The question of inheritance of similar mental traits is, of course, important. We have found absolutely no proof of the trait of pathological lying, as such, being inherited. The reader will note with interest particularly the facts in Cases 2 and 4, where we at first thought we had to deal with inheritance, but later found there was no blood relationship between the supposed parent and child. In those instances the lying of the younger individual was much more likely to be the result of psychic contagion, and this also may be largely the explanation of Cases 6 and 8, where an older relative was well known to be a prevaricator. The bad inheritance in these cases then turns out to be, corroborating what we found in studying the general problem of criminality, a matter of coming from stock that shows defects in various ways-all making, however, in the offspring for moral instability.
``Inheritance as a Factor in Criminality. A Study of a Thousand Cases of Young Repeated Offenders.'' Edith R. Spaulding and William Healy. pp. 24. Bulletin of the American Academy of Medicine, Vol. XV. February 1914.
Developmental Physical Conditions. Inquiry into our 19 mentally normal cases gave the following findings: Antenatal conditions were defective in 2 cases on account of syphilis and in one case from advanced age of the mother. The accident during pregnancy to the mother in one case, the severe mental shock in another, and the effect of illegitimacy in still another we can not evaluate. In 2 cases there were operative births with, however, no bad results known. One was a twin. Early severe disease of the nervous system was experienced by one, and convulsions during infancy by two others. Another suffered from some unknown very severe early illness, and one from prolonged digestive disturbance in infancy. Three had in early childhood several severe illnesses, one had a long attack of ``chorea.'' Two suffered from general nervousness, incited in one case by the excessive use of tea and in the other by a similar use of coffee. One was an habitual masturbator from childhood. Difficult menstruation was reported in only one case. In 5 cases there was a quite normal early developmental period, according to reliable accounts. In 3 cases the early developmental histories are completely unknown, and in 3 others uncertain. The data of developmental history in the border-line types may be easily noted in the case histories.
Previous Ailments. Ailments suffered from in our 19 cases after the early developmental period amount to very little. The several gynecological troubles have been mentioned above under the head of Physical Conditions. In one other case there had been urethritis previously. Head injuries, which play such a significant part in the study of criminalistics, find no place in our mentally normal series, but should always be kept in mind in considering the border-line types. Epilepsy as a possible factor in criminalistic problem cases is to be remembered.
Habits. We have already mentioned the effect upon nervous conditions of excessive tea and coffee in two of our cases. Masturbation, including its indirect effect, particularly upon the psyche, appears to be a very important feature of these cases. We should be far from considering that we have full data on all of our cases and yet this stands out most strongly. We have had positive reports from relatives or from the individual showing this certainly to be a factor in 7 out of the 19 cases. This is a very large finding, when it is considered that the data are frequently unobtainable. Of course we are not speaking here of masturbation per se, but only of the fact of its ascertained relationship to the pathological lying. This is only part of the whole matter of sex experience which, we find upon gathering our material together, plays such an enormous role.
Age of Onset. It is very easy to see that the tendency to pathological lying begins in the early formative years. Common-sense observation of general character building would tend to make us readily believe that if an individual got through the formative years of life with a normal hold upon veracity he would never become a pathological liar. We can see definite beginnings at certain critically formative periods, as in Case 6 and perhaps in Case 3, but our material shows that most cases demonstrate more gradually insidious beginnings. (Case 21 is in this respect in a class by itself.) As we stated in our introduction, it is clear from the previous studies of older individuals that the nature of the beginnings were not learned because it was too late. Our material offers unusual opportunities in this direction and shows the fact of genesis in childhood most clearly. For specific and often most interesting details we refer the reader to our various case histories.
Sex. Our findings show only 1 male out of 19 mentally normal cases. A general observation by practical students of conduct, namely, that females tend to deviate from the truth more readily than males, is more than thoroughly borne out here. There are certainly several social and psychological reasons for this, but they need not be gone into here. If our figures seem not to be corroborated by the findings of previous students it is only because the figures are not comparable-- the latter have mixed the mentally abnormal with the pathological liars proper. It will be noted that in our examples of border-line cases 5 out of the 8 are males. Cases of pathological swindling by mentally abnormal individuals, such as we have avoided, make up much of the foreign literature. We can easily see that the social opportunities for swindling are vastly greater for males than those offered to the opposite sex. Sex differences, as in many instances, must not be taken here too seriously because social environment, differing so greatly for the sexes, is largely responsible for the behavior which we superficially judge to be entirely the expression of innate characteristics.
Environment. We are far from feeling that a mere enumeration of material environmental conditions tells the story of environmental influences important for our present subject. The psyche is frequently most profoundly affected by environmental conditions which even a trained observer would not detect. But conditions in the total number of unselected cases show something, and, for whatever it is worth, we offer the following enumeration of environment in our 19 normal cases, who with much more reason might be expected to be largely influenced by surroundings than our group of border-line cases.