We felt much inclined at first to denominate him a case of abulia, but his stubbornness in recalcitrancy led us to change our opinion. From the above physical signs and mental phenomena he was clearly a constitutional inferior.
Some facts we obtained on the family history were most significant. The mother of William suffered from attacks which were undoubtedly epileptic. Her mother, in turn, had convulsions at least during one pregnancy. We did not learn whether or not she had them at other times. No other points of significance in that family are known. The father himself was brought up, as he says, strictly, but he was inclined to be wild, and he has indulged for many years altogether too much in tobacco and alcohol. He is distinctly a weak type and the poorest specimen of his family. William is the only child. There was nothing peculiar in developmental history until he was 2 1/2 years old when he suffered from ``brain fever and spinal meningitis.'' This was said to have left him with a stiff right arm and to account for his being left handed. (We could discover no difference in the reflexes.) Then at another period he was sick in bed for 6 months with some unknown, but not very serious illness. The mother has been dead for years and so we were unable to get accurate details about this. At a very early age William sought the pleasures of tobacco, even when a child of 6 or 7 he used his pennies for that purpose. He was brought up in an environment defective on account of his father being a poor earner and weak in discipline. But still his parent took for years a great deal of interest in him and it was not until the boy had proven himself most difficult that his father proclaimed himself unable to manage his son.
At about 10 years of age William began running away from home and manufacturing untrue stories. One of his favorite statements was that his father had been killed in an accident. It is notable that all these years he has been attempting to gain sympathy for this or that assumed condition, whether it be his own alleged physical ailments, or fictitious family difficulties. As a matter of fact, during this time he has been in some good homes, failing each time to comport himself so that he could be retained there. It was typical that he reiterated, ``I have no friends; there is no one to stick up for me.'' Besides being in three institutions before he was 16 years old, William had been in homes which he had found when he had run away, or in which he had been placed by his father or by social agencies, the services of which had been evoked. His stealing was often done with an extraordinary lack of foresight. For instance, in one good position that had been found for him he took a box of cigars, when, of course, as the newcomer he would have been suspected, and even after his employers made it clear to him that they knew of the theft he took another box the next day. His lying under all occasions was nothing short of astonishing. To even his best friends he offered all sorts of fabulous tales which one iota of forethought would have made him realize would redound to his disadvantage. Almost his only show of common sense in this was when he gave an assumed name while getting a new position, and even this performance could hardly be considered deeply rational. It is hardly necessary to give lengthy specimens of his falsifications; they always pervaded his stories about himself, but strangely enough he acknowledged many of his delinquencies. A good example of the latter was when he collected a little money for a new employer and on the way back, looking in a shop window, saw an electrical toy and immediately bought it. He then went home, not even returning to the office to get the wages which were due him. An example of his lying is his responses to questions about his schooling. He maintained that he only reached the third grade. (In reality he could do sixth grade work at least.) He said, ``I know long division by about 13 and about 5 figures. I don't know it by any other numbers.'' William maintained these same characteristics over the 6 years during which we have good data about him. We know he continued the same kind of a career for a year or so afterwards.
Three years later we have direct information from his family concerning William. His habits of prevarication have been kept up steadily, so it is stated. He has been in and out of institutions and at present is serving a sentence for larceny. He all along has been unwilling to face realities and has lied against his own interests continually. For instance, we are told that if he lost a place, instead of obtaining the help his family would have been willing to give him in gaining another, he would steadily pretend to be holding the former position. He is still considered utterly unreliable and a thoroughly weak character with a tendency to meet a situation as readily by a lie as another person would tend to react by speaking the truth. People who have known him of late speak of him as being at 21 ``just the same fellow,'' which probably indicates that he is thoroughly a victim of habit formation as well as of innate tendencies.
--------------------------------------------------------------- Mentality. (Typical constitutional inferior.) Case 26. Boy, age 16 years. Heredity: Mother epileptic. Maternal grandmother had convulsions. Father alcoholic and tobacco in excess--weak type. Developmental conditions: Early disease of the central nervous system. Delinquencies: Mentality: Running away. Abilities irregular, Stealing. psychic episodes. Lying. ---------------------------------------------------------------
Summary: Case of a boy, age 16 years, who told the most extraordinary stories of his vagrant life and the character of his family to officers of several organizations who tried to help him. He understood well that evidences of his unreliability would count against him. His stories, although often repeated, were not credited, and later, after a home had been found for him, he began a new series of lies that seemed almost delusional and somewhat paranoidal. After months during which much had been done for him it was suddenly discovered that he was an epileptic.
John F. appealed to an agency for assistance. He told a story of having wandered with his brother since he was a young boy. ``My father was insane from what my uncle did to my mother. He drowned her. The house caught on fire and he blamed her for it. She said she didn't. She was too sick to get up and he took her out of the house and his big son pumped water on her. She was pretty near dead anyhow. We was too little to do anything. I seen it. I remember that all right. I can see that yet Brother and sister died about 3 years ago. Brother took sick from sleeping out. We slept around in barns for 2 years. Father was in an insane hospital in Kansas. I think my uncle was hanged at N. Junction. We did not stay there. I remember yet when they went to put my mother in the grave. I jumped in with her. We put right out and after awhile folks wrote that father was dead.''
So much attention would not have been paid to this gruesome tale had it not been repeated to various people during the course of several months. The boy wrote letters reiterating these incidents. His stories always went on to include the most surprising amount of abuse. It seemed that everywhere he had been illtreated. Farmers had whipped him, or clothed him badly, or defrauded him of his wages.