There has been so pronounced an attempt, in late years, to associate every physical and moral abnormality, sexual inversion especially, with so-called "degeneration," that a few words in reference to the latter term may not be out of place. Accurately speaking, every individual who deviates from a common standard is a degenerate. In this sense the sexual invert is a degenerate. So is the color-blind person, the religious fanatic, the kleptomaniac, the incendiary, the misogynist, the man who parts his hair in the middle, and the man who eats too much.
.Much has been said and written about the "stigmata of degeneration" by persons who profess to regard the culmination of these as an accidental, or episodical, syndrome of hereditary constitutional taint; without pausing to consider just what such a vague generalization means, or involves.
When we are brought face to face with a number of well-defined abnormalities in an individual, though they may, as I have before stated, have an hereditary basis, they are quite as likely to be the result of simple obsession from without; and in any case, there can be no greater tendency in the parent impulse to manifest itself in increasingly concrete forms, than to become diffused into diminishing minor abnormalities; the suggestion of Nacke, that an inverted impulse is an obsession, developing from a neurasthenic root, appealing to the mind with a considerable degree of philosophic force.
If acquired characters were under all circumstances cumulative, there would be no normal being in the world; and if heredity were half so potent in the production of sexual inversion as literary and journalistic cant would lead us to suppose, heterosexual marriage would long ago have disappeared as an institution from the earth.'
' All things considered, I am inclined to agree with the dictum of a certain witty writer, that the only vice which we really and unmistakably inherit from our ancestors is that of getting married.