« ForrigeFortsæt »
ASYLUMS FOR INEBRIATE S.
HE recognition of the fact that those inebri
TH ates who have been considered hopelessly
devoted to their cups, are laboring under a species of insanity which requires their restraint, will form the brightest feature of our civilization. They pervade all ranks of society, and have, hitherto, like lepers, been regarded as outcasts, for whose relief the grave was the only refuge. Whatever may be the social position of the dipsomaniac, a more pitiable object in human shape can not be conceived. Disease, in its most revolting forms, has far more mitigating conditions than that fatal passion which clings with resistless grasp to its victim. The former may waste the body, and render life intolerable by suffering, but leave the intellect undisturbed, and allow the affections to have full and natural play. But the latter not only gradually obliterates all traces of original manhood, but turns the affections into fiendish passions, and submerges the intellect in the muddy waters of idiocy. It is not every tippler, or even drunkard, that is a dipsomaniac, but it is the man over whom appetite has so far triumphed that he can
no longer voluntarily resist the temptation. Says Dr. Peddie:
"There is, especially in persons of a nervous or sanguine temperament, and more readily in women than in men, a condition in which the mere vice is transformed into a disease, and the mere vicious habit into an insane impulsive propensity, and then the drunkard becomes a dipsomaniac. * * * He becomes destitute of any command over his own will, of all ability to resist the craving, and he is transformed into the involuntary slave of an insane propensity. Physically, the dipsomaniac is truly lamentable to behold, with his general broken-down aspect, feeble, tremulous limbs, pale or leaden-colored visage, and watery, lustreless eye. But in the manifestations of mind and heart, the degradation is still more apparent and mournful. His habits of drinking are not now social, but solitary. He no longer drinks from mere relish for the liquors but yields to a desire which is insatiable-giving himself up to a demon which has taken body and soul into subjection. Intelligence is extinguished; the best affections of the heart are deadened; the moral feelings are perverted; the dearest social ties no longer restrain him; truth is no longer a principle of action. He can not now control his conduct or manage his affairs; he is useless or dangerous to himself or others; disqualified for social and civil duties, a wreck of humanity, and a burden on society."
But this affection may be hereditary, and thus resemble a constitutional disease, and especially insanity. It is no uncommon thing to find in the family of the confirmed drunkard, children early assuming the habits of the parent, and exhibiting the most uncontrollable passion for ardent spirits. The vice of the parent seems also
to exist in a two-fold intensity in the offspring. The latter is early lost to all sense of shame, and every influence is powerless towards reform. But whether acquired or hereditary, the disease is essentially the same, and requires the same, remedial measures. It is interesting to notice that Dr. Rush entertained the most positive views in regard to the insanity of inebriates. He considered them "as fit subjects of hospital treatment as any other class of madmen." "They are monomaniacs-the subjects of physical disease located in the brain. At first, their drinking is the fruit of moral depravity, but when long indulgence in this vice has produced disease of the brain, then is their drinking the result of insanity." The remedy for this deplorable malady has long been sought in vain. The great temperance movement inaugurated under the motto "Teetotalism," established one important conclusion, viz., that the most inveterate inebriate may be rescued if the temptation is wholly and for a long time removed. But the reformers trusted at first to the resolution of the reformed solely, and the trial necessarily proved, in the vast majority of cases, a failure. Few were found sufficiently strong to resist the temptation, which allured them on every hand, to assuage the fever which raged consumingly within. The advocates of teetotalism then undertook the removal of the temptation itself, and in this they have been par
tially successful. But the great step in this reform was the recognition of the true physical, moral, and psychological condition of the inebriate. That he is an insane person, in every respect in which a monomaniac can be so considered, is susceptible of demonstration. The logical conclusion follows, that for his proper treatment there must be such isolation from exciting causes, and such moral influences as will best promote recovery. Of the value of Inebriate Asylums, or of the plan of isolation, with proper moral and hygienic influences, we now have practical as well as theoretical testimony. Many persons have been secluded at their own request, and have thereby been saved from destruction. Many illustrative examples might be given of the success which will attend seclusion, but we will only quote from the report made by Dr. Christison, of a visit to a private asylum for inebriates in the island of Skye, Scotland. He says:
"Here we found ten gentlemen-cases originally of the worst forms of ungovernable drink-craving—who lived in a state of sobriety, happiness, and real freedom. One, who is now well, had not yet recovered from a prostrate condition of both mind and body. The others wandered over the island, scene-hunting, angling, fowling, botanizing, and geologizing; and one of these accompanied my companion and myself on a long day's walk to Loch Corruisk and the Cuchullin mountains. No untoward accident had ever happened among them. I may add, that it was impossible not to feel, that—with one or two exceptionswe were among a set of men of originally a low order of
intellect. Radical cures are rare among them; for such men, under the present order of things, are generally too far gone in the habit of intemperance before they can be persuaded to submit to treatment. Nevertheless, one of those I met there, a very bad case indeed, has since stood the world's temptations bravely for twelve months subsequently to his discharge."
The State of New York was, we believe, the first to carry out practically this idea. The noble institution at Binghamton, is the proudest monument which the Empire State can raise to the intelligence and humanity of its people. Other States have taken up the subject, and leading men are earnestly laboring to establish asylums for the inebriate. The organization of the American Association for the cure of Inebriates is an important movement, designed to enable the friends of this reform to coöperate throughout all the States. In Great Britain the reform has taken a strong hold upon the medical profession and philanthropists, and great exertions are being made to obtain such legislation as will enable them to render it efficient and entirely practicable. Dr. Christison, Dr. Peddie, Dr. Mackesey, Dr. Dalrymple, and others, have brought the subject prominently forward, and none who have read their papers fail to be convinced of the vast importance of the reform. In the British Social Science Association the subject has been largely examined, and we may soon expect to see the fruits of this discussion in the adoption of such legal measures as are required.