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Gary
09-30-2007, 01:31 PM
Where there any Confederate standards in 1862 by which a regimental surgeon determined an individual was an imbecile? I found something for the Union surgeon but that manual was printed in 1864.

billwatson2
10-01-2007, 10:33 AM
Wow, if ever there was information just shouting to be posted, it would be the criteria for determining whether someone is an imbecile. It could be a real eye opener.

sbl
10-01-2007, 05:37 PM
http://www2.merriam-webster.com/cgi-bin/mwdictsn?va=imbeciles

Main Entry: imˇbeˇcile
Pronunciation: 'im-b&-s&l, -"sil
Function: noun
Etymology: French imbécile, noun, from adjective, weak, weak-minded, from Latin imbecillus
Date: 1802
1 usually offensive : a person affected with moderate mental retardation
2 : FOOL, IDIOT
- imbecile or imˇbeˇcilˇic /"im-b&-'si-lik/ adjective


http://www.thefreedictionary.com/imbecile

imˇbeˇcile (mb-sl, -sl)
n.
1. A stupid or silly person; a dolt.
2. A person whose mental acumen is well below par.
3. A person of moderate to severe mental retardation having a mental age of from three to seven years and generally being capable of some degree of communication and performance of simple tasks under supervision. The term belongs to a classification system no longer in use and is now considered offensive.
adj. also imˇbeˇcilˇic (mb-slk)
1. Stupid; silly.
2. Well below par in mental acumen.
[From obsolete French imbécille, weak, feeble, from Old French, from Latin imbcillus : in-, not; see in-1 + possibly bacillum, staff, diminutive of baculum, rod; see bak- in Indo-European roots.]
imbeˇcileˇly adv.

tompritchett
10-01-2007, 06:59 PM
I found something for the Union surgeon but that manual was printed in 1864.


Wow, if ever there was information just shouting to be posted, it would be the criteria for determining whether someone is an imbecile. It could be a real eye opener.
__________________
Bill Watson

Bill, I agree fully, especially when it comes to how the 1864 Army determined that someone did not have the mental capacity to carry a rifle and function as a proper soldier. Gary, could you post the particular section out of the Surgeon's manual you were referring to?

Gary
10-01-2007, 09:46 PM
Certainly Tom. The manual is by Dr. Roberts Bartholow. Here goes:
“The term imbecility of mind is usually employed by writers on the subject of enlisting soldiers, and intended to apply to Idiocy, Imbecility, and Dementia, rather than to the higher types of Insanity. Idiocy is a congenital condition; Cretinism, although not to be diagnosed usually at birth,is hereditary; Imbecility is a minor degree of mental deficiency than idiocy; and Dementia is the result of diseased action supervening upon a healthy mental state, or a sequel of more acute forms of mental derangement. In the lower forms of idicoy the functions of animal and organic life are greatly impaired: the idiot is below the plant, and is scarcely alive to external impressions. Cretinism is not frequently seen in this country; and it is scarcely necessary to enter into a description of it. Hitherto it has existed mainly in Switzerland, Valais, Savoy, Italy, and Piedmont, where it is endemic; but it is also sporadic, “an occasional case being found, presenting the characteristics of genuine Cretinism, in the cities of various countries.” A very well-marked case is not in the Fort Schuyler General Hospital. Imbecility of mind is a term admitting of wide application. From the highest to the lowest order of mental soundness there are an infinite number of degrees of intelligence. The same variations are found in mental deficiency. It is not always easy, in a given case, to determine whether the intelligence is, or is not adequate to the performance of military duty. In the lower forms, imbeciles produce nothing, and all their movements, both intellectual and moral, are aroused only by impulses from without. They reply correctly; but they must not be asked too many questions, nor required to make responses which demand reflection or are contrary to their habits. Other display considerable shrewdness, and are constantly indulging in jokes: they pass for half-witted people, whose droll behavior and ready repartees created amusement. Imbeciles possessing this degree of intelligence may perform the duty of soldiers, as far as it is merely mechanical, with exactness, but they are, of course, unfitted for any duty requiring discretion or judgment. They are, moreover, preculiarly liable to insane impules to commit theft and other crimes, although competent to the performance of many of the ordinary duties of life and able to take care of themselves.... Idiocy, Cretinism, Imbecility, and Dementia are, usually, easily enough recognized by want of harmy and vacuity in the expression, obvious deficiencies of mind, imperfect development of body, ill habits, limited but imperious instincts, and various hallucinations and delusions.”

The manual is an 1864 Union manual. I don't know if there is a Confederate equivalent-especially for 1862. BTW, I contacted the National Park Service at Chimborazo and they couldn't help. I tried the Civil War Museum of Medicine in Frederick and they couldn't help either. Hence, I'm inclined to think it was pretty footloose-just like the medical standards for doctors. Some trained under a physician and others went to college. Even the college trained weren't that much better.

Here's the link to the manual right: Here (http://books.google.com/books?id=IfnPkidNIoAC&pg=PA17#PPP5,M1)

NoahBriggs
10-02-2007, 06:03 AM
The following statement will probably shatter the fantasy world of the neo-secessionists:

When it comes to medicine the only thing different between "union" and "confederate" medicine is the title on the book. Otherwise a lot of the procedures, medicines and definitions tend to be the same. That goes for the definitons of mental incapacity which might prevent someone from being conscripted.

The surgeons were more interested in weeding out malingerers and beats who were trying to play the imbecile to get out of serving. The book Shook Over H*ll does a great corollary job of examining the proto-psychology of the period. It concentrates on 1860s interpretations of PTSD but also discusses the psychology of the time in regards to mental disability, imbecility and so on in its proper context. The doctors' methods may "seem pretty footloose-just like the medical standards for doctors. Some trained under a physician and others went to college. Even the college trained weren't that much better. . ." But placed in proper context of the period their decisions actually made sense for the time.

billwatson2
10-02-2007, 11:29 AM
"malingerers and beats who were trying to play the imbecile to get out of serving."

Now, there's an impression.

hanktrent
10-02-2007, 12:20 PM
"malingerers and beats who were trying to play the imbecile to get out of serving."

Now, there's an impression.

Impression? That's just being myself.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

flattop32355
10-02-2007, 02:35 PM
Impression? That's just being myself.

There are just soooooooo many ways that can be responded to.... :)

Gary
10-02-2007, 11:03 PM
NoahBriggs - No doubt the Confederates would have readily adapted the "medical standards" for the period. So, let me rephrase the question. What were the standards in 1862 or alternatively, the antebellum standards that the Confederates would have used?

NoahBriggs
10-03-2007, 06:14 AM
I keep thinking - your question was posted before the recent crash? and we actually bothered to provide some serious answers. Something along the line of what I posted originally. Hank Trent also provided a good discussion on the psychology of the time which affected their decision process. Also, something about the ability to differentiate bewteen imbecility, idiocy, and finer points of what could be construed today as different levels of mental retardation, or neurological disorders which give the impression the person was not "raht 'n the haid". I had not been mining and storing the better conversations on this forum like I used to, otherwise I'd hit my notes and repost them.

So - aside from my previous answer above I don't have any further answers as to locate the criteria for imbecility. I am not certain there were even a standard set of criteria; rather the surgeon may have had to use his better judgment. I'll reiterate the Shook Over H*ll recommendation. It has some good discussions on the psychology of the time, including the fact that a veteran could be denied a pension if there was evidence of self-abuse. (The ol' mythology that self-abuse could lead to derangement.)

You could plug "imbecility" into Google books and sift through the results, removing anything post-war.

hanktrent
10-03-2007, 08:38 AM
I keep thinking - your question was posted before the recent crash? and we actually bothered to provide some serious answers.

Not lost in a crash at all--alive and well over here: http://www.authentic-campaigner.com/forum/showthread.php?t=12643


So - aside from my previous answer above I don't have any further answers as to locate the criteria for imbecility.

Ditto. And I'd speculate that things didn't change much in two years, or as Noah said, between north and south. There was probably more individual variation between surgeon to surgeon on how specifically to tell, though I'd expect a lot of them relied on "I know it when I see it."

While there may be standardized tests today when it comes to mental retardation, I'm so unfamiliar with diagnosing that, that I have no clue how it's done. I can speak to diagnosing PTSD and separating it from related disorders, though, and I hate to say that from my experience, it's about as vague and quirky as in the days of Shook Over ****. The DSMIV official description isn't much more specific, as far as testing, than the period quote about imbecility above, and it still seems to be all about "I know it when I see it."

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

NoahBriggs
10-03-2007, 09:05 AM
Hooray! It's preserved! I knew Gary had asked somewhere else.

What the AC Forum link said!! :cool:

Gary
10-03-2007, 09:17 PM
I indeed did ask there and Hank was very helpful. I don't automatically assume that what the Federals did the Corn-feds did too. It's not a matter of politics but rather that the North was, in my opinion, better able to disseminate information and thus standards were easier to maintain by the North.

I believe that had the South captured any medical books, they would have readily adopted it. However, for the Confederacy in 1862 there's nothing I know of that a surgeon could go by to determine the mental competency of an individual. It would be great if there's some antebellum literature as anything done in the late 1850s as that would surely be used during the war. Absent that, I don't want to just jump to some conclusion as to what the "practices" (if any) were in 1862.

This is not a life or death issue and it's not like I'm trying to write a dissertation on it as it is a very peripheral issue from my area of research (and my article has been accepted for publication). Rather, the issue came up in a discharge of an individual and it made me wonder about the criteria used by the surgeon.

Thank you one and all for your time and comments. Salute!

tompritchett
10-03-2007, 10:37 PM
I indeed did ask there and Hank was very helpful. I don't automatically assume that what the Federals did the Corn-feds did too. It's not a matter of politics but rather that the North was, in my opinion, better able to disseminate information and thus standards were easier to maintain by the North.

I am not sure where you are basing that presumption on. Are you implying that there were no major hospitals or medical schools in the South? Granted, the South was less urban than the North, but there were still cities in the South which were large enough to have decent and modern, by the times, hospitals.

hanktrent
10-03-2007, 10:51 PM
It would be great if there's some antebellum literature as anything done in the late 1850s as that would surely be used during the war. Absent that, I don't want to just jump to some conclusion as to what the "practices" (if any) were in 1862.

One place to look for antebellum practices is the law. Though judgment of recruits wasn't necessary, testimony about legal competency still was. The discussions seem similar, talking about symptoms in general, but leaving it up to the individual doctor's judgment without any specification of tests or standard diagnostic procedures.

Here's an 1853 lecture on "MEDICAL TESTIMONY AND EVIDENCE IN
CASES OF LUNACY" which includes imbecility: http://books.google.com/books?id=uxsCAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA645


The diagnosis of this state, whether in its civil or its criminal relations, may in one case be most obvious and simple, in another case may involve the deepest and most difficult questions as to the competency of self regulation in the individual. "It is by no means easy," says Dr. Taylor, "to draw a distinction between the better classes of imbeciles and those who are reputed sane, since the minds of sane persons differ remarkably in their capacity for receiving instruction." It has been well observed by the same author, "that by endeavouring to make a very close distinction of this kind, one-half of the world might reason itself into the right of confining the other half." But the difficulties of this subject, as far as medical responsibility is concerned, involve their own cure, at least in relieving us from the necessity of attempting to draw a rigid line. Every case must be determined alone, and on its own merits.

Here's another discussion on "imbecility without insanity" from a Treatise on Medical Jurisprudence, 1860: http://books.google.com/books?id=gTyonkmUvnEC&pg=PA256 It goes on for several pages, and is again long on description of symptoms and short on specific tests or procedures for diagnosing.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

Gary
10-04-2007, 12:43 AM
I am not sure where you are basing that presumption on. Are you implying that there were no major hospitals or medical schools in the South? Granted, the South was less urban than the North, but there were still cities in the South which were large enough to have decent and modern, by the times, hospitals.

Hardly, Tom. 1862 for the Confederacy was very promising until Perryville & Antietam. By 1864 Vicksburg & the Mississippi had fallen. Communication from Richmond or to Richmond from the Trans-Mississippi was much more difficult and prone to interception. Sherman's Army was marching south and threatened Atlanta. Knoxville was in Union's hands (Longstreet's failed siege & assault). It was much more difficult for the Confederacy at that point to maintain consistent standards.

Turning to the hospitals, I know the Confederacy had 'em (and have been to the site of Chimborazo) from my readings including Alexander Hunter's book where he discussed his numerous (lengthy) stays in hospitals (and even helped the surgeons perform amputations when they were exhausted).

Hank - thank you again for the ante-bellum standards cited in legal cases. Both are exactly what I was looking for. I quote from your second citation for our members. From pages 256-


Section 231. Imbecility without insanity has several gradations, all being separate demoninations; the highest degree is called idiocy. Next to this is imbecility proper; dulness, feebleness, stupidity, are inferior grades of a stunted growth of mind. The reason which, in higher stages, exclude understanding and self-control are the more potent as no education has been imparted here, or, if imparted, has produced no effect. The lower stages do not justify the physician in casting a doubt upon the existence of legal responsibility. They are for the consideration of the judge alone, and are interesting in this point of view, because simpletons and fools often have a touch of malice, brutality, ill-will, and mischief in their dispositions, and may be led, by teasing and ill-treatment, to vindictive hatred, revenge, and violent outbursts of anger."

Section 233: "Dr. Rush says," we quote from Dr. Ray, "That in the course of his life he has been consulted in three cases of moral imbecility; and nothing can better express the true character of their physiology, than his remark respecting them. 'In all these cases,' he observes, 'there is probably an original defective organzation in those parts of the body which are occupied by the moral faculties of the mind'-an explanation which will receive but little countenance in any age that derives its ideads of the mental phenomena from the exclusive observation of the mind in a state of acknowledged health and vigor. To understand these cases properly, requires a knowledge of our moral and intellectual constitution, to be obtained only by a practical acquaintance with the innumerable phases of the mind, as presented in its various degrees of strength and weakness, of health and disease, amid all its transitions form brutish idiocy to the most commanding intellect.'" (C)

Footnote (C) says:


Ray on Insanity, p.90.

In the course of clinical lessons delivered at Bicetre, M. Ferrus gives an account of the different intellectual debilities in a way that throws a strong light upon these difficult questions:-

Between idiocy and dementia, he says, there is a most striking analogy. In both cases, human intelligence is abolished; it no longer posses the means of perfectibility. But the analogy ceases in examining the producing causes. With the idiot, deprivation of reason is congenital; the demented, on the contrary, arrives progressively at the total loss of faculties. Dementia is the abolition of the intellectual faculties, both moral and instinctive, supervening after the period of puberty; it is a kind of debility which appears either in an insensible manner or with the rapidity of lightning-breaking, more or less, all the connections which unite the man with the rest of the world.

The characters of dementia are sufficiently decided, so as not to be confounded with those of other mental affections. In idiocy, the faculties of the mind have never existed, or have been destroyed before their complete development. In dementia, you may still possibly see some traces of an intelligent past; but it betrays in vain its past perfection: it is stamped forever with the seal of feebleness and nullity, and destined to be extinguished by a kind of exhaustion of nervous influence.
Stupidity consists in an accidental, sudden, complete abolition of the intelletual, moral, and instinctive faculties, as well as of the movements. It has for its cause a suddent and violent physical or moral shock: it is distinguished by the rapdity of its appearance, the intensity of its symptoms, their frequent remission and exacerbation, and especially by the possibility of a complete cure...

YankeeSurgeon
10-25-2007, 08:51 AM
I am a newbie so I will preface this by stating that I am certainly no expert on the exact criteria a 19th century American physician would use to classify someone as an "imbecile" but I thought I'd share with everyone some general thoughts/opinions I have about the subject of "idiots" and "imbeciles" from the 19th century perspective; at the end of this post I've also inserted a link to an 1866 manual used by English physicians to evaluate/classify individuals as "idiots" and "imbeciles" which may be a useful analog in the approach to take when evaluating a recruit. (I should mention that prior to beginning my still embryonic studies on 19th century US medicine, I started reading English and Scottish journals and manuals because I was interested in portraying a surgeon during the Crimean War so I've come across some interesting resources used by practitioners across the pond).

First, in my own profession (law), I've learned that the psychiatric branch of medicine has some roots in what I would call medical-jurisprudence - a combination of 19th century medical, psychiatric, legal and social thinking influenced by the idea of degeneration in mental capacity itself based on disease (or later in the 19th century perhaps merely a symptom of a disease). This echoes the post previously made by Hank Trent. I believe that "insanity" was generally deemed treatable. More innate states of mental incapacity seem to have carried the terms "idiot" and "imbecile". (In contrast with those deemed "insane," these latter types were deemed born with mental handicaps and, therefore, deemed less treatable or potentially untreatable by some medical practitioners and legal scholars; although, some social thinkers disagreed and opened schools for idiots on the continent).

In 18th and 19th century England, legal and medical practitioners thought that those who were "insane" and those who were "idiots" not only became charges to society because they could not engage in a trade but they also believed that such individuals were more likely to engage in criminal conduct. Hence, there were movements to create poor laws to address the former concerns and movements to create institutions to address the latter concern, and legal concepts such as mitigating circumstances and mens rea (mental state of mind necessary for conviction of a crime, e.g., intentional, knowingly, reckless disregard, etc.) emerged.

Now, here is the link to the 1866 manual titled "A Manual for the Classification, Training and Education of the Feeble-Minded, Imbecile and Idiotic" published in London and co-authored by a consulting surgeon to an asylum for idiots and imbeciles and its superintendent: http://books.google.com/books?id=_To75ljDEyMC&pg=PA1&dq=classification+of+imbecile&ei=xoggR8XELJP-7gKG2-zsBw#PPR3,M1 As I said, I happened to have this manual because I was saving articles/manuals/journals authored by 19th century English and Scottish doctors. I don't have anything authored by US physicians and I haven't actively searched for any. However, I'd imagine that some of the better educated/well-read and traveled US physicians/surgeons would have had the benefit of foreign colleagues' writing/ideas (the book The Knife Man, for example, mentions that a few US physicians went to Scotland and England to study anatomy and surgery under the famous surgeon John Hunter and returned to the US to slowly spread his ideas on the scientific approach to surgery); plus, many of the classification principles in this manual seem logical - assess the patient's moving ability (motor skills in today's parlance); the senses; perceptive faculties; speech and ability to communicate, etc.

Well, colleagues, I hope this information is helpful.

Thomas Federico

NoahBriggs
10-25-2007, 09:26 AM
Thomas,

It's good you are reading material from across the pond. It was stated earlier on this forum that some of the best material available to physicians came from the UK and France and Germany, whether by paper or brain cells.

The rest of us:
I think I mentioned Shook Over H*ll already, but since you and Hank brought up the legal perspective (very important) I should mention I bookmarked on Google Books Medical Jurisprudence. There was a companion title on the same topic, but I'd have to review notes at home to post it.

uhlan53
10-25-2007, 10:11 AM
I cannot speak to standards of antebellum or Civil War period, but from Stephen Jay Gould's "The Mismeasure of Man," I offer some interesting information. During WW1, H.H. Goddard, the crusading director of research at a training school for "feeble-minded" boys and girls in New Jersey echoed the nebullous (by today's reckoning!) standards of the time:

"Idiots" could never develop full speech and had a mental age of below three years.

"Imbeciles" could not master written language and ranged from three to seven in mental age.

People of mental ages of between eight and twelve were called by the English "feeble-minded." Stoddard used the term "moron" to describe the same people here in America. They were considered "high-grade defectives," that could be trained to function in society (logically, then, the Idiots and Imbeciles were burdens to society that would never join it in a useful capacity.)

Enjoy!

Gordon Markiewicz

NoahBriggs
10-25-2007, 11:05 AM
Those specific classifications may have been in response to the pseudo scientific study known as eugenics, aka "clean the gene pool of blacks, Jews and idiots" in an effort to maintain the survival of humanity. (Okay, generalization, but you understand.) It started in the late nineteenth century by misunderstanding Mendelian genetic theories, and by the turn of the century was in full swing in the US.

It branched off from Social Darwinism, and unfortunately eugenics was influenced by politics and social theroies of the time.

The Germans borrowed the idea of eugenics and carried the program out to its fullest. Estimated six million people were converted to air pollution as a result.