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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/542

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY,

pression on the offspring. In one instance an exceedingly nervous lady was greatly frightened by an intoxicated soldier. She gave birth to a boy that had all the signs of intoxication. He lived until twelve years of age, was an imbecile, and had all the marks of a person perpetually intoxicated; he staggered, and would scream out from time to time, without cause or reason. Another case is reported where the mother saw her husband stupidly intoxicated for the first time, and gave birth to an imbecile boy, who was stupid and acted as his father did when poisoned with spirits. It is often difficult to trace these peculiar symptoms, which resemble intoxication, to a similar state in one or both parents at the time of conception; but in most cases the probability of such a state is greatly strengthened by general circumstances and various marks of alcoholic defects and deformities. I find myself forced to conclude that these symptoms are inherited as special pathological states, representing the parents at the time of conception. Why they do not occur in all cases is not clear, but the fact is beyond question that children of inebriates bear marks of defective organization of almost infinite degree, form, and variety.

Beyond this range of cases there is another class, less common, yet with a distinct history and symptoms. Unlike the first class, they are persons who have average brain-power, and in many instances are men of genius and positive force, with a peculiar nerve-organization. They are usually temperate men, never using alcohol, yet under certain circumstances, and from some particular excitement, act and appear as if fully intoxicated.

In these cases some form of mental shock takes place, destroying the normal balance and bringing uppermost an inherited neurotic defect. In some instances alcohol can not be tolerated without producing nausea, vomiting, and extreme depression; and yet from some unknown cause, purely mental, they will suddenly exhibit all the usual signs of intoxication, which pass off as quickly as they came on.

These cases come from inebriate parents or moderate drinkers, and have inherited some defective nerve-organization which manifests itself in this way. I have collected a number of these cases and grouped them under two heads—one of inherited toxic states, and the other of acquired toxic states. In the first class the notes and histories I have gathered will serve as an outline for more exhaustive studies, and they also suggest many new fields of psychological heredity not yet explored. The following are histories of some of these cases:

First Case.—Joseph B——, a farmer of fifty-four, temperate, a man of character and wealth, who had never used any kind of spirits, suffered from a violent shock and alarm from a runaway