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May 27, 1950

The Biology of Mental Defect

JAMA. 1950;143(4):403. doi:10.1001/jama.1950.02910390075035

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The subject of mental defects is of wide scientific interest and of economic and social importance. This book presents, in compressed form, a mass of pertinent data concerned primarily with the scientific biologic area. The first half deals with incidence, classifications, physical stigmas, fertility and causes. As for incidence, careful study of the number of mentally defective persons in the community and in institutions in England indicates that they form 3.1 per cent of the country's population. Applied to the United States, this would give 4.3 million, approximately three fourths of these feebleminded and one fourth imbeciles or idiots, a truly serious burden. The principal discussion centers about the genetics of defect and the relative importance of "nature and nurture." The second half details briefly the known facts about various brain and mental disorders; those considered respectively as dominant, recessive or sex linked and those environmentally conditioned. A reader understanding

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