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October 31, 1896

DEGENERACY; ITS CAUSES AND PREVENTION.

Author Affiliations

PRESIDENT OF THE BOARDOF STATE COMMISSIONERS OF PUBLIC CHARITIES OF ILLINOIS AND LATE COMMISSIONER OF HEALTH OF CHICAGO.

JAMA. 1896;XXVII(18):953-955. doi:10.1001/jama.1896.02430960025001f

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Abstract

Practically all recent books and essays upon the subjects quote statistics to prove a startling increase of insanity, of criminals and of pauperism. They either state or intimate that the race will soon be overwhelmed by the number of persons of this character, unless something is done to prevent them from procreating their miserable kind.

Before we accept this gloomy conclusion, we should study the matter and see if the statistics may not be faulty. We may also, with profit, study the conditions that are in the way to prevent those who are normal in their development from continuing so indefinitely through succeeding generations, as well as to recognize and study what influences are at work to counteract degenerating tendencies.

There is ground for hope that some of the apparent increase shown by statistics is not real, but due to the greater care in the census enumeration of later years.

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