Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/63

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is a potent factor in inducing individuals to seek medical advice in regard to the care of the heart, lungs and other parts of the body; but one organ, the most delicate of all, the brain, is sadly neglected, until some already well developed disease has compelled the patient to seek the advice of the specialist. In our schools and colleges considerable attention is now being given to the prevention of those having weak hearts or lungs from taking part in athletic contests, whereas at the same time practically no attempt is made to discourage those with functionally impaired nervous systems from undergoing the excessive tests imposed upon them by the strain of a modern education. On the contrary, every attempt is being made to induce all, the unfit as well as the fit, to pass through the educational mill. Those who fail become objects of pity, even if they keep out of the police courts and do not end their careers by suicide.[1] If the latter event terminates their career, those concerned in the general carrying into effect of the campaign of an education, which has given rise to such remote but undesirable consequences, are not even indirectly blamed, whereas the individual's memory is frequently anathematized by ecclesiastical authority and his or her mortal remains are refused burial in consecrated ground. The public's indifference to the importance of this general question of the introduction of a more rational system of education is commended by Mrs. Grundy. If it were not for the influence of this lady it would be possible to subject each student during his college or university days td an examination to determine whether his sense perceptions were below normal, his memory defective, his power of the association of ideas impaired and his volitional control diminished, with the object of giving intelligent advice to correct, if possible, the deficiencies, thereby increasing the individual's sphere of usefulness, and in many cases averting by these precautionary measures a complete breakdown.

One of the reasons why educational psychology has not fulfilled the predictions made for it by its most enthusiastic supporters, may be referred to its failure to recognize the value of a principle of fundamental importance which directs our attention to the necessity of the study of the brain in its relation to other organs. The idea of the possibility of isolating and studying the functions of the brain analytically quite apart from the phenomena occurring antecedent to the appearance of ideas in consciousness, and conditioned by the activity of heart, lungs, liver and other organs, is an unfortunate persistence of that form of the dualistic conception of the relation of mind and body which has so long delayed enquiry in this field. Though it is always dangerous in the development of any new department to awaken public interest by promising immediate results of importance, a good deal of information of practical value could be disseminated which would tend

  1. In the year 1908 there were some 8,332 deaths from suicide in the United States.