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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/370

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366
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
closely interrelated guidance of the speech-making function. All three are in closer unity and contiguity than if either were in the opposite side of the skull.

This furnishes the physiologic reason why all attempts at ambidexterity are failures, and unwise.

The chief centers most closely interrelated in writing and thinking are thus demonstrably better harmonized when in one side of the brain. The mechanics of neurology are plainly less difficult than could be achieved by any foolish and unsuccessful ambidexterity. I have never seen anything but bad results from the attempt to train children to use the right hand instead of the left, when there is a decided tendency or habit to be left-handed. Moreover the attempt is never successful. The best consequences are poor, and are only awkward mixtures of the two forms, which yield confusions and indecisions during the entire subsequent life. I could cite many instances in proof, some of them most pathetic, in which disease and life-failure resulted. One that plainly illustrated the neurologic troubles was that of a naturally left-handed friend, A. V. P., who by arduous and continuous training during his childhood was compelled to write with his right hand. For all other acts he is left-handed, but he can not use his left hand for writing. Although now past fifty he has always hated any writing, the mere act of doing so, and he can not do any original thinking while writing. He is for this purpose compelled to rely on a stenographer, and then his ideas flow freely and rapidly. If he tries to think, plan, or devise and to write at the same time there is a positive inhibition of thought and he must make sketches, epitomes, several efforts, copyings, etc., in a painful and most unsatisfactory manner. The attempt at ambidexterity has been a lifelong obstacle to him in his professional progress. The ambidexterity of surgeons, artists, etc., is overpraised, exaggerated, and fallacious. It is of course advisable in exceptional callings and actions to cultivate skill in the more awkward hand, but that is a very different matter from 'ambidexterity.'

All agree that perfect ambidexterity has never existed, despite all training. It is neither possible nor desirable.[1] Sinistrality is no defect and of no disadvantage. That said to exist in criminals, idiots, etc., like many things 'Lombrosal,' is not true, or it is post hoc, etc.

It seems that there is an 'Ambidextral Culture Society' in England which, in default of something to do of use and in accord with nature's indications, wishes to insure that every child at school shall be so drilled in both separate and simultaneous use of the two hands that he shall have the two equally strong, sensitive and skillful. The pitiable victims! The organization might better call itself the society for nullifying the law of the differentiation of function necessary to all progress, for returning to barbarism in the handicrafts, and for lifelong cruelty to the left-handed.

The essential and clarifying thought of the foregoing explanation is that as the writing act now locates the speech-center, although all other acts may be opposite-handed, so the right-hand sign-language and numbering would necessarily have had the same effect in barbarous


  1. See the case of Morse, reported by Wilson; especially his own, and that cited on p. 146.