Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/72

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the spiritual to preeminently dominate the carnal impulses, it becomes sufficiently materialistic in practise to advise the believer to fast or at least to substitute fish for meat in his dietary. The individual who has not learned to regulate his diet to his physical and spiritual needs and has not acquired the habit of chewing his food thoroughly, has failed to pass his elementary examination in the field of applied ethics. The physical, mental and moral deterioration beginning in the second or third generation of families which have suddenly acquired wealth may be attributed primarily to the luxurious diet no less than to the other extravagant ways of living.

Still another line of argument in favor of the universities paying more attention to the study of the brain is supplied by the mal-adjustment of great numbers of persons to the unsuitable environment into which they have been driven by the impulses and ambitions awakened by an education ill-adapted to their individual brain capacity. Public charities, missions, settlement work, are all agencies tending to alleviate some of the sufferings of mankind, but we seek in vain for the signs of any organized effort to prevent the perversion of the mental activities of great numbers of individuals which has come about from lack of proper advice and instruction in regard to the selection of an education which will not disturb the balance of the nervous system and generate undesirable impulses, exceeding the inhibitory capacity of the individual.

The number of those suffering from mental disorders is appalling. In Great Britain there are nearly 70,000 idiots, over 47,000 lunatics, 23,000 criminals, nearly 10,000 deaf and dumb from childhood, 60,000 prostitutes, 62,000 epileptics, more than 88,000 backward children and 18,000 habitual vagrants, and many of these degenerates are engaged in breeding offspring! In institutions in the United States we have more than 145,000 individuals in well-advanced stages of alienation and over 120,000 feeble-minded persons, and it is safe to assume that if all the patients suffering from psychoses were actually brought under observation, these figures would be greatly increased. The present cost to the country of partially providing for the maintenance of this army of incapables is well over $40,000,000 a year.

One of the most important functions connected with the work of a department of mental hygiene would be the encouragement given to the investigation of all questions connected with the anatomy and physiology of the nervous system, along the lines where these studies could not be prosecuted to a greater advantage in the laboratories and clinics of our medical schools. Not only in this, but in all other departments the selection of directors from among those who have shown themselves capable of carrying on original investigations should be insisted upon. Only when this spirit has permeated the whole department, from the