Definition of IDIOCY


IDIOCY

med. jur. That condition of mind, in which the
reflective, or all or a part of the affective powers, are either
entirely wanting, or are manifested to the least possible extent.

2. Idiocy generally depends upon organic defects. The most
striking physical trait, and one seldom wanting, is the diminutive
size of the head, particularly of the anterior superior portions,
indicating a deficiency of the anterior lobes of the brain.
According to Gall, whose observations on this subject are entitled
to great consideration, its circumference, measured immediately
over the orbiter arch, and the most prominent part of the occipital
bone, is between 11 and 14 inches. Gall, sur les Fonctions, p.
329. In the intelligent adult, it usually measures from 21 to 22
inches. Chit. Med. Jur. 248. See, ou this subject, the learned work
of Dr. Morton, of Philadelphia*, entitled Crania Americana. The
brain of an idiot equals that of a new born infant; that is, about
one-fourth, one-fifth, or one-sixth of the cerebral mass of an
adult s in the enjoyment of his faculties. The above is the only
constant character. observed in the heads of idiots. In other
respects their forms are as various as those of other persons. When
idiocy supervenes in early infancy, the head is sometime remarkable
for immense size. This unnatural enlargement arises from some kind
of morbid action preventing the development of the cerebral mass,
and producing serous cysts, dropsical effusions, and the like.

3. In idiocy the features are irregular; the forehead low,
retreating, and narrowed to a point; the eyes are unsteady, and
often squint the lips are. thick, and the mouth is generally
open; the gums are spongy, and the teeth are defective; the limbs
are crooked and feeble. The senses are usually entirely wanting;
many are deaf and dumb, or blind and others are incapable of
perceiving odors, and show little or no discrimination in their
food for want of taste. Their movements are constrained and
awkward, they walk badly, and easily fall, and are not less awkward
with their hands, dropping generally what is given to them. They
are seldom able to articulate beyond a few sounds. They are
generally affected with rickets, epilepsy, scrofula, or paralysis.
Its subjects seldom live beyond the twenty-fifth year, and are
incurable, as there is natural deformity which cannot be remedied.
Vide Chit. Med. Jur. 345; Ray s Med. Jur. c. 2; 1 Beck s Med. Jur.
571 Shelf. on Lun. Index, h. t.; and Idiot.

Source: Bouviers Law Dictionary 1856 Edition

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