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(1916). The Criminal Imbecile, An Analysis of Three Remarkable Murder Cases. The Macmillan Company, New York, 1915, pp. 157. Price $1.50.. Psychoanal. Rev., 3(1):115.
(1916). Psychoanalytic Review, 3(1):115
The Criminal Imbecile, An Analysis of Three Remarkable Murder Cases. The Macmillan Company, New York, 1915, pp. 157. Price $1.50.
The well-known author, Dr. Goddard, in this book analyzes in a simple, clear, and non-technical manner, the mental status of three murderers. These murderers were, in each case, young boys who, to all outward appearances, would have been considered quite usual and normal by the average unskilled observer, and yet the analysis plainly shows that in each instance the murderer was an imbecile. Dr. Goddard puts the matter so plainly and so simply that the reader must often frequently ask why it was that those who had the custody and the disposal of these cases should have been blind to their mental shortcomings. As Dr. Goddard very properly says, the reason is simply in the lack of knowledge of such conditions and in a lack of experience with these high-grade types who do not commonly find their way into institutions.
Of especial interest are the author's comments upon the use of the Binet-Simon tests. Probably no one in this country has had more experience with these tests than Dr. Goddard, and his interpretation of some of the results in these cases affords very valuable insight into his ideas of the meanings of the tests.
Following the description of the three cases that the book is written about, there are chapters upon responsibility arid upon punishment. These are simple statements of the situation that will commend themselves to practically every reader. The great question is, How is society going to prevent such crimes as are here recorded? not so much what it is going to do with the offender afterwards. That will be taken care of one way or another, but certainly potential murderers of this character could be picked out in a large proportion of cases if opportunity were had to examine the child. It would seem that our school system affords an ideal opportunity. Here the children of the entire community are gathered together in one place. Is it not the duty of society to utilize this opportunity for picking out those defective children at least who are potentially dangerous?
Dr. Goddard's book will be welcomed by all who are interested in the mental hygiene movement. It should be read by every District Attorney and every Judge who presides in a criminal court. The author has done a distinct service in spreading the new gospel of the importance of mental disease and defect.
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