Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/547

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531
NEW FACTS IN ALCOHOLIC HEREDITY.

exhausted and had all the feelings of one who had just suffered from intoxication. The psychological student will find a rare field of study in the temperance meetings of the day, particularly where they are conducted and addressed by reformed inebriates.

These facts are along the line of every day's observation, and are sustained by many collateral evidences. Beyond this are still further ranges of facts, on the same psychological field, less common and more obscure.

A pathological state has been observed, which I call unconscious imitative inebriety, where persons, from the influence or contagion of the surroundings or some unknown factor, are, to all intents and purposes, intoxicated. Here, as elsewhere, a strong substratum of heredity exists. I present the notes of two cases which were sent me by accurate and very competent observers. One, J. H——, was a lawyer, a delicate, nervous man, employed in the State Department, where a monotonous, exact range of duties had been performed for many years. He was unable to use spirits, from the headache it produced. Although his father was an inebriate, he never could or would drink any form of alcohol. He was a society man, and spent his evenings at the club. For several years past it was noticed that, after an hour or more spent in company of men who were drinking to intoxication, he would take on their condition, and like them become intoxicated. He would be with them hilarious or stupid, and use only coffee moderately, while the others drank wine. Sometimes these states would go so far as to make him stupid and unable to walk, and he would need the assistance of a guide and carriage to get home. The next morning he would have a headache. These occasions were at first infrequent, then grew more common, until at present he can not remain an hour in the company of any friend who is intoxicated without appearing and acting like him. He is called by his friends the "coffee-drunkard," for this reason. He will be as stupid as any of them, and yet use nothing but coffee. He would fall into this state more slowly if strangers were present, and sometimes not at all, depending on some internal force that prevented him from giving way. He affirmed that the sensation was very pleasant, and he did not realize his own condition, but was always conscious of enjoyment, until the party broke up and he went home, when a feeling of misery and disgust came over him. The physician who examined him in these states considered that he was a perfect barometer of the mental surroundings, and that after a certain point he gave himself up to a species of mesmeric influence, making him do anything that the others did.

Second Case.—A wealthy farmer and strong temperance man was elected to Congress. He formed a strong attachment for a