General Inntroduction To Forensic Psychology HTML version

medical practitioners proceeded upon two general assumptions:
one as to the cause of disease, the other as to its treatment. As to
the cause of disease,—disease was sent by the inscrutable will of
God. No man could fathom that will, nor its arbitrary operation. As
to the treatment of disease, there were believed to be a few
remedial agents of universal efficacy. Calomel and bloodletting,
for example, were two of the principal ones. A larger or <p vi>
smaller dose of calomel, a greater or less quantity of bloodletting,
—this blindly indiscriminate mode of treatment was regarded as
orthodox for all common varieties of ailment. And so his calomel
pill and his bloodletting lances were carried everywhere with him
by the doctor.
Nowadays, all this is past, in medical science. As to the causes of
disease, we know that they are facts of nature,—various, but
distinguishable by diagnosis and research, and more or less capable
of prevention or control or counter-action. As to the treatment, we
now know that there are various specific modes of treatment for
specific causes or symptoms, and that the treatment must be
adapted to the cause. In short, the individualization of disease, in
cause and in treatment, is the dominant truth of modern medical
The same truth is now known about crime; but the understanding
and the application of it are just opening upon us. The old and still
dominant thought is, as to cause, that a crime is caused by the
inscrutable moral free will of the human being, doing or not doing
the crime, just as it pleases; absolutely free in advance, at any
moment of time, to choose or not to choose the criminal act, and
therefore in itself the sole and ultimate cause of crime. As to
treatment, there still are just two traditional measures, used in
varying doses for all kinds of crime and all kinds of persons,— jail,
or a fine (for death is now employed in rare cases only). But
modern science, here as in medicine, recognizes that crime also
(like disease) has natural causes. It need not be asserted for one