Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/758

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

enthusiasm of reformed inebriates also suggests a short life and early oblivion, of which every temperance and church movement for this end furnishes many illustrations.

There can be no doubt of the fact that a certain number of inebriates are restored by each and all these various methods of cure, and a certain other number, always in the great majority, are made worse and more incurable and degenerate by the failures of such means. But, above the mere curing of a certain number of cases, a great psychological movement is stimulated, and a wider conception of the evil follows of permanent value. The inebriety specifics are epidemics of empiricism that will pass away soon, but they will rouse public sentiment and bring out the facts more prominently as to the disease of inebriety and its curability. This second stage of this truth resembles the "squatter period" of every new Territory a stage of occupation by squatters, fortune-hunters, and irregulars of every description, who rouse great expectations, build canvas towns, making a show of permanent settlement, and attract crowds of credulous followers, only to prey on them. These persons always disappear when the real settlers come. They never develop any lands or discover any new resources, but prepare the way and concentrate public attention for the final occupation. The specific vaunter of to-day is the squatter settler, who will soon disappear, and be followed by the real settler and the scientists.

Inebriety, its causes and possible remedies, are a vast, unknown territory, the boundary lines of which have been scarcely crossed. The facts are so numerous and complex, and governed by conditions that are so largely unknown, that dogmatism is ignorance and positive assertions childishness.

The recognition of disease is only recently confirmed by the accumulation of scientific facts, although asserted and defended for a thousand years as a theory. The realm of causation is still invested with moral theories, and moral remedies have been used in the same way for a thousand years. While science has pointed out a few facts and possible laws of causation, and indicated certain general lines of treatment, it gives no support to the possibility of any specific remedy that will act on an unknown condition in some unknown way. Inebriety is literally an insanity of the border-line type, and a general condition of central brain defect, unknown, and at present beyond the power of any combination of drugs. To the scientists, all this confusion of theory and empiricism hides the real movement, and is in itself unmistakable evidence that somewhere in the future the entire subject will be known, not as a statement or theory, but as scientific truths established on scientific evidence beyond all doubt.