Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 25.djvu/585

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571
POPULAR MISCELLANY.

to fortify himself with antidotes. He may also be hung to a flexible rod by hooks stuck in his ribs, or by his thumbs and toes, and kept awake for a week at a time. After this course, he is permitted to assist his master by beating the drum around the sick man's hammock, and howling to drive away the evil spirits. His final trial is the drinking of a decoction of carrion and tobacco-juice, after which he is regarded as fully qualified to work upon the fears of the tribe, and extort from them all the service and tithes and tribute, and levy all the black-mail his victims can be forced to pay. As for medical treatment, there is none of it, not even the herb-doctoring; and this constitutes the chief advantage of the system.

 

Treatment for Inebriate Patients.—At the last meeting of the American Social Science Association, T. D. Crothers, M. D., read a paper in which he stated that, by a strange shifting of events, insanity, which was supposed to be a spiritual affection until a comparatively recent date, is now studied as a physical disorder; while, inebriety, which was regarded as a disease twenty centuries ago, is still invested with the superstition of a spiritual origin. If it were a moral disorder, it would diminish with the growth of morality and intelligence, but, notwithstanding the advance in these directions, it is rapidly increasing. The revenue returns for twenty years bring out this fact clearly. In 1862 the revenue collected from liquors was six millions; in 1882 it had reached eighty-six millions, an increase far beyond that of the population; yet this does not indicate the enormous increase in sales by the local dealer, of which there are no records. The law assumes the correctness of the theological theory of inebriety, which affirms it to be a vice. The remedy, of course, is punishment by fine and imprisonment, which never cures or prevents drinking, but, on the contrary, weakens and enfeebles the victim, rendering him less curable. Very much in the same way, the punishment of insanity and witchcraft always made its victim worse. The hygienic influences of jails and prisons are wanting in every respect, and adverse to any general healthy growth of body and mind. The only compensation to the inebriate is the removal of alcohol, and the state, in doing this, most terribly unfits him, and makes him more helpless for the future. The hereditary nature of many cases of inebriety is well established. It is estimated that over sixty per cent of all inebriates inherit a defective brain and nerve organization. Moderate drinking always leaves an impress on the next generation. In heredity from inebriety there is transmitted a special nerve defect, which, from certain exciting causes, will always develop into inebriety, or one of its family group of disorders—consumption, insanity, pauperism, criminality, etc. Another form of injury that is obscure, but equally prominent as a cause of inebriety, is mental shock, that is, the effect of sudden grief, alarm, loss, sorrow, or other depressing emotion, which brings on a form of nervous derangement that finds relief in the narcotic effect of alcohol. Children from inebriate, insane, or defective parents require a special education. It is a fact beyond all doubt that the education of to-day, applied irrespective of the natural capacity of the person, and along unphysiological lines, literally destroys and unfits a large class for healthy and rational living. Probably the largest class of inebriates in this country is without means of support. Dr. Crothers recommends that this class should come under legal recognition, and be committed to workhouse hospitals located in the country. These hospitals should be training-schools, in which medical care, occupation, and physical and mental training could be applied for years, or until the inmates had so far recovered as to be able to become good citizens and self-supporting.

 

Old-World Origin of the American Indians.—M. Dabry de Thiersant, a French author, has published a book on the "Origin of the Indians of the New World and of their Civilization," in which he asserts that "everything authorizes the supposition that the New World was peopled, at an epoch difficult to determine, by colonies of the Mongolian race, coming over by way of Behring's Strait or of the Aleutian Islands." They were followed by the immigration of another race which played an important part in the development of American civili-