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November 12, 1898


JAMA. 1898;XXXI(20):1144-1148. doi:10.1001/jama.1898.92450200012001f

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The term "moral insanity" is applied to a class of symptoms about which much difference of opinion exists. Formerly this was a veritable battle-ground between metaphysicians and alienists, but latterly this has subsided, and the questions now in dispute are differentiations and exact meanings of terms. I shall limit my study of the subject to certain well-marked symptoms which, taken alone or associated with other symptoms, appear to have the same significance. Moral insanity is marked by a low sense of right and wrong, and by conduct which does not recognize the rights of others, or duty and obligation to any one. The ethical sense and consciousness of the relation to others, of truthfulness, of honesty, of respect for the good and true, for law, or for the opinions of others, is enfeebled or wanting altogether. Such cases may not exhibit marked intellectual weakness and may appear to have average

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