Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 30.djvu/121

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108
INEBRIATE MANIACS.

INEBRIATE MANIACS.
By T. D. CROTHERS, M. D.

PSYCHOLOGISTS and students of mental science have long been aware of the presence of a new division of the army of the insane, a division which is steadily increasing, more mysterious and obscure than the ordinary insane, and constituting a new realm of the most fascinating physiological and psychological interest. It consists of the alcoholic, opium, chloral, ether, and chloroform inebriates. They appear in law courts, as both principals and associates in all degrees of crime, and are called drunkards, tramps, and dangerous classes. In conduct, character, and motive, they constantly display many prominent symptoms of insanity, such as manias, delusions, deliriums, and imbecilities. Yet public opinion refuses to recognize these symptoms, because they are associated with intervals of apparent sanity in act and conduct. Clergymen and moralists teach that these cases are simply moral disorders, growing out of "a heart deceitful and desperately wicked," and only remedied by moral and legal measures. Scientists, who study the history and progress of these cases, find that they are diseases, following a regular line of march, from definite causes, on through certain stages of growth, development, and decline, the same as in other maladies.

Many theories are urged to explain the presence of this army of inebriates; one of which asserts that inebriety is evidence of the moral failure of the age, of the increasing wickedness of the times, of the triumphs of the growth of evil over the good, etc. Another theory assumes that the great increase in the manufacture of all forms of alcohol and other drugs, and the facility with which they are procured, will fully explain the presence of this class. A third theory considers them the defective, worn-out victims of this crushing, grinding civilization; the outgrowths of bad inheritance, bad living, and the unfit generally, who are slowly or rapidly being thrown out of the struggle. A fourth view regards them as simply coming into prominence, through the great advances in the physiology and pathology of the brain and nervous system, in which the physical character of these cases is recognized.

Inebriate maniacs have been called "border-land" lunatics, meaning persons who move up and down on the border-line between sanity and insanity, and, when studied closely, divide naturally into many classes. One of these classes, which in most cases represents extreme chronic stages, appears prominently in the daily press, in reports of criminal assaults and murders. When the genesis of the crime and the so-called criminal are studied, unmistakable symptoms of mental