The dipsomaniac and the sexual exhibitionist— both victims of "irresistible impulse"—furnish partial manifestations of a clinical whole—insanity; the dipsomania periodica being the impulse of the drink appetite, as the other is of the sexual; both often accompanied by terrible anxiety, and both giving place, after realization, to feelings of intense relief;1 but the fact that one is relieved by material stimuli, which is lacking in the other case, sufficiently shows that, while similar in their manifestation, they arise from radically different conditions. And the two impulses? Are they both irresistiblef This is a quite proper test of insanity; at least to the medical mind. The question of Lord Bramwell, in the celebrated Dove Case, "Could he help it?" is not to be considered as a possible cover for social or sexual delinquency, but as pointing to a grave pathological problem, which it is the business of medicine rather than law to solve.1
" It ought to be the law of England," said Justice Stephen, "that no act is a crime if the person who does it is, at the time when it is done, prevented by defective mental power, or by any disease affecting his mind, from controlling his conduct, unless the absence of the power of self-control has been produced by his own default." It is obvious that such a law would give the shield of irresponsibility to the sexual offender, in the two cases cited it will be borne in mind that the above refers to French law; the American courts leaning, for the most part, to a much greater severity.—AUTHOR.] above, dipsomania and exhibitionism, and withhold it from the drunkard; which would be in perfect accordance, in point of fact, with the best interpretations of law, in its practical application to crime.1 With reference to the question of responsibility in sexual offences, conditions that are hereditary, or that tend to retard cerebral development in infancy, or early years, rachitis, spinal disease, masturbation, or cigarette smoking, are medico-tegally important in fixing the degree of subsequent responsibility. While these are largely habits of volition, they are, nevertheless, unlike those found in later years, the product of immature judgment, and hence more deserving of judicial clemency, as well as of pathological consideration.
1 Vid "Etude Medico-Legale eur L'Alcoholism," Wtault, Paris, 1887, p. 237. "Responsibility is zero whenever the crime belongs to the period of acute, or subacute, delirium in the alcoholic attack. It is zero, also, when the subject is a chronic alcoholic, in whom definite cerebral lesions have affected the integrity of the brain. Responsibility is lessened in individuals, of feeble intelligence, in whom tolerance for alcoholic diinfci has diminished on account of the conditions incident to the inferiority of their cerebral organization. It does not disappear entirely where the individuals know thai they cannot drink without danger. The responsibility is lessened when it can be shown that the individual was involuntarily surprised by drunkenness. Responsibility exists fully in drunkenness, where the delinquent had the power of avoiding this condition." (Mac-Donald, "The Abnormal Man," pp. 125-6.)