30 JANUARY 1926, Page 17


[To the Editor of the Srscrxroa.] 5114—Will you permit me to point out two grave objections to Mr. Cox's. proposed' method of dealing with the mentally Unfit. The first is that sterilization is an irretrievable pro- cedure and may involve grave injustice to the individual. It would be chiefly useful in dealing with "high-grade defec- tives," and it is precisely with regard to this Class that there is a possibility of mistaken diagnosis.

, The second objection Is the more important, and is this : Sterilization deals only with one aspect' of the trouble. How- ever dealt with, if still it large, the mental defective is still a miserable being and a menace to society. He (and she) will still crowd our prisons and our workhouses, still be the means of spreading contagious disease, still suffer and be the cause of suffering in others.

Segregation is the only humane, the only effective way of dealing with the mental defective. It is also the only eco- nomical way. It is constantly forgotten that, in asking for segregation for our mental weaklings, we are not asking society to bear any fresh burden of expense. These unfortunate fellow-creatures are already being "kept." They are being most expensively provided for as criminals, paupers and invalids. What we ask is that they shall be suitably provided for, with economy to the nation now and in the future, and in such a manner as will give them happy lives and turn to good account their powers of work, which are often considerable. I have dealt only, with the question of mental defectives. Their problem is quite separate from that of the insane. Insanity is a mental disease. Feebleness of mind is a mental condition, not variable or in any way due to environment. The two problems call for consideration from totally different points of view.—I am, Sir, &c., MARY BENDY.