justly censured by the public Press. The Deutsches Volksblatt of August last has an article upon the subject entitled “Human beings in place of rabbits for experimental purposes.” The enemy have indeed had occasion to blaspheme.

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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 Unrestricted Zeal

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