DOI link for PERSONAL DEGENERACY
PERSONAL DEGENERACY book
The question of personal degeneracy is a phase of the question of right or wrong and is ultimately determined by conscience. As a mental trait, marking a person off as, in some sense, worse than others in the same social group, degeneracy appears to consist in some lack in the higher organization of thought. In a higher degenerate of the unstable type, there is a conscience, but it is vacillating in its judgments, transient in duration, and ineffectual in control, proportionally to the mental disintegration which it reflects. The voice of conscience, with them, is certain to be chiefly an echo of temporary emotions, because a synthesis embracing long periods of time is beyond their range. With those whose defect is rigidity rather than instability, conscience may exist and may control the life; the trouble with it is, that it is not in key with the consciences of other people.