It seems impossible to resist the conclusion, in view of the latest report of the Commissioners in Lunacy, that the burden of insanity in the United Kingdom is increasing out of all proportion to the increase of the population. When first the scare of increasing lunacy was raised it was met, as was natural and, in some sense, proper, by much expert and official incredulity. Cases were better classified than hitherto; chronic cases were counted again and again, and so on. These views were put forward not only with characteristic caution by such experts as the late Dr. Hack Tuke, but also in a special report issued by the Commission in Lunacy itself. The question arises, how is the difficulty to be coped with from the legal side? The main problem undoubtedly is how to get incipient cases of insanity brought under immediate care and control, and here two desiderata present themselves. In the first place, some means must be found of inducing patients and the friends of patients to invoke curative treatment in time. Cannot the principle of voluntary committal established by the inebriates be utilised? In the second place, cannot the medical profession have greater immunity from harassing legal proceedings guaranteed to it than even sect. 330 of the English Lunacy Act confers? If this latter problem cannot be solved, we shall have to face official certification.
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