Part 4 out of 5
Summary: A girl of 13 during the last year or more had been
lying excessively and in uncalled-for ways. She also obtained
money by misrepresentations and had made false charges of sex
assault against a stranger. To be thought of as causative
factors were defects of environment and possibly heredity,
markedly imperfect vision, improperly obtained sex knowledge, and
a distinct mental conflict.
We were asked to study this Emma X. on account of the various
social issues involved in her case. Her family found her beyond
control; she had been expelled from school; by her false
accusations she had created much trouble for the police in her
home town; officials of a public welfare agency found her
altogether difficult to understand. We obtained an account of
the case from several sources, including the mother.
The trouble with her had begun about a year previously. She had
been notoriously untruthful, and had forged a relative's name to
the extent of obtaining $40--in small sums. Emma remained out
late in the evening sometimes, and on three occasions stayed out
all night. The first time this happened she came home scratched
and untidy and told a sensational story which led to much
newspaper notoriety. She said a man took her to the woods--this
was in the summertime--and kept her there all night. A loafer in
the town, who was arrested the next day, she positively
identified as the one who had assaulted her. This man was later
discharged in the police court, however, because he abundantly
proved an alibi, and because by this time the girl's story had
become so twisted that even the mother did not believe it. A
physician's examination also tended to prove that no assault had
After this Emma was known to sleep one night in a cellar
coal-bin. In stealing and general lying she became worse until
with a change of residence to an uncle's home she improved for a
time. It was after a little backsliding that we saw her.
The mother frankly tells us that the girl's mind must be
affected; otherwise how could she act as she does. Emma has
complained frequently of headaches and of a little dizziness.
She has lately been lonely for a sister who went away. For the
last two years Emma has not seemed altogether well; she has been
nervous. A time ago she had for a friend a girl who spoke too
freely with men, and her mother stopped the companionship. This
other girl has a sister in the Industrial School. Emma's mother
does not know of any definite harm done by the companionship.
During the pregnancy with Emma the mother had a rather hard time
for a while on account of the severe illness of another child.
The pregnancy began when the mother was still nursing a baby.
However, when Emma was born she proved to be a healthy and normal
child. Birth was normal. No convulsions. First walked and
talked at the usual age. She was a fat child until 8 years, and
then, after an attack of pneumonia, she began to ail somewhat.
At 10 years tonsils and adenoids were removed. The mother had no
knowledge of Emma's defective vision. Emma started to school at
7 years, but at 13 had reached only the 5th grade.
There are 8 living children in the family; one died in infancy.
There has never been much illness among them. Most of them did
well in school. The family physician says the boys show a
``queer streak,'' but nothing, evidently, at all well defined as
compared with the career of Emma, whom he characterizes as a
``moral pervert.'' The mother is a well-meaning, hard-working,
moderately intelligent woman of about 45. She is said to be
somewhat slack in her household, but perfectly honest. The
father is desperately alcoholic and peculiar at times. It is not
known that his aberrations are ever shown apart from his
drinking. Years ago he was in a hospital for the insane for
several months as an alcoholic patient. The trouble with this
girl is said to have led him to drink again. Both parents were
from immigrant families. It is positively denied that there are
any cases of insanity, feeblemindedness, or epilepsy on either
side. Some other members of the family are known to have better
On the physical side we found a small child for her age; weight
81 lbs., height 4 ft. 9 in. Nutrition and color fairly good.
Vision about 20/80 R. and 20/60 L.; never had glasses. Crowded
teeth. High Gothic palate. Regular features. Expression
peculiarly stiff with eyes wide open. Flushes readily. With
encouragement smiles occasionally. Other examination negative.
Tonsils, and probably adenoids, removed three years previously;
formerly had trouble with breathing through the nose. Complains
much of frequent frontal headaches. Says she gets dizzy often in
Our ``psychological impressions,'' dictated by Dr. Bronner, state
that at first we found Emma very quiet and diffident, possibly
somewhat shy and timid. At best she did not talk freely, only in
monosyllables as a rule. She appears rather nervous. She says
she thinks of lots of things she does not speak of. Emma smiles
in friendly enough fashion, and later became more at ease, and
more talkative. She was rather deliberate in work with tests.
With concrete material she did better than with tasks more purely
mental. She succeeds eventually with nearly everything, but is
slow. She seems anxious to do well, but acts as if unable to
rouse herself to any great effort. She is quite inaccurate in
arithmetic, and only fair in other school studies. Emotions
normal. In many ways appears normally childish. Her interest in
fairy tales and in the type of make-believe plays in which she
engages with her younger sisters seems mixed with her wonderment
in regard to sex life. There is a distinct tendency to
In reviewing the results of tests the only peculiarities to be
noted are a definite weakness displayed in the powers of mental
representation and analysis (she failed on Test X, usually
readily done at 12 years), and a rather undue amount of
suggestibility and inaccuracy in response to the ``Aussage'' test
(Test VI). The latter, naturally-to-be-supposed important test
in a case where lying was a characteristic, showed a result that
belonged to the imaginative, inaccurate, and partially
suggestible type. Many details of the picture were recalled
correctly, but a few were manufactured to order, and 4 out of 7
suggestions were accepted.
About the general diagnosis of mentality there could be no doubt;
the girl had fair ability, but there had been poor educational
advantages on account of extremely defective vision. No signs of
mental aberration were discovered.
Our attempt to try to help Emma decide why she got into so much
difficulty resulted in a most convincing discovery of beginnings.
We found a keynote to the situation in asking her about the
companionship which the mother had said she had broken up. It
seems that Emma had for a year, quite clandestinely, been
familiar with this family. She apparently now desired to reveal
the results of the acquaintance. Long ago the older sister, at
present in a Reform School, boasted of her escapades with boys.
Emma states that she herself never talked of these topics with
her mother, who had said that girls who don't do such things
should not talk about them. But Tessie, the younger sister of
the delinquent girl, says many bad words about boys. These words
and ideas about them bother Emma much. They come up in her mind,
``sometimes at night and sometimes in the day.'' She even dreams
much about them and about boys. ``I seen the girls do bad things
with boys. It is in the dream, it was in the house, in the front
room on the floor.'' Emma says she never saw it in reality, but
Tessie had boys in their front room when she went there, and then
came running out when she heard Emma coming. She wonders just
what Tessie does. Boys never bother Emma, but all these ideas
bother her. ``Then I think that the boys are going to do it to
me.'' In school she cannot study for this reason. ``Sure, when
I start to study it comes up. I just think about what she tells
me, Tessie. She tells me she liked to do these things with
This little girl in the couple of interviews we had with her gave
vent to much expression of all this which had perplexed her, and
she really seemed to want help. She was very willing to have her
mother told. She went on finally to say that the delinquent girl
had taught her long ago about masturbation and that she thinks of
it every night in bed. She can give no explanation of why she
runs away and why she falsely accused the man. She says it was
not true at all what she said about him. She thinks she would
behave better if she were less bothered about the things which
those girls taught her. Emma says she questioned a young woman
relative who did not tell her any more than her mother did.
Regarding her diversions Emma says that she likes reading,
especially fairy tales. She reads mostly Andersen's Fairy Tales.
She enjoys dressing up as a grown lady and playing make-believe.
She particularly likes to go to bed early and lie and imagine
things. She imagines sometimes that she is grown up and married
and has her own home and children.
The neglect, through ignorance, of the several genetic features
of Emma's case was quite clear. The mother was made acquainted
with the facts, which her little daughter then affirmed to her,
and she promised to alter conditions. We insisted on attention
to Emma's eyes and general physical conditions, on removal from
neighborhood association with these old companions, on the
necessity for motherly confidences, on watchfulness to break up
sex habits, and on the development of better mental interests.
Through relatives in the home town it seemed there was some
chance to get these remedial measures undertaken.
A year and a half later we can state that a certain number of our
suggestions were followed out. The mother gained a better
understanding of the case and there were some, although not
enough, environmental changes. The father's mental condition has
been much better, perhaps because he has largely refrained from
drink, and consequently family affairs are more stable. The girl
herself is said not to be doing perfectly either in school or
home life, but to be vastly improved. We have obtained no
definite statement concerning whether she now lies at all or not,
but it is sure that Emma has engaged in no more egregious types
of prevarications and in no more false accusations. Competent
observers think the case is fairly promising in its general moral
aspects if environmental conditions continue to improve.
Mental conflict. Case 14.
Improper sex teachings. Girl, age 13.
Home conditions: Lack of understanding
False accusations. Ability fair.
Obtaining money by false representations.
Summary: Girl of 16, over a period of some weeks made extreme
accusations against several members of her family. She gave
detailed account of sex immorality, alleged drunkenness and
thieving, and an attack on her own life. She had herself, it was
found, begun delinquent tendencies. The family circumstances and
her clearly detailed account gave the color of possibility to her
accusations, but investigation proved some of them false, and all
of a sudden, after maintaining for long a most convincing
demeanor, she withdrew her allegations. Both before and since
this episode she has given no marked evidence of being a
We were asked to study this case by police officials who thought
perhaps the girl was the victim of some delusional state. She
appeared at the police station and informed them her adult
brother had been thieving from the place where he worked. She
lived with him. Investigation by detectives on the strength of
her convincingly given details proved his innocence. When the
brother appeared on the scene he said he had been intending to
report her on account of her being away from home. She herself
was then held in custody.
We found a girl in very good general physical condition. Well
developed in sex characteristics and a very mature type of face.
Outside of a somewhat enlarged thyroid and moderately defective
vision, we found nothing abnormal. Weight 114 lbs.; height 5 ft.
Notable was her strong features, deep set eyes, high, broad
forehead and sharp chin.
Our study of her on the mental side led us to denominate her as
having fair general ability. She had had poor educational
advantages. We noted much irregularity on work on tests. She
did comparatively poorly on anything that called for careful
attention and concentration. This was especially notable when
she was dealing with abstractions or situations to be mentally
represented. Although she could do arithmetic up to simple
division she made a bad failure in the continued process of
subtraction as given in the Kraepelin test of taking 8's from
100. In the work on the Code, Test XI, she found it altogether
impossible to keep her mind concentrated. In tests where
perceptions were largely brought into play she did very well. We
noticed that she was possessed of a very dramatic manner. She
sighed frequently as she worked. She was very nervous,
continually moving her hands and tapping the table. She was
quite satisfied with her superficial efforts. It was very
curious that we, as well as others, were able to note her
apparent sincere belief in her own statements about her family.
As she made them she looked the interviewer straight in the eyes;
there was not a hint of evasiveness.
Her result on the ``Aussage'' (Test VI) was very meager. She
only recalled 10 details of the picture. On cross- examination
she gave correctly 14 more items and was wrong on 3 of them. She
accepted only 2 out of 5 suggestions offered and these were the
most probable ones.
A full family history was never to be obtained. The best that we
came ultimately to know was that her father and mother had been
long dead and she had lived in institutions for years, then with
a relative who was not at all a good person, and then with her
brother and sister, whom she bitterly accused. These were people
in decidedly poor circumstances and living in very congested
quarters. Indeed, we were inclined to believe, finally, that
crowded housing conditions with the necessary unfortunate
familiarity with sex affairs and the like was largely responsible
for her trouble. A few months prior to these events she had
become acquainted with a girl who had drawn her into running away
from home a few nights. During her unsettled home life she had
seen a good deal of immorality in other houses, but had not been
immoral herself. Conditions of squalor surrounded the whole
Her accusations against her family as told to others, and
reiterated to us, involved the drunkenness of her own father and
mother. (We were never able to verify whether this charge
against her mother was true or not.) Then she went on to allege
extreme immorality on the part of her three sisters. She gave
these in the utmost detail. (There is little doubt but that one
of her sisters was rather free living before she was married.)
She constantly maintained that she was the only virtuous one in
the family and had withstood all advances. She then recounted
much personal abuse and cruel treatment, and accused the brother
and his wife of an attempt to poison her because they wanted her
out of the way.
Her story was told in such detail, was so well remembered from
time to time, and she presented such outward form of sincerity
that experienced people were led to believe there must be much in
what she said. On one occasion, under observation, she cried
nearly all of two days because one good woman would not believe
her statements. At least she said this was the reason of her
tears. Her general behavior during this period of observation
We found her hazy and somewhat incoherent about a number of the
details of her life, but she had lived under such varied
circumstances that this alone was not convincing of her
insincerity. When we met her brother we were very sure that at
least a part of her story was false. He seemed to be a very
decent fellow and was really interested in her. Several months
earlier he had trouble with her on account of her staying out
late at night, and had threatened her. Then there was no more
difficulty until her recent acquaintance with this other girl.
He stated that he had been obliged to scold her very severely,
and then finally she stayed away for five nights and wound up by
going to the police station and making the accusations against
him and the other members of the family. When the case came up
in court she stated she wished to go back to live with this
brother and admitted having continued misrepresentations about
him and the others in the family since her acquaintance with this
girl. It really was all false. She was placed under probation
and the case has been, except for environmental circumstances,
entirely successful. She is now a young married woman, and has
had no further delinquent record against her.
Our investigation of the causation showed perhaps self-
protection from punishment for her own behavior, but there was
apparently much mental conflict about sex affairs and she had a
very unfortunate acquaintance with such details, resulting
partly, as she acknowledged, from her peeping through keyholes
and so on. On account of her peculiar unreliability of statement
and many quiet and staring periods, seen while she was under
observation, we questioned whether she was not verging on
psychotic conditions. However, all this tendency seems to have
Adolescent instability. Case 15.
Girl, 16 years.
Home conditions: Defective through poverty
Early sex experiences and mental conflict
Reaction to own delinquencies, self
Delinquencies: Fair ability, poor
False accusations. advantages.
Summary: A motherless girl of 9 1/2 years, following her
complaint of local symptoms, which proved to be due to vulvitis,
accused her father and brother of incest. She was a bright child
and normally affectionate, even towards these relatives. Her
father and brother were held in jail for several weeks, but were
dismissed at the trial because of the ascertained untruth of the
As causative factors of her false accusations our study showed
(a) her local irritation, (b) for which her father had treated
her, (c) prior crowded housing conditions with her father and
brother, (d) her lack of mother's control, (e) early and intimate
acquaintance with atrocious sex knowledge and sex habits, and (f)
recently becoming the center of interest in a group of friends
made through her statement of the vileness of family conditions.
We were requested to study this case by the judge of the court in
which the father and brother of Bessie M. were to be tried for
the crime of incest with her. At a preliminary hearing the judge
had felt that the remarkable statements of the little girl
savored of untruth, and that the character sustained by the
brother, in particular, was quite out of keeping with the grave
accusations against him. The girl's charges, so clearly
detailed, together with her local ailment, had proved thoroughly
convincing to a group of women who had become interested in her.
Bessie was evidently quite normal mentally and apparently
affectionately regarded her only near relatives--this father and
brother. Her story appeared thus entirely credible. The judge
stated that he had been approached outside of court by these
women, who in their righteous indignation were insistent upon the
need of dire punishment of the outrageous conduct of Bessie's
We found a rather poorly developed little girl. Weight 64 lbs.;
height 4 ft. 4 in. Bright, pleasant, vivacious expression.
Attitude normal. High, prominent, narrow forehead. Head: length
19 cm., breadth 13 cm. Slightly asymmetrical frontal bosses.
Snub nose; eyes fairly bright; ears asymmetrical in size--.6 cm.
difference in greatest length. Thyroid palpable. Tonsils
enlarged moderately. No sensory defect of importance. Strength
good for size. Color only fairly good. (Results of gynecologic
Bessie was given a wide range of mental tests, with the result
that we classified her as being well up to the ordinary in
ability. Indeed, considering her poor school advantages through
frequent changes of residence she did very well in the subjects
covered by formal education. Her memory processes and ability to
testify correctly--in which we were naturally most
interested--seemed, so far as we were able to test them, quite
normal. Of a standard passage about a fire (Test XII), which she
read once to herself, she recalled 17 out of the 20 items. A
passage containing 12 main details (Test XIII), which was read to
her in the usual way four times, she recalled with 2 details
omitted. The ``Aussage'' test (Test VI) was done very well
indeed, with 17 items of the picture given correctly on free
recital, and 5 rejections out of the 7 suggestions proffered.
Bessie's conversation was fluent and coherent, her range of
information was good. She showed fondness for the dramatic
Her mother died in the old country when she was about four years
old, and her father had immediately come to America, but had
never established a home of his own. For the last nine months
Bessie had been living with a woman, Mrs. S., who was deeply
interested in her. Previously to this she roomed for about six
months with her father and brother, and prior to that time she
had been placed about in different homes by her father. After
some months with Mrs. S. she complained of local pain and
irritation. When taken to a physician, she said her father was
accustomed to touch her, and her story involved incest by both
her father and brother. After others had become interested in
her case, the matter was turned into the hands of the police. It
was notable that during this period Bessie's love of the dramatic
was being fostered by her newly found woman friend, who was
providing her with lessons in dramatic reading and taking her
extremely frequently to moving picture shows and theatres.
When first seen by us, Bessie reiterated her story of sexual
relations with her father and brother. As she had done with
others, and with the judge, she went into almost convincing
details. Her knowledge of such relationships was apparently
complete. She informed us that she had caught ``an awful
disease'' from her father. She said that while rooming with them
her sexual relations with her father and brother were nightly
occurrences. They all slept in one bed.
A careful inquiry into Bessie's earlier knowledge of such things
brought forth the most astounding account. One may say that this
little girl had the most extensive acquaintance with many kinds
of pervert sex practices that one has ever known in a young
individual. She now said that the last ones who engaged in such
things with her were her father and brother. Her experiences
began at 5 years with a boy and a girl, and, she maintained, they
had been very frequent ever since, up to within the last 9
months. A number of boys and girls were involved, as well as the
men in two households where she had been placed. The practices
she had engaged in were many, running all the way from self use
of pieces of broom to normal intercourse, and both active and
passive forms of pervert practices. It is unnecessary, even in
this medical case, to go into details or to give her actual
phraseology. It is sufficient to say that she frankly stated her
early discovery of the pleasures of local stimulation and how she
asked others to give it to her in various ways. Then she
performed different perversions on boys and men. She told about
observing sex relations between husband and wife in households
where she had lived. She now says she had a disease before she
came home to her father--a doctor had told other people
previously. The men in two homes frequently had complete
intercourse with her, she maintains, and gives description of it.
The credible substance of Bessie's long story elaborately told
upon inquiry into her life history was that she certainly had had
many sex experiences. When, in the light of these, it finally
came to the question of the charges against her father and
brother she said that it was really she who had been the
instigator. When in bed she had begun playing with them. She
described her method, learned before. She now says they did not
have real intercourse with her, but the other men did.
The account of local physical conditions as obtained from several
sources is as follows. Bessie was taken to a physician for
vulvitis, etc., by some people before she came back to her
father. During the period she roomed with her father he
regularly treated her locally with a salve and a wash. The
physician who later examined her for Mrs. S. found the parts so
swollen that he could make no diagnosis of ruptured hymen, but
took it for granted. After the father and brother had been in
jail for some weeks the inflammation had subsided. (It is only
fair to say that the father had clamored for a specialist's
examination, which, he contended, would prove his innocence. Of
course he was not aware of her earlier experiences or he would
not have been so sure.) Then a competent gynecologist found that
coitus had never taken place. The hymen was intact. This was at
the time we studied the case. On the day of the trial, I with
two other physicians examined the girl. It was found that a
cotton swab about 3/8 of an inch in diameter could with
difficulty penetrate the vaginal orifice. There was not the
slightest evidence of any rupture of the hymen or of any
vaginitis. So far as the ``awful disease'' was concerned,
repeated bacteriological tests over a considerable period failed
to show the extensive vulvitis to be due to gonorrhea. It seemed
much more likely that it was due to nonspecific infection
following traumatism from the use of the various foreign objects
which the girl told she had used. Perhaps it was partly the
result of the perversions which, judging by her knowledge of
them, had been practiced by others on her.
We were informed later that much indignation at our report to the
judge was expressed by the crowd in attendance at the trial. The
girl's first story was so well told that many had been
irrevocably convinced of the utter guilt of the father.
The father himself, who was brought to us in the course of our
study of the case, was rather a low type in appearance. He was a
poor earner, evidently had earlier been alcoholic, a small
whining figure with tears in his eyes. His appearance would
prejudice against him. The brother, on the contrary, made an
unusually good impression. He had the best of recommendations.
His sister's first charges ought not to have been believed on the
basis of his qualifications. There had been 5 children, 3 died
in infancy. No history of any significance was obtained except
that the development of Bessie had apparently been normal in all
ways. Her mother was said to be normal. Both parents were
evidently representative products of the underfeeding and
generally poor hygienic conditions of the laboring classes in a
large Irish city. There was unquestionably a great feeling of
affection between the three. Indeed, Mrs. S. stated that it was
the excessive kissing of the child by the father which made her
suspicious. Bessie always maintained that both father and
brother treated her very well and that she loved them much.
It seemed clear to us that Bessie never knew in the least the
significance of the charges she so glibly made at first. Her
mind had long been so full of these things, and their social
import seemed so slight, that it meant no vindictiveness towards
her loved ones to say what she did about them. She asserted to
us later that she really did not know what she said to the judge
at the first hearing. The case illustrated well the fallibility
of a young girl's accusations coming even from the lips of a
normally bright and affectionate daughter or sister.
For her own protection Bessie was given a trial in an
institutional school. From there it was reported after a few
months that her mind was found to be so continually upon sex
subjects that it would be most advisable for her to remain long
under the quietest conditions and closest supervision.
Physical conditions: Local irritation. Case 16.
Girl, age 9 1/2.
Housing conditions: Crowded.
Early sex experiences: Excessive and pervert.
Parental control failure: No home, no mother.
Serious false accusations. Good ability.
Summary: Boy of 16 years, not living at home, made false
accusations of excessive immorality against his own family.
These involved sex perversions, and he implicated even his own
sister and brother, and alleged the connivance of his mother.
The main complaint was against the step-father, who he also said
was a professional thief. The improbability of such stories
being told without good foundation led to much time being spent
on investigating the case.
As possible causative factors of the unmitigated lying we found
(a) defective heredity leading to (b) typical constitutional
inferiority with the peculiar states of mind characteristic of
the latter, (c) poor developmental conditions through early
illnesses; (d) excessive bad sex practices on the part of the boy
himself. Vindictive reaction to charges of delinquency against
himself might be considered a factor if his false accusations had
not been made without any such stimulus a long time previously.
(According to another classification this case belongs in our
chapter on Border-line Types. It is retained here because it so
well illustrates pathological accusation.)
John S., an undersized boy of 16, a pitiable specimen, when under
arrest for vagrancy told such a heartrending story of home
conditions, with assertions against family morality, that the
judge and others were moved to indignation and an investigation
was started. The general feeling was that no one who was not
insane could make such statements about their nearest of kin
without foundation in fact.
We found a poorly developed, but fairly nourished young fellow;
weight 112 lbs., height 5 ft. 2 in.; good strength for his size.
Stigmata: slight facial asymmetry, ears very long and narrow,
dentition very irregular--one upper canine having erupted behind
the central incisors. Tattooing on the chest. Vision defective,
but how much so was impossible to estimate on account of corneal
ulcer and general gonorrheal ophthalmia. Gait and attitude very
slouchy. In contrast to general poor development, has already
full sex development and much hair over body for his age.
On the mental side we found an excitable and talkative fellow,
quite coherent, and giving in no way any indication of aberration
by the form or trend of his conversation. He tells us he reached
the 6th grade. He willingly works on tests and we note the
general result as follows: Learning and memory processes, both
for logical verbal and for meaningless associations, quite good.
Perception of form, normal. Power of analysis of situations
mentally represented, only mediocre. Associative processes,
verbal, not normally accurate. Writes good hand. Simple
spelling correct. Arithmetic correct for 4th grade. Tests for
several other points hardly fair to register on account of
defective eyesight. On one he failed because of not knowing the
alphabet in order. Suggestibility extreme, as evidenced by
testimony test. In giving report on the ``Aussage'' picture,
Test VI, he enumerated 12 items, 11 of them correct, on free
recital. Then he gave 11 more details, all correct, on
cross-examination, but he accepted no less than 7 out of 8
Information on current events is good, but on points said to have
been learned at school is much mixed up. In giving responses to
questions, he seized on any slight suggestion and adopted the
idea. For instance, he said he had read the life of Napoleon,
but could not remember to which country he belonged. When
England was suggested he agreed to it. He then told various
wrong incidents of Napoleon's life and death, also as suggested
by the examiner. It finally came out that Bonaparte was an
English nobleman who fought against France and Waterloo, was
never defeated, and got sick in England. Then in the same way we
get the information that this country gained its freedom from
France, that Lincoln was president directly after Washington, and
so on. John has read books from the library and various
magazines, a considerable assortment. He knows almost nothing of
even simple scientific facts, but is well acquainted with items
gained from the newspapers and the theatres.
Going into his story, as we were requested, we heard at once
about the cruel conditions at home. The boy's own father had
been dead for ten years and up to within three years he had lived
with a relative. While he was there letters indicated that queer
things were going on at home, and the step-father was cruel to
the other children. The mother was afraid to tell the whole
story. When the boy came home the step-father at once began
pervert sex practices with him, horrible things, and John found
this man had been doing deeds of the same kind with an older
sister and a younger brother. It seems the step-father also
beats the children and has put this older girl out of the house.
Recently he has left his wife.
When we go into John's own record, with which we had already made
ourselves acquainted, he tells us he does not know what gets into
him, but he has run away from home no less than eleven times. He
works for a while, takes his wages and then stays at a hotel. He
says he has been arrested several times on this account. His
mother always telephones to the police about him and that is why
he is under detention now. He wishes he were at home. The next
day we went into more of the details which had been liberally
sketched to the judge and other officials. We now learn that the
step-father is a professional thief and that stolen goods he has
taken are to be found in their home. He often leaves home and
perhaps takes his wife's wages--she has to work out--and just now
is again living at a hotel. The family have been informed by a
physician that he is probably crazy.
On a later occasion the boy told my assistant that he wished to
relate the whole story of his family. He then describes how the
step-father even blackens the eyes of the sister and that he has
long been immoral with her. It now appears that perversions
began between this man and John some two months ago, never before
that. The mother is there in the house all the time and knows
about and permits the step-father's immorality with daughter and
son. Cross-questioned afterward, the boy (evidently remembering
what he said before) states these practices with him began the
night he came home three years ago, but they had been going on
with his sister before that. He knows this because his mother
wrote and told him about it. His uncle wrote and told her to put
a stop to it, but the step-father intimidates her with a
Our notes state that one afternoon when tests were being given
him, John seemed to be in an excited state and often interrupted
the procedure with talking. Seen in the hallway soon afterwards
he waved his hand and insisted on telling more about home
conditions and about what the officers would find if they went up
there. On still another occasion he reiterated the same things,
giving many details.
It was about this time that John was found to give strangely
fantastic and childish accounts of circumstances with which he
had been connected. We transcribe his story of a celebration at
a school--it is a good example of his tales.
``They had it on Lincoln's birthday and on the 4th of July, too.
The teacher did not believe that Abraham Lincoln freed the
slaves. The children said, oh yes, he did. But they did not
believe it. The children all hollered and said yes, he did.
Then they all run up on the platform and got to fighting about
it. The teachers would not believe that Lincoln freed the slaves
till an old soldier came up there and told them yes, he did do
it.'' I questioned him about this matter whether it was only a
play they had, or were they in earnest. ``Oh, all in earnest and
they had a fight about it. The teachers would not believe that
Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves and the children all run up on
the platform and had a fight about it.''
Home conditions were next looked up by a court investigator and
we came to know the mother and sister. Much to our surprise we
found them to be quite self-respecting, entirely credible people
of good reputation in the neighborhood. The mother is an honest
hard-working woman and is exceedingly depressed about the career
of this boy. The sister is a modest and unquestionably good,
self-supporting, young woman. Not a word was heard against them
in any way. In their distress they gave us the full story.
The parents were immigrants when young. The father died through
an accident some ten years previously. The mother has kept track
of the members of both families fairly well. She had a sister
insane, said to have become so as the result of the menopause.
The father himself had occasional attacks of epilepsy, but they
were never frequent enough to hinder him working as an artisan.
He was a very moderate user of alcohol. The mother has always
been fairly healthy. Thinks she now has a cancer. There are no
other significant points in heredity that she knows. There are
three living children; a number of miscarriages came after John
The pregnancy and birth were, normal. John walked and talked
very early. Never any convulsions. At about two years of age he
was very low with a complication of diseases. He was sick at
that time for three months. Later he was operated on for
rupture. The trouble with his eyes is of recent origin. When he
was a young boy in school a teacher once told her she did not
consider him right mentally.
There has been an exceeding amount of trouble with this boy. He
was a great truant and reached only the 4th grade. When he was
living with the uncle he caused much trouble, and the uncle
warned her. He has run away from home twelve times, stays away
perhaps two weeks at a time, and comes home ragged and filthy.
He has had many jobs, but stays only a day or two at work. He
steals in petty ways, takes money from home when he runs away.
He is very lazy, but a great reader, especially of cheap novels.
Among the troubles with this boy is his extremely filthy talk.
He has even lost one position on account of this. An aunt caught
the boy in bad sex practices several years ago and told the
mother. Neighbors, and earlier the school people, warned the
mother that this was what was the matter with the boy. About a
year ago John was found in a room with a man and other boys
engaged in bad practices. The man was sentenced to a long term
in the penitentiary on account of it.
Worst of all, the mother says the boy is the most malicious liar
she has ever heard of. They have had a frightful time with him
on account of this. For over two years John has been telling bad
stories about the step-father. Recently he could not stand it
any longer and left the mother. He was a good and rather strict
man who took much interest in the children. He tried rewards
with John, but this was of no avail. The boy has destroyed the
home life, but she thought it her duty to try further with her
own flesh and blood. The sister is in utter despair about what
John has said concerning her. The younger brother also feels
great humiliation. The boy has told his worst stories about them
even in their own neighborhood.
After our investigation the boy was sent to an institution for
delinquents where he could have the best of treatment for his
ailments. The report from there after a few months was that he
proved to be an exceedingly weak and vacillating type. He was
notorious for being a boy that would do anything that was
suggested to him. An outlook was kept for signs of insanity, but
none was noted.
Over three years later we hear that John's character has not
shown any radical change as demonstrated by his mode of living.
He has served at least one term in a penal institution for
adults. We do not know anything further about lying or false
accusations in the case.
Constitutional inferiority: Stigmata. Case 17.
Mentality. Boy, age 16.
Heredity: Father epileptic.
Maternal aunt insane.
Pervert sex experiences.
Developmental: Much early illness.
False accusations excessive. Dull from physical
Running away repeatedly. causes (?).
Stealing. Beginning psychosis (?).
Sex perversions. Pathological liar (?).
Summary: Little girl of 7 makes false charges of sex assault
against boy in the same institution. She is later found to be an
excessive liar and to steal.
Causative factors: (a) atrociously immoral home environment, (b)
early sex experiences, (c) local irritation from active
This case illustrates the fact that a young girl, who has had
unfortunate sex experiences, especially if her mind is kept
dwelling on sexual subjects through bodily irritation, is apt to
take advantage of the stir which she knows she can make by her
statements, and glibly make false accusations. The case offered
no difficulties for study and can be presented in short as
typical of a number of similar cases seen by us.
We were asked to see this girl a few days after she had been
taken from very bad home conditions and temporarily placed in a
good institution for dependent children. While there she had
much upset the high-minded superintendent and her helpers by
stating that an older boy in the place had sex relations with
She was a small, bright-eyed, vivacious child. General physical
conditions decidedly good. No sensory defect. Well shaped head.
Weight 55 lbs.; height 4 ft. Active gonorrheal vulvovaginitis.
On the mental side we found, although she spoke in somewhat
broken English, an ardent conversationalist. With her many ideas
about many subjects, she appeared decidedly precocious. We noted
her also to be very defiant and self-assertive, and her tendency
to lie without rhyme or reason was soon discovered. Her exact
age never was ascertained, but undoubtedly it was about 7. She
was in the 2d grade. At times when doing the Binet tests
inhibitions would appear and she would give no answer at all even
to some easy questions. Her positive responses graded her as 6
2/5 years, but undoubtedly she could have done much better had
she so wished.
In her talkative way she used English very graphically, but with
curious misuse of pronouns and a few other words. Considering
the fact that her family spoke a foreign language at home and she
had been but a short time in school this was not strange. Her
lack of veracity was shown even in her assertions about her
inability to understand English. At the first approach she
denied her ability to do so, but later showed that she understood
very well. This behavior was of a piece with her attitude shown
in doing the Binet tests.
``Police bringed me. Don't know why. Cause my father run away,
she don't want to stay with my mother. My father Austrian.
Sometime my father talk Italian. Then God make him sick cause
she talk Italian. My neck is sick. I go to Italian church and I
talk Italian and God makes me sick.
``They bringed me home to-day, then they bringed me back here,
then I stay here all along.'' (What is the matter with you?)
``A big boy--up in school--upstairs--don't know his name. I came
Saturday. She came Saturday. She came Sunday, too. When we
come to listen to music then she gave to me that disease.
``Papa is bad. She run away. She run away. She take from my
mama $12--all the clothes. She got another lady. Is that your
lady? Why do you write? I could write better than you because I
go to school all the time. I never take money. I Catholic and
Catholic can't tell lie. Well, I going to tell the truth now. I
found it in bed, in paper inside. Then I give it to teacher and
then I give it to nurse. I never tell lies.''
Before we had seen her this child had given some sort of
description of a big boy in the institution who she said had
assaulted her. There was no such person there, but her vehement
statements caused much disturbance. Later she denied this to us
and accused somebody at her own home. She came from miserable
environment, as may be surmised from the fact that her father was
a deserter and probably immoral. On account of her unreliability
nothing could be done in the way of prosecuting the offender. We
always felt it a possibility that some member of her own family
was guilty and that was the reason she had told so many different
tales about it. An owner was not found for the money which she
had stolen. The person from whom she said she had taken it had
not lost it. She took it under conditions when she had no chance
to spend it. Her excessive lying was a continual source of
trouble as long as she was kept in this institution. She was
long treated in a public hospital for her gonorrhea. Since then
she has been lost track of. It is interesting in this case to
note that the child maintained that she belonged to a church,
which made it impossible for her to tell lies. We have heard
almost exactly this same assertion on numerous occasions. It is
clearly made by way of affirmation when the offender covertly
feels the need of bolstering up false statements.
Early sex experiences. Case 18.
Bad companions. Girl, age 7.
Physical conditions: Local irritation.
Home conditions: Father immoral and
Heredity(?): Father as above.
Stealing. Fair ability.
Summary: Girl of 18 made accusations to officials that a lawyer
for whom she worked had been immoral with her. About the same
time it was found that she herself had been stealing and lying
about other matters. Later, when there was reiteration of the
charges, a physician's examination showed that she had not been
immoral. Some months afterward she went to other officials and
insisted she ought to go to a reform school. A year still later
she did have sex experiences and contracted venereal disease.
Her succeeding record is totally different. For several years
now she has been a young woman of thoroughly good character.
In its progress, after extended exhibition of exceedingly erratic
conduct, to complete stability now long observed, this case is of
considerable interest. It was after some months of effort on the
case by experienced social workers that we were asked to study
this girl. We found no difficulty in rapidly becoming intimately
acquainted with her conditions and troubles.
Physically she was a normally developed young woman of distinctly
good strength, but slouchy attitude. In expression rather dull
and pleasant; laughs much in rather childish way for her age.
Weight, 110 lbs.; height, 5 ft. 2 1/2 in. No sensory defect.
Mentally we gave her a wide variety of tests with the result, in
general, that she did well on them. She had left school at 14
years when in the 7th grade, but had not forgotten what she had
learned. Her arithmetic was done very well indeed and she wrote
a very good hand. The tests, which brought her abilities in many
directions into play, were done almost uniformly well. Her
memory processes were distinctly good and showed her capacity by
her remembering logical connections as well as details. Her
casuistic responses which were asked for in two moral situations,
verbally presented, Test XXI, were rather vacillating, but
evidently sound. It was easy for her to appreciate the intricacy
of the situation.
On the ``Aussage'' experiment, Test VI, out of 15 details given
as remembered from the picture just seen two were imaginary, and
of 9 more items given on cross-examination two were erroneous.
Her account as given was functional, not at all enumerative as in
the usual childish fashion. Out of 6 suggestions proffered she
accepted 4. This was a poor result for a person of her age. Her
range of information was normal. Her interests while at home had
been very simple; for instance, she had not been allowed to read
novels nor go to theatres. In all our work on tests and in our
several interviews with her we never discovered any signs of
aberrational tendencies. Her social conduct furnished the only
evidence of erraticism.
This young woman's mother, who is said to have been a normal
person, died a few months before we knew her daughter. She had
long been ill and consequently had had very imperfect control
over her daughter all through adolescence. The father had been
dead for several years previously; he was a storekeeper in a
small way, fairly educated and non-alcoholic. No other family
history of importance was ever forthcoming. There was only one
other child in the family, a younger brother, who was quite
normal. Outside of bronchitis during infancy it was said this
girl had never had any serious disease. In the last few months
there had been much complaint about suffering at the menstrual
period. Menstruation began at 13 years of age and was said to
have been regular until seven months or so prior to the time when
we first saw her. However, this latter statement was made by the
girl herself and at this stage her word was not particularly
When we began study of this case we were put in possession of the
following notes made by an unusually competent social worker,
extending over the previous nine months. Attention was first
drawn to her when she was living with someone who had offered to
give her a home while her mother was mortally ill in a hospital.
She then had clothing and trinkets the possession of which she
could not satisfactorily explain. It was discovered that she was
lying. It was about this time that the girl told her friends
that she had been immoral, and accused a man for whom she had
worked of being responsible for her downfall. She had also been
flirting with a married man who had been talking to her about
eloping with him. It was learned that she stayed all one night
at a downtown hotel, but probably alone. Further investigation
showed she had stolen a considerable sum of money from an
acquaintance and also a watch. Then a physical examination was
made and a certificate given that the girl had not been immoral.
Much trouble was taken about the case in the ensuing year, the
notes naively say, ``object being to see if the girl could not be
reclaimed.'' She was given an unusually good opportunity with a
sterling family. She made much trouble for them and others who
were interested in her. Her mother died early in the period. On
a number of occasions she left her place and stayed away all
night, sometimes walking the streets. On one occasion she is
reported to have gone to a certain agency, looking as if she had
been recently intoxicated, and appealed to be sent to a reform
school. She was taken in by the police on one occasion. We
first saw her after she had been living in this good home for
At the same time we studied her physical and mental conditions we
attempted to make some analysis of her self-orientation. She
maintained then that her main trouble was because she had got
mixed up with this married man. She declared he threatened her.
(This was very likely from what was discovered about his
character.) She had very good words for the officials who had
helped her so much. She told us how she had stolen a matter of
$100 or so. When we questioned her about her early accusations
she said that she did tell a lot of lies when her case first was
looked into. ``I thought they were too inquisitive. I thought
if I told them a few lies they would leave me alone. Everybody
has to know everything. I forget half of what I'm to say. I
don't know why I stole that watch. I would have brought it back
home if he had not taken it on me. I never told anybody that I
wanted to go to the reform school. I was afraid to go home
because I was afraid I would get a good scolding. I think I have
told all the truth to the officers since the first. I was
ashamed to tell it, that's the whole truth. That's the truth,
there was no one with me this other night. I did not meet a soul
I knew. I went out to the South Park. I had never been there
before. Where I have been living they would not let me go out
anywhere. I had to stay there Sundays and all the time. When I
got out I was worse than a wild calf. Maybe if I went out
oftener I would not be so bad. I am here now because I went to
the police station and told them I would not go home. It was
late and I was afraid to go home. I had stayed out on the street
all night. One night I went home and it was all dark and I was
afraid to ring and I stayed on the street all night. I was on
the street all the next day too. I went to the cemetery. Late
that afternoon I met a young man and stayed talking to him and a
detective came along and told us we shouldn't stand there. I
never did anything bad with any man. I never said so. A
visiting nurse told me the dangers of life. My mother told me I
should be careful. Oh, I worked for that lawyer before my mother
died. I worked for him about two weeks and he did not pay me
what he owed me. No, he never did me any harm. A man came along
with a lady from that office and he asked me some questions and I
was so scared because I thought they were going to lock me up. I
guess that was the question maybe and I said, yes, but I did not
know just what it was.''
It was after this that the girl gave much trouble because of
queer little trickery concerning some insurance papers, and about
losing some money. Her friends wasted much time in the endeavor
to get these matters adjusted. The family she was with thought
she was very childish for her age.
Our opinion as dictated at this time was that the girl was
physically and mentally all right, but that she showed a
decidedly childish reaction towards the world and was very
suggestible and unreliable. We knew many more facts about her
which proved these points. Our judgment set down was that she
was an unstable adolescent with possibility of showing very
different characteristics inside of a year or two. We noted she
had a weak type of face.
She was seen four months later, after a period of having run away
twice for several days at a time. On inquiry she maintains she
was impelled to do it by her own feelings of restlessness and
general dissatisfaction. She thought the people with whom she
lived were very nice and only strict as they should be. There
was some question raised about this time about the periodicity of
her impulsions, but except for her own statement that it was just
before her menstrual time, nothing definite was proved. On the
last occasion she did pick up with a young man and was immoral
with him. She stayed out in a hallway all night. A venereal
disease was then acquired. This was speedily treated in a
hospital and the girl was found another place. Three years have
elapsed, and during the time this girl has continued under the
observation of one of her old friends. She has remained steady
and trustworthy, and shows no tendency whatever towards
untruthfulness or evasiveness. She has lived in one good home
for two years and the people are deeply attached to her.
Adolescent impulses: Lack of self-control. Case 19.
Sex temptations. resisted. Girl, age 18.
Lack of parental care.
Deficient interests: Both mental and
False accusations. Good ability.
Staying away from home.
Summary: A girl of almost 16 years, of attractive and innocent
appearance, alleged that she had been leading an immoral life and
frequenting houses of assignation. She told the story to the
people of her church, who were naturally horrified and demanded a
thorough investigation of the social vice problems involved.
This was undertaken by the police authorities, but they failed to
get any satisfactory evidence from the girl. It was later found
that the story was all a myth and the girl had not been in the
least immoral. Her first statements followed directly after her
attendance at an emotional revival meeting where these topics had
been preached about. Afterward this girl was in court many times
for various reasons. She is a mild psychoneurotic type,
exhibiting under stress unusual mental phenomena. She and her
family have created an astonishing amount of trouble in law
courts as both defendants and complainants, because their
peculiar unreliabilities have not been understood.
This case has long been under observation and we have much
information concerning it. It was found difficult to understand
by pastors and others who had given considerable attention to
various aspects of it. Annie F. was first seen by us when under
custody because of her own statement that she had been leading an
immoral life. We have seen her and members of her family many
times since. The account of the case can best be given, not by
commencing with the cross-section study as obtained at first, but
by going at once into its whole connections and evolution. At
first it was merely learned that we had to do with an unstable,
adolescent girl who had engaged for apparently no purpose
whatever in false self-accusations which would naturally blight
On the physical side we found a rather slight girl, however, of
normal development. Weight 102 lbs.; height 5 ft. 3 in. No
organic defect was ever discovered. Neurological examination
showed as follows: No tremors. Tendon reflexes normal.
Conjunctival and palatal reflexes absent. The sense of pain to
pin pricks was almost nil on the arms, and diminished on the
face. Strength poor in the arms even when there was evidently
great effort made. (Several of these functional findings,
however, have varied from time to time in the ensuing years.)
Hearing normal. Ocular examination showed hypermetropia 1.5 D.
R. and L. with marked astigmatism. Fields and color vision
normal. Left pupil about twice the size of the right. (A
competent oculist could find no evidence of organic affection of
the nervous system correlated with this.) Shape of head normal.
Bowels regular. Appetite capricious. When first seen was
anemic, but later color was very good. Temperature was taken
regularly, but no significant observations made. Petite, pretty
features, and unusually beautiful eyes. Complaint of frontal
dull headaches, soreness of scalp, cold hands and pain ``about
the heart.'' Menstruated at 15 years, then much irregularity for
two years. Several badly carious teeth and great crowding in a
narrow upper dental arch.
This girl was several times observed during a period of about 5
years. She developed into an unusually attractive young woman,
showing at times various mild nervous disturbances as well as
character difficulties. Only occasionally has she worn the
glasses which corrected her errors of refraction. During this
time she has not been severely ill. She has a palpable thyroid
which has hardly increased in size. When last seen she was
notable for a very clear skin, good color, and bright eyes.
Conjunctival and corneal reflexes much diminished.
Palatopharyngeal reflexes quite absent. The headaches are said
to have persisted during all the time we have known her.
We have repeatedly attempted to summarize the mental status and
functionings of this young woman, but our findings on tests and
otherwise have been irregular and diverse. She reached 6th grade
at 14 years, but had been absent much on account of sickness.
When first seen we found that she was already fond of Lytton,
Scott, and Dickens, and that she was a great reader of the daily
newspapers, dwelling much on accidents and tragedies. What we
say about her ability must be based upon the best that she has
demonstrated. Often when seen she has been in some mental state
which has prevented her from doing, or being willing to do, the
best that is in her. She writes a good hand, does long division
promptly, and reads well. Her association and memory processes
have been proved normal, but given a task to do she is prone to
show inhibitory pauses and other phenomena which interfere much
with a satisfactory result. She has some little reputation of
being able to give long, almost verbatim accounts of sermons
which she has heard, but the accuracy of her report we have not
been able to verify. She gave the antonyms of twenty words in
average time of 1.4'', which is a good record. There was one
failure, but that was quite typical. At the end of 20'', which
is beyond the time of failure, she gave ``unhappy'' as the
opposite of ``happy,'' adding that she had thought of that
before, only she did not speak it out. Her tests for psychomotor
control were miserably done. She was rapid in movement, but
absolutely inaccurate and did not follow instructions. However,
we felt that even this did not indicate her full ability, for she
had capably held a position in a millinery establishment where
she was required to show manipulative dexterity. Perhaps the
best statement of her performances is that she demonstrated great
irregularities from time to time, and even at the same
examination in her work on different tests.
On account of her peculiar testimony against herself, her memory
processes and especially her performance on the ``Aussage'' test
the case seemed of great interest. We found, as we stated above,
in various ways that her abilities to remember, when at her best,
were normal, but using the ``Aussage'' picture we obtained only 6
details in free recital; she was sure that was all she saw in the
picture. Then on cross-questioning she mentioned 9 more items
correctly, and gave 8 others much altered from the truth. No
other item was added, but her report on these was almost
illusional in its incorrectness. Of 5 suggestions offered she
accepted 2 of the least important, refusing the others entirely.
This was a remarkably poor result for a girl of her age, but may
not be indicative of her best abilities even on this type of
work. Our final opinion was that she was not clearly subnormal
in native ability.
Annie has grown somewhat more stable as the years have gone on.
Following our first acquaintance with her we have known this girl
to make serious false accusations against others (vide infra) and
to again damage her own reputation by alleging herself to be
pregnant when she was not. Her word in other matters all along
has been found somewhat unreliable, but there has been no
extensive weaving of romances such as those indulged in by
typical pathological liars. Our original diagnosis of this as a
case of pathological accusation upon the basis of mild hysteria
we have seen no reason to change. Both Annie and other members
of her family are representatives of a most important type for
court officials and all other social workers to understand. A
great deal of trouble has been caused in several religious
congregations by the unusual character of the behavior of these
people. Also the number of times they have been in courts for
various reasons is astonishing.
The history of physical and mental development merges closely
with the story of evolution in the moral sphere, and all can be
given together. On account of the mother having long been dead
and the father being the peculiar man that he is there is some
question about the truth of some of the details which have been
given us, but we have reason to believe that the main facts are
true because they have been held to be the truth in the family
circle generally and were not merely given to us. Verification
of details would be very difficult because the family are
distributed between Europe and America, and no relatives outside
the immediate family are at hand. The mother was in excessively
poor condition at the birth of Annie. She had miscarriages
preceding and following. It is stated that the diagnosis of
malaria was made and that the mother had convulsions both before
and after confinement. At the birth the prolonged labor and
instrumentation were not known to have done any damage. As an
infant Annie is said to have been frail, but not to have had any
definite sickness or any convulsions.
However, at about Annie's fifth year there began a long list of
illnesses. She had scarlet fever severely and also a number of
other children's diseases. At 8 years she had an attack of
muscular jerking, and then had a number of successive attacks
until she was 14 years. At one time she was in a public hospital
for three weeks on account of this. It was stated that this was
chorea, but of course we can not be sure on this point. Annie
was always regarded as a very nervous child; she was frequently a
somnambulist until she was about 12. She is very nervous before
the onset of menstruation. Of recent years she has been an
excessive user of tea-- at times before we first saw her she is
said to have had 12 cups of tea in a day. At times she was then
suffering from sleeplessness, and was wont to feel tired in the
morning. As a young child she had severe night fears, seeing
terrifying shadows upon the wall.
On account of her illnesses and her general nervous condition,
Annie was very irregular in her school attendance. However, she
reached 6th grade. As to the family opinion of her mentality we
hear that they have regarded her as being an odd type, not lazy,
but irritable, hateful, and moody by spells. Her memory is said
to be most irregular, sometimes exceedingly good. The other
children find it difficult to get along with her because she
slaps them so much. At times she swears. At the time of the
revival meeting, shortly before we saw her, she is said to have
come home from church in an hysterical state. When in custody
she was in rather a dazed condition. Where she was detained they
say she acted as if she were stunned. Her memory did not seem at
all clear, nor has it ever seemed other than confused about the
events immediately surrounding the main episode of her career.
She maintained she could not remember just exactly what she had
said, and her account of it contradicted that of her father.
As we afterwards learned from the church people, it is
undoubtedly a fact that her notions of self-accusation came from
a Sunday School session in which her teacher repeated what had
been talked about in the revival meeting concerning the scarlet
woman. A day or two afterward the girl told that she herself was
``a scarlet woman.'' She told it first to the teacher, was then
taken to the pastor, when she reiterated the story, and the
police authorities were called in. Of course her story implied
lack of home guardianship and consequently the whole affair was
handled for some days by the police alone, after the girl had
given a very detailed description of her immoral life. By the
time we saw the father it had been ascertained that this girl had
never been away from home a single night in her life and probably
had never been in the least immoral sexually.
It is necessary to have knowledge of the heredity and
environmental background to understand this case. Almost nothing
is known of the maternal family. After losing his first wife,
the father was twice remarried, and even the third wife has
divorced him. He had a brother who, after going insane and
killing two laborers, committed suicide. His grandmother, and
probably also a cousin, were insane. Two of his sisters were of
a nervous and hysterical type and said to have attacks of
aphonia. A child by his second wife is epileptic. This man
gives us a long account of his own defective heredity and of his
own physical ailments. He does not recognize the fact, however,
that he also is mentally below par. We have seen him on numerous
occasions and known of his great activity in the courts, and have
attempted to size him up. He is undoubtedly a constitutional
inferior, in poor general physical condition and subject to
episodic mental states. One would be inclined to call him a
semi-responsible individual with mild delusions, defective
reasoning ability, great energy in self-assertion, and of
combative disposition. This latter shows itself in his voluble
emphasis on the alleged ill treatment of himself and family, even
by his wives. He is never physically violent. On account of
false accusations, whether delusional or not, he got at least one
pastor into a peck of trouble, and, strangely enough, his wives
have been involved in some other church embroilments when his own
character was called severely into question. On one occasion we
were interested to enumerate an astonishing list of people and
organizations which, he stated, had treated him and his family
unfairly. It seemed to us that during the last two or three
years he must largely have lived in the courts to carry on his
transactions there. His concern for his daughter seemed genuine
and her delinquency led him to seek the law more than ever. Some
of the good people who have become interested in his affairs tell
us that his is the strangest story they have ever heard. His
veracity is often in question. On more than one occasion with us
he has dwelled on his nervous states, and on the fact that he is
subject to times of mental confusion, but he defends his own
judgment and actions on all occasions with great vigor.
This most erratic father has nearly always sided with Annie and
offered excuses for her under all circumstances. However, she
has stated that he was most difficult to live with on account of
his quarreling at home and general bad management of the
household. We know that at times he has been a seeker of
newspaper notoriety. From his conversations with us and with
others we know that his mind dwells much on sex affairs and these
things are frequently discussed in the home. There has been much
turmoil and quarreling in the family circle, at least with the
last two wives. On several occasions the family have had to
appeal for aid from the charities because none of them succeeded
in making a living. Annie alleged she was taught shop-lifting by
the second wife--we regard this as being possibly true on account
of the woman's general reputation, the fact that they were
desperately poor, and that she drank at times.
The father has the ability to make a very good presentation of
himself, to use the best of language and he has had musical
training enough to be able to give lessons. Annie herself has
taken many lessons in music.
The after-history of this case is instructive. Almost none of
our suggestions were taken when our first diagnosis was made.
Two years after we first saw Annie she was placed in an
institution for delinquents, then having run away from home,
``picked up'' a man on the street and stayed all night in a hotel
with him. At the institution the girl became very nervous and
behaved badly and the authorities decided it was a poor place for
her. The father, who at first wanted her placed there, very soon
decided that she should be removed. It is very likely his
attitude had something to do with her behavior there.
About this time Annie worked in a millinery shop where she proved
herself quick and skilful. There she told stories again defaming
herself. She said she had had a baby and went into complete
details, such as giving the name of the nurse who had taken care
of her, and so on. On account of this she was discharged. Later
she told us she related these stories to get even with her
father, for if there was ever a hell on earth it was living with
About three years after our first study of Annie, the father
himself brought a complaint against her of untruthfulness and
general unreliability. This was at one of the times when he was
complaining bitterly of other people. It seems he had lately
tried to restrain her from leaving the house and she had cut his
head open with an umbrella. It was evident she had started
downhill again, and she was placed in a Rescue Home. She now
repeatedly told people she was pregnant and made charges against
some man, but these soon fell through because a little detective
work showed she was corresponding with a boy and had very likely
been immoral with him and others. She was then making an attempt
to lead a dual life, maintaining she wanted to save some of the
unfortunates with whom she was placed, while at the same time
entering into various escapades with them and others. At this
period a suicidal attempt was reported, but we never had
satisfactory proof of the genuineness of this. Annie was now
regarded as being excessively delinquent.
A few months afterwards, when the young woman was in one of her
better moods and wished to do well, we made a few vocational
tests on her. We found her quite unfit for the position of
telephone operator which had been suggested for her. Psychomotor
control appeared then decidedly defective. However, there was
great improvement on work done on intellectual tests two or three
years previously. Although she had developed physically (she now
was a particularly good looking young woman) we felt she was
quite unfit for work which demanded steady effort. One trouble
all along was the fact that she did not wear her glasses. We
advised then, as we had advised at first, a quiet country life
for Annie and the other members of the family. The constant
stimulus of city conditions was too much for them.
Again our advice was not taken and some months later the father
came to us with the story of extreme poverty, some recent attacks
of unconsciousness on his part, separation from his third wife,
and the information that Annie was about to become a chorus girl.
Even a final consideration of the general diagnosis in this case
which has been so long observed by us does not seem to justify
our including it among our border-line mental types. Application
of the term constitutional inferiority seems a priori warranted
by the family history and yet we have no proof that her physical
and mental conditions as enumerated above are not the result of
her many early illnesses and the excessively erratic
environmental conditions, rather than of causes which existed at
On account of the peculiar inhibitory phases which arose nearly
always during observation, we never relied merely on the results
of laboratory tests for our judgment, and her success in some
social situations has proved the wisdom of this. Our earliest
feeling that we had to do with a temporary and mild psychosis was
perhaps justified, but further observation of her has led us to
see clearly that she is not to be considered as a deeply
aberrational type. Could she ever have been free from the
extraordinarily upsetting home conditions one could have gauged
much more accurately her mental capabilities. As time went on,
the moral difficulties, which were largely induced by family
conditions, led to mental as well as moral upsets which could be
considered as little else than normal reactions to the situation.
Her conduct lapses, under the circumstances, are no indication of
any mental breakdown. On the contrary, it is clear by our own
examinations and the accounts of other observers that she
gradually has showed greater mental stability.
(Since writing the above, we have had, by chance, the opportunity
of getting some important information about this case from an
entirely new source. A person who knew the family many years ago
corroborates the father's remarkable story of antecedents. The
father himself remains in about the same state of social
incapacity. Annie, now married to a young man with a long
criminal record, has a child. Her word has recently been found
absolutely unreliable, and testimony lately given by her in court
concerning her husband was grossly false when it would seem that
her interests and welfare demanded her testifying the truth
concerning his non-support.)
Mentality: Psychoneurotic. Case 20.
Heredity: Extremely defective. Girl, age 16.
Developmental conditions: Defective antenatal
conditions. Difficult birth. Earlier neurosis.
Physical conditions: Earlier dental defects.
Defective vision, usually uncorrected.
Stigmata of eyes.
Stimulants: Excessive use of tea.
Home conditions: Highly erratic and unstable.
Many bad influences there.
Excitement and suggestion from revival.
Self-accusations. Abilities irregular,
Running away. and as above.
Summary: This case illustrates the fact that pathological lying
and accusation may arise first during a period of special stress.
A young woman of 19, after illegitimately becoming pregnant, was
found home after home by a charitable organization. In each
place she made false accusations of immoral proposals against
some one in the family or neighborhood. This created much
trouble and lost her several good homes. Her lies persisted
after an abortion had been secretly produced, but it is to be
noted that she now, as a sequel to the operation, suffered from
irritative pelvic conditions.
A short statement of this case will suffice to bring out the
point that during a period of social and mental upset
pathological lying and accusation may be first indulged in. We
studied the case of a young woman of 19 who had been the source
of much trouble in a certain locality on account of her false
accusations. She was taken in hand by a charitable organization
and found a home, after she had become pregnant at a wedding
feast where alcoholic stimulants flowed freely. There was then
no one to look after her but an invalid father. She was placed
with an estimable family. In a short time she made the shocking
announcement to the wife, and to others, that the husband had
made immoral advances to her. He was a man of excellent
character and of course this could not be believed. She was then
placed on a farm, where she showed erotic tendencies and insisted
that one of the helpers about the place wanted to take liberties
with her. She was observed flirting and making advances to
thrashers and others. She had to be found a new home, and this
time it was in a city, where new accusations were made against a
delivery boy. After this the young woman made off and shifted
for herself for a time, and succeeded in getting some shady
character to produce an abortion on her. Later, she again came
to the official attention of the social agency by reason of
making new accusations. From the date of her impregnation to the
time we first studied her, a period of about 10 months, she had
made serious accusations against many. When her lies were told
in a new environment they, of course, always made new trouble.
Each time, however, the girl herself was the loser. Her real
partner at the wedding feast had early deposited several hundred
dollars for the expected infant.
We found a strong, normally developed young woman of rather
attractive appearance for the grade in society from which she
came. No sensory defect. Diseased tonsils. Complained of
constant suffering from pelvic conditions, perhaps induced by the
abortion. However, being such a strong type she has been able to
get about well and do her daily work. When we saw her she was
employed in a factory.
The question put to us was concerning her mentality. She came of
a Slavic peasant family, had been in this country only 6 years,
and her relatives spoke only Slavic. She had been to school but
a very short time, either in the old country or here. Because of
the language difficulty, the giving of many tests, such as those
in the upper years of the Binet system, could be regarded as most
unfair. However, the simpler language tests she did fairly well,
especially those where she could understand the commonsense
questions. In regard to her acquirement of English, she has done
better than her relatives, who continue to live in a neighborhood
where their own Slavic dialect is spoken. When it came to
dealing reasoningly with concrete situations, such as those
presented by our performance tests, this young woman did
comparatively well--quite above the grade of the feebleminded.
Our diagnosis, then, was that she could best be regarded as poor
in ability or possibly subnormal as compared with our general
population, but as correlated with her peasant type she was
From the standpoint of aberration one could find no evidences of
anything but eroticism and a constant tendency to deviate from
the truth. About the affair of the abortion she showed herself
unexpectedly shrewd, maintaining that she had had to work very
hard carrying stones when a new silo was being built on the farm,
and at her next menstrual period she had flowed for a week or so,
and that was all there was to it, except that she had been
suffering from pains continually since. (The charitable
organization knew she had visited the office of a notorious
abortionist.) She smiled much in a silly way when in the company
of men; she proved herself easily led. Taking it altogether,
there was no reason for considering her insane, or as being in
any way a psychopathic personality. She showed no stigmata of
There was no opportunity to get a satisfactory family history.
Many of the relatives were still in the old country. A sister
and brothers have been known in the neighborhood where this girl
lived, and are said to appear quite normal in their simple ways
of living. They are of the peasant type and good laborers, but
given to occasional indulgence in feasting with alcoholic
embellishments. From the sister we learned that this girl had
passed through a sickly childhood and had been most irregularly
brought up on account of the illnesses of her mother. She was
not known as a liar when younger. Her short school record showed
nothing of value for diagnosis. What happened to this girl was
no great exception; among these people, we know from their own
accounts, free and easy sex relationships are common. We are
advised that it was long ago known that this girl was going with
In this case we advised gynecological and other medical treatment
and segregation in a reformatory or industrial school. The young
woman could be regarded as nothing else than a dangerous person
in any community. Even when being brought to us she had
endeavored to flirt with a conductor on the train. A fair
diagnosis could only be that she was, for the present at least,
This case has been only recently studied and no further report
can be given. It is cited in illustration of the fact that was
not clearly brought out by our other cases, namely, that a period
of stress may be very definitely the exciting factor in
developing pathological lying and accusation. This stands out
particularly clearly in this case because the young woman had,
prior to the wedding feast, been a good worker and had given no
trouble in the community.
CASES OF PATHOLOGICAL LYING IN BORDER-LINE MENTAL TYPES
We could load our pages with histories of cases where the
statement of delusions, unrecognized as such, has created much
trouble in courts and out, but this type of case is too well
known to need any illustration. Text books of psychiatry deal
with the falsifications of paranoia and other insanities. That
the really insane also sometimes lie pathologically, that is,
tell for no normal purpose what they adequately know to be
untrue, is a fact not so well understood. But even that we need
not be especially concerned with in our case histories. It has
been well brought out in the previous literature on pathological
lying, as witness in our Chapter II. In the present chapter we
do not include the out-and-out insane, nor the definitively
feeble-minded, nor the recognizably epileptic.
Much more difficult of understanding and much less easily
recognized because of the mildness of many of the symptoms, or
their variations from time to time, are the types which we
enumerate. Several of these offer no complete picture of
insanity--even Case 25, although clearly aberrational, extremely
defective in self-control, and markedly criminalistic, did not
show to some psychiatrists who observed him a sufficiently clear
correspondence to any form of insanity as laid down in the
old-school text-books to be practically regarded as insane and in
need of long segregation. In considering this whole matter we
must never forget that there is no wall of demarcation between
those whose conduct clearly betokens insanity and those who are
not insane. There are plenty of instances where the easily
passable border between the two is permanently occupied or is at
We keep our border-line cases separate in order to emphasize that
pathological lying by an insane person does not make a
pathological liar in the true sense. We should hesitate,
however, to give in legal form a verdict of insanity in several
of these border-line cases we cite--they are very difficult to
classify, and the question of responsibility called for sometimes
in court work is unanswerable. Keeping even these mild cases
away from our others serves, however, to lessen confusion; we
need in this subject to conserve all the clearness possible by
holding to fundamental classifications and showing up vagueness
of definition where it does exist.
Perhaps we are over-particular in keeping such a case as No. 22
in this chapter. The commonsense observer would hardly regard
this girl as at all lacking, even in self-control. On the other
hand, for the purpose of illustrating the subject of pathological
accusation we have kept Case 17 in the previous chapter when it
clearly shows great resemblance to Case 26 and is in reality a
border-line type. Then, too, the swindler, Case 12, in some
respects belongs in this chapter.
We are hardly called on in this work to discuss the lying of drug
habitues, although they so frequently in their mental conditions
represent border-line types. They are often on the verge of a
psychosis as the result of their intoxications. Their lying is
mostly done for a purpose, to be sure, and hence much would not
come under the head of pathological lying, but occasionally
veracity is so much interfered with that there seems to be a
tendency to aimless lying. This class of cases, however, is
sufficiently discussed in special literature pertaining to the
 Vide, ``Morphinism and Narcomanias From Other Drugs,'' by T.
D. Crothers. Philadelphia, Saunders and Co., 1902. Also Chapter
V, Stimulants and Narcotics, in ``The Individual Delinquent,'' by
William Healy Boston, Little, Brown, and Co., 1915.
Summary: A girl of 14, a most vigorous and vivacious
personality, had for a couple of years pursued a curiously active
career of misrepresentation, of obtaining goods under false
pretenses and running away from home even to distant places. Her
conversational ability was above normal; her lies were evolved
for the purpose of adapting herself to the peculiar circumstances
in which she frequently found herself. Her general conduct
combined with her abnormal psychomotor activity gave ground for
the diagnosis of constitutional excitement--hypomania.
Birdie M., 14 years old, we saw after some clever detective work
had proved her to be the girl who in another town had repeatedly
swindled shop-keepers. It seems she had been accustomed to take
the train for localities where she had no connections whatever,
and there enter shops and make away with whatever she could. An
astounding incident was when she returned some goods she had
stolen and persuaded the manager to ``refund'' her the money on
the same. This was regarded by the authorities as extremely
We found Birdie very small for her age. Weight 76 lbs.; height 4
ft. 8 in. Tonsils very large. Teeth excessively crowded. No
sensory defect. Not yet menstruated. A very nervous type; quick
physical and mental reactions; exceedingly active, restless
Our psychological impressions state that Birdie did all her tests
brilliantly and quickly, but very often with less accuracy than
would have been the case had she taken the time to think quietly
rather than work rapidly. She was very keen to make the best
possible record. ``I am proud of being quick; nothing is hard
for me; it was not hard at school.'' It was found by steadying
her that she gave a more accurate performance. We diagnosed her
ability as good, but her school advantages had been poor.
Otherwise we noted she was a pert, talkative, responsive child,
of a distinctly nervous and somewhat unreliable type. Her ideas
came tumbling, one on top of another. Under close supervision
she was able to control her mental processes fairly well. For
instance, on the antonym test, where opposites to twenty stimulus
words are called for, Birdie gave them in the remarkably rapid
average time of .8 of a second, with only one failure and one
error. This is an exceptional record. From this and her
unexpected powers of self-control exhibited on some other tests
we were obliged to conclude that her aberrational tendencies were
not very deep-set. Her mental traits seemed to conform most
nearly to the type designated as constitutional excitement, or
hypomania. Further observation of the case confirmed us in this
first view of it.
On the ``Aussage'' or Testimony Test she gave 13 items, all
correct, upon free recital. On questioning, 14 more details were
added, but 6 of these were incorrect. Of the 6 suggestions
offered she accepted none.
Birdie immigrated from Austria with her family when she was 10
years of age. She came of a healthy family; all of her
grandparents and many of her uncles and aunts are living. We get
no history of any insanity, epilepsy, or feeblemindedness on
either side. She is one of 7 children, several of whom have had
nervous troubles. Two of the children had convulsions in
infancy, but then only. One brother at 10 years old is an
excessive stammerer and extremely nervous.
Birdie was born after a pregnancy during which the mother was
much worried and in poor health. The father, too, was sickly at
that time. The family conditions were defective on account of
poverty and illness during a large share of the period when the
children were born. Birdie at birth was very small and there was
difficulty in resuscitation. She, however, was never seriously
ill until she was 7 years of age, when she had something like
peritonitis. No spasms or convulsions at any time. She was a
very small child during her infancy, but walked at 8 months and
talked very well indeed when she was only one year old.
Developmental history otherwise negative, but all along there has
been poor family control on account of ill health and the slight
earning capacity of the father.
During the several months we knew Birdie she was always a most
unreliable person. She repeatedly ran away from home and was
lost track of. On one occasion she got as far as Omaha. By the
use of elaborate, but plausible stories she always succeeded in
winning the friendship of reputable people. Once she was found,
after she had been away several weeks, residing in a good home in
another State where the people thought of adopting her on account
of her brightness. Many times she wandered about her home city
and in the most active and sly fashion purloined anything she
cared for. Several times when she was taken by the police she
invented clever stories, without the least faltering, that seemed
entirely fitted to the occasion. As the investigator said, she
talked incessantly with not the slightest hesitation and was
always airy and sure. No one to whom she had gone with her
misrepresentations questioned her veracity-- she always came out
with a clearly connected and plausible story. We noted that her
parents in comparison seemed quite stupid.
Of course Birdie passed under various names. Once we recognized
her picture in the newspaper representing a weary, disheartened
girl who was tired walking all day long from one employment
bureau to another. She stated to the reporter it was her
ambition to become a model servant. When in Omaha her mental
peculiarities were recognized and she was studied by a competent
alienist who, however, was not willing to render a verdict of non
compos mentis to the police. This was when she had run away from
Chicago and had told a lot of stories all of which had turned out
to be untrue. The trouble which she created in various
communities by reason of her hyperactive delinquencies has not
With much merriment and an excessive amount of facial expression
this little girl held forth to us. It is hardly necessary to say
that the account varied somewhat from day to day. She did not
like it at home and did not propose to go back there. There were
too many in the family. As soon as the floor was scrubbed one of
the children would get it all dirty again. She had started for
New York, but the old gatekeeper at the station was mean and she
could not slip by him. She got along all right in Omaha, but
finally she gave herself up to the police there. She thinks
perhaps she might go up to the people in Wisconsin who wanted to
adopt her. In any case, she can do a great deal better than
Viola B. who ran away from New York and got caught, and was so
much talked about in the newspapers.
Thus her story would run along at great length, Birdie in the
meanwhile chuckling with the thought of her own escapades.
We never recommended institution life because it seemed as if
better things might be done for this girl. We felt that if she
were built up from a physical standpoint her tendency towards
nervous excitement might grow less. Her tonsils were removed.
Every one felt that the girl's good mental abilities should be
conserved to the utmost. Attempts at management in a different
environment gave some hope of success, and after a time her
parents moved to a smaller town, when we lost oversight of the
girl. Following our acquaintance with the case it had been
managed in the light of her characteristics, and her falsifying
tendencies were constantly discounted by those in charge. We
felt that her tendency was to grow more stable.
Three years later: We have just gained further information
concerning Birdie. The family is still in straitened
circumstances, the father having proved too weak a character to
support them. He posed as somewhat of a gentleman and made off
to another country. Birdie is said to have worked steadily for
months at a time, but over a year ago suddenly left home once
more, this time going with a stage company. Although the police
in several cities have been appealed to, no trace has been
obtained as yet of our young friend. Whether her lying was
continued at home we cannot satisfactorily learn, nor do we know
accurately about any continuance of her state of excitement, but
without doubt Birdie in her present wandering is fabricating
anew, and is what she was before, namely, a young adventuress.
Mental conditions: Constitutional excitement. Case 22.
Girl, age 14 years.
Developmental conditions: Defective pregnancy.
Early impaction of teeth.
Poor general physical conditions.
Home conditions: Poverty. Irritability of father and
Running away. Ability good;
Summary: A girl of 16 having been out all of one night, related
a story to the police of having been led off, and incidentally
made the statement that she had been repeatedly immoral, once
with a relative. She dictated and signed a detailed account of
the affairs, giving times and places. This was used in
investigating and led to much fruitless effort even on the part
of experienced people--her story was quite untrue. When studied
she proved to be a mild case of chorea, exhibiting the typical
psychotic tendencies of that disease, such as we have observed in
court work a number of times.
Nellie M., when brought to us by her grandmother, following the
girl's experience with the police who had been told by her of
immoralities practiced, was found to be rather a nice looking and
gentle girl, pleasant and responsive with us.
On the physical side we found her to be poorly developed and
nourished. Weight 93 lbs.; height 4 ft. 9 in. Vision about
20/40 in each eye, but wears glasses which correct this. Rather
poor color. Complains somewhat of headaches. Marked tremor of
outstretched hands. Moderate amount of choreic movements in arms
and legs, exaggerated when attention distracted. Knee jerks
exaggerated. Conjunctival and palatal reflexes almost absent.
Small regular features. Well shaped head. Said to drink at
least 4 cups of tea a day. Heart sounds negative.
Mentally, she seemed to be fairly normal in ability, but was
undoubtedly in a peculiar psychical condition. She had reached
7th grade in spite of much moving about, even to different
cities. We found evidence of lack of good apperceptive powers
and the history of the case led us to see clearly that she had
been just recently in a very unstable, if not quite confusional
The ``Aussage'' or Testimony Test was not given in this case.
The history of heredity and development shows many points of
importance. The mother died when Nellie was a very little girl.
She was terribly abused by a husband who was excessively
alcoholic and in general a tremendous brute. They lived in a
roadhouse where drunken fights were not uncommon. Nellie has
been brought up since her mother's death by other relatives.
Outside of alcoholism on the father's side there is said to be no
family peculiarities. The mother came from a very reputable
family. Nellie suffered early from several severe illnesses.
When only six weeks old she is said to have been in a comatose
condition with scarlet fever and diphtheria. Later she had
measles, whooping cough and other mild ailments, and at one time
suffered extremely from constipation. Walked and talked early.
No convulsions. Menstruated first several months ago. Sometimes
complains of severe headaches. One observer reported that the
girl had been subject to slight melancholia within the last year.
Choreic movements have been present off and on for about a year,
but have not been marked until a little while previous to the
incident which brought her to us. The diagnosis had been made
that it was a case of mild St. Vitus dance. During all the year
Nellie had been regarded as in general unreliable, but nothing of
importance had happened prior to the above episode.
Nellie's story as told to us seemed coherent enough. Apparently
she had entire memory of her past actions and, in general, of
what she had said. Her own statements convinced us as much as
anything else of her unreliability at times. It seems she had
run away and gone to a picture show and had fallen asleep there.
When she got out it was very late, but it was election night and
people were about on the street. She finally was accosted by a
woman who took her home. After her story of being led off by a
man the police were called into the case and she gave them her
remarkable statement. Nellie told us of picking up with a man,
too, who lured her to a theatre, but who left her there. There
was no way of corroborating this. She fully acknowledged to us
the lies which had created so much trouble. ``Well, I was
telling the first lies and then when I was going to tell him that
I knew that I was telling wrong he acted so cranky and said such
things to me. He said he knew somebody had done bad things to me
and so I thought I had to give the name of somebody and so I gave
``The girls around in the schools I used to go to talked about
these things. I never went with them. I was always by myself.
None of the boys said bad things. The police were so cranky I
did not know what else to say. They said someone must have done
it to me when I was younger and I said it was my cousin because
he always used to want to. He said he would give me a pair of
skates if I would. He was 13. I never asked my grandmother or
anyone about these things. No one ever explained it to me. Just
the girls are the ones who told me about these things. They told
me themselves how they had been out at night with the boys. I
never did do it with anybody.''
Examination by a gynecologist about this time showed positively
that there had been no immoral relations, and after our findings
the case became a closed incident so far as prosecuting anybody
was concerned. Nellie was taken in hand by the family physician
and no further delinquencies or false accusations have been
complained of during the succeeding two years.
Outside of the girl's general frank bearing, undoubtedly a point
rather indicating to the police possible truth in her statements,
was the detail in which the alleged events were given. The
signed statement coming from an apparently naive girl of 15 would
seem in its clearness and coherency to bear the earmarks of
truth. We always regarded this case as one of our interesting
examples showing the unreliability of girl witnesses, especially
those who have had unfortunate experiences, even though merely
mental, with sex affairs.
Mentality: Mild choreic psychosis. Case 23.
Girl, age 15 years.
Early clandestine sex teachings.
Running away. Normal ability,
False accusations. temporary aberration.
Summary: A girl of 16 whose general conditions won ready
sympathy created much trouble. She repeatedly made serious
accusations against a man and her attempt at suicide made her
statement seem convincing. Further study showed the absolute
falsity of her charges. It was a case of hysteria which had
developed largely upon a basis of injury--there was a traumatic
psychoneurosis. Under good treatment she made a fine recovery;
there being no more indulgence in pathological accusations,
although her nervous symptoms recurred for a short time after a
couple of years.
At the time when we first saw Georgia B. she was somewhat over 16
years old and had been only 5 years in this country. We saw her
because she had run away from home and attempted suicide. From
the latter she had been rescued, and then had accused a neighbor
of raping her. The case proved to be very troublesome until the
nature of the whole affair was understood.
We found a thin and anemic girl, not at all prepossessing in
appearance, dull in expression, suffering from a chronic
suppurating otitis media.
On the mental side we had much trouble in conducting an
examination because she was greatly given to tears. She did work
for us on a few tests and her efforts would have been graded as
those of a feebleminded person if her emotional state had been
left out of account. Even our physical examination was largely
hindered through her crying. However, her story was told in a
straightforward way and with that show of emotion which had
previously convinced others that grave injustice had been done