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In its light I saw Bristol lying like a dead man. Close

time:2023-11-29 12:27:25Classification:birdsource:qsj

William was in fairly good physical condition. No sensory defect. Weight 125 lbs.; height 5 ft. 3 in. Although well enough developed in other ways he was a marked case of delayed puberty; as yet no pubescence. Strength only fair; for his age, muscles decidedly flabby. A high, broad forehead. Large nose. Peculiar curl of the upper lip. Small, weak chin. These features give him a peculiar appearance--readily interpretable as showing weakness of character. Cranium notably large. With small amount of hair measurements were: circumference 57.8; length 19.6; breadth 15.5 cm. (Head same size as father's.) Expression downcast. Voice high pitched. ``Under dog'' attitude. Slouchy. No analgesia or other signs of hysteria.

In its light I saw Bristol lying like a dead man. Close

The performance on tests was peculiarly irregular. In this monograph we have omitted discussion of the results of separate tests, but the citation of the summary as dictated when the case was first studied will prove instructive: The work done on our tests was very irregular, peculiarly so. Perceptions good and most phases of the memory processes fair, but in reasoning ability and especially in tests which require the application of some foresight the results are poor indeed. The failure is remarkable in proportion to what he could do in school work and to his abilities in some other ways. He reads fluently, writes a very good hand, and in arithmetic is able to do long division, but showed no grasp of good method. When at his best he sticks at a job well enough, but does it with no intelligence and does not save himself in the least by thoughtful procedures. We were interested to note that in a game which he said he had played a great deal, namely checkers, he made the most foolish and shortsighted moves. It is only fair to say that this boy varied in his performance from time to time; his emotional condition largely controlled his performance.

In its light I saw Bristol lying like a dead man. Close

On the ``Aussage'' or Testimony Test he gave a functional account upon free recital, with 15 details. On questioning he gave 13 more items. Out of the entire number only 3 minor errors. Of 5 suggestions proffered none was accepted.

In its light I saw Bristol lying like a dead man. Close

There was a great deal more to be said about this boy's mental peculiarities than what was evidenced by the giving of tests. Our observations of him made at intervals over a period of several months corroborated entirely the statements of several others, including members of his own family. The boy was remarkably unstable in his ideas and purposes. What he apparently sincerely wanted to do and be at one time was entirely different at another. His changeableness was shown in many ways. When he had been found apparently suitable employment or a new home he often would stay only a few days. The father's first statement that the boy was a craven was borne out by all that we saw. He was too cowardly to be ``tough,'' but he was a persistent runaway and vagrant. He sometimes used an assumed name. In general demeanor he was good natured, but always restless. Not the least of his peculiarities was his ready weeping. It was amazing to see so large a fellow draw down his chin and sob like a young child. He was easily frightened at night. Under observation he had peculiar episodes of behavior. Once in a school-room, without any known provocation, he suddenly began to cry and scream, picked up a chair and soon had the entire room cleared out. A moment afterwards he was found sobbing and bewailing his lot because he ``never had a fair chance.'' On another occasion his legs strangely gave out and he had to be carried to bed by his fellows. The next morning a physician found him with his legs drawn up and apparently very sensitive over his back and other parts of his body, but with a little encouragement all his symptoms soon disappeared. He gave a history of having had convulsions, but this was found to be untrue. He was a ``bluffer'' among boys; when met valiantly showed always great cowardice.

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.


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