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Tuesday, March 26, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

100 years ago in Spokane: Doctor warns ‘the world is going insane’

Dr. Albert A. Lowenthal came to Spokane and made a shocking statement: “Maniacs may govern the world within the next 50 years if insanity continues to increase at the present rate,” reported The Spokane Daily Chronicle on March 15, 1919. (The Spokane Daily Chronicle archives)
Dr. Albert A. Lowenthal came to Spokane and made a shocking statement: “Maniacs may govern the world within the next 50 years if insanity continues to increase at the present rate,” reported The Spokane Daily Chronicle on March 15, 1919. (The Spokane Daily Chronicle archives)

Dr. Albert A. Lowenthal came to Spokane and made a shocking statement: “Maniacs may govern the world within the next 50 years if insanity continues to increase at the present rate.”

Lowenthal was a “world-famous alienist” (psychiatrist) and was in Spokane to give a series of lectures to local physicians. He also planned to present one public lecture, with the title “Is the World Going Insane?”

Apparently his answer was yes, and his reasoning was alarming by today’s standards.

“Some action must be taken, and speedily, to prevent the mentally deficient from raising families,” he told the Spokane Daily Chronicle.

He claimed that in a few generations “people who have good sense will be considered ‘daffy’ by the majority and will be put in institutions.”

From the streetcar beat: The Chronicle’s editorial page warned that Spokane’s two streetcar companies were on the verge of folding because of financial troubles. This, it believed, would be disastrous.

“Spokane has no substitute, and none in sight. No effective auto bus service could be put into effect without improvement of the streets; and the city has all the debt it can legally carry. The streetcars must stay.”

The Chronicle was not in favor of a fare increase from 5 cents to 7 cents, but it was willing to consider a 6-cent compromise.

The overriding necessity was, simply, a “solvent streetcar system for Spokane.”

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