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they are predisposed to insanity. The father, son, and grandson have not only been known to become successively insane, but the derangement has sometimes taken place in each case in the same year of their life.
(II.) There are also various moral causes of mental alienation. It has been caused, among other circumstances of a moral nature, by disappointed ambition. Disappointment in mercantile and other speculations, and in any ardent expectations whatever, often has the same effect. Erroneous religious opinions, and great excitements of feeling on religious subjects, have contributed towards supplying lunatic hospitals. An unrestrained indulgence of any of the passions is found to be attended with the same results. As an illustration of what has been said, it may
be added, that we find a fruitful source of mental derangement in vicissitudes of political events. A recent writer in a French medical work says that he could give a history of the political revolutions in France, from the taking of the Bastile down to the return of Bonaparte from Elba, by detailing the causes of certain cases of insanity.* _It appears from reports from insane hospitals, that moral causes of insanity are more numerous than physical. But in many cases the influence of both is combined together.
Ø 367. Of moral accountability in mental alienation. It is in some respects a difficult inquiry, Whether men who are in a state of mental alienation are morally accountable? Whether they are the subjects of merit or demerit? And, if so, in what cases and how far ? In determining these questions there ought to be a distinction made between cases of partial insanity, where the inind is deranged only in part, and cases of delirium or total insanity. In the last there is evidently no accountability. In the former instances, a judgment should be formed from the circumstances of the particular case under consideration.
Accordingly, this may be laid down as a general rule in respect to this subject, and perhaps it is the only one
* Dictionnaire des Sciences Medicales, Art. Folie (Esquirol). See also Des Causes Morales et Physiques des Maladies Mentales, par
F Voisin ; Influence des institutions politiques.
which can be ; viz., Persons of an alienated mind, whether they be idiots or insane, are not to be considered accountable, are not subjects of praise or blame, whenever it appears that the mental alienation extends to and wholly annuls the power of correct judgment. And this is the case with all persons who are the subjects of total insanity. When the insanity is partial, it would seem to follow, therefore, that the first inquiry should be, Whether the action committed comes within range of the malady. For a person who is insane on one subject merely, will probably be found to labour under a perversion of judgment in respect to that particular subject no less than if the insanity were total or delirious. Consequently, a distinction may be justly set up, although it will require much caution in doing it, between those actions which can be clearly found within the limits of the person's insanity and those which evidently fall without it.
0 368. Of the imputation of insanity to individuals. While the existence of insanity, so far as materially to affect the power of judging, takes away accountability in whole or in part, it affects proportionably the relations which the subjects of it sustain to society. In all wellorganized communities, it will be found to follow, from the terms of the civil compact, that those who exercise sovereignty are bound to afford protection to the citizens in general, and to individuals in particular, in certain
Hence they will be found to have taken precautionary measures, the nature of which all are acquainted with, to protect the community against the injuries which insane persons might commit, and also to alleviate that unhappiness which they necessarily bring, in a greater or less degree, on themselves and families.
Accordingly, it is implied, in the imputation of insanity to individuals, by an act of the civil authorities, that the insane person is deprived of that ability of self-government which is the common allotment of men; that the strong bonds of friendship, of family, and of country, which once kept him in his appropriate station in society, are loosened ; and that he must find, in the substitution of the will and guardianship of the State, that oversight
and protection which he has lost by the alienation of his own. While all must admit the propriety of this course, where the circumstances of the case justly demand it, it must be conceded that nothing can be more solemn and affecting than such a public imputation of derangement, which, whether just or unjust, practically annihilates the civil and social character of man, and seals his degradation in these respects. It is a right, therefore, which ought not to be exercised but upon good grounds, and the exercise of which ought to be understood to require and to imply a correct acquaintance with this difficult but practical and important subject. And the more so, because there have been depraved individuals who have endeavoured to fasten the charge of insanity upon others from some interested motives, in order to gratify malignant passions, or to control their persons or property. A suitable protection against the designs of such is to be had, not merely in the integrity of those who are to judge in these cases, but in their acquaintance with the laws and tendencies of the mind.
Before leaving this topic, one suggestion further remains. In forming an opinion as to the mental alienation of an individual, not only those particular facts are to be considered which are supposed to indicate insanity, but they are to be estimated in connexion with constitutional traits of character. That rapidity of association, that gay and heedless transition from subject to subject, which is natural in one and occasions no surprise, would be regarded in another as a positive indication of the disturbance of the mental powers.
0 369. Of the treatment of the insane. In closing this view of mental maladies, it is proper to make some suggestions on the treatment due to those of cur fellow-beings who are thus afflicted. It is no uncommon thing to see them treated with unkindness. Al. though they may not, in general, so readily perceive and so intensely feel, as others, the injuries they receive, any cruelty of treatment towards them is very unjustifiable in the authors of it.
It is wrong on the general principle that we are bound not to cause and increase suffering unnecessarily in any case whatever, even in the animal creation. Men were designed to render each other happy, and not to increase each other's miseries. The poet Cowper uttered a sentiment, which finds a response in the bosoms of all kind and honourable men, when he declared he would not reckon in his list of friends the man who should needlessly set foot upon a worm.
It is wrong, also, on the principle that we should do to others as we ourselves wish to be done by.—The person of an alienated mind may not be able to reason on the subject of what is due him, but those who possess rational powers can. They cannot fail to see the application of the Scriptural principle which has been mentioned in the present instance. All persons whatever are subject to these mental evils; and it is presumed that no one would be easy in the anticipation of being left without care and assistance from others, when he should be unable to take care of himself. If, therefore, we take the ground that persons in the state of idiocy, or of delirium, or of any of the forms of mental alienation, are not entitled to care and kindness, we are possibly treasuring up for ourselves a retribution of a similar fearful character.
Again : ill treatment of cases of this kind is a tacit reflection on the Supreme Being, which we cannot, without great self-ignorance, imagine ourselves authorized to make. He has, in his wisdom, permitted them to exist, as memorials of human weakness and as useful commentaries on pride of intellect; and perhaps, also, to give us an opportunity of exercising the noble virtues of charity and humanity. We are therefore bound to receive the instruction they impart, and to exercise the virtues which they give us an opportunity of exercising; otherwise we cast contempt on Him whose almighty hand orders the distinctions, and distributes the allotments both of bodily and intellectual life.
END OF VOL. I.