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JAMA 100 Years Ago | February 1, 1913|

SURGERY FOR CRIMINAL TENDENCIES

JAMA. 2013;309(5):423. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.145199.
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February 1, 1913

An interesting after-development in a surgical case which attracted much attention about four years ago has just occurred. A prisoner serving a long sentence in the prison at Dannemora, N. Y., was pardoned by Governor White on representations which seemed to make it clear that he had been cured of his criminal tendencies by a surgical operation. The prisoner was comparatively young, but from boyhood had been noted for his tendencies to appropriate the property of others, not only by faking, but by clever frauds and by forgery. When given this long term he had carefully studied his own case, it was said, and had found that at the age of about 14 he had been struck on the head with a fence-picket. The result was a fracture of the skull for which the subsequent prisoner had to stay for a long time in the hospital. Before this, according to the story as detailed by the prisoner, he had been an exemplary youth. After this he became morose, sullen and a thief, and stole from every one. Becoming convinced that his criminal tendencies were due to this injury to his head, he sent for the family physician who had treated him, not for the injury, but some years afterward.

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