Eugenics and mental institutions in the early 1900's - James Watson
Interviewee: James Watson. James Watson discusses how eugenicists reacted to the problem of mental illness and sought to lessen the threat of the "unfit" to the United States. Here he talks about eugenics was a response to mental institutions into which people entered and never left. (DNAi Location: Chronicle > Threat of the Unfit > Threats > Response to mental hospitals)
Most people now don't remember when there was a mass of mental hospitals throughout the country, throughout in fact the civilized world. There was no treatment for mental illness, the people went into them and they never left. And this was, eugenics was I think the response to these large hospitals, how can we not have the continued need for people to enter them and never leave them, but there was a social horror of these hospitals and so I don't regard Davenport as an evil man, by the end of his life you could say he did dreadful science, and they were sort of telling the people there was science behind it and there wasn't science, there was just some unfit people and how do you handle it.
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- ID: 15440
- Source: DNALC.DNAi
James Watson how science was misused to support eugenics.
James Watson talks about Eugenicists were concerned about the increasing cost of caring for the feebleminded, because they were thought to reproduce more quickly than normal individuals.
"Feeblemindedness," a catch-all mental illness characterized mainly by low scores on intelligence tests and supposed promiscuity, was a major concern of eugenicists.
James Watson talks about eugenics, race discrimination, and anti-immigration laws in the United States.
Eugenicists were concerned about the hundreds of thousands of southern and eastern Europeans who were entering the country each year through the U.S. immigration facility at Ellis Island,
Types of aliens awaiting admission at Ellis Island station. Source: National Park Service, Statue of Liberty National Monument.
The Nazis used the same techniques to deal with mental patients and Jews.
James Watson talks about The American eugenics movement and bad science
There was no gas chamber near to Danzig, so mental patients there were shot. Here Benno MÃ¼ller-Hill takes James Watson on a tour of the gas chamber at Bernberg Psychiatric Hospital, one of six euthanasia facilities for mental patients established in 1940
James Watson talks about methods used by Davenport and the Eugenics Record Office.