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History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

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Full-Text Articles in European History

Vile Blood: Hereditary Degeneracy In Victorian England, Dalton Lee Brock May 2019

Vile Blood: Hereditary Degeneracy In Victorian England, Dalton Lee Brock

Theses and Dissertations from 2019

During the late 1800s, the people of England grew anxious about hereditary degeneracy. That anxiety was rooted in the medical literature of the Victorian period. Nature predetermined individuals to be either healthy or unhealthy. Unhealthy individuals were marked by degenerative mental or physical characteristics such as epilepsy. Medical professionals, including Henry Maudsley, emphasized reversion and its hereditary nature as a threat to individuals and society. All based their works and arguments on Charles Darwin’s idea of inheritance. Darwin, in turn, had adopted and modified Lamarckian inheritance to make up for the absence of an inheritance principle in his theory ...