Imbecility

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IMBECILITY, med. jur. A weakness of the mind, caused by the absence or obliteration of natural or acquired ideas; or it is described to be an abnormal deficiency either in those faculties which acquaint us with the qualities and ordinary relations of things, or in those which furnish us with the moral motives that regulate our relations and conduct towards our fellow men. It is frequently attended with excessive activity. of one or more of the animal propensities.
     2. Imbecility differs from idiocy in this, that the subjects of the former possess some intellectual capacity, though inferior in degree to that possessed by the great mass of mankind; while those of the latter are utterly destitute of reason. Imbecility differs also from stupidity. (q.v.) The former consists in a defect of the mind, which renders it unable to examine the data presented to it by the senses, and therefrom to deduce the correct judgment; that is, a defect of intensity, or reflective power. The latter is occasioned by a want of intensity, or perceptive power.
     3. There are various degrees of this disease. It has been attempted to classify the degrees of imbecility, but the careful observer of nature will perhaps be soon satisfied that the shades of difference between one species and another, are almost imperceptible. Ray, Med. Jur. ch. 3; 2 Beck, Med. Jur. 550, 542; 1 Hagg. Ecc. R. 384; 2 Philm. R. 449; 1 Litt. R. 252, 5 John. Ch. R. 161; 1 Litt. R. 101; Des Maladies mentales, considerees dans leurs rapports avec la legislation civille et criminelle, 8; Georget, Discussion medico-legale sur la folie, 140.

References in classic literature ?
In reply to his last question Pierre again explained who Makar Alexeevich was and how just before their arrival that drunken imbecile had seized the loaded pistol which they had not had time to recover from him, and begged the officer to let the deed go unpunished.
Any imbecile that has got an income believes in that.
Again the vacuous, imbecile smile took possession of her features, and her voice, dropping its harshness, resumed the soft, well-modulated tones with which she had first addressed him.
On my return to Blackwater Park (with the letter of invitation) I found that the doctor's imbecile treatment of Marian's case had led to the most alarming results.
Glancing round with an imbecile smile, you sniggeringly observe that "it hasn't got much hair has it?" Nobody answers you for a minute, but at last the stately nurse says with much gravity:
The red fire with its gently audible movement seemed like a solemn existence calmly independent of the petty passions, the imbecile desires, the straining after worthless uncertainties, which were daily moving her contempt.
To give wealth to an old man long past the enjoyment of it-ay, imbecile already!
They present the same rosy complexions and straw-colored mustachios, the same plump cheeks, vacant eyes and low forehead; and they utter, with the same stolid gravity, the same imbecile small talk.
He is greatly irritated by the irony of Socrates, but his noisy and imbecile rage only lays him more and more open to the thrusts of his assailant.
Thomas Mugridge was beside himself, a blithering imbecile, so pleased was he at chumming thus with the captain.
I have seen imbeciles hanged, because, being imbeciles, they did not possess the hire of lawyers.
The dad of an Algerian student killed in a forgotten murder has accused Scottish prosecutors of treating him like an "imbecile".