The ætiological factors and associated conditions assigned in the direct admissions are set out in Table B7, but it is often doubtful if there is any real relationship between these untoward circumstances in a person's life and the development of the mental disorder from which he suffers. I fear that many of those so-called factors must be taken as the uncritical retrospections of friends searching for an excuse for, rather than for the cause of the illness. When full information can be obtained in regard to the personality of those who ultimately become insane, and of their reactions to ordinary prevailing conditions, it is found that in not a few the process of mental dissolution had begun long before the assigned factors had become operative. There had been, possibly for many years, signs, of which the importance was not appreciated, of that innate mental instability which, in the great majority of cases, is the condition out of which definite mental disorder more or less slowly evolves. The systematic study of the indications of this instability in children affords scope for investigation which may prove of great service to the community. There are, I believe, reasonable grounds for hoping that a good deal may be done towards the prevention of insanity by recognising the true meaning of the selfish, the vain, the passionate, the suspicious, the untruthful, the hypersensitive, the timid, the cruel, the aggressive child, and by imposing wise measures of direction and discipline when the mind is still mouldable. It is not enough if the criterion of mental efficiency be a purely intellectual one. The brain faults which most surely lead to wreck of mind are those which reveal themselves in what we speak of as character. There seems to be more reason to expect a diminution in the incidence of insanity from the careful character training of the unstable child than can be claimed for any of the suggested methods of restricting parentage to a set of persons whom some sapient authority may select as being fit for that function. What is known of the laws of heredity would not help much in the selection of parents. It is true that in 424 per cent. of our total admissions last year a neuropathic inheritance was ascertained, and it is generally admitted that in about 50 per cent. of all cases of mental disorder heredity is a causative factor. We find, however, that from the same families come so many men and women of the highest capacity that our national life is fully compensated for the failure of the few.”
Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.