It is not my purpose on the present occasion to relate a series of observations. I merely desire to ask your attention to a field of work hitherto little cultivated, either abroad or in this country, especially the latter. I have not, indeed, come across any account from which it is to be gathered that anthropological methods—which are what I now refer to— have been adopted systematically in any asylum for any length of time, although of late such have been in use in certain asylums of America, and also of Italy. In respect of France and Central Europe I have no certain information; but I have not seen any notice in the journals of the speciality of the employment of these methods in the asylums of those countries. That the grosser stigmata of degeneration have been observed in the course of ordinary clinical work in asylums for some time, we are all aware. It is common to hear at clinical examinations that a particular case has a “narrow” or “sloping” forehead, a “flat” occiput; possibly we are at times more venturesome, and describe the head as “dolico-” or “brachy-cephalic” (our remarks thereby acquiring a certain nuance of scientific gravity). Or perhaps the palate is noted to be “arched” or “Gothic,” “semi-V-shaped” or “semi-saddle-shaped;” or the chin to be “receding;” or, employing a dramatic generalisation, we pronounce the patient to be of a “simian” type. I need not illustrate further, my object being simply to bring to mind the fact that it has for long been thought worth while to record conditions ascribed to imperfections of development. I pass to the representation that if it is worth while to record such conditions at all, it is proper that there should be some system whereby they may bo recorded. There are pathological forms, as you are aware, in many asylums, on which systematic records of autopsies are kept; and if at some future period it is desired to ascertain with what frequency a particular diseased condition occurs, or whether the supposed significance of such condition is real, the accumulated facts are available for consultation. But if one desires to ascertain to what extent it is true that certain anomalies of palate or ear occur in the insane, or that they occur particularly in certain states of mental perversion, one looks in vain for records. and if, haply, observations on the point be forthcoming, what is their scientific value?
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