This is a study not merely of the effects of alcohol, whether as manifested in inebriety or when taken for experimental purposes, but of the intoxication impulse generally. The author believes there is a danger of regarding natural phenomena too readily as abnormal. He considers that the methods used by many who have been inspired by Lombroso illustrate this, and remarks that the conclusion of Nordau that all society is pathological is the logical result of an indiscriminate search for abnormalities. Thus we must beware of too hastily regarding the intoxication impulse as abnormal. It has played a part of the first importance both among uncivilised and civilised peoples. “Indeed, it is hard to imagine what the religious or social consciousness of primitive man would have been without them [intoxicants].” The first part of the paper is devoted to an account of the part played by this impulse in the religious and social life of early civilisations. This is followed by an analysis of the state of intoxication, accounts of experiments with intoxicating doses of alcohol, and observations on a series of inebriates. The authors experiments show that in intoxication, unless well advanced, the rapidity of simple mental processes is not decreased. The rapidity of tapping was most affected. Ability to control a reflex wink was greatly increased. There is increased activity of the associations, emotions, and sensations which make up the self. The increase of self-confidence and the diminution of suspicion are important points in their social bearing. “The intimate relation of intoxication to the social impulse undoubtedly accounts—in part at least—for the widespread and persistent use of intoxicants. Doubtless it made possible wider social relations than could otherwise have been maintained.”
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