James Crichton-Browne, "Psychical diseases of early life", Journal of Mental Science, 6 ( Apr. 1860), 285-7, 289-91, 303.
A leading figure in the growing area of child psychiatry during the last part of the century, James Crichton-Browne gave the paper on which this article is based to the Royal Medical Society in December 1859, aged 19, as a third-year medical student at Edinburgh University. He proposes ideas here that would be central to his later work; stressing that childhood is a vulnerable time both for hereditary and environmental reasons--children not only inherit their parents' weaknesses but are particularly susceptible to external conditions and stimulii.
When we know that the spermatozoid and the ovum convey to the progeny, in a manner as yet eluding all research, the physical and psychical qualities, not merely of the parents, but of the parents' parents for generations back, we shall easily see how necessary it is for us to consider and weigh well the characteristics and pursuits of past generations, and the influences brought to bear upon them. And here we should recollect that the spermatozoid and the ovum, not only, respectively, bear the impress of the form, gait and manners, internal qualities and construction of the respective parents, but that these microscopic bodies also transmit and communicate to the offspring the acquired tendencies and liabilities to particular forms of disease which the parents possess; we should recollect that they transmit not only general adaptations to healthy or diseased actions, not only comprehensive tendencies in certain directions, but minute and particular peculiarities and eccentricities, mental and bodily, which characterise the parents. These tendencies and liabilities, those predispositions may remain latent and concealed, but, when placed in circumstances favourable for their maturation, they may develope and become actual disease. It cannot be doubted that these may become developed, and ripened, and unfolded, as well in the womb and in the cradle, as in the strength of manhood and the second childishness of