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Title: A Treatise on the Diseases Produced By Onanism, Masturbation, Self-Pollution, and other excesses.
Author: Deslandes, Léopold
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Treatise on the Diseases Produced By Onanism, Masturbation, Self-Pollution, and other excesses." ***










  Second Edition.



  Entered, according to an Act of Congress, in the year 1838, by


  In the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of Massachusetts.


To those who would complain of the publication of a work upon the
delicate subject to which the following pages refer, we would remark,
that the evil here depicted, is one of great magnitude. This cause
of disease is often entirely overlooked even by medical men, either
from false notions of delicacy, or because their attention has not
been drawn by fearful experience to cases which are ascribable merely
to onanism. The patient is unconscious of his danger, and perseveres
in his vicious habit--the physician treats him symptomatically, and
death soon closes the scene. “Many a young man,” remarked a physician,
who had seen much of disease from this cause, “many a one has come to
me, totally unconscious that his criminal act was sapping to the very
foundation his health and strength.”

To call the attention of medical men to this source of disease, and to
point out to such persons not of the profession as may meet with this
book, and who indulge in this habit, the fatal precipice to which they
wend their way, has been the object of publishing it here. How very
many cases of consumption, that disease which annually destroys its
thousands, could, if the truth were known, be referred to this cause!
How many minds have been ruined by self-indulgence!

If any apology were needed for this publication, it may be found in the
last annual report of the State Lunatic Asylum of Massachusetts, which
states that of the number of insane received at that institution during
the last year, no less than THIRTY-TWO lost their senses from this





  § 1. Power of the genital organs when at rest.

  § 2. Power of the genital organs when excited.

  § 3. Power of the genital organs when in action.


  § 1. Circumstances connected with the act of venery
  which render it more or less injurious.

  § 2. Circumstances foreign to the act of venery
  which render it more or less injurious.

  § 3. Influence which the general state of the functions
  at different AGES and the particular state of
  some of them at different periods of life, may have
  on the consequences of the act of venery.


  § 1. General symptoms of venereal excesses.

  § 2. Diseases resulting from venereal excesses.




  § 1. First indication. To prevent the desire of onanism.

  § 2. Second indication. To resist the desire of onanism.

  § 3. Third indication. To take away from those
  who wish to masturbate the power of doing so.








Can the power possessed by man of indulging in the act of venery be
abused? or, in other words, can any injury arise to the health or
constitution, by indulgence in this act. It is sufficient to observe,
that the affirmative has never been doubted by any author, that no
medical man has ever been found at any time, or in any country,
so deficient in intelligence as to doubt that venereal enjoyments
were attended by venereal excess, and no one has ever disputed that
masturbation or coition may be injurious.

The act of venery, then, may be followed by bad effects. But is it
so, and to what extent? This question is the only one which has been
debated, the only one to be debated. Let then those, who think that
venereal indulgences are followed only by the remembrance of them,
know, that deceived by their desires, and perhaps by their necessities,
they are rushing blindly toward a fatal precipice, which is to be sure
at a greater or less distance from them, but which however exists, and
to which those who do not take warning will arrive more quickly.

It is generally thought that venereal excesses, particularly those of
masturbation, contribute in a considerable proportion to the ills of
suffering humanity. Some even consider this cause of disease, as one
of the most fatal and active. “In my opinion,” says Réveillé-Parise,
“neither the plague, nor war, nor small-pox, nor similar diseases, have
produced results so disastrous to humanity as the pernicious habit of
onanism: it is the destroying element of civilized societies, which
is constantly in action, and gradually undermines the health of a
nation.” (_Revue Medicale, April_, 1828, p. 93.) No one has disputed
the dangers of this kind of excess. Many authors, however, have
thought, that writers had exaggerated on this subject. Thus Montègre
says that “the bad consequences (although they do exist) attending
premature indulgences have _sometimes_ been exaggerated.” (_Dict. des
sc. med._ vol. vi. p. 100.) Georget’s opinion is similar. According to
him, (_Physiologie du système nerveux_ vol. i.) most authors and Tissot
among others have much exaggerated the effects of masturbation.

It will be seen, with how much reserve these authors speak. The injury
arising from this habit, say they, is very great, but it has been
overrated. Let us now examine upon what grounds they and others have
been led to consider these fears as too great: we shall see by what
reasoning they have been governed, and if they are correct.

Montègre was struck by the instances of individuals who were addicted
to onanism from early childhood, and who, however, in the prime of
vigour and health, had attained an age to which men do not generally
arrive, or to whom advanced age comes loaded with troubles. But do
we not see old soldiers who have always escaped bullets? Now what do
these facts prove except that such individuals exist? It has also
been stated, that influenced with what they have read in books, which
contain the most formidable cases, as those only are printed, many
physicians have attributed too much importance to the diseases caused
by onanism. But admitting this, may we not conclude also, that many
severe affections which it produces are not referred to it? That in
attending cases of dorsal consumption, epilepsy, paralysis, loss of
sight, &c., less dangerous diseases are overlooked, and that their
origin is not suspected? How often, for instance, are we ignorant of
the true cause of these affections whose characters are constantly
changing, which are seen every day, which at first produce uneasiness,
but with which one soon becomes familiar; which are not the symptoms
of a disease having its name and place among other diseases, so much
as the indication of constitutional affections, which appear from a
variety of influences, and are referred to each one of them. And yet
this kind of affection, as we shall state hereafter, is that presented
most frequently by individuals addicted but for a short time to
onanism, who indulge in it but seldom, or whose constitution resists
this kind of excess.

Appeal has been made also to direct observation; the number of those
who have fallen victims to onanism has been cited. It has been said,
call to mind every thing which has occurred to you in the course of a
long practice, you will doubtless find deplorable and even numerous
instances of the diseases attending onanism; but does this number
approximate that of the individuals who abandon themselves to this
vice? There are few persons who are not addicted to masturbation; very
well, are there many whose constitutions are impaired and whose health
is destroyed? It is admitted that premature and too frequent and too
often repeated indulgences may injure and sometimes have caused great
detriment, yet those who live through them are very numerous, and the
distance between the use and abuse of the act of venery, is greater
than is generally admitted.

This manner of counting the dead and wounded has something specious
in it, but it is defective in this respect, that it takes no account
of what has escaped observation, and cannot be estimated. Every
practitioner has undoubtedly seen more cases of masturbation than
he has seen victims to this habit. But how many circumstances have
prevented him from seeing all the diseases which are caused by this
habit, or have prevented him from referring these diseases to their
true cause? We have already mentioned the influence which his previous
reading and occupation have on this subject; to this cause of errour,
we may add others. How numerous are the affections which are borne
in silence and which never come under the notice of a physician. How
numerous too the practitioners who avoid the trouble of referring to
the immediate or remote causes of the diseases which are observed by
them, and who confine themselves simply to their treatment, without
tracing them to their source. How often too are diseases resulting
from onanism attributed to causes with which they have no connexion,
to causes which were indicated by persons who knew no better, or even
by the patient who believed himself to be interested in giving wrong
statements. How frequently also does the practitioner exclude himself
from obtaining information, by abstaining from making suggestions
to the parents, which all hear with displeasure, and repel with
indignation. How often, also, does he refrain from asking necessary
questions, for fear of wounding the modesty of the young patient, of
teaching him a thing of which perhaps he is ignorant, or at least of
exciting in him a dangerous curiosity! Finally how frequently are his
doubts removed by the art with which those who indulge in onanism, even
when young, know how to conceal a habit at which they blush in secret.
Now is it reasonable to expect, that the physician when surrounded
by so many causes of errour, should go into statistical details and
estimate from them the sum total of the ills produced by onanism and
other excesses of a similar character? This method would undoubtedly
lead to taking a part for the whole and consequently to forming too
narrow an opinion of the evil. Many authors having followed this
course, and having considered the evils which are unobserved by them
as only imaginary, have not denied the dangers and inconveniences of
venereal excesses, but have supposed that they exist less frequently
than is really the case.

I do not wish to call in question the utility of observations, or
to pretend that they must be neglected. I only wish to say that in
attaching to them too much consequence we are led to false conclusions
which may inspire a dangerous security. The physician who commits this
fault, reasons as does the onanist, who being unable to distinguish,
either in his comrades or in himself, the effects of his pernicious
habit, concludes that it is an innocent practice and that it may be
indulged in unreservedly. The principal utility of observing the
diseases caused by masturbation is to determine _what are the maladies
produced by onanism and what is the relative frequency of each of
them_. We can also certainly form an opinion, from that which is
shown by observation, in regard to that which escapes us. But it is
only by induction, that the extent of the evils caused by venereal
abuses can be estimated. The bad effects produced by these abuses,
can be estimated only by considering what they may produce. It is
only after studying the genital system in its relations with other
organs, and considering the influence it exercises upon them, that we
can pronounce in regard to the maladies and infirmities and dangers
of all kinds which attend the abuse of the genital system. We proceed
to this subject first. We shall then state what is known from direct
observation in regard to the different affections which result from
venereal excesses.



To abuse oneself by onanism, by coition, is to abuse the organs which
serve for the execution of these acts. The genital organs in the
female are, the vulva, clitoris, vagina, uterus, fallopian tubes and
ovaries. Those in the male are the penis, the seminal passages and
the testicles. These organs are then placed in such a state that they
become a source of disorder and of disease to the rest of the body.
Now, what is their power in this respect? Can they do much injury?
This is the question now to be examined.

The injury which the genital organs can do to the rest of the body
when they are abused, is the natural consequence of the influence
exercised when they are not abused! This injury is in a direct ratio
with this influence; it is by this then that it must be measured. In
fact, it is clear that if the different organs have in the ordinary
state different degrees of power, they must, when they do injury,
exercise it in different degrees. Let us then attempt to estimate the
influence possessed by the genital organs. If it be demonstrated that
when these organs are in a state of rest, of excitement, or in use,
their influence on the other functions is considerable, some opinion
may be formed as to what may be their influence when abused. It must
be admitted that organs, which have a powerful effect on all parts of
the body, which regulate all the others, which cannot feel, act, and
perform their functions without the others taking part in what takes
place in them, it must be admitted I say, that when such organs are
made instruments of disorder, the bad consequences which follow may be
very great.

The genital organs may be observed in three states; the first state is
that of _rest_. They then merely live, present no special sensation and
do not proceed to the act of venery. In the second state they become
the seat, the focus of more or less vivid sensations, and which have
for a special character to invite and to constrain with more or less
power to the act of venery. In animals, this state is called _rutting_:
in our species, it has no special name, except when existing to a very
great degree, and then it constitutes a disease, termed _Satyriasis_
or _nymphomania_: I shall call it the state of _excitement_. The third
is that of _action_: it is the state in which the genital organs are,
when they perform their special functions, when they accomplish the
act of venery. They then do not simply live as in the first state, or
feel as in the second; but they act, and afterward return to one of
the preceding states, and particularly to the first: they rest. These
are the three aspects under which we shall examine these organs. To
render our remarks more intelligible, we will give a few definitions.
The power of bringing the genital organs into a state of action is
the _venereal_ power: this when put in action is the _act of venery_.
If this act results from the concurrence of the two sexes, it is
_coition_. If it be caused by solitary manipulation, it then receives
divers names; the terms most used are _masturbation_, or _onanism_. The
act of venery, whether it does or does not result from the concurrence
of the two sexes may or may not be injurious. When it is injurious
in any degree there is then _venereal excess, abuse of the genital
organs_. This sense is the only one attached in this book, to this mode
of expression: for if in a moral and religious point of view the simple
fact of coition in some cases and of onanism in every case be a vice,
an excess, an abuse, the physician should apply these terms only to
cases where the health is injured.


It might be thought that when these organs are at rest, when they are
neither used nor abused, when the venereal sense is as it were asleep
in them, and they seem occupied only with their own development, and
nutrition, it might seem I say that these organs take little or no
part in what is going on around them: but this is a mistake. We shall
see that this dull life which then occupies them is sufficient to make
them a powerful focus of action; that all the other organs owe to them
a part of their mode of existence their form and substance. By this
we can judge of what the genital system is capable, when excited, and
when by the hand or otherwise it is brought to the highest degree of

Consider him who was born an eunuch, the man who has never had genital
organs, whose body, mind, and heart are developed without their
influence: compare him with other men and see in what he is deficient:
for his physical moral and intellectual relations will of course be
deficient in all that depends on the genital organs. This study will
reveal to you their power, and will point out to you the difference
between a man in whose development they have assisted, and one in whose
development, the genital organs have taken no part.

Eunuchs are very seldom tall: they are frequently short and sometimes
very short. A woman fifty-two years old, who had no uterus, and whose
genitals were presented to the academy of medicine by M. Renaulden,
was only three and a half feet high. The limbs of eunuchs when they
are not percolated with white fluids, are generally thin and badly
developed. Their bones have neither their usual size nor form, as has
been remarked by many observers, particularly by M. Mojon of Geneva.
(_Alibert_, _Nouv. El. de therapeutique_, 3d edition, vol. ii., p.
115.) This defect in growth is much more remarkable in the larynx.
This organ which generally acquires two-thirds of its size at puberty,
remains as in infancy, and the voice preserves that shrillness which
it has in young people, but becomes a little stronger because the
chest enlarges. The different tissues are not only less developed,
but some are not developed at all. Thus in eunuchs the beard and the
hairs on the pubis are deficient; their skin remains as free from
hairs as in early youth. The genital organs then have a powerful
effect on nutrition, because when they are deficient, the growth is
defective or ceases entirely. This influence is manifested also by the
characters presented by the different tissues after the action of the
genital parts ceases. To understand these characters, we have only
to compare the flesh of animals who have been castrated with that of
those who are perfect; for example the flesh of the ox with that of
the bull, that of the capon with that of the rooster &c. In the eunuch
these characters are no less marked. His organization is in a measure
stationary. When an adult, he preserves in great part the physical
attributes of youth, and then when these are lost, those of old age,
and not those of manhood, present themselves. It is the genital organs
then which in a perfect man, give colour to the skin, give to the flesh
more consistence and firmness and which gradually take up from the
cellular tissue those white fluids, which prevent us from seeing the
prominences of the bones and muscles. The organization of the eunuch
is then unfinished, imperfect. The organs which should have appeared
at the period of puberty are not seen: others acquire only a part of
their growth: all retain a part of those characters which they ought
properly speaking to lose and do not obtain those which belong to them.
These facts are highly important. The study of them demonstrates the
extent of the derangement caused by venereal excesses: for the organs
abused by the onanist and libertine, are those which take so active and
special a part in the internal economy of all our tissues: which stamp
them with the seal of virility, of which the eunuch always remains

Consider the eunuch now in his life of relation: look in him for the
thought, activity, and sensibility of the man. In these respects
also how much he is deficient; he is inactive, indifferent, and
destitute of energy. The lymphatic temperament is marked in him by
his insensibility, his apathy, no less than by the delicacy of his
flesh, and the whiteness of his skin. He has preserved from infancy
the disposition given by feebleness, to be excited by the least
cause: hence he is timid and pusillanimous and cowardly. Devoid of
any internal feeling which renders the soul gay, he is morose and
wearisome. He is destitute of those feelings which attach man to man
and render one capable of attachment, love, and devotion. He lives,
he vegetates only for himself: he is a perfect egotist: if he has any
sentiments they are those of envy or hatred: in fact they are repulsive
sentiments: but most frequently he has none or they are very slight.
The crimes of the eunuch come in fact less from the sentiments he has,
than from those he has not. His mind, like his body and heart, remains
a perfect waste. His intelligence is but moderate and he is never
known to conceive or execute great ideas. This picture is not drawn
from the imagination; it is the result of long continued observations
at all periods, in all places, and upon all kinds of eunuchs. One of
them observed by M. Bedor embodied in himself the principal features of
this picture. He was an eunuch from birth who had become a conscript.
His appearance was humble and languishing; his eyes were downcast and
averted; he was very timid and cowardly, was afraid of dead bodies,
and of darkness. He admitted that he had never been attached even to
any member of his family: but he was also incapable of dislike. He
was not pleased with musick, and had no idea of singing: finally he
was insensible to all enjoyment. He did not however complain of his
situation. His intelligence was very slight, his conversation was
obscure and incorrect, and he was so incapable of being instructed that
although he had lived in the barracks a year he had none of the moral
habits of the soldier. (_Journal de med. chir. et phar._ vol. xxv. p.

Such is the eunuch. The operator in mutilating him mutilated his heart,
his senses, his mind. The development of the moral and intellectual
faculties then like that of the body is connected with the existence
of the genital organs. Deprive a child of a limb of his four limbs,
that is of the half at least of his frame, and he will continue to be
developed, the same as if no part had been taken from him. But take
away the testicles, and all his tissues, all his faculties will bear
indelible marks of this mutilation. These organs alone then have much
more power than the four extremities. It is with these, with this
power, that the onanist trifles from childhood, without hesitation
and without moderation. Is it necessary now to follow this train of
reasoning to show that his course of conduct is dangerous? It is
also to the influence exercised by the genital organs on other parts
that the sexes owe their peculiar differences. Their organization,
influenced by a different genital apparatus, presents a different
mode of existence, action and sensation. Thus the sexual characters
are slightly marked at birth, become distinct as the genital organs
develope themselves, suddenly enlarge at the period of puberty, exist
in the greatest degree when these parts have come to their perfect
state, and lose their energy in old age. The destruction of the
testicles in the male and of the ovaries in the female prevents the
regular development, or even alters the special distinctions of sex.
We have already seen that this destruction renders man effeminate:
we will add that it renders the female more masculine, and gives her
characters, which in the natural order of things belong exclusively to
the male. This conclusion is drawn from facts which seem authentic,
and it is strengthened too by the fact that when the activity of the
genitals is destroyed by age, the voice becomes rough, resembling
that of the male, the upper lip and chin are covered with hairs, the
moral character acquires more firmness, the taste and habits are much
modified and approximate those of the male. A similar thing occurs in
animals according to Dumeril. (_Dict. des sc. med., art. continence_,
p. 118.)

It is not only by comparing the sexes that we see that different
genital organs have a different action, but it follows also from
observing those doubtful beings termed _hermaphrodites_. In these
individuals the genital organs disturbed in their regular development,
present doubtful appearances and belong at the same time to the two
sexes. In these individuals the organization being influenced in
another manner is developed differently. Faithful to these organs which
generally impress in the body the seal of sex, the general state of the
body becomes equivocal like them and presents a mixture in different
proportions of the male and female attributes. Thus in a girl whose
history is stated by Beclard, and who among other imperfections of the
external genital organs which rendered her sex doubtful, presented a
complete closure of the vulva, and a clitoris so much developed that
it resembled a penis, the larynx and voice were like those of a youth:
the upper lip, the chin and cheeks presented a white beard, long and
coarse hairs covered the lower extremities and surrounded the anus;
finally the proportions of the trunk and limbs and the formation of
the pelvis resembled those of man. (_Bull. de la Faculté de med._ vol.
iv. p. 273.) It would be easy to refer to similar facts which have
been frequently recorded. The general state of the economy, then, is
somewhat connected with that of the genital parts, varies like them and
takes part in the changes which they undergo. Hence it is astonishing
to see libertines and onanists render themselves effeminate, and
demoralize their constitution by using these parts in such a manner as
to fatigue and change them: and to observe women robbing themselves in
the same manner of their beauty, the delicacy of their form and the
charm of their voice.

When man has attained his perfect development, the bonds which unite
the genital organs to the rest of the body become less apparent and
probably less intimate than before: they however are not destroyed.
Castration certainly does not deprive the adult of all the characters,
of all the faculties which had been developed by puberty: but it
modifies them very much. The beard has been known to come out after the
loss of the testes as if its existence were connected with theirs, as
an effect is with its cause. The intellectual faculties particularly
lose much of their energy, when the genital organs are removed. Those
persons who have been mutilated not unfrequently become melancholy and
finally commit suicide. (_Orfila, Leçons de medicine legale_, 1823, p.
126.) A remarkable case of enervation was observed by Richerand, in
some soldiers whose testes had been shot away in action. Among other
cases, he mentions a soldier who had previously been celebrated for
his activity and valor, and who, after his mutilation took an aversion
to any violent exercise, and to gain his livelihood, applied himself
to such labours as are carried on by females, particularly to sewing
gloves. (_Richerand, nosographie chirurgicale_, 2nd edition, vol.
iv. p. 292.) Compare these facts with what takes place when age, that
great operator, extinguishes the principle of virility. When one is
old, is he as affectionate, as sensible, as devoted, as intelligent, as
he was in youth? do not the general characters of an eunuch gradually
come upon him? The genital organs then, even when in repose, regulate
in more than one respect and at every period of life, the rest of the
human body.

But it is particularly before and during puberty that these organs
deserve the most serious attention, for then they possess the most
power. This power commences with them, and like them increases every
day. Thus the tastes, the characters, the inclinations, and generally
all which distinguishes the sexes in a moral and physical point of
view, are marked from infancy. That poverty of body of heart and
of spirit which characterizes eunuchism, is seen in young eunuchs,
in those for instance who are born destitute of genital organs.
The soldier whose case is stated by Bedor, always presented that
indifference and languor common to eunuchs; he always avoided all
trials of skill at wrestling, running, leaping and finally all youthful
exercises, and as we have already remarked, never exhibited attachment
to any one, even to his parents. The influence of the sexual organs
then commences with life. But it does not attain all its intensity
until puberty.

At this period, which in our climate commences from the twelfth to the
sixteenth year, a little sooner in females than in males, the genital
organs have the most vitality. Until that time they are developed
slowly and almost imperceptibly; they suddenly increase with great
activity, and their growth is not arrested till they have arrived at
perfection. This is not the place to enter into details as to the
labour which then takes place in them: we will merely remark that
the change is often so intense as to present all the characters of
inflammation. It is then admissible that in such a state these organs
should exercise on the economy a much more powerful action than
before, when their development was imperceptible, and also than they
do afterward, when they have only to preserve themselves. This in fact
is proved by observation. At no period of life, does the body grow as
rapidly as during puberty. The researches of Quetelet and Villermé on
the weight and height of men at different ages, (_Annales &c._ p. 26)
leave no doubt on this subject. Thus the annual increase in the weight
of the body which until the period of puberty was only from three to
three and a half pounds, suddenly rises to five and six pounds when
this period commences, and gets to be twelve pounds when it is at the
summum of intensity. And it is worthy of remark that in females who
arrive at the age of puberty about two years earlier than males, this
increase of growth also commences two years sooner. A similar fact
is observed in those monsters who present in early infancy traces
of virility: in them the mass of the body is in a direct ratio with
the development of the genital system; hence their height and weight
are enormous. This is proved by a great number of facts related by
authors and particularly by Moreau, Fages, J. G. Smith, Gedike, Meckel,
Dupuytren, &c. Let us now compare these facts with those pointed out
when speaking of eunuchism, and it will be shown that the power of the
genital organs in its nutrition follows in its variations those which
they experience: that the general growth conforms to theirs, that if
one advances the other does, and if one be imperfect, the other is

This increase in the activity of the nutritive powers during puberty,
is not shown simply by the increase of the substance of the body, it
manifests itself by other symptoms. More heat is generated in the
tissues, as is indicated particularly by the facility with which
individuals at the age of puberty resist cold, and by the interesting
remark of Quetelet and Smitz, that the summer of all seasons of the
year is most fatal to them. Ailments of every kind too show in most
subjects, that the influence of the genital organs on all parts of
the body may be so great as even to derange the functions: of this
character are pains, heaviness in the head, vertigos, redness of the
face, numbness in the limbs, dulness and oppression, palpitations
of the heart, bleeding from the nose, painful engorgements of the
lymphatic ganglions, different inflammations, &c. &c. Finally the body
responds like an echo, to all that takes place in the genital system.
Need we say that nothing of the kind takes place in eunuchs.

The active development of the genital parts exercises an equal
influence on the functions of the life of relation, in the faculties
of sensation, action, and thought. These faculties, which are so
feeble in the eunuch are extremely active during puberty. This is the
age of muscular activity and agility. If those who are growing up,
sometimes are reluctant to take exercise, this feeling of reluctance
depends on a hyperemia of the nervous centres, which soon disappears.
Numerous different and generally transient sensations, denote the part
which the nervous system takes in what passes in the genital system;
and this is proved also by the frequency of convulsive and spasmodic
affections at this period of life. The moral susceptibility is then
still more exalted than the physical susceptibility. The mind directed
and controlled by the most vivid, most varied, and most transient
impressions, takes up and lays aside the most opposite opinions, and
adopts the most hazardous enterprises. This disposition has existed
to so great a degree as even to constitute a kind of monomania, so
transient as to be almost imperceptible, and during which crimes,
(particularly that of arson) were committed. This fact rests on the
authority of Osiander, Henke, of the faculty of medicine at Leipsick,
of Marc and of many other authors. (_See Marc’s memoir on incendiary
monomania, Annales d’hyg._ October, 1833.) But the mental state
resulting from the change of puberty is characterized particularly by
the readiness with which one shares the affections of others, partakes
of their sympathies, and sympathizes with them. This is the moment of
generous ideas, or as is remarked by those, whose minds no longer feel
the action of organs which have become mute, the period of illusions.
How much experience ought not the mind to gain when passing through
this moral tempest? Is it astonishing then to find weak minds and cold
hearts among eunuchs? Being deprived of these organs which at the
period of puberty give so marked an impulse to the system, they do not
feel it: the most active of all moral excitants is absent. Judge from
this of its power, and yet it is this stimulant which is so much abused
by the onanist.

Let us resume our remarks. We have seen by comparing the eunuch to the
perfect individual, the male to the female, and the hermaphrodites to
those persons whose genitals are perfect, that the genital organs, from
the simple fact of their existence, exercise a well-marked influence
on the physical intellectual and moral constitution of individuals. We
have also seen by comparing the period of life when the genital organs
are actively developed, with that when they are simply preserved, that
the influence which has been spoken of, is exercised with a variable
degree of intensity, and is in a direct ratio with the vital activity
which exists in these organs. We may then state as a positive truth,
that the genital system modifies extensively the action and sensation
of all our organs, and modifies it in proportion as it is itself
excited. This fact stated, the question whether venereal excesses can
or cannot do much injury is resolved. We may, _à priori_, affirm,
that when the genital organs pass from a state of repose to that of
excitement, and from this to a state of action, their influence on the
other organs is always in an increasing ratio. To prove this requires
no new facts. This action and this progressive increase of power,
result, inevitably from the comparisons we have made. Life is so
mysterious and on the other hand, coition is so transient, that what
takes place in the tissues during its continuance is concealed from
view: but we may be certain that something takes place in them, that
some disturbance there occurs and that the disturbance is greater
during the act of venery than during the preceding states. This act
then exerts more influence than it appears to exert, as it affects
all parts of the organization. If when the genital system appears at
rest, it exercises so much influence on the vitality of the other
organs, what must be its power when the venereal sense is excited in
it, and further when this sense is carried by masturbation or coition
to the greatest degree of excitement. How much then must these secret
functions be modified, whose exercise is so intimately connected with
that of the genital organs! Certainly those who say that the possible
consequences of venereal excesses are exaggerated, have not taken this
view of the subject.


When these organs are in a state of _excitement_, they present a
greater degree of excitement than at any of the phases of the state
of repose, not even excepting that of puberty. We may say that they
have passed from the chronic to the acute state. They not only
become the seat of a vivid and special sense, but they also present
a kind of turgescence of erethism, and I will say of very remarkable
inflammation. They swell, become firm and redder, hotter, and moister:
their sensibility becomes extreme. Their power ought certainly to
be increased in proportion to the distance between this state and
the one of repose. This excitement however is so transient, and the
functions on which it reacts are so mysterious, that a great part of
its immediate influence cannot be estimated. For in order to mark the
action of the genital organs on the mode of existence on the action
of the different tissues we must compare individuals to individuals,
that is a whole life with a whole life, or at least we must compare two
long portions of the same life. On this point the study of the state of
repose, of that state which is incomparably the most common, has been
useful to us, for we have arrived at facts, by considering their remote
consequences, which at the moment of their production, constantly
escape. The state of excitement however does not manifest itself solely
by the sensations which attend it. Different signs show that the rest
of the economy feels that the power of the genital organs is increased.

In fact when this state is well marked, the heat of the other parts
of the body is increased. The eyes are more brilliant: the colour of
the complexion is more lively, the pulse is quicker, and the patient
experiences a kind of febrile agitation which in satyriasis and
nymphomania, that is, in the greater degrees of human venery, presents
the characters of a highly marked fever. The secretions also undergo
important modifications, which are but slightly marked in man, but are
easily recognised in a great number of animals, who exhale during the
_period of heat_, a strong and most generally a disagreeable odour. The
function of nutrition also suffers from this state: thus if it appears
too frequently, or is continued too long, the embonpoint disappears,
the flesh becomes dry, and the body exhibits that leanness which is
seen so frequently in those who are extremely salacious. But, I repeat,
a great part of the influence exercised upon the nutritive functions by
the genital organs when in a state of excitement would be overlooked,
if only the phenomena mentioned were taken into account. In fact these
phenomena are only those which fall directly under the notice of the
senses, and we believe that their number and proportions would increase
infinitely, if the observer could directly inspect the tissues closely.

But the most striking fact in the state of excitement is the
development of a special sense, the _venereal_ sense. This fact
characterizes this state and it effaces the others to such an extent
that it seems to form it alone. We shall not attempt to describe the
genital sense: a sense cannot be described. We may however ask what is
required? Even as hunger impels to eat and thirst to drink, this sense
impels to the act of venery. It is the bond which brings the two sexes
toward each other, which unites them and which makes, in the words of
the disciples of a new belief, a perfect individual of the male and
female. This sense may be only feebly excited, and then may have only a
moderate degree of power. But when it is exalted, the chain with which
it binds the free will is of incalculable power. The male dreams of the
female: the latter of the male. One of the opposite sex is continually
present to the mind and eyes and imagination. Individuals and forms
which at other times appear by no means remarkable, now seem perfect
and excite transports of admiration. Riches and honors are no longer
esteemed, and even life itself is considered as not worth possessing.
All necessities have disappeared before one only. Hunger and thirst
are no longer felt. In fact it is a state of delirium. All the senses
are concentrated in one: it commands them and receives from them, like
a blind master, all the illusions which they present to it: and then
fatigued by this violent state and exhausted by its excess, even when
not satisfied, it is as it were extinguished. Such is the power of the
genital organs, those organs which are abused by the onanist. Who then
can question the physical evils with which its abuse may be attended.


If the individual either by legitimate modes or otherwise, wishes to
satisfy his desires, the state of excitement becomes changed to one of
action, and the genital organs then arrive at their greatest degree
of power. All parts of the genital system are interested, and combine
their actions: the testes prepare the semen: the excretory ducts convey
it: the prostrate gland and the muciparous follicles secrete their
special humours, and the mucous fluids flow to the sexual parts. The
erectile tissue, which forms the whole of the glans, the cavernous
bodies, the clitoris, and most of the external and internal labia, the
vagina &c., solicits to itself and retains the blood, becomes swelled
by as much as it can contain, hardens and enlarges to the utmost of
its capacity. At the same time the genital sense passes rapidly through
all the degrees of excitement: and finally arrives at that point beyond
which it cannot extend: every muscle, every mature fibre in the genital
system is then convulsed: the seminal vesicles, the muscles surrounding
the urethra and those which are attached to the anus contract with
violence, and the semen, the loss of which causes so much exhaustion
even when discharged involuntarily, is convulsively expelled.

The scene now changes: the genital apparatus, lately so full of life
now becomes flaccid: the scrotum becomes loose and pendent, and a
sensation of torpor, of fatigue, of chill follows. The convulsive
motions are succeeded by a kind of paralysis, and all attempts at new
excitement are vain.

During this tumult and after this crisis, the general state of the
patient conforms in every manner to that of the genital system. Thus
the face reddens, the neck swells, the veins become filled; the skin
is now burning and now moistened with sweat, the heart beats with
rapidity; in fact there is a state of fever, which almost justifies
us in placing the act of venery among diseases. At the same time the
nervous centres, the cerebrum, the cerebellum, the spinal marrow,
experience a very powerful impression. As the state progresses,
consciousness is lost, and the subject is as it were in a state of
delirium. The will is suspended, and the muscles are not controlled by
it, but by the nervous centres which are so much irritated. Thus the
trunk and limbs are agitated by involuntary motions and chills. This
disturbance increases until the crisis arrives, when the convulsion
affects the genital system; a fit of epilepsy as it were ensues: the
sight becomes dim, the trunk stiffens and the neck is thrown back: and
finally this state might be regarded as a violent access of disease if
the beginning and end of it were not known.

Now however the individual is changed: his face has lost its color,
his limbs are stiff, without motion and as it were paralyzed: the head
is painful, the mind is slow and the limbs are incapable of the least
effort. The hearing is dull, the sight is deranged, and the external
senses impart to the brain only imperfect impressions. The pulsations
of the heart are feeble, the pulse is small, the veins are collapsed
and the eyelids are livid. The soul is left in a state of languor and
sadness and becomes as it were melancholy.

This picture although giving the principal points is far from being
complete; in order to be perfect it should include that which is not as
well as that which is seen. If the simple labor which takes place in
the genital organs at puberty, is sufficient to modify materially the
functions of nutrition, functions which when deranged give rise to many
diseases, what must be in this respect the influence of the venereal
act, and a fortiori of venereal excesses. This influence, like that
exercised by this act on the nervous system cannot be appreciated at
the moment it is produced, for it is not immediately perceptible. An
idea of this can be gained only in two modes: one consists in measuring
the long intervals which exist between a state of repose and that of
action: we then say that if the first can modify to such an extent the
texture of these organs, their powers of sensation and of action, how
great must be the power of the second. In this manner we reason in this

In the other mode an opinion may be formed by remarking the physical
alterations and functional disorders which have been the consequence
of them. This kind of proof which we shall soon examine will not fail
us. We shall then see that the diseases affecting the nervous system,
that system which is powerfully disturbed during coition, are not
the only ones resulting from venereal excesses. We shall see that
all alterations of tissue, every physical disorder, may be caused by
them: and thus we shall complete the proof of this fact that the act
of venery not only produces that convulsive state which is so powerful
while it continues but that it also exercises on all parts of the body
an action which is extremely powerful and is also the source of many
evils. When we think of the power of the act of venery, and consider
that it may be indulged in as often as an individual chooses, and that
if the legitimate mode of indulgence, the concurrence of the sexes is
denied, the individual may abuse himself; when we reflect we say on
all this, we may fearlessly assert that most of the inconveniences and
diseases afflicting the human species, arise from venereal excesses.

We have hitherto considered masturbation and coition abstractedly
and as if there were no circumstances to change the influence they
exercise. But is this always the case? Are there not individuals who
are rendered indisposed by a single act of venery? Are there not others
who can repeat this act with impunity at near intervals and for a long
period of time? Farther is its influence always the same? Are there not
circumstances which render it more or less injurious and dangerous at
different periods of life? And now what are the circumstances and the
causes of all the differences we have mentioned? This subject will be
considered in the next chapter.



These circumstances are of two kinds: some depend on the act itself:
others are independent of it and depend most frequently upon the
disposition in which the economy is at the moment of its occurrence.
Let us study in succession these two orders of circumstances.


We have seen in the preceding chapter that the influence of these
organs is much greater the more vivid their excitement is: that,
for instance, this influence has more intensity during the state of
excitement than during that of repose: finally that its greatest
degree is felt in the act of venery. The natural consequence of these
facts is that the greater the excitement of the genital organs during
this act, the stronger must be the impression caused by it. We may
then say that its power of doing injury, other things being equal, is
in direct ratio with the force and duration of the excitement which
attends it. And further this result is proved by observation.

Compare the two sexes together: the female presents instances of
venereal excess, much less frequently than the male. Whence is this
difference? Is it not because the genital sense in females is much
less susceptible of excitement than in males, and therefore the act of
venery causes them much less fatigue? I know that this fact has been
disputed: and it is asserted that the female is fully as sensual as the
male; and that if females show their feelings less, it is because they
are controlled by custom. I know also that the reluctance of females
to submit to the approach of the male is ascribed to a kind of tender
coquetry which tends to increase the ardor of the former. Finally, the
redness of the genital organs of females during the period of heat, has
been mentioned as proving the intensity of their sensations. (_Marc_,
_Dict. des Sc. med._, _art. Celib. etc._) But these arguments cannot be
maintained in opposition to that which daily experience proves to be
true, viz., that as a general fact, females are much less addicted to
the pleasures of love than males, and experience less fatigue during
sexual intercourse.

The inferiority or perhaps the advantage which females have over males
in this respect, depends on the passiveness which they naturally
exercise in the act of generation: and hence their desires are less
strong. The state of manners justifies their reserve in this respect,
and points out a physiological fact, or rather they are the consequence
of it. As to the pretended coquetry of animals, I do not believe in it
strongly; and in regard to that of females I believe that it has caused
more to err than their desires. If the venereal passion be equally
developed in the two sexes, why is onanism more common in males than in
females, notwithstanding certain conditions ought to produce a contrary
state of things? And farther do not many wives yield themselves to the
caresses of their husbands, without desire and without enjoyment? and
yet this indifference does not prevent conception, for the sensation
of love is not with them, as with the male, an indispensable condition
of the work of generation. Finally would there be any prostitutes,
if coition caused in females the same exhaustion as in the male?
Females then are indisputably less sensual than males; and when this
fact is taken in connexion with the circumstance that women are less
frequently victims of venereal excess, does not this tend to prove,
that, other things being equal, the act of venery is, as before stated,
less injurious, in proportion, as the sensations attending it are less
vivid? Perhaps this explains why females generally live longer by two
or three years, than males, notwithstanding the pains and dangers of
pregnancy, parturition and lactation: and this fact may be deduced
according to Sir John Sinclair, from the registers of mortality of
different countries, and from the rent tables which have been kept
in Holland for a hundred and twenty-five years. Farther, it is well
ascertained that every thing which contributes to give more force and
duration to the sensations attending the act of venery, also increases
the fatigue and disorder which follow it. Coition taken in its simplest
sense, and considered only as an excretion of semen, undoubtedly
causes much less injury than if it occurs with other sensations. Thus
intercourse with public women and generally with those who do not
excite strong sensations is generally attended with less derangement,
as Hunter has remarked, than if accompanied with violent passion. Some
authors however as Sanctorius and Tissot have advanced a contrary
opinion; but they have evidently confounded the state of the mind with
that of the body. When the soul is possessed of a violent passion, the
ardors of love continue a longer time, are not so soon satisfied:
but does it follow from this that the body presents more resistance.
Certainly not, but only that the pernicious effects are felt less at
the time; although at a later period they will be perceived.

One reason why masturbation is more pernicious than coition arises
from the state of mind during the two acts. The onanist, and here we
allude only to those who have some ideas of sexual intercourse and
love, having no material object which is the beginning and the end of
its pleasures, the imagination must supply and invent it. This mental
labor renders the sensations stronger and the body more disposed to
feel them. Added to these, the onanist is desirous of prolonging his
feeling, and having under his control certain circumstances which in
sexual intercourse hasten the denouement, he retards it. Thus with
fatal skill he gives to this destructive vice all the power it can
possess, and experiences all the evil which this vice can cause.


The economy is not equally affected by venereal excesses in all
individuals at all periods of life. There are some circumstances
which make it necessary for masturbation or coition to be more or
less frequently repeated in order to be injurious. Hence if we wish
to know the real influence of these acts, these circumstances must
be considered. These are numerous but they are not all known. Two
individuals indulge in onanism: one becomes ill in a few weeks: but the
other resists the pernicious habit longer. These two individuals were
certainly in different states, as the event proves. This fact however
was indicated previously by no circumstance: their age, constitution
and manner of living before this were similar: in fact the reason why
they were affected so differently cannot be told. The difference here
presented by two individuals may be observed in the same person, when
considered at different epochs and periods of life. He will resist the
excess of masturbation and coition to a greater degree at some times
than at others, although the circumstances on which these differences
depend are not known. There are then unknown circumstances which have
an effect on the consequences arising from onanism. These remarks are
highly important and seem to be well understood; and it is clear that
there is no possible security for the onanist: in vain does he look
for encouragement by comparing himself to others, or by remarking of a
comrade: “if he had been as healthy as I am, his health would still be
good, he would not have died:” or by saying “why should I fear what I
have indulged in so long with impunity.” This mode of reasoning is out
of the question when the truth of the preceding remark is admitted, and
it is then impossible for a person to deceive himself; and the reason
that so many abuse themselves is because they think themselves stronger
than others.

Besides these circumstances, there are some which are well known
and which contribute more or less to render the act of venery more
detrimental. These circumstances consist first, in the general state of
the functions at different ages and in the peculiar state of some of
them at different _periods_ of life; second, in a coincidence of action
between the act of venery, and other causes of disease; third, in the
alterations which the constitution may have already suffered, and in
the disposition existing to contract certain diseases; fourth, finally
in the state of the diseases with which the patient is afflicted, when
he indulges in the act of venery.


Life is composed of three very distinct periods. In the first, the
body is developed and formed: it is a period of progress: while it
continues, the organs gain in force and substance: it terminates when
they have arrived at their greatest degree of perfection: and this
generally takes place about the twenty-fifth year. During the second
period man uses the organs as they are formed and constituted. The only
process which takes place in them is one of reparation, of renewal:
this is the period of maturity: it generally terminates about the
fiftieth year. The third period is the opposite of the first: it is the
period of decline. There is, during this latter period, a progressive
deterioration of the strength and of the tissues. It terminates with
life. Thus a state of development, that of maturity, and that of
decline are the three aspects under which life presents itself. Let
us trace the effect of venereal excesses in these different phases of

_First period._ No animal, and particularly no one of the vertebrated
animals can procreate on entering the world. The genital organs
doubtless exist at that time, but their form is rudimentary, which
proves that they are incapable of doing much. These organs do not
acquire the power of fulfilling their special functions, until a more
advanced period of life, which period varies in different species of
animals, but is nearly the same in all individuals of the same species.
Until this time there is no secretion of prolific semen in the male,
nor creation of ovales in the female: the procreative power does not

Man is no exception to this common rule; his genital organs, although
distinct, are scarcely developed at the moment of birth. The penis in
males, the nymphæ and clitoris in females appear it is true to have a
certain size, but this size does not depend on the development of the
true spongy, erectile tissue of these parts. The genital apparatus
continues to grow, although slowly during infancy, but it does not
become filled for reproduction until after the rapid development seen
at puberty. Hence in man, as in all animals, the power of reproduction
does not exist until after some portion of life has elapsed. What is
this portion? why does not the power come earlier or later? this is of
but little importance: existence is necessary a certain time before
it appears. But as God has made nothing useless in this world, we may
fearlessly assert that those who before the age for procreation, excite
in themselves the feelings attending this faculty, do an unnatural act
and one which is necessarily pernicious.

Thus _à priori_, and by the application of general laws all premature
indulgences are reproved. This opinion is confirmed by the study of
the human body in the first third of its existence. This period of
life is marked by two facts of the highest importance. It is then
that the organs form, that they become perfect in substance, extent,
and texture. It is then also that they acquire in action and in the
power of receiving impressions the characters which form their special
constitution, that is, the state which considered at the same time
in all the organs, composes what is called the _temperament_. During
Infancy and in youth, the formation of the substance of the body and
of its constitution, is going on. Let us compare with this process, on
the regularity of which the health, and well-being of the individual
depends, let us compare, we say venereal indulgences, or rather
masturbation, for this alone is then possible; we shall then see why
the generative faculty was not born with us, and why the precocious
excitement of the genital sense is attended with so much danger.

The first result of this excitement is to hasten the material and
sensitive development of the genital organs. The preternatural size
which masturbation gives to the penis in children is so remarkable
that this alone is often sufficient to reveal this habit. Farther
this excitement not only awakens the venereal sense long before the
legitimate period of its appearance, but it acquires so much power
that the youngest persons brave all connective means to satisfy it.
Here then we have a system of organs forcing their development forward
at the expense of the other organs. This state undoubtedly causes
derangement and if we compare the genital organs with those which have
the least sensibility, we may form an opinion of the consequences
of it. If we reflect on the symptoms attending dentition which are
often severe; or those depending on too rapid growth of the bones, and
then measure the great difference between the vitality of the osseous
and genital systems, we can form an idea of the injury caused by the
premature enlargement of the genital apparatus. Although there may be
no real disease, yet the wasting of the body, the enervation which
results from excessive growth are often sufficient to give to a young
man the appearance of an onanist.

If such feelings arise simply from the osseous system, what must we
expect when onanism, with its train of moral and of sensual feelings,
forces the genital organs to take part in the efforts of growth. The
power which is then impaired is the same which we have seen extend
over all parts of the organization, that, whose action when regular,
contributes so much to make each tissue perfect, in fact that which
when removed gives to man the characters of an eunuch. Now consider
onanism as possessing this power and using to do injury all the
energy which it possesses to do good; what limits shall be assigned
to its injurious effects? and yet some authors question them. Many
general phenomena of puberty also appear prematurely, when premature
indulgences call them into development. Thus the beard appears on the
chin, the pubis is covered with hairs, the voice assumes a deeper tone,
and the first indications of virility show themselves much earlier than
is proper. These symptoms serve to trace the aberrations which onanism
causes in the formation of the organs. This vice too does not surely
hasten or retard; it deranges: for the derangement of the functions
is not generally manifested by irregularities in formation, aspect,
and texture, but by material alterations, by diseases. Hence why
inflammations of all kinds, and numerous organic affections result, as
observation proves, sooner or later from anticipated pleasures: now as
the susceptibility of the organs varies in individuals, and as in one,
the heart, in another the lungs, the stomach &c. is most liable to be
affected, we see why the list of diseases caused by onanism, comprises
most of those which afflict the human body.

Nor is this all; if the excitement of a sense, which affects all the
other organs, and to which they respond, occurs at a time when their
mode of action and of sensation, or their temperament is not formed,
this latter varies from what it would be, if developed calmly and
uninfluenced by this excited sense. Hence not only the _health_ but
the _constitution_ suffers from the too precocious use of the genital
organs. He who might have attained the age of manhood, with a robust
temperament by which his body resists numerous bad influences by which
it is constantly assailed, will after indulging in onanism, be exposed
to all these influences. This vice then compromises both the present
and future health of the body; the present by the diseases with which
it is accompanied, and the future by those for which it prepares.
Hence if the young man escapes with life, he is as it were loaded with
a tribute of ills which he must pay before long and perhaps always.
Thus the indirect influence of onanism in producing human suffering is
enormous. I consider it even as greater in proportion than that of the
most immediate consequences of this fatal habit. This is confirmed not
only by daily observation, but it cannot be otherwise. How much then
do those deceive themselves who seek for the diseases of masturbation
without believing in their existence, and who continue to indulge
because they do not see its abuses.

If premature indulgence cause so much injury it should be one of
the most interesting duties of humanity to prevent children and
young persons from abusing themselves, and although the practice of
onanism cannot be controlled by laws, legislators might however fix
the age under which marriages could not legally take place. We must
however admit that circumstances connected with the social state of
different people, with the power of procuring the means of subsistence
for a family and the necessity of having vigorous children have
contributed not a little to fix this age. Thus the laws frequently
present differences which can only be explained by taking into view
the necessities under which they were passed. Females however are
allowed to marry much younger than males: this depends on two facts,
first because puberty takes place earlier in females than in males,
and secondly because the latter require their organization to be more
advanced to resist the fatigue of generation.

The age at which the venereal power enters into full action, and when
its exercise is attended with the least detriment has been generally
determined on two distinct grounds: first, the physical aptitude for
sexual intercourse: second, the general state of the organization.
The marriageable age has been fixed at an earlier or later period
according as legislators have assumed one or the other of these bases.
The first served as foundations for the matrimonial laws of the Romans:
and probably the second served as a guide to Lycurgus, who prohibited
men from marrying before the age of thirty-seven, and to Plato who
recommended that every child born of a female younger than twenty years
old or begotten by a man less than thirty years, should be branded with
infamy. J. J. Rousseau too reasons in the same manner: “until the age
of twenty,” he says, “the body grows and has need of all its substance:
continence is natural, and if not observed it is at the expense of the

Although the physical aptitude for coition comes at the age of puberty,
this fact proves nothing except that the genital organs can then be
used. It does not follow that the genital power is fully developed
or that the body is in the state most favorable for its use. Who
would venture to say; that because masturbation is practicable in
early infancy that it is not more injurious than at a later period of
life? Hence the cause and degree of the evils attendant on premature
indulgence is to be sought for in the degree of perfection of the
organism as we have already stated. We therefore think ourselves
justified in saying that other things being equal the period of life
when the act of venery is attended with the least trouble, is that
which begins when the organization is completed, is perfected; and as
a reverse of this formula, we may say, that other things being equal,
venereal enjoyments anterior to this period, are more detrimental, the
less perfect the system is.

The _perfect state_ then is the point to which the system must
arrive, before the act of venery is permitted, and before marriage
is allowable. There is then no longer any fear of disturbing the
formative process. Look at animals, those at least which are not
domesticated; they do not indulge in the act of reproduction, until
they have attained their full vigor, and how often too do severe
battles take place for a female. The domestic animals live in a manner
which hastens the development of the venereal sense; and they often
indulge in procreating at an early period, but suffer for it, and the
genital faculties soon become extinct. It seems also to be proved by
the researches of Hofalker of Inspruch and Girou of Buzaringues, that
both in man and animals the age of the individuals has an influence
on the sex and quality of the offspring. But why look to animals for
proofs? Daily observation and the testimony of all authors, put beyond
all doubt the danger of precocious indulgence. There are certainly
numerous individuals of every age who indulge in venereal excesses;
but those cases which come under our notice, or whose histories are
related by authors, are generally those of young people. Different
causes I know may contribute to this result; one of the principal is,
that masturbation is the act of venery most frequently practised before
the adult age, and that this is generally more pernicious than coition.
We have already stated one reason for this difference; we may add that
as onanism does not require the concurrence of the sexes, it is more
liable on this account to excess. But do these causes alone explain
why the immediate consequences of venereal excesses are not seen with
but few exceptions except at an early period of life. The enormous
disproportion arises from the precocity of these excesses, and also
from the state of the economy before it is perfect.

We have now to determine at what period of life the body arrives at
its perfect state and the distance which separates it from this state
at the different ages which precede it. This period however is varied
by many circumstances, and it is far from being the same in every
individual, in the same country or in the same climate. We can then
present only mean results, deduced from those collected in France which
are the most numerous and authentic.

As we have already said, the organization of the human body is
composed of two parts: the development of the tissues and that of
the constitution. The economy then cannot be said to be in a perfect
state until this double development is finished, and the organs
have gained all their power and substance. Unfortunately the labor
of the constitution and its progress in activity and in receiving
impressions, cannot be estimated by positive rules: but it is connected
so intimately with the development of the body, that this can give a
sufficiently exact idea of its progress and state. We may then simply
by a glance at the development of texture, fix with a certain degree
of precision, the value of these words: _premature_ and _precocious

It would be out of place to examine the different organs separately and
trace their growth, and in the present state of science we cannot give
this labor the precision necessary to attain our purpose. But there is
one fact which can be measured, viz., the weight of the body. Let us
state then the varieties in weight presented at different periods of
life, as determined by Quetelet and Villermé.

The mean weight of a male child at birth is three kilogrammes and
twenty decimetres. Each year its weight increases in the following

  At 1 year  he weighs  9 kil. 45 dec.
     2  "         "    11      34
     3  "         "    12      47
     4  "         "    14      23
     5  "         "    15      77
     6  "         "    17      74
     7  "         "    19      10
     8  "         "    20      76
     9  "         "    22      64
    10  "         "    24      52
    11  "         "    27      10
    12  "         "    29      82
    13  "         "    34      38
    14  "         "    38      76
    15  "         "    43      62
    16  "         "    49      67
    17  "         "    52      85
    18  "         "    57      85
    19  "         "    60      06
    25  "         "    62      93
    30  "         "    63      95
    40  "         "    63      67
    50  "         "    64      46
    60  "         "    61      94
    70  "         "    59      52
    80  "         "    57      83
    90  "         "    57      83

This table shows us that man attains the maximum of weight at forty
years of age. At this age then we may regard the economy as being
perfect. Now when we consider that persons from twelve to eighteen
years indulge most frequently in masturbation and that this habit may
be formed at a very young age, we may easily conceive of the ills
with which it may be attended. This consequence is seen more clearly
and exactly by the following table. The mean weight of man when the
organization is complete being sixty-three kilogrammes sixty-seven
decimetres, at the time of birth he has yet to gain sixty kilogrammes
forty-seven decimetres.

  At 1 year  old 54 kils. 22 dec.
     2    "      52       33
     3    "      51       20
     4    "      49       44
     5    "      47       90
     6    "      46       43
     7    "      44       57
     8    "      42       91
     9    "      41       02
    10    "      39       15
    11    "      36       57
    12    "      33       85
    13    "      29       29
    14    "      24       91
    15    "      20       05
    16    "      14       00
    17    "      10       82
    18    "       5       82
    20    "       3       61
    25    "       0       74
    30    "       0       02

Hence it will be seen that a man who at the moment of birth only
possesses about .05 of the growth he afterwards attains, will have at
most only a quarter of his full weight when 5 years old, at which age
many children begin to indulge in masturbation. When ten years of age,
he has yet to gain nearly .60 and nearly .40 of his weight when he has
arrived at his fourteenth year. When sixteen years old, one fifth of
his weight is still deficient, and at eighteen years nearly one tenth;
his growth although nearly completed at the age of twenty-five, is not
entirely attained, since even when thirty years old, the weight of the
body is capable of a slight increase.

_Of the effect of venereal excesses when the subject of them has
attained his growth._ The age of maturity is the period when venereal
pleasures are attended with the slightest derangements and dangers. At
this period these pleasures may not only not be injurious, but may even
be necessary. This last circumstance would be sufficient to distinguish
this period from those of the growth and decline of the body, when
these pleasures are never useful. Let it not be thought, however, that,
at the age of maturity, they may be indulged in to excess, or that the
pleasures of love are limited only by the power of indulging in them,
this is a great mistake; abuses are less frequent, but they do occur,
as is seen both by experience and by simple reasoning. Although at
the age of maturity the body increases but slightly, yet the process
of nutrition is not arrested. It is true that the size and weight of
the body no longer increase, but its substance is constantly renewed.
The act of venery may then interfere with and derange as before the
function of nutrition. The constitution also may be affected, and
although the regular course of its formation may not be deranged, yet
it may be deteriorated and its influence on the action and sensation of
the different organs is so great, that if this deterioration proceed
to any extent, these organs will suffer. Thus the health may be
injured and the constitution impaired in adults, by venereal excesses;
their influence however is resisted longer. The adult age may even
present more unfavourable conditions for venereal excess than the
period of growth. It may be attended with diseases transmitted from
preceding years. In the adult age, the errours of youth are atoned
for: wretchedness, debauchery, and excesses of every kind may leave
their mark upon the body. Venereal excesses then find the constitution
impaired, the health deranged, and they increase the evil already
existing. Those particularly who have indulged in masturbation in
their youth, perceive on arriving at the adult age, that if they wish
to taste the pleasures of love, even to a moderate extent, they are
affected with bad feelings which prove that premature indulgences must
be paid for with interest.

Different circumstances may render the act of venery injurious at the
adult age, but as these do not belong exclusively to this age, we shall
speak of them hereafter.

_Of the effect of venereal excesses in the period of decline._ The
faculty of procreating in mankind has its limits: as this power is not
attained till at a certain period of life, so too it continues only
for a certain period. The spermatic animalculæ, the microscopic sign
of the power of generating, are seen only during a portion of human
existence: they do not appear till puberty, and disappear in advanced
life. This is true also in regard to all animals: the rule is a general
one. God has willed that the period of maturity should be the only one
devoted to love: is it not a fair conclusion that those who transgress
this law expose themselves to its penalties? As the sense of venery
precedes, so too it may outlive, the procreative power; it then excites
to indulgence at too late a period of life. Examples of this anomaly
are very common; hence we need not refer for them to the works of the
old writers, we will merely say that a large portion of those committed
for attempts at rape are old men. Fortunately the venereal sense is
that which suffers the soonest from excesses; and if sometimes the
venereal desires are excited, the state of the genital organs prevents
their indulgence.

Sometimes, however, the case is otherwise: excited in different ways
the genital organs in old men, may for a few moments appear to have
regained a faculty which they considered to be lost; these imprudent
persons soon pay dearly for their indiscretion. Let us reflect a moment
on the state in which venereal pleasures find man in his old age.
His substance, instead of increasing or of continuing sound, wastes
away. We have seen in a former page, that after the fortieth year the
weight of the body begins to diminish; the tissues also vary in every
respect from the perfect state as seen at the age of maturity. Farther
the sensibility is diminished, the vital activity is enfeebled, the
faculties become enervated, in short the economy is impaired. Need
we now to make any remarks in regard to the most exhausting of human
actions to show its danger? And yet we have only pictured old age as it
progresses of its own accord, gently and slowly, without being hurried
on by any infirmity; but this rarely happens.

In speaking of the adult age, I have pointed out the affections with
which it is attended. But the case is worse in old age. All parts of
the body have suffered so many attacks, have been so often affected,
that hardly one of them can be called sound. Hence every cause of
disease is serious and important, the body being as it were ripe for
a diseased affection. What ought then to be the influence of the act
of venery? Will it not quicken into life, the seeds of disease which
are as it were already sown? In fact it often has a violent effect on
the system, and sudden death follows exertions which ought not to be
made. How many old men have yielded up their existence in the nuptial
bed, when their term of life might have been continued, if they had not
exhausted their strength in unnatural exertions.

We have said that the peculiar state of some functions may render the
act of venery more injurious at some periods of life than at others.
The functions to which we alluded, were digestion, menstruation,
pregnancy, and lactation.

Masturbation and coition are often practised after taking food.
Sometimes the general excitement attending the labor of digestion
extends to the genital organs, and excites to these acts. We cannot
say that they are then always injurious: as this would be contradicted
by facts; but that they frequently are is supported by the opinions of
all authors, who have written on the subject. “Coition after eating,”
says Sanctorius, “is injurious,” and he attributes the same effect to
thoughts of venery. His commentator Lorry confirms this opinion.

The act of venery during digestion, may injure in two modes. First by
deranging the digestive system, and by exposing it to the affections
which are the usual consequences of such a derangement. To this
must be referred most of the derangements usually presented by the
digestive organs of onanists, who merely watch their opportunities
for self-pollution, without regarding whether digestion is or is not
finished. Happily vomiting then sometimes rids the stomach of food
which might be badly digested, and thereby cause more disturbance.

The second mode in which the act of venery acts during digestion, is
by causing a general state of excitement, which adds to that caused
by the digestive process. All the organs as the heart, lungs, brain,
&c., are during digestion in a state of hyperemia, of congestion;
they are crowded with blood, as is indicated by a great number of
symptoms. It can easily be imagined that venereal excitement under
such circumstances, may become the cause of inflammations and organick
affections, or may, at least, contribute to their development;
by increasing also a congestion caused by an abundant repast, it
may immediately excite severe and fatal symptoms. Instances of
individuals who have died during the act of coition, after leaving the
dinner-table, are by no means rare. Campet states a case where a man on
quitting the dinner-table, at which he had drank freely, was accosted
by a public woman, went home with her, and died in her arms. A marshal
of France a few years since, met his death in a similar manner.

The act of venery, if indulged in during the period of menstruation,
may sometimes derange this function.

The injuries resulting from coition during pregnancy have never been
doubted; by some, however, too much importance and by others too
little has been attached to this state. Levret attributes most cases
of abortion, which cannot otherwise be accounted for, to this cause.
Zimmerman, Gardien, Murat, Dugès, &c., also regard this act as a
frequent cause of miscarriage. Different conclusions have been drawn
from these opinions. Some authors assert, that females have a right to
deny their husbands during gestation. Montaigne is of this opinion.
Some natives as the Mahometans, repudiate all intercourse with pregnant
females. In some African tribes, pregnant women are secluded, and no
one is allowed to have intercourse with them. Pallas states that the
Calmuck Tartars condemn the person, whose incontinence has caused
abortion, to pay a fine, the amount of which is directly in proportion
to the age of the fetus.

The most general opinion however of physicians on this subject, is
that coition to a moderate extent during pregnancy, and where there is
no disposition to miscarriage, is not generally detrimental: but that
when this act is repeated imprudently, it may cause great excitement in
the uterus, and be attended with abortion. Continence is particularly
recommended to nervous females, and must be insisted upon when there
is reason to fear abortion. We must however observe, that venereal
excesses have often been indulged in during pregnancy with evil
intents, but without producing the desired result.

Lactation has also been considered by some authors as contra indicating
the pleasures of love. Children it is said have been known to become
convulsed, when nursing just after their mothers had indulged in sexual
intercourse. Lascivious nurses have generally been regarded as bad.
Many mothers, however, admit the embraces of their husbands, and their
offspring does not suffer. We are far from thinking that the influence
supposed to be exercised by the act of venery upon the milk of nurses,
is entirely unfounded; hence this act should be used with moderation.

_Influence which the act of venery may have, when coincident either
with the action of other causes of disease, or with alterations in the
constitution and health._ When an individual suddenly changes his mode
of living, and the influences to which he has been exposed, and becomes
a subject to new influences, his health most generally suffers to a
certain extent. This is seen in the young man who comes directly from
the pure air of the country into the confined atmosphere of the city,
and in those who remove from the temperate to the torrid zone. The
action of powerful causes of disease, of excessive heat, of deleterious
exhalations, often adds to the simple change of habit. Thus all authors
who have written on the diseases of warm countries, consider the act
of venery, as one of the most active occasional causes of yellow
fever, of malignant fevers, of cholera morbus, and generally of the
severe diseases contracted by Europeans. A similar disposition may
be seen in young men, who pass many hours in the infected atmosphere
of hospitals, and particularly in dissecting-rooms, if they indulge
with females or in onanism: typhus fevers have been caused by it.
The individual who lives in a filthy neighbourhood, who experiences
privations, who indulges to excess in wine or spirituous liquors,
who labors hard either corporeally or mentally, who is deprived of
sleep, who is affected with sadness, &c., bears the act of venery
badly; it adds to the enervation already felt, and generally robs the
individuals of health. Venereal pleasures should be abstained from,
during the prevalence of epidemics: every person is then disposed to
the prevailing disease, and a single act of coition may produce it.

The influence of the act of venery is much more injurious, when the
causes which we have mentioned, and generally all those which may
impair the constitution, have affected it to a greater or less degree.
Diseases of long duration, if badly treated, excesses and the causes
mentioned above may bring the system to such a state, that enjoyments
even if seldom indulged in, may produce great suffering and disease.
Venereal excesses may also create predispositions and change them
as well as those which have a different origin into other morbid

It is well known that the venereal desires do not generally exist,
except the person be in a state of health. The same may be said too
of the generative power, if we may judge from Haller’s remark that
the spermatic animalculæ disappear during disease. It is ascertained
that the number of conceptions is in a direct ratio with the degree
of health enjoyed by a people; they increase in a healthy season,
and diminish in an unhealthy season. This fact is established by the
researches of Villermé in regard to the births and deaths in France,
Italy, England and Belgium, and also in regard to the marshy parts
of France at different periods of the year, (_Ann. d’hyg. publ._,
_January_, 1831.) Thus then the genital sense, like that of hunger,
and probably the power of procreating, like that of digesting, is
most generally suspended during disease. Is not this one of the many
warnings of the organization, as to the preservative power?

It is true however that individuals indulge in coition and masturbation
although even in an advanced state of disease. This is most frequently
seen in onanists. “I have seen,” says Pinel, “a person affected with
a dynamic fever who was entirely exhausted, and yet his passion for
onanism was so powerful, that on the sixth day of the disease he
still attempted to excite his organs, although death was coming upon
him.” Similar cases have been witnessed by every practitioner, which
we shall mention in the course of this work. Thus then even a severe
disease does not entirely prevent the act of venery. Let us now inquire
what is the effect when such people indulge. It must be admitted that
this indulgence is at least useless, except in very rare cases, where
continence is the cause of sickness. Strictly speaking, this may be
the case in certain chronic affections and in some few individuals,
but it is rare. The power of the act of venery is so great, and the
diseased organs are generally so sensitive to the impressions made
on the economy, that if there are apparently some diseases which
seem unaffected by this act, it is because the modification which
they experience escapes observation. We may then state as a general
rule that if the act of venery be indulged in by sick people, it is
injurious and generally to a great degree. How great is the injury when
the disease is caused by venereal indulgences.

It often happens that diseases resist to an unaccountable extent all
remedial agents: suspicion is excited and finally we find that the
patient, an onanist before he was taken sick, has continued to abuse
himself through his sickness: and again, the symptoms of the disease
under treatment gradually disappear: but the strength does not return,
nor does the patient become convalescent. Debility increases instead
of diminishing: the patient becomes thinner and the fever continues:
finally the sick person falls into a consumption and the fatal habit
is at last discovered. In others the disease seems to be terminated,
but is suddenly re-excited, the patient being too hasty to indulge
in masturbation or coition. This happened to a man fifty years old,
who was gouty, and much addicted to the pleasures of the table, and
whose case is related by Hoffman. Having indulged in coition soon
after he was convalescent from pleurisy, this man had a relapse which
was much more dangerous than the original illness. The same author
states a similar case, where the imprudence was followed by death.
Scrofula, rickets, gout, and stone are says M. Marc, diseases, which
on arriving at a certain point, are aggravated by coition. The same
remark applies to all other maladies. M. Falret mentions a female
affected with melancholy at the hospital Salpetrière, whose mental
affection has several times been re-excited by onanism, after she was
thought to be cured. Cutaneous diseases in particular may give an idea
of the influence exercised by the act of venery on those maladies
which are deeply situated. Alibert mentions the history of an herpetic
disease which was always more intense after the patient had indulged
in onanism: this unfortunate individual was then tormented by a severe

The irregularity and singularity of the symptoms of those sick people
who indulge in onanism, are particularly remarkable. The nervous system
evidently feels an influence in addition to that of the disease, or is
disposed to be particularly affected by all those which occur. This
fact, established by Tissot and Georget, should always be remembered
by physicians. We may form an idea of the derangement caused by the
act of venery in the progress and appearance of diseases by the severe
symptoms which it produces in wounds and particularly those of the
head. Tetanus, delirium, and other nervous symptoms have often been
caused by it. Fabricius de Hilden states the case of a young man whose
hand was amputated, and whose physician forbid having any intercourse
with his wife, who was also informed of the danger. But when all
the symptoms disappeared, and the cure was progressing rapidly, the
patient feeling desires to which his wife could not respond, procured a
seminal emission without coition; it was immediately followed by fever,
delirium, convulsions and other symptoms, and in four days the patient

Death also often follows coition in patients affected with diseases
of the heart and large vessels. This was seen in the case of Corroy,
a servant at the hospital la Chardité. One evening while intoxicated
he met a courtezan with whom he proposed spending the night, but in
the midst of his transports he suddenly died. On examining his body it
was found that he had an aneurism near the commencement of the arch of
the aorta. The rupture of this tumor was evidently the cause of his
sudden death. Probably also a similar occurrence happened in the case
mentioned by Felix Plater. The patient having married a second time,
experienced, while consummating the marriage, such a violent degree
of suffocation that he was forced to suspend his efforts: the same
symptom re-appeared whenever he again attempted it. Having consulted
a charlatan, he was recommended to persevere: he did so, and died.
Examples of sudden death during coition are not rare. Death generally
arises from aneurism or apoplexy. Pliny the naturalist mentions two
cases, and Tabourdot in his _Bigarrures_, has preserved the epitaphs of
several who have perished in this manner.



The genital organs when they are abused are precisely in the same state
as if they were diseased. In this case in fact, they are not in their
normal state for they are in action when the health demands that they
should rest. Hence when we consider them either specially or as to
their action on the rest of the body, we see that they resemble organs
in a morbid state; they are, as it were affected with an intermittent
malady, having distinct periods of access, which are repeated more
or less frequently, according to the acts of the onanist. The local
condition of these organs is at first that which they present during
the act of venery, but at a later period they may present different
alterations, which continue after the periods of access, in the same
manner as the tissues are modified, if the cause which renders them
diseased continues to act on them. The general state of onanists is
also perfectly analogous to that observed in diseases. In them, the
genital organs are the seat of different symptoms, and the focus of
numerous diseases. The symptoms appear first only during the periods of
access, or for a few hours afterward: then they continue longer and the
intermissions become shorter and afterward are only remissions: finally
the disease is perfectly continued. This is the usual course of the
symptoms of this affection which may be called the _genital_ disease.
Frequently however, one of the derangements of the reproductive system,
assumes, on account of its individual peculiarities a more determined
character than the others, and becomes as it were independent of them.
This disorder is then no longer a symptom but becomes a disease which
is in one phthisis, in another myelitis, epilepsy, amaurosis &c. So too
with a wound; this which at first caused only fever and other symptoms
intimately connected with it, becomes afterward gastroenteritis,
tetanus, or some other disease which has its regular place in systems
of nosology. _Voluntary pollution_, when it becomes injurious must
then be considered as an _affection_ having its symptoms, and also as
a _cause_ of disease. We shall proceed to consider it in these two
relations in two different sections. The first will be devoted to the
symptoms arising from this pollution, the second, to the diseases
caused by it.


Before proceeding to describe these symptoms, we would remark, 1st
that the results of venereal excesses are so analogous to those
of involuntary pollution, that it is impossible to point out any
difference between them: 2d that the general effects of these
pollutions, whether voluntary or involuntary, are also extremely
analogous to those caused by the slow destruction of an organ; those
for instance observed in phthisis pulmonalis, cancer of the uterus,
profuse suppurations, chronic diarrhœa, &c. Thus then the results
of masturbation and of coition are the same as those of involuntary
seminal emissions, which is decidedly a disease of the genital organs,
and as those of other severe maladies affecting different parts.
Are not these analogies sufficient to prove that we were correct in
regarding the state in which the genital organs are momentarily when
abused, as a state of disease.

One of the most constant effects of excessive masturbation is the
loss of flesh. This symptom shows itself more or less rapidly, and
extends to a greater or less degree. We may regard it as one of the
circumstances in which onanists most resemble those affected with
phthisis, with diarrhœa, and generally, individuals confined with a
severe and long continued illness. The loss of flesh arising from
onanism has not unfrequently been attributed to a too precocious growth
and vice versa. This symptom is much more striking in some onanists,
as it is attended with excessive appetite and a healthy state of the
digestive organs. How great must be the influence of the genital organs
when abused, on the nutritive process, to cause this loss of flesh,
even under the conditions most favorable for its gain. It is not
uncommon to see onanists affected with a complete state of marasmus:
their frame is reduced to a skeleton and presents in anticipation a
picture of the state in which death will soon place them. Many parts,
as the loins, thighs and lower extremities are often remarkable for
their extreme emaciation. Sainte Marie who has observed this fact,
attributes it and also the debility of these parts, to a morbid state
of the spinal marrow, and not unjustly. The facility with which
onanists regain their flesh on leaving off these bad habits, is equally
remarkable with their rapid loss of substance. There are individuals
however who remain thin and dried up through life, in consequence of
abusing themselves while young.

The loss of strength generally follows the loss of flesh and returns
also with it. At first debility only follows the act temporarily, but
afterward it continues longer: new emissions of semen take place, and
even before the subject of them has regained the strength exhausted
by a previous indulgence. In the morning he rises from his bed with
difficulty: during the day he is idle, stupid, and indolent, and
pursues his avocations without any spirit. If he goes up stairs, or
ascends a hill, his heart beats forcibly, and he pants very much. This
debility, if the cause which produces it does not cease to act, may
increase to a frightful degree. We have seen onanists whose bodies were
bent down by the weight of the head and chest and curved as in old
men: these individuals could not stand erect, their lower extremities
could not support their weight, and at the least motion they felt giddy
and faint, and finally terminated the remnant of their existence on a
sofa or bed which they could not leave. Many authors, Sanctorius and
Tissot among others, have asserted that this debility is greater or
less according to the position of the body during the act of venery;
but we attach but slight importance to this circumstance, although
they may have some effect. We think more of Sainte Marie’s opinion,
that the lower part of the body is frequently weaker than the upper,
because the spinal marrow is affected by seminal emissions. As the
flesh returns when the onanist ceases from his bad habits, so too
does his strength, and generally rapidly. But there are many, who are
affected during their whole lives with great debility, which unfits
them for many occupations. It is very common to find individuals who
complain of being incapable of any physical effort, and who request
their physician to give them strength. On questioning them, almost all
admit that in their youth they have been addicted to onanism. Some do
not wait to be questioned but refer to their former excesses as the
source of their troubles and denounce them as the cause of their actual
debility. Most invalids however do not refer so far back to the origin
of their illness or even do not dream of it: they remain at peace
with themselves and their ignorance might deserve to be respected,
if they were not or would not probably be fathers, and if it did not
become us to excite their vigilance in regard to their children. Thus
then venereal abuses may cause not only a transient debility, but an
exhaustion which may be continued, as long as life lasts.

The loss of flesh and strength is not the only symptom of consumption
which _undermine gradually_ the onanist: many signs indicate that
all the functions are affected as it were with a loss of strength.
The countenance instead of the vermilion glow of health, is pale and
without freshness, or of a yellowish, earthy, leaden, and livid teint;
the lips lose their color, a bluish circle surrounds the eyes, the
eyelids are puffed out with œdema: the flesh is soft and flaccid: the
pulse is small and feeble: upon the slightest motion or during sleep,
the forehead, chest and palms of the hands are bathed with profuse
perspiration: in some patients the hands and feet are edematous: in
short, the symptoms are those of general atony, which are attended with
a slow hectic fever, denoting that the economy does not yield without
reaction to the destructive disease.

We ought perhaps to wait before speaking of the disturbance of
the digestive organs, which almost constantly attends venereal
abuses, until we had finished describing the symptoms of voluntary
spermatorrhœa and were stating the diseases resulting from it. In fact
the digestion is deranged then only because the digestive organs are
diseased, and are affected with dyspepsy, gastritis, erteritis, &c.;
but these derangements are so common after the loss of the seminal
fluid, that we think ourselves authorized to treat these derangements
as symptoms. Venereal excesses may affect the digestive organs in
several ways, first by disturbing digestion if they occur while this
process is going on: this fact has already been stated. We might
add that when food is taken too soon after masturbation or coition
digestion is seldom performed well. This fact did not escape the notice
of Sanctorius, who remarks, _Cibus copiosior solito post immoderatum
coition interimeret nisi succederet aliqua ciborum corruptela_.
Venereal excesses may also affect the digestive apparatus in another
manner besides that of directly disturbing its functions. This system
is so intimately connected with all parts of the human body that all
are influenced by it. If then the digestive functions are disturbed by
most morbid states, can they remain uninjured when so many symptoms
are presented by the genital apparatus which has become the focus of
so many symptoms! Certainly not: these functions also take a part
and a large part in the disorders which are the usual consequences
of venereal excesses. A moderate exercise of the genital organs may
excite the stomach, render the appetite more keen and the digestion
more rapid. Hence why young men who begin to masturbate or to indulge
with women have frequently an insatiable appetite, which leads them to
eat constantly, which is very striking inasmuch as debility and loss of
flesh ensue in just the same manner. But such a state of things cannot
long continue: thus numerous signs soon show that excesses in venery
may act on the digestive tube in another manner than by rendering the
appetite more keen and the digestion more easy. In fact the appetite
does not long resist excesses of onanism: it first diminishes, then
disappears, and is often replaced by a decided disgust for every kind
of food; in some patients it becomes irregular, capricious: in others
it remains: the latter have most cause of complaint, for it continues
longer than digestion is performed. “My appetite remains,” writes
an onanist to Tissot, “but it is a misfortune, as eating is followed
by pain in the stomach and my food is rejected.” Many onanists feel
pains of a similar character after eating. In others there is a sense
of oppression, of fulness, in the epigastric region. In some there
is a gnawing feeling resembling that produced by a want of food:
this symptom is very common in girls, who in consequence of secret
practices, have become affected with leucorrhœa. In some the face and
cheeks present a redness which contrasts remarkably with their habitual
paleness: onanists are frequently affected with headache, vertigo,
flushed face, &c. In some the slowness of the digestion is indicated by
eructations, which occur long after taking food: or the belly is tense
and filled with wind. Food, which was formerly digested with ease, is
now oppressive: and the list of articles of diet is shortened every
day. Some onanists have been known in these cases to indulge in ardent
spirits with the vain hope of exciting their appetite, and regaining
their strength. Repeated vomitings, constant pain in the belly and a
slow fever are also frequent symptoms of the deep-seated affections of
the digestive organs. In many patients the intestinal canal is more
liable to be affected by venereal excesses, than the stomach. Obstinate
constipation in some, diarrhœa and borborygmi in others are the usual
signs of the affection of this canal. Fournier and Begin mention the
case of a young man, who almost constantly experienced after excess
in coition, severe colics followed by excessive diarrhœa and an
insupportable tenesmus. Rest, gummy drinks, the use of farinaceous food
and a small quantity of red wine, soon dissipated these symptoms, which
sometimes threw him into an alarming state of languor and debility.
(_Dict. des. Sc. Med._, _art. Masturbation_.) Hoffman relates a
similar case. We have more than once met with similar effects. A young
man whom we attended in 1832 died, after excesses in onanism, with
diarrhœa. This unfortunate individual, although in the last stages
of consumption, still indulged as soon as he was left alone, in his
deplorable habit. Diarrhœa, or rather intestinal ulcerations, which are
then the cause of it, generally appear in onanists as in those affected
with consumption, at the last stages of life. Thus a young man,
nineteen years old, addicted to masturbation from childhood, died a few
years since at Hotel Dieu. The most active watching and the strictest
mechanical methods could not arrest his fatal manipulations. Diarrhœa
was added to his habitual loss of semen, and he died three months after
entering the hospital, in a perfect state of marasmus.

Many authors have repeated after the statements of Hippocrates, that
individuals affected with consumption, arising from venereal excesses,
have no fever. This is an error: they die as we have already stated,
with true hectic fever, which is caused by the state of the different
organs, and particularly by that of the genital system. Of this,
numerous instances might be cited: the following is related by Dr.
Federigo, the Italian translator of Portal’s work on consumption. “I
knew,” says he, “a female who was affected for many years with extreme
debility and entire loss of appetite. A slow fever every evening had
rendered her extremely thin: her eyes were pale and sunken; her skin
was very hot, and it was highly painful for her to stand erect: a
profuse discharge weakened her still more; and she was in an advanced
state of marasmus. All the active remedies, as preparations of iron,
decoctions of cinchona and mineral waters were tried without success.
She died in a most deplorable state of consumption. I attempted, by
questioning her as to her mode of living, to discover the cause of
this disease, but unsuccessfully. A month before her death however,
she told me with tears in her eyes, that she brought her debility upon
herself, by indulging constantly and for many years in a secret and
murderous habit.” We will add that Sainte Marie having found that daily
involuntary pollution occurred in diseases of languor, as soon as he
became acquainted with the dissertation of Wichmann, discovered that
many slow nervous fevers were kept up by this affection.

From our remarks on the influence exercised by the genital organs
on the nervous system, even when simply in a state of excitement
or repose, it will not surprise, if we should state, that in this
system are seen the affections resulting most frequently from the
abuse of these organs. In fact the diseases of motion, sensation
or of intelligence, that is of the faculties which are situated in
the nervous system, are in fact the most common consequences of
masturbation, and of venereal excesses generally. We have already
spoken of the gradual diminution in the locomotive powers of the
onanist. That of sensation presents very different phenomena, it is
exalted as much as the first is diminished. Farther it is admitted
that these two faculties are in an inverse ratio to one another. This
increase of the susceptibility may take place at any age in consequence
of venereal excesses; but it occurs much more readily in young
persons, that is at that period of life when the mode of sensation
assumes those characters which at a later period more than all the
others constitute the temperament. Thus the excessive susceptibility
generally presented by onanists, does not belong to those transient
symptoms which disappear when the habit ceases: but, on the contrary,
it continues, long after the habit has ceased, and its influence is
long felt. How many persons of every age complain of being extremely
nervous. Some know that this depends upon their own conduct, which they
deeply regret. Interrogate them, and many will admit the excesses of
their youth. We have rarely neglected to verify this remark and the
responses have generally confirmed my suspicions. These individuals are
seldom free from disagreeable feelings, from pain and inconvenience of
some kind: their symptoms may vary extremely, and change very suddenly,
but they are generally or always indisposed one way or another.
This can be readily imagined: every thing affects them: cold, heat,
dryness, moisture, rain, snow, food, drink, exercise, rest, in fact
all these modifying circumstances find in them an organization ready
to be acted on. The act of venery, the first source of their nervous
susceptibility, subjects them to constant privations. A young man,
twenty-two years old, whom we attended a few months since, told me in
a depressed manner the constant inconveniences which he experienced
from onanism. The following is his narrative, which we shall give
here because it presents a faithful picture of the state in which the
nervous system exists in most persons who have indulged in onanism.

“At sixteen years of age,” said he, “I learned to masturbate; this
habit, I continued, for several years, with a kind of fury. My health
soon became affected, my strength failed and also my digestion. I
soon perceived a heat and constant pain in my stomach: my throat
was inflamed and my feelings were extremely bad. The advice which I
received and the alteration in my health, caused me to renounce this
habit. My situation soon improved and I gained daily, but at the same
time my desires returned and I shortly relapsed into my former errors.
The same cause produced the same effects and I again abandoned onanism,
promising never to indulge again. For two years I kept my word:
unhappily this time however my health was not restored as at first, and
I continually experienced all the sufferings which I have described.
Besides I have become so sensitive that every thing incommodes me:
the least change in the weather and particularly a storm causes me a
great deal of suffering. Farther I cannot say what temperature is best
for me, for I do not experience much difference whether it be cold or
warm. I have but little desire for females, and although indulging at
times after long intervals, yet I have always suffered for several days
afterward, in the same manner as after masturbation. I feel constant
pains of a lacerating character in the limbs: sometimes also, but more
rarely pains in the back; often also, I have pains in the stomach and
colic. My digestion although better than before, is far from being
good: I can take but a few articles of food, and the smallest portion
of wine, spirit, or coffee produces great distress.” This was the
young man’s statement: he was deeply affected by the slightest cause:
his appearance was sad, he was tired of himself and was constantly
tormented by thoughts of his former excesses. I have seen him several
times since; and I have reason to believe that his obedience to my
advice improved his health.

It may be said that this patient is a hypochondriac. I admit it: but
what is hypochondria, save an excessive susceptibility, added to all
the inconveniences which result from it, and the derangement of the
digestive functions? And hence all authors who have spoken of this
disease, and of hysteria, which resembles it in so many respects, have
classed venereal excesses among their most common causes. I might
cite in proof of this, Tissot, Louyer-Villermey, Fodéré, Foville and
many others. Oppenheim, physician to the grand vizier, attributes
the frequency of hypochondria and of hysteria among the orientals,
to their abuse of the pleasures of love. Pinel gives the history
of a hypochondriac who at the age of puberty abandoned himself to
masturbation which was followed by frequent involuntary pollutions.
In another place he speaks of a similar case: and almost every
practitioner can mention several.

The affection of the nervous system in onanists consists not only in
an increased susceptibility, but is indicated also, by a number of
symptoms, as pains sensations and spasms of every kind. Angelot has
related the case of a young man affected with constant discharge of
semen, who, among other phenomena, presented so great a degree of
nervous irritation that he experienced a vibration over his whole
body at the slightest noise. Some patients experience pains in the
limbs as if they had been beaten; others are affected with intense
headache and pains in the loins which reappear at each pollution:
or wandering pains, which however are sometimes fixed, are felt in
the course of the nerves and are similar to neuralgia. We shall see
hereafter that painful affections of various kinds have been the
more or less direct consequence of venereal excesses. Sensations of
giddiness, of formication or crawling, &c., may also be perceived: some
patients experience cramps which at first are felt only during the
act of venery, but which afterwards reappear at other times. Spasms,
contractions and generally the convulsive motions so often observed
in onanists usually result from severe affections of the nervous
centres, affections which we shall speak of directly. A very frequent
symptom and one too which has never deceived me as to its nature, says
Georget, are palpitations of the heart attended with difficulty in the
respiration, slight suffocating feelings, &c. He remarks also that
fainting and partial or general trembling appears on the slightest
contradiction and often without any known cause in onanists. These
remarks are very true: palpitations and stifling sensations continue
sometimes for years after onanism has ceased, and fainting fits,
trembling sensations, &c. show themselves during or immediately after
the act of venery.

The heart and the mind suffer as much as the body from excesses of
masturbation. To be assured of this we have only to remember the
power exercised by the genital organs in the physiological state, on
the ideas and feelings. Generally the necessity which the onanist
experiences for dissembling his tastes and for concealing a habit which
is both ridiculous and vile, renders him taciturn: his eyes are turned
from the gaze of those around: he loves solitude, avoids the world and
is embarrassed, and almost as it were ashamed of himself. His manner
might sometimes pass for timidity, we might almost say for innocence,
but it is entirely changed, when being in company with professed
onanists he no longer feels restraint.

It is to this habit of dissimulation, this inquietude with which the
onanist is constantly haunted, that Montegre attributes particularly
the difference between self-pollution and coition: but this moral
torment is far as we shall see from being the only one with which the
onanist is affected.

In fact, he constantly experiences a sensation of sadness and ennui,
which is impressed on his countenance and which is the natural
consequence of restlessness and of the fatigue which he feels
constantly. He is sad as one is when suffering, and when debility are
felt. This inward feeling of shame which is banished with difficulty
when the actions reputed to be bad are often repeated, must also
contribute to increase his melancholy and sadness. But perhaps
the worst feelings which torment him, are regret and remorse. The
exhaustion of his system, his sufferings, the near approach of death
often render him desperate. He remembers the time when he did not
indulge in onanism: he remembers those who first taught him that vice:
his shame, his pains and fears all come up strongly before him. Being
the author of his own misfortunes he constantly reproaches himself,
and he remembers all that has been said to wean him from the habit.
Now picture with these regrets these fears, and the despair we have
described, the existence of this fatal habit which cannot be overcome.
The onanist knows this danger and yet he cannot break himself of his
bad habit.

It can readily be supposed that onanists tortured by the present and
by the thoughts of the future which appears to them overshadowed with
clouds, have often wished to terminate their sufferings criminally.
This has in fact sometimes happened. “I do not believe,” writes an
onanist to Tissot, “that any human being has suffered as much as I
have. Without the special care of Providence I should find it difficult
to support the burden of life.” Some have not the courage to sustain
life. Esquirol has often known masturbation to lead to melancholy and
suicide. Orfila also mentions among the occasional causes of suicide
“the physical and moral disgust, intellectual apathy without any hope
of cure which often follows premature indulgences of every kind.”
If the resources of nature had been known to those who thus abandon
themselves to despair; if they had witnessed, as we have, the rapidity
with which the health is restored, when onanism is arrested, if they
had believed in the healing power of time, they would have seen that
their pains might disappear, their strength might have been restored,
and they might have enjoyed a long and happy life. The following case
will teach onanists not to despair.

A gentleman, twenty-four years old, says M. Sainte Marie, in order to
avoid conscription shut himself up in an isolated chateau under the
charge of an old and confidential domestic. There in order to lighten
the ennui of his situation he gave himself up to onanism. After three
years of this forced seclusion and dangerous excess, he reappeared in
the world; he was excessively pale and thin, which was attributed to
the extreme loneliness in which he existed. Marriage was urged upon
him as a mode of relieving, by an agreeable establishment, this long
ennui; his strength however failed him the night of his marriage,
and he was unable, as Montaigne says, to consummate the nuptials. He
became disgusted with himself, and this feeling soon settled into
one of deep and fixed despair. One day he swallowed a large dose of
arsenic, but vomited it soon after with the food which he had eaten.
He then came to Lyons to seek a death which he considered more worthy
of his birth and station. He followed very closely for several days a
celebrated fencer, and finding an opportunity to insult him, did so,
with no other intent than that of losing, sword in hand, a life which
had become hateful to him. The fortune of arms decided otherwise:
although feeble and languid, he wounded his adversary, and this slight
advantage suddenly changed his resolution. He now saw that life was not
a series of defeats and humiliations: he desired to live, and in this
frame of mind he came to consult me. His impotence seemed but a slight
symptom. I readily saw that it was only the symptom of a well marked
dorsal consumption. I prescribed ice to be taken internally, iced water
douches to be used along the vertebral column and a milk diet. After
continuing this treatment three months, the patient’s health seemed
perfectly restored. He left Lyons, and rejoined his family, who were
much concerned at his long absence. I learn now that he is very happy,
and that his wife has presented him with three living pledges of
affection. (_Wichmann_, _p._ 91.)

Besides the intellectual and moral effects which we have mentioned,
onanism often produces a very marked debility of the mental faculties,
and particularly of the memory. Young men, who previously showed
considerable vivacity of mind and aptitude for study, become, after
being addicted to this habit, stupid, and incapable of applying
themselves: it is evident, that this transitory state which immediately
succeeds the act of venery, becomes continued when this act is
frequently repeated, because time is not allowed for the effects of
it to pass off. This debility of the intellectual faculties must not
always be considered as irremediable: in fact, these individuals
sometimes regain their original acuteness, when the habit which
had enfeebled them is discontinued, before the deterioration is of
long standing. We might adduce instances of this return. The most
remarkable, assuredly, is that of an idiot girl, who was restored to
reason by amputation of the clitoris--an operation performed by Dr.
Graefe, of Berlin. In a future page, we shall give this interesting
case in full. Unfortunately, the simple cessation of onanism is
not always sufficient to efface its effects completely; and many
individuals preserve, during their whole existence, a certain
feebleness of mind, which arises from the excesses of their youth.
The debility of the intellectual faculties does not always stop at
the point indicated: it may extend almost to idiocy--to the most
complete stupidity. Most generally, then, the brain, or its appendages,
are deeply injured, which is indicated by different symptoms, as
loss of sight, hearing, fits, paralysis, &c. This was the case with
an individual, whose case is stated by Serrurier, and who became,
through onanism, perfectly imbecile. This is true, too, of an idiot,
who was under the charge of Pinel, in the infirmary of Bicêtre. He
was a sculptor, who had previously been exhausted by intemperance
and venery. He remained almost motionless and quiet, or at intervals
indulged in a foolish laugh. His face was destitute of expression,
and he had no remembrance of his former state. His appetite was
always good; and, even at the sight of food, his jaws began to move.
He constantly remained in a recumbent posture; and, finally, became
affected with hectic fever, which terminated fatally.

It is worthy of remark, in those onanists who become idiots, that,
while the external senses and the intelligence diminish, the genital
activity is increased: all these faculties seem to be blended in
one, the proportions of which seem much greater, as the others
are diminished. This opposite state of things, found in all cases
produced by onanism, is particularly remarkable in a case observed at
the Hospital St. Louis, by Alibert. The patient was a peasant-girl
twenty-two years old, who was constantly employed in tending sheep.
The seclusion of this girl’s situation favored the development of
onanism. She concealed herself in retired and quiet situations, to
indulge this horrid inclination. Two years elapsed, during which her
intellectual faculties were progressively enfeebled: she became stupid,
while the venereal sense was excited to the highest degree. Things
came to such an extent, that she fell, as it were, into a species of
nymphomania, for which she was carried to the hospital. The unfortunate
girl presented a kind of automatic motion, which she could not repress.
Her head, chest, and upper half of her body were excessively thin,
while the other half was remarkably plump. The sight, and much more
the contact of a male, caused in her a state which was soon terminated
by a pollution. By merely touching this girl, her whole person could
be agitated and convulsed to a distressing degree, and it was thought
expedient to send her home. (_Dict. des Sc. Med., Vol. XXXVI., p. 582._)

Are the alternate states of excitement and collapse experienced by the
brain, during and after the act of venery, the only cause of weakness
in onanists? Does not the constant state of their mind contribute also,
as Tissot and many other authors think, to this unfortunate result? Of
this, we have no doubt.

The yoke which onanism imposes on those who are completely abandoned
to it, is such, that they have constantly before them a certain set of
ideas. All their study is confined to avoid the looks of others, and
to call to mind all the remembrances, and to create all the illusions,
upon which their senses revel: their strength of mind is consecrated
to these objects alone. To dissemble, and enjoy themselves, is all
they wish. The intellectual faculties, being thus neglected, must
remain imperfect; or even, if we may be allowed the expression, must
lose their vigour, and waste. We can understand well how the necessity
arising from this state of things may aid the development of the
most wicked thoughts. Was not this the case with a young girl, whose
history, as stated by Parent Duchatelet, is as follows:--

This girl, whose early childhood was spent with her grandmother, a
respectable and religious woman, was about seven years old, when she
returned home. For the first four months after her return, she was
very sad and was not as playful as children are generally, and never
caressed her father and mother. She lost flesh rapidly. The cause of
this was sought for in vain; when, one day, a few questions having been
put to her, she stated, that from the age of four years she had been
in the habit of seeing boys from ten to twelve years old; that since
she had returned home, she had had no opportunity, and had indulged in
self-pollution. In vain did her parents try to wean her from this vice:
they reasoned with and caressed her; they gave her presents, and all
the clothes she desired; physicians visited her; the powers of religion
were tried. But all in vain: the child abused herself, even in her

But a horrid inclination soon appeared: she now desired to see her
parents dead, and even to murder them. This wish she expressed freely,
and also her regret at not being able to satisfy her wishes. She
promised herself to embrace any opportunity which presented. The only
motives which induced her to do this, were to possess her mother’s
jewels, and then to go with the men. Things soon came to such an
extent, that the parents, for their own safety, were obliged to lock
up their daughter every night, as she did not conceal her intention
of assassinating them during sleep. The child, being in this manner
less exposed to observation, abandoned herself to her habits without
constraint, it being the only wish she could gratify. She never
laughed, nor cried. She sat the whole day in a very small chair, with
her hands crossed, and she abused herself as soon as her mother’s back
was turned. Punishments succeeded no better than presents or caresses.
One day, her father tied her to the bedstead: she said, “You may
kill me; but I will not change.” These facts gave rise to a judicial
investigation, from the minutes of which this statement is taken.
(_Arch. d’hygiene et de med. legale_, _January_, 1832.)

This young girl certainly had inclinations which were the result of her
organization. She never became attached even to the grandmother who
brought her up; and whom also she would have destroyed for her jewels.
She was not animated by the wish to kill, as by that of acquiring a
desired object. One day, while a man was talking with her, she looked
attentively at his breast-pin: when questioned on the subject, she
admitted that she would kill this man for the sake of this jewel. Her
passion for venereal pleasures also came from an organic arrangement:
she had never been led into these enjoyments by men or women. When four
years old, she sought after little boys; and it was not till she was
deprived of them, that she resorted to onanism. She admitted that she
preferred the boys.

Now, I would ask, if this primitive exaltation of a sense, which
masturbation excited still more every day, could govern a disposition
which caused her to regard homicide as the best mode of satisfying
certain desires? Could that state of fatigue, which is constantly felt
in those individuals who are addicted to onanism, excite in this young
girl the sympathies which unite each individual to his fellows, and
give strength to those bonds which she was always ready to break? Was
it possible for her to love her parents, who constantly thwarted her
desires? Would not the irritation she constantly felt at not being
able to give herself completely up to venereal pleasures, react on
her other inclinations? Would not the obstacles she encountered tend
to make her think herself surrounded with enemies? Governed by one
sense, was she in a state to listen to and understand all that was said
to her, to modify her bad inclinations? Did not her state resemble
that of animals, who, although mild and amiable, become dangerous and
wicked, when the genital sense is excited? Finally, does not this case
prove that deviations of character may result from onanism--that good
feelings may be changed by this habit--or, at least, that bad ones may
be called into action?

Moral depravity of another kind may result from onanism. The mind,
accustomed to seek pleasure in a certain circle of ideas, or a
peculiar series of sensations, cannot find any in any other manner.
The enjoyments of onanism are then the only ones which the onanist
can realize. The union of the sexes has no attraction for him: he
indulges with repugnance, and thinks the sensations much less agreeable
than those arising from self-pollution. The genital sense, the power
of proceeding to the act of venery, and of procreating, remain: but
depraved tastes have taken the place of the legitimate desires. Tissot
regards this perversion as more frequent in females than in males: he
remarks upon the case of a female as stated by Bekkers, over whose
mind self-pollution had taken such possession, that she detested the
legitimate modes of gratification.

We believe, that if there are females who prefer onanism to coition,
it is because the sensual results of the latter are generally very
uncertain. Besides, Tissot does not exclude the male sex from this
kind of depravation: the same author states the history of a man, who,
in being taught onanism by his preceptor, experienced, when first
married, so great a disgust for the natural relations which result from
it, added to the exhaustion caused by his manipulations, that he became
melancholy; which state, however, yielded to appropriate remedies.

A fact published by Alibert is very analogous to the preceding. He
states, that a young man, brought up in a boarding-house, contracted
the habit of onanism in his childhood. Tissot’s book was put into
his hands, which frightened, but did not entirely cure him. After
reading it, however, he was more moderate, and indulged only at long
intervals, and when he was excited by very violent desires. Hence, his
temperament did not change; but he continued robust, and his moral
faculties preserved their energy: but the frightful habit which he had
contracted, prevented the development of any desire for the other sex.
Even when thirty years old, he had never been excited by the sight of a
female; and his feelings were called into action only by vain images,
or by the phantoms of his depraved imagination. He had early studied
drawing, which he had always pursued with ardor. The beautiful forms of
men, in this beau-ideal of painters, which nature has never realized,
affected him, and finally inspired him with an extraordinary emotion--a
vague passion, for which he could not account. It is necessary,
however, to remark, that this passion had no connexion with the tastes
of sodomy, and that it could not be excited by the sight of any man.
Such was his strange situation, when he came to ask my advice. He then
presented, as I said before, no physical symptom of impotence. He was
healthy and well-made, and nature had not been unkind to him; but he
had so abused the use of her gifts, that it was difficult to restore
to him their proper use. The patient was perfectly acquainted with his
situation. “There is no effort,” said he, “that I am not willing to
make, to free myself from my ignominious situation--to drive away from
my thoughts the infamous images which haunt me. They have deprived me
of the legitimate enjoyments procured by the union of the sexes--of the
power possessed by the lowest animals of reproducing their species. I
am dying of chagrin and shame.”

I considered his disease as a perversion of the venereal appetite. I
thought that the most urgent indication was to restore nature to its
true type. In fact, the individual was very robust, at the period
of consulting me; and farther, as I have said, the beauty of the
ideal forms of man excited in him voluptuous sensations, during the
continuance of which the genital organs became excited, and there was a
discharge of semen: this favored the supposition that he still retained
some stamina. Hence, there was neither destruction nor essential
alteration in his physical sensibility; but rather a false direction
of this faculty of the organism. The following course of treatment
was proposed. I have already said, that the patient was very fond of
drawing, and that he applied himself to it with that ardor which is
the sure guaranty of success. I required him to study carefully the
female form, and to make drawings of it--to break through his habits,
and to renounce the Belvidere Apollo for the Venus de Medicis. He did
so. Nature gradually resumed her rights: he soon preferred a round
and delicate arm to that which was strong and masculine; and when he
contemplated the elegance and softness of contour in the female form,
he began to be cured. After constructing an imaginary model, he sought
for it in the physical world. Time was required, and perseverance; but
he was perfectly restored.


There are but few diseases which have not been observed as occurring
after venereal excesses. The influence of the genital organs is so
great, and extends so perfectly to all points of the organism, that the
slightest morbid disposition of the latter is favored by its action.
Capable of fecundating all the germes of the diseases which occur, the
abuse of the genital organs produces all those which may happen in
the body. Hence, we must not be astonished to see venereal excesses
mentioned in enumerating the direct or indirect causes of most of them.
We should certainly sometimes be embarrassed to justify this indication
by positive proofs; for we do not know all that exists, and written
science does not represent all that has been seen: but, as we know that
a powerful influence only requires to exist with a morbid arrangement,
to make of it a disease, the knowledge of this fact alone authorizes us
to place venereal excesses, which have so injurious an effect, among
the productive causes of most affections of the body.

Those diseases which are the consequence of this cause generally have
a special mark, which depends not only upon the fact, that in a great
many cases it continues to act when they are developed, and therefore
deranges their course; but which results also particularly from the
presence among their symptoms of those which belong particularly to
venereal excesses. Hence, if, in consequence of these excesses, an
individual should be affected with phthisis, epilepsy, a chronic
disease of the brain, spinal marrow, caries of the vertebræ, &c., the
patient will present, besides the special symptoms of these different
affections, the signs of consumption already mentioned by us, and which
are generally the consequences of the prolonged abuse of masturbation,
or of coition; he will become thin, his strength will be exhausted,
his eyes will be sunken, and present a dark ring beneath them; his
countenance will be melancholy and suffused; his digestion will be
deranged; he will suffer from wandering pains, from trembling, and
from spasms; his mind will become enfeebled; and, finally, he will
show many of the phenomena which we have described as general symptoms
of venereal excesses. In these cases, there is, properly speaking, a
complication of the special disease which they have produced, and of
this other disease resulting as we have seen before, from the abuse of
the genital organs. There are, at the same time, the general effects
of this abuse, which may be seen in all those who are the victims of
it, and the special characters of diseases which might have arisen from
some other cause. The practitioner who should be unacquainted with
these facts, in regard to which we find nothing precise in authors,
would be liable to mistakes which would render him liable to errors of
prognosis and of treatment.

The instances of individuals who have died of _apoplexy_, either of
the cerebrum or cerebellum, during coition, are by no means rare. We
can readily imagine, that if there be a marked disposition to this
disease, and that if it be disposed to come on, the derangement in the
respiration and circulation produced by the venereal action might hurry
it. This has happened more than once during the digestion of a full
meal. Most old men who have died during coition, have been affected
with apoplexy. Hence, authors have generally placed venereal excesses
among the causes of this affection.

We will mention Cœlius Aurelian, Areltœus, Lomnius, Tissot, Pinel,
Cruveilhier, Londe, &c. Henry Van Hers mentions a man, forty years
old, who was attacked with apoplexy while with his wife, the first
night of his marriage. The attack, however, could not have been very
severe, as it yielded readily to treatment: but the patient indulging
in the pleasures of love a few days after his recovery, was again
attacked, and died. (_Dict. des Sc. Med._, _art. Apoplexie_.) Hoffmann
mentions one. It was that of a soldier, who died in the act of coition.
It was found, on opening his body, that blood was effused in the
brain. Serres’ work on the comparative anatomy of the brain states
a similar instance. It is that of a man, thirty-two years old, who
became affected with apoplexy during coition, and after drinking more
freely than usual. Firm erection of the penis, which continued nearly
until death had closed the scene, was added to the violent symptoms
of apoplexy. The cerebrum was healthy; but the median lobe of the
cerebellum exhibited traces of severe irritation; and the substance
of the cerebellum was broken in several places; and small abscesses,
filled with blood, were grooved along the superior vermicular process.

In some individuals, apoplexy supervenes so soon after venereal
excesses, that we might reasonably anticipate that they contributed
to its invasion. Thus, a steward, forty-nine years old, whose case is
mentioned by Andral, fell down in the street, on coming from a house
of ill-fame. He was immediately carried to the Maison de Santé, near,
where he died shortly afterward. On opening his body, two apoplectic
lesions were found; one in the right hemisphere of the cerebellum, the
other in the left hemisphere of the cerebrum.

In coition, a marked congestion of blood takes place toward this
organ. It is fair to presume, that such an act frequently repeated
may predispose to an attack of apoplexy, which is decided sooner or
later under the action of different causes. It is a fact, however,
that this affection occurs frequently in those individuals who are
accustomed to indulge in venereal pleasures. Serres reports the case of
a man who indulged frequently, and who was attacked with apoplexy soon
after a day passed in a house of ill-fame. He died two days afterward,
presenting, among other symptoms, the erection of the penis, and an
abundant discharge of semen. Post mortem examination showed, as in the
preceding cases, apoplexy existing in the cerebellum. A similar case
was reported by Dr. Guiot. It was that of a man, fifty-two years old,
who was much addicted to women, and who, after several times suffering
from cerebral congestions, was affected with mania. His genital
organs were very much developed, and he was frequently affected with
pollutions. He died, finally, of congestion, with hemiplegia, in twelve
hours. Among the symptoms presented, were remarked erection of the
penis, and as it were automatic motions of masturbation.

Deep and chronic lesions have been observed in the encephalon of
onanists, much more frequently than acute diseases. We published,
in 1817, a case of chronic arachnitis, which seemed to depend on
this cause. The patient was a boy seven years old, who entered the
Hospital des Enfans, at the beginning of the preceding year. This
child, who was much addicted to masturbation, was usually affected
with convulsions during this act. He finally became idiotic. He was
extremely repugnant to take exercise, and he remained very quiet. His
strength failed, his limbs wasted away, and finally he became affected
with almost total blindness. The hearing, and generally the external
and internal senses were also much weakened. Galvanism and other
remedies were employed in vain. The patient died; and on opening the
cadaver, we found a very marked inflammation of the portion of the
meninges which follows the course of the superior longitudinal sinus.
The surface of the brain, also, appeared to some assistants to be
inflamed. In another patient, whose history is stated by Desruelles, in
his memoir on the effects of onanism, the substance of the brain was
affected. There was paralysis of the left arm, convulsions of the right
arm and of the muscles of the face. On opening the cadaver, an encysted
abscess was found in the hemisphere of the brain, on the side opposite
to the paralysis, and corresponding to the convulsed limbs.

Chronic alterations have frequently been found in the cerebellum of
onanists. They have been mentioned by some as the cause, by others as
the effect of onanism. But even admitting that in some cases these
alterations may have been the beginning of this habit, this fact shows
the bond which unites the genital organs and the cerebellum, and
renders more probable the influence which they may exercise upon it. In
fact, when the disease of one organ deranges the functions of another,
we may be satisfied that an opposite result is possible. Farther,
it would be impossible, in most of the cases of which we speak, to
distinguish whether the cerebral affection or the masturbation had
precedence. The only thing positively known is their coincidence; and
this latter has appeared too frequently not to attract attention. We
will mention several instances of it.

A female, addicted at an early age to the pleasures of venery, finally
indulged in prostitution; she was at the same time addicted to
onanism, and at last became affected with nymphomania. Ashamed of her
situation, she submitted to cauterization of the clitoris, but without
any good result. She finally died; and we found chronic irritation,
with induration of the middle lobe of the cerebellum. Small sinuses,
with callous edges, indicated that an inflammation had existed for a
long time in this organ.

Gall (in his treatise on the functions of the brain, Vol. III., p. 314)
has given us the history of a boy, three years old, who was strongly
addicted to onanism, and in whom two thirds of the cerebellum was found
to be suppurated.

A young man, nineteen years old, was so much addicted from his infancy
to masturbation, that all mechanical means were tried in vain to
conquer this fatal habit. It was even proposed to scarify the penis,
in order that his motions might be prevented by pain. All attempts
were in vain; and this unfortunate young man, exhausted by continual
losses of semen, died three months after entering Hotel Dieu, in the
most complete state of marasmus. He had often experienced attacks of
epilepsy. On opening the dead body, we found in his cerebellum an
encephaloid tumor the size of a nut, which had began to soften.

A girl ten years old, addicted to masturbation, and of a melancholy
temperament, complained for four months of severe pains in the head.
These pains increased to such a degree, that for the last three weeks
of her life she was constantly crying. She was finally carried to the
Hospital des Enfans. The only additional information obtained in regard
to her was, that the patient was bedridden for twelve days--that she
was affected with vomiting of bile, followed by somnolence--that for
three days she had ceased to speak, or answered with difficulty--that
she constantly kept her hand to her head, which was thrown back. During
the last four days, she was comatose: there was a slight degree of
strabismus, and dilatation of the pupil. A post-mortem examination
showed inflammation, with purulent infiltration of the arachnoid
membrane, at the upper part of the cerebellum. The substance of the
brain presented tubercles and a softening.

Combette has related a case, which to our knowledge is unparalleled;
viz., complete destruction of the cerebellum in a girl eleven years
old, who was addicted to onanism. In place of this organ was found a
gelatiniform membrane, attached to the medulla oblongata by a peduncle
of a similar character. The genital organs of this girl presented
evident marks of her habit: the finger could easily be introduced
into the vagina; the hymen was absent; the external labia were of a
bright red colour, and seemed to have been frequently irritated. All
that is known of this patient, who died at the Hospital des Enfans, in
1831, is reduced to a few facts. She was born healthy and well-made,
although she was slight; and her physical and intellectual development
was slow, and very imperfect. On entering the Foundling Hospital the
13th of January, 1830, she was feeble and ricketty, had but little
intelligence, and seemed indifferent to surrounding objects. She
answered questions with difficulty and hesitation. Her legs, although
feeble, still supported her; but she fell frequently. She was in the
full possession of all her senses: her appetite was good. Her health
suffered more the following months, and she was finally obliged to
remain constantly in bed. Her constitution then appeared impaired, and
she was as it were stupified. She was depressed, and complained neither
of pleasure nor pain; if questioned, she merely answered yes or no.
She laid constantly on her back, her head turned to the left, and she
moved her limbs with great difficulty. She soon became affected with
a continual diarrhœa; and she died fifteen months after entering the
hospital, in a state of complete exhaustion. What was the effect of
masturbation in this case? Was it the cause or effect of the malady,
which had disorganized the brain? This habit certainly had a great deal
to do with it. (_Revue Medicale, April, 1831._)

To these facts others might easily be added, where the affection
of the brain was manifest, although not verified by a post mortem
observation: thus, in the following case mentioned by Serrurier, the
epilepsy, loss of sight, and the destruction of the intellectual
faculties, certainly indicated a deep lesion of the brain. “I always
remember with horror,” says this author, “the frightful picture
presented by a young soldier, after frequent indulgence in onanism,
and of nocturnal pollutions, which were more violent and copious after
each epileptic fit. This young man was in a perfect state of marasmus:
his sight was lost entirely; he was perfectly imbecile, and even the
calls of nature were unanswered by him. His body exhaled a particularly
nauseous odour; his skin was livid; his tongue trembled; his eyes were
sunken, his teeth decayed; and his arms were covered with ulcers, which
indicated a scorbutic affection. This state continued for six months,
when the melancholy man died, having struggled for a long time against
death, which finally terminated his sufferings.”

In the preceding case we can remark, in addition to the symptoms of
the cerebral affection, the symptoms of the exhaustion of the cachexy,
presented by individuals who have been reduced very low by onanism. A
similar state is seen in the following case related by Tissot. Here the
encephalic affection, to judge of it by the throwing back of the neck,
and the violent pains experienced by the patient in this part, seemed
to be situated in the cerebellum, medulla oblongata, or in those parts
of the arachnoid membrane which are near them.

L. D---- was by profession a watchmaker. He had lived prudently, and
had enjoyed a good state of health, till he was about seventeen years
of age. At this period, he gave himself up to masturbation, which
he repeated every day, sometimes even to the third time; and the
ejaculation was always preceded and followed by a slight insensibility,
and a convulsive motion in the extending muscles of the head, which
drew it very much back, whilst the neck was extremely swelled. A year
had not elapsed, before he began to feel a great weakness after every
act. This notification was not sufficient to rescue him from his
filthy practices: his soul, already devoted to this base habit, was
incapable of forming any other idea, and the repetition of his crime
became every day more frequent, till such time as he was in a state
which gave reason to apprehend his death. Too late grown wise, the
evil had already made so great a progress, that he was incurable; and
the genital parts were become so easily irritated, and were so weak,
that it was no longer necessary that this unhappy youth should be an
agent, in order to shed his seed. The slightest irritation immediately
procured an imperfect erection, which was constantly followed by an
evacuation of this liquor, which daily increased his weakness. This
spasm, of which he was not before sensible but in consummating the act,
and which ceased therewith, was now become habitual, and frequently
attacked him without any apparent cause, and in so violent a manner,
that during the whole period of the fit, which sometimes lasted fifteen
hours, and never less than eight, he felt such violent pains in the
back part of the neck, that he did not scream out, but absolutely
howled; and all this while it was impossible for him to swallow either
solids or fluids. His voice was become hoarse; but I did not observe
that it was more so while the fit continued. He entirely lost his
strength, and was obliged to give up his profession, being altogether
incapacitated: thus overwhelmed with misery, he languished, almost
without any assistance, for some months; and was the more to be pitied,
as what memory he had remaining, and which he was at length entirely
bereft of, only served him to take an incessant retrospect of the
cause of his misfortunes, which were increased by all the aggravating
horrors of remorse. I heard of his situation, and went to him; I found
a being that less resembled a living creature than a corpse, lying upon
straw, meager, pale, and filthy, casting forth an infectious stench;
almost incapable of motion, a watery palish blood issued from his nose;
saliva constantly flowed from his mouth: having a diarrhœa, he voided
his excrement in the bed without knowing it: he had a continual flux
of semen; his sore, watery eyes were deadened to that degree, that he
could not move them: his pulse was very small, quick, and frequent: it
was with great difficulty he breathed, reduced almost to a skeleton in
every part, except his feet, which became œdematous. The disorder of
his mind was equal to that of his body; devoid of ideas and memory,
incapable of connecting two sentences, without reflection, without
being afflicted at his fate, without any other sensation than pain,
which returned with every fit, at least every third day. Far below the
brute creation, he was a spectacle, the horrible sight of which cannot
be conceived, and it was difficult to discover that he had formerly
made part of the human species. I had immediate recourse to the
assistance of strengthening remedies, in order to remove these violent
spasmodic fits, which so dreadfully brought him back to sensibility
only by pain: I contented myself with having given him some ease in
this respect, and I discontinued administering remedies, which could
not ameliorate his condition; he died at the end of a few weeks, in
June, 1757, his whole body having become dropsical.

In a case related by Bouteille, surgeon-general of the hospital at
Lyons, most of the symptoms resulting from the cerebral affection
existed in the right side of the body, and consequently indicated an
affection of the opposite side of the cerebrum. The patient was a young
girl twelve years old, whose constitution was weak and irritable, and
very slightly developed--doubtless, on account of the enervating habit
of onanism, in which she had indulged for several years, and which
her mother’s vigilance could not prevent. Just after recovering from
a severe illness, which yielded readily to remedies, this young girl
was very much terrified, which had a great deal of influence upon her,
as she was extremely sensitive; her sensibility being increased by the
weak state of her nervous system, produced by onanism. Soon after, she
was affected by slight convulsive motions in the right foot and arm,
accompanied by a disagreeable pain in the right knee and in the sole
of the foot of the same side. Notwithstanding the use of remedies, the
disease increased, and she was soon unable to carry her food to her
mouth, her arm was so much agitated. The appetite was variable, and
the pulse was regular. Sometimes, and contrary to her usual custom,
the patient was silent; sometimes she was extremely lively, and even
foolish; sometimes her ideas were incoherent, and she often indulged in

Headache and dizziness were perceived, but they soon yielded. At a
later period, the sight and hearing of the right side were considerably
weakened: at the same time, the pain in the sole of the foot, knee,
and part of the right hand became more intense, and the difficulty
of walking increased. After a time, the disease seemed to improve a
little: the convulsive motions abated; the intelligence and memory
returned, as before the disease; but the sight and hearing remained as
they were. An active mode of treatment was now used: electricity formed
the principal remedy. The patient was finally cured. Need we remark,
that in all probability the fright was only the occasion which excited
the development of a disease already prepared for by the onanism.
(_Traité de la chosée_, p. 352.)

The convulsive form, the _epileptic_, is one of those assumed most
frequently by the cerebral diseases produced by masturbation; we can
easily conceive of this by remembering, that what takes place in the
act of venery has, as we have already seen, a striking analogy with an
attack of epilepsy: hence the ancients termed the act of coition, _a
short fit of epilepsy_. It is unnecessary to state here the numerous
testimonials found in authors, in regard to the influence of onanism as
a cause of epilepsy. This influence is a fact mentioned and assented to
by all. We shall relate a few examples.

There are some individuals who are so susceptible, and present so
great a disposition to epilepsy, that they have a regular attack of
it whenever they indulge in the act of venery. Didier knew a merchant
of Montpelier, of whom this was true. Similar cases are related by
Galen, Van-Hers, Tissot, Hoffmann, Haller, and many other authors. A
similar thing is observed even in animals. Alfred Menard had a strong
watch-dog, who was affected with epilepsy whenever he coupled with a
slut. These attacks were characterized by convulsions, and a loss of
consciousness: their duration varied, and was always connected with
the ardour of the animal, who never was affected except under the
circumstances mentioned. (_Revue medicale_, March, 1825.)

Epilepsy sometimes supervenes directly after the excesses which cause
it. Cole, cited by Esquirol, relates the case of a female, who became
epileptic three days after marriage: but venereal abuses generally act
slowly, and prepare the body for an attack of epilepsy, which this
or some other cause excites. Esquirol relates the case of a young
man, twelve or thirteen years old, who early in life was addicted to
masturbation, and became extremely nervous, although strong and robust:
at fifteen years of age he was affected with epilepsy. These attacks
came on at the moon’s first quarter, and were very sudden: the patient
fell down, uttered loud cries, and was generally convulsed: his eyes
were open, fixed, and injected: the pupils were very much dilated:
and when the fit passed off, he remained exhausted the rest of the
day. This young man, like most onanists, was extremely susceptible,
fretting upon the slightest pretext. After six months of treatment,
the attacks became less frequent: at the end of a year they ceased.
This young man might have been considered cured, but the pleasure of
seeing his mother, from whom he had been separated for two years,
caused a relapse: the same remedial means were again employed, and with
success. He has, since that, entered into business, and has travelled
extensively: his nervous system is strengthened: he married when
twenty-seven years old, and has continued in good health.

Another curious fact has been communicated to us by the celebrated
Dr. Goupil. A little boy, only eighteen months old, who had been put
out to nurse, returned home with the habit of masturbation. At first,
his parents thought but little of this; but when two years old, he
was affected with an epileptic form of disease, characterized by loss
of consciousness, convulsions of the muscles of the face and eyes,
stiffness of the limbs, and sometimes he fell down. These fits becoming
more and more frequent, Dr. Goupil was consulted. The patient was now
three years and a half old, and still continued his bad habit. He was
constantly sad, morose, and stupid. The doctor, not being at first
aware of the cause, employed different medicines, but unsuccessfully:
he then discovered the cause, and tried mechanical modes. He put on the
boy, at night, a kind of strait jacket, by which his arms were kept
crossed in front of the chest; and during the daytime, he was watched
carefully. These means succeeding but imperfectly. Dr. Goupil employed
another strait waistcoat, which was laced behind, and was furnished
in front with a silver apparatus, to contain the genital organs, and
having only an opening for the urine. This new obstacle did not answer
as well as was expected, and the child sometimes escaped all vigilance:
but as this was rare, he soon gained flesh, and also his strength and
vivacity. The fits of epilepsy gradually became less frequent. This boy
is now from nine to ten years old; enjoys good health; and, with the
exception of a remarkable loss of memory, retains no trace of former

These two cases show how far the system can be restored, when the cause
which disturbs it ceases to act. The following, which was communicated
by Zimmerman to Tissot, proves the same thing; but it also shows how
soon a return to the bad habit destroys the good effects resulting from
its abandonment.

“I have seen,” says Zimmerman, “a man, twenty-three years old, who
became epileptic, after debilitating his body by frequent masturbation.
Whenever he had nocturnal pollutions, a fit of epilepsy ensued; and
the same thing occurred after masturbation--from which, however, he
did not abstain, notwithstanding the bad symptoms with which it was
followed. After the fit had subsided, he felt very severe pains in the
kidneys, and around the coccyx. Having, however, abstained from his
manipulations for some time, the pollutions disappeared; and we had
hopes of curing the epilepsy, the attacks of which were less frequent.
He had regained his strength, appetite, sleep, and color, after
resembling a cadaver; but having returned to his bad habits, which were
always followed by fits, he was found dead in his chamber one morning,
bathed in blood.”

Another convulsive affection, _St. Vitus’ dance_, has sometimes been
caused by onanism. Marc Ant. Petit has published a case of it, which
was communicated by Dr. Morelot. It is as follows:--A young girl, eight
years old, became remarkably thin: her lower limbs were agitated by
extraordinary motions, which were extended to the upper limbs. She soon
lost all control over them. The twitching in the muscles of the face
and eyes was excessive; the patient could not continue in her bed, and
she was confined to a large chair. Her attending physician thought that
this might be attributed to the presence of worms, and gave several
anthelminthics, but without success. Dr. Morelot was consulted at
this period, and thought that he could perceive the effects of a bad
habit: he soon became convinced of its existence. By means of great
watchfulness on the part of her parents, the use of cold baths, musk,
and camphor, she was radically cured.

Mental derangement is often the prevalent symptom in diseases of the
brain, produced by excess of masturbation or coition. We have already
spoken of idiocy; but this is by no means the only change observed
in consequence of these excesses. Every variety of affection of the
mind may be caused by them, as is proved by statistics collected by
several authors, in insane asylums. Yet these abstracts are far from
presenting the truth. “So many circumstances combine,” says Esquirol,
“to embarrass the discovery of causes of mental alienation, that the
one mentioned, like other causes, must often be unascertained by
physicians.” According to this sagacious observer of all the forms
of mental alienation, mania is produced least frequently by venereal
excesses. He adds, that maniacs, during the duration of the periods of
access, are less addicted, generally, than other deranged persons to
masturbation; but when they do indulge, this act must be considered as
a bad symptom, since it constitutes an insurmountable obstacle to the
cure: it destroys the strength, and finally produces in the patients
stupidity, phthisis, marasmus, and death.

Dementia is, perhaps, the kind of derangement most frequently observed
after masturbation. I saw a remarkable instance of this disease in
a young man, twenty years old, who, indulging in these excesses for
several years, gradually lost his mental faculties, became averse
to even his relatives and dearest friends, and finally fell into a
most perfect state of dementia. The relative frequency of this form
of mental alienation in onanists has been pointed out in France by
Esquirol, and in Norway by Holst. (_Annales d’hygiene publ._ December,

Holst has remarked, that paralysis, that fatal symptom which so
frequently attends all varieties of derangement, particularly monomania
and dementia, is observed particularly in those insane who are addicted
to onanism, and to other venereal excesses. This remark is confirmed by
the two facts, that paralysis is much less common in females than in
males, and that onanism produces mental alienation much less frequently
in the former than in the latter. Thus, of 256 persons, admitted at
the asylum at Charenton, during 1826-7-8, there were 44 men, in whom
derangement could be attributed to libertinism or to onanism, while
the same was true of only 3 women. Dr. Holst has shown that a similar
proportion exists between the deranged of the two sexes in Norway. This
relation, however, must not be considered as strictly correct; for
females, being generally very reserved in their disclosures, onanism
probably passes undiscovered in them more frequently than it does in
men. It is well ascertained, that one twentieth of the deranged at
Salpetrière, is composed of public women, who are for the most part
affected with dementia and paralysis. Now, consider that masturbation
is much more frequently a cause of derangement among the rich than
among the poor. (_Dict. des Sc. Med._, vol. xvi., p. 179.) And
remark, too, that at the Charenton asylum, where only persons in easy
circumstances are received, there are proportionally more patients with
paralysis than at Bicetre, the population of which is composed of men,
belonging to the poorest classes of society.

We have only to consider the phenomena which attend and usually follow
the venereal act, to infer that the spinal marrow may frequently
be affected in consequence of the abuse of that act. Agitation,
the involuntary contractions of the muscles, particularly of those
surrounding the pelvis, and the tetanic spasm with which they are
affected at the time of the ejaculation of the semen; the cramps
which frequently attend it; the general feeling of pain, fatigue, and
debility, which follows it--a feeling which is always more perceptible
in the loins and lower part of the body, than elsewhere, indicate the
powerful impression made on the spinal marrow, and the part which
it takes in all going on. This participation is also demonstrated
by different pathological facts, and by the results of experiments
which we shall mention, when treating of the influence exercised by
affections of the spinal marrow, as the cause of venereal excesses.

The local symptoms of the medulla, in onanists, consist in different
and more or less acute sensations felt along the vertebral column. At
first, these sensations do not appear until after the act of venery,
and pass off; they then continue a longer time; and finally become
constant. The pain is generally of a dull character--inconvenient,
rather than severe--which obliges the patient, when sitting or
standing, to change his position frequently; and it is generally less
perceptible, or even disappears, when the patient assumes a horizontal
position. Sometimes there is a feeling as if of ants crawling over the
body, descending from the head along the spine: this symptom was first
noticed by Hippocrates. Sometimes, these sensations have a special
character, which each patient expresses in his own manner: thus, a man
who indulged night and morning, for two years, in coition, complained
to me that he felt beatings constantly between his shoulders. Others
say that they have a knot in the back. The pains in the spine are
sometimes very severe; sometimes they are extremely sharp. Onanists,
and individuals affected with pollutions, most generally complain of
their loins.

The frequent occurrence of the symptoms mentioned in persons exhausted
by venereal excesses, has caused the terms _consumption_, phthisis
dorsalis, and tabes dorsalis, to be applied to the state which they
then present.

The other symptoms of the affection of the spinal marrow are more
or less severe pains--more or less distinct sensations of cold, of
numbness, and formication in the limbs, particularly in the lower
extremities; cramps; constant trembling, or convulsive motions in these
parts; a kind of tetanic stiffness; gradual debility of the lower half
of the body; and, finally, paraplegia. We shall find these symptoms, in
addition to the other effects of masturbation, in cases to be mentioned.

Pains in the loins and extremities were very marked in an individual
of whom Serrurier remarks as follows:--“A patient whom I attended
was reduced to a most dreadful state of marasmus, in consequence of
nocturnal pollutions, determined by venereal excesses. I prescribed
a tonic mode of treatment, and varied it in every form; but the
patient died, after four months of frightful pains in the loins and
articulations.” There was apparently, in this case, an affection of
the lumbar part of the medulla, or of its membranes. A similar malady
existed, probably, in a man whose case was published by Hattè, and who
was affected, in consequence of excesses in coition, with a lumbago,
which alternated with satyriasis. There is no doubt, in regard to
the affection of the spinal marrow, in the following case related
by Van Swieten:--“For three years” says he, “I used all the aids of
medicine for a young man, who, in consequence of onanism, was affected
with general wandering pains--with a sensation, sometimes of heat,
sometimes of cold, which was extremely unpleasant, over the whole body,
but particularly in the loins. After a time, these pains diminished
slightly; and then the thighs and legs were so cold, that although
these parts, on being touched, seemed to preserve their natural heat,
yet he was constantly warming himself at the fire, even during the
warmer days of summer. I observed, particularly, a constant rotation of
the testicles in the scrotum; and the patient felt a similar motion in
the loins, which was very troublesome to him.”

Was the spinal marrow perfectly healthy in the onanist who wrote to
Tissot the following:--“My nerves are extremely weak. My hands have no
strength: they tremble constantly, and perspire freely. I have violent
pains in my stomach, arms, and legs; and sometimes in the kidneys,
chest,” &c. Persuaded, also, from a great many cases, that most of
the pains termed rheumatic are neuralgic, and that many neuralgias
depend on an affection of the spinal marrow; I think there is reason to
suspect this affection, whenever it is found in onanists.

The following case, related by Dr. Bertini of Turin, presents, as a
principal symptom, convulsive trembling of the lower extremities. The
disease commenced, as is frequently the case, under the influence of an
accidental cause; but when this had occurred, the patient presented for
a long time symptoms of an affection of the medulla; and it is evident
that their origin must be ascribed to onanism.

The patient was twenty-eight years old, and of a lymphatic-bilious
temperament. When twelve years of age, he became addicted to
masturbation, and then began to perceive tremblings in the arms and
legs, vertigo, and pains in the head. He continued his fatal habit till
twenty-two years old. At the beginning of August, 1824, he was attacked
with a tertian intermittent, but for this he took no medicine. On the
20th of the same month, while cutting wood in Sesia, and while in a
profuse perspiration, he went in swimming. He soon felt a sensation
of shivering, followed by cold, spasms, vertigo, pain in the head,
and thirst; aversion to food, difficulty of respiration, sensation
of oppression in the sacrolumbar region, constipation, pains, and
trembling in the lower extremities. These latter symptoms became so
urgent, that the patient was obliged to have advice. In this state,
he was carried to the hospital of Vercelli; and in a few days he was
bled eleven times, and drastic purgatives were administered without
success. A month afterward, he left the hospital; and since that time,
the man has become a beggar and an object of public commiseration. The
18th of October, at which time he came under the charge of Dr. Bertini,
he presented the following symptoms: he had no fever, nor pains in
the head, nor derangement in the intellectual faculties; but he had a
pain in the two sides of the sacrolumbar region, which was increased
by pressure. The patient complained, also, of a kind of formication in
the legs and feet, which parts, as also the rest of the body, trembled
constantly: the agitation was so great, that the patient could not rest
in bed, nor sit without support. Twenty-five leeches were applied to
the lumbar region, and these drew about twelve ounces of blood. The
trembling diminished, and the patient could soon rise and walk without
a stick, and in fact without assistance. From this time, he felt no
pains nor trembling, and he left the hospital eight days afterward. Dr.
Bertini has since seen him, and he was well. (_Revue Med._, Dec. 1825.)

The tetanic form of the disease of the spinal marrow has rarely been
observed as arising from onanism. Tissot saw a case of it in a young
man:--“The disease commenced with rigidity of the neck and spine; this
extended successively to all the limbs; and the patient, for some
time before death, was obliged to lie in bed on his face, unable to
move either his feet or hands. All motion was impossible; and he was
obliged even to be fed. He lived several weeks in this sad state; and
died, or rather sunk away, almost without suffering.”

Paralysis, which is the consequence of myelitis, or of any other
affection of the spinal marrow, has been seen much more frequently
than tetanus, in onanists. It is most generally confined to the lower
parts of the body; but if the disease be seated in the cervical portion
of the spinal marrow, the four extremities may be paralyzed. This was
seen in the case of a young man who was under the care of Dupuytren, in
September, 1833:--

This young man was twenty years old: he was very much addicted to
masturbation, and his disease could be attributed to no other cause.
This affection had existed for two years, when the patient entered
Hotel Dieu. The attack of paralysis had been sudden, like a clap
of thunder: the patient had lost the use of his limbs suddenly.
The muscles of the neck were paralyzed, and the head fell in any
direction: a short time before, however, the patient had recovered
the power of sustaining it. The paralysis of the four limbs, also,
varied in degree, alternately increasing and diminishing. After the
patient entered the hospital, it was not equal on both sides: thus,
he had some power over his left arm, but not over his right arm. Both
the upper limbs, also, were atrophied, or wasted: those of the right
side more so, however, than those of the left. Many remedies had been
tried for this patient, but without success. At the time the case was
published, purgatives and moxas were proposed. Dupuytren remarked to
his pupils, that the situation of the myelitis corresponded in this
young man to the cervical vertebræ; and that, if it ascended a little,
and extended to the origin of the diaphragmatic nerve, it would cause
death. He regarded the passion for masturbation, which existed in this
young man, as the probable cause of this myelitis; and, consequently,
of an atrophy of the anterior roots of the spinal nerves. (_Lancette
Française_, 1833, p. 339.)

The disorganization, also, occupied an elevated portion of the
spinal marrow, in the following case stated by Tissot:--“I was called
upon,” says he, “to visit in the country a man, forty years old, who
had been very strong and robust, but who had indulged excessively
in sexual commerce and in wine, and who had been often engaged in
athletic exercises. He began to be affected, a few months since, by a
weakness in his legs, which made him totter in his walk, as if drunk.
He sometimes fell, when walking on a plane; he could not descend
the stairs without much difficulty; and hardly dared to leave his
apartment. His hands trembled very much; he wrote with very great
difficulty, and very badly; but he dictated with ease, although his
speech, which had never been very fluent, began to be less so. His
memory was still good; and the only ground for suspecting a lesion
in his mind was the want of attention at the _jeu de dames_, and the
change of countenance. His appetite was good, and he slept well; but it
was difficult for him to turn in bed.

It occurred to me that his gallantries, and a too free use of wine,
were the first causes of the disease; and that his athletic exercises,
in which he had been frequently engaged, were the origin of the
particular affection of the muscles. The season was not favorable for
the use of remedies; but it was necessary to attempt to arrest the
progress of the disease. I advised frictions of the whole body with
flannels, and some tonics. I directed the doses to be increased, and
to add also the use of the cold bath, at the commencement of summer.
In a few weeks, the trembling of the hands seemed to be a little
diminished. A consultation was had in the month of April: the disease
was attributed to his having written some months, two years since,
in a chamber recently plastered. Warm baths--oily frictions, with
diaphoretic and anti-spasmodic powders, were employed without benefit.
In the month of June, in a second consultation, he was advised to visit
the medicinal spring of Leuk, in Valais. On his return, the trembling
and stiffness had increased. From this time, (Sept. 1760, to Jan.
1764,) I saw him but three or four times. In 1762, he procured from
Frankfort the remedies mentioned in the English treatise, _Onania_,
which were of no use. He consulted a foreign physician the last year
with as little success. The disease has slowly, but daily progressed;
and for several months before death, his legs were too weak to support
the weight of his body. He could not move his hands nor arms without
help; his speech was so embarrassed, and his voice so feeble, that
it was difficult to understand him; the extensor muscles of the head
allowed it to fall continually on the chest; he had constant pains in
the loins; his sleep and appetite were sensibly diminished. During the
last few months of his life, there was much difficulty in swallowing;
after Christmas, there came on an irregular fever, and his eyes were
singularly dim; when I saw him in the month of January, he passed
the whole day and most of the night reclining on a sofa, with his
feet in a chair, with a domestic constantly in attendance near him,
in order to change his position, raise his head to feed him, and to
listen attentively to all he said. As he approached the period of his
dissolution, he was obliged to articulate letter by letter, which
was written down as it was pronounced. Seeing that I gave him no
encouragement, as I only employed some palliatives for his fever and
oppression, and actuated by a desire of living, he sent one of his
friends to tell me the cause to which he attributed all these symptoms,
viz., _masturbation_; that he commenced this infamous practice several
years since; had continued it as long as possible; and that he had
perceived his difficulties increase, in proportion to his indulgence in
it. He confirmed this statement a few days afterward; and it was this
which induced him to use the remedies recommended in _Onania_.”

This case shows us paralysis confined at first to the abdominal limbs,
but extending afterward to the upper part of the body. We find a
similar case of this progression, in a case related by Olivier, of

“M--, of a sanguine temperament, of a strong constitution, and of
a lively and gay character, had always enjoyed good health until
seventeen years old, when he unfortunately became addicted to
masturbation. He soon languished, and grew debilitated. Having,
however, conquered this fatal habit, his strength gradually returned,
and a proper regimen soon restored him to his former vigor. When
twenty years old, he perceived a marked debility in the motions of
the articulation of the right foot; but this disappeared: he was then
affected twice with blenorrhagia, the last attack of which continued
for several months.

“When twenty-five years old, he again indulged in masturbation, and
similar symptoms to those first presented soon appeared: the lower
extremities, also, became weakened; at times, also, the sensibility of
the skin was obtuse, and even lost; but it soon reappeared. Under the
influence of remedies, the weakness in the limbs diminished slightly.
M-- could walk three quarters of an hour without resting, but he could
not stand longer; his legs, which were evidently wasted, refusing to
sustain him. He was extremely costive; and since the last attack of
blenorrhagia, the excretion of urine was painful.

“This affection remained stationary for several years, and then
became more serious: the patient was now twenty-nine years old. At
this period, the paraplegia became complete. He could not walk, nor
even support himself on crutches; his lower limbs were often stiff;
both arms, also, were at times insensible; and sometimes the sense of
touch was blunted. The wasting away had increased; the excretion of
urine was often involuntary, and the constipation was habitual. He was
somewhat benefited by Hallé’s prescriptions, consisting in frictions
with cantharides, and douches to the spine; but the next year the evil
increased, the sensibility in the hands diminished, and there was
difficulty in moving the right hand.

“Eighteen months afterward, the lower extremities became perfectly
paralyzed: they were less warm than the rest of the body; yet, when
cold water was applied to them, it produced a burning sensation. The
right arm, forearm, and hand, often felt fatigue: its motions were
less free, and the patient sometimes found it difficult to write. The
limb of the opposite side was not affected. The disease of the bladder,
which had existed for several years, was also increased.

“Paralysis, during the following years, progressed slowly, but
constantly. The arm of the right side lost its motion entirely; the
forearm was flexed upon it, and retained this position. At a later
period, the fingers became stiff, crooked, and they continued to be
so flexed, that a tampon of linen was placed on the palm of the hand,
to prevent the nails from lacerating the skin. A singular symptom,
also, appeared: if the internal part of the thigh was gently rubbed,
the limbs extended quickly, as if by a galvanic shock, and then
resumed their first position, which was that of a permanent state of

The paralysis finally affected the left upper extremity, which had
hitherto been free from it; at the same time, the respiration became
more difficult, the voice more feeble, and speech more painful, so
that the patient choked, after talking a few moments. These different
symptoms, and those described above, gradually became intense; and
at the time this case was recorded, the patient was still alive--but
in a most lamentable situation. Very severe pains supervened in the
right side; the limbs were frequently convulsed; the constipation was
obstinate; the urine passed involuntarily; the intellectual faculties,
however, remained unaffected; and the patient, who was then fifty
years old, proved, by his easy and agreeable conversation, that,
notwithstanding his unfortunate situation, he had lost none of his
natural gayety of character.” (_Traité de la moelle epinière_, &c.,
vol. ii., p. 594.)

The lower part of the medulla alone was affected in an individual whose
case is mentioned by Tissot.

In another case related by Weszpremi, the spinal marrow and brain
were affected. The patient, who was thirty years old, complained of
pains along the spine, especially when he stooped. His legs were so
weak, that he could scarcely stand erect for a moment; his memory
was considerably weakened, and he seemed stupid; his sight was also
affected, and he was extremely thin. This man, having long denied the
cause of his disease, finally confessed it. After some months, his
health was restored. (_Observ. Med._, p. 175.)

The disease is not always confined to the spinal marrow, and
its membranes: it frequently extends to the parts adjacent, and
particularly to the vertebræ. The latter are then destroyed; and the
disease described by Pott, and which takes his name, appears. Sabatier
was aware of the influence of masturbation on the bony part of the
vertebral column. “The most terrible and most frequent results of
onanism,” says he, in a letter to M. A. Petit, “are nodosities of the
spine. My opinion has always been regarded as unfounded, on account of
the youth of the patients; but I was enlightened by the admission of
some of my patients, that many were guilty of this thing before their
sixteenth year.” This fact, which was afterward stated by Boyer, in his
lectures, is now no longer doubted. The relation, however, between the
caries of the bodies of the vertebræ in onanists, and the affection of
the medulla, or of its membranes, had not been observed; it had not
been remarked that this latter always precedes caries, which in this
case is only the result of the extension of the primitive disease. The
facts which are to be stated will prove this to be true.

L. E. G., twenty-one years old, a turner, of a lymphatic temperament,
of a slender and delicate constitution, addicted to masturbation
from childhood, experienced, at the beginning of February, 1825, a
slight pain in the epigastric region, difficulty of digestion, and
constipation: he also had laborious breathing, caused by palpitations,
which were much increased by walking, and particularly by going up

On entering the hospital la Pitié, April 28th, 1825, this young man
presented all the symptoms of a hypertrophy of the left cavities
of the heart: these phenomena, which diminished after a few days,
were followed by symptoms of enteritis and peritonitis, which were
attributed to excesses in eating. During the continuance of this
latter affection, the patient complained of uncommon debility in the
abdominal limbs. These symptoms disappeared; and when it was expected
to see the patient convalescent, he was affected with complete
paraplegia. He lost the use of his legs: they, however, retained their
sensibility. As motion in them was lost, this sensibility was even
increased; for the patient cried whenever he was touched, or when
the position of the lower limbs was changed. The bladder was soon
paralyzed, and the sound was used, which caused inflammation of this
organ. A broad and deep eschar, followed by ulceration, laid bare
the whole posterior part of the pelvis. From this time, the symptoms
increased more and more, and the patient died the 11th of August, about
six weeks after the first symptoms appeared.

On opening the body, a softened tubercle was found on the surface
of the right hemisphere of the brain; _the body of the third dorsal
vertebra was slightly changed_; the corresponding portion of the dura
mater presented a cancerous degenerescence, which extended from the
body of the third dorsal to that of the fifth cervical vertebra. The
bodies of all the vertebræ connected with this alteration were whitish,
and slightly softened. The tissue of the spinal marrow was softened,
especially on the level with the seventh cervical and first three
dorsal vertebræ: the softening occupied the anterior cords, which were
of a grayish white color; the posterior cords were slightly softened
but only on a level with the first three dorsal vertebræ The lungs
were healthy and crepitating; the right contained superiorly a small
softened tubercle. _The heart was healthy_: its size was normal; the
left cavities possessed their usual size and thickness. Traces of
inflammation were found in the peritoneum, intestines, and bladder.
(_Journal de Physiol. Experim._ July, 1825.)

In this case, we see in a measure the mode in which caries of the
vertebræ is produced. This caries is only at its commencement; the
vertebræ are affected superficially, and in those parts only which
correspond to the diseased portions of the dura mater and medulla.
There are none of the local symptoms of Pott’s disease--no collapse of
the vertebral column--no gibbosity; yet the paraplegia appeared, as
in the cases where these alterations exist: it resulted, then, from
the softening of the medulla, or the alteration of its membranes. If
a little time had elapsed, and several spinous processes had deviated
from their true direction, this paralysis would have been attributed
to the commencement and progress of this deviation. These relations
between the state of the medulla and that of the vertebræ have been
already remarked by several authors. M. Latour, in a memoir inserted
among those of the Society of Emulation, has sought to establish that
paraplegia, in Pott’s disease, resulted from a primitive alteration of
the medulla. Janson has since expressed a similar opinion. Cases have
also been published by Louis, which leave little doubt on this subject.
(_Mem. and Recherches_, 1826, p. 410.)

One symptom in the preceding case, which deserves to be noted, is the
difficulty of respiration, the palpitations, and other symptoms which
led to the belief that the heart was diseased. On opening the body,
however, this organ was found perfectly healthy. Similar phenomena are
often seen in onanists: it would therefore be wrong to consider them
always as signs of an organic alteration of the heart and large vessels.

In the following case, the vertebræ were more changed. The spinal
column was gibbous: but this was preceded by paraplegia, and other
symptoms of myelitis. This case was published by M. Dalandeterie:--

A shoemaker, twenty-four years old, of good constitution, who has
always enjoyed good health, contracted the habit of masturbation at the
age of sixteen years, and became so addicted to it, that he indulged
seven or eight times a-day: his strength soon diminished, and he lost
flesh and his color.

After an interruption, caused by an acute disease, the patient resumed
his fatal habit with the same earnestness. He finally became so weak;
languid, and pale, that he was discharged from military service, in
which he was inscribed.

A little while afterward, this young man, who had never shown any
symptoms of scrofula, presented scrofulous engorgements in the groins
and axillæ, and swellings, with caries, in several phalanges of the
fingers. At the same time, a singular phenomenon appeared: the hair,
which was chestnut colored, came off; on growing again, it appeared
of several colors: but after coming off once or twice, it resumed its
natural shade.

The patient continuing to indulge in onanism, finally became extremely
weak, and was obliged to keep his bed. Marked symptoms of myelitis
now appeared. The patient gradually lost the use of his lower limbs:
first they became weak, and showed a disposition to be crossed; but
finally wasted away, and lost the power of motion. He was now obliged
even to be turned in bed, as he could not move. The articulation of
the feet and knees became stiff and inflexible, and his legs were so
much retracted, that the end of the foot only touched the ground, when
the patient was placed in an erect position. The sensibility of the
limbs, also, was as much affected as their motions; they were cold,
numb, and even when pinched they were not painful. The general languor
was increased every day. He suffered from thirst, dyspepsia, pains in
the stomach, rumblings, night sweats, &c. At this period, the patient
quitted a woman with whom he had lived for a year, and who, having but
little inclination for coition, caused him to indulge in masturbation.

The erections were frequent, powerful, short, and always terminated
with a more or less abundant discharge of mucus from the
urethra--perhaps, also from the prostate gland; or even the discharge
might be of thin semen. After a while, the ejaculations were composed,
instead of semen, of a half-clotted, blackish or yellowish blood:
sometimes, as much as a tablespoonful was lost. These emissions were
always painful, and were followed by extreme prostration.

For some time, the patient was in this sad state, when he experienced
a crawling sensation, like that caused by ants, descending along the
back: he experienced, in the same region, a severe and fatiguing pain,
which extended into the ribs and loins. These symptoms subsided; but
at the lower part of the dorsal region appeared a hard tumor, which
at first was small; but it gradually enlarged, as long as the patient
continued to masturbate. This tumor was evidently formed by the curve
of the spine, and the projection of three spinous processes.

In three months, the patient was improved by the use of moxas and of
antiscrofulous remedies, by a suitable regimen, and particularly by
abstaining from onanism, for which he had conceived not only disgust,
but even a horror. The abdominal limbs regained their strength, heat,
and sensibility; the patient could walk on crutches, and could even
stand erect for a few moments, and could take a few steps unaided.

In this case, which is remarkable in more than one respect, the
symptoms of myelitis preceded the curve of the spine, and then
disappeared, although the spine did not regain its primitive
rectitude. The debility, numbness, retraction, and paralysis of the
limbs, appeared long before the pain in the back, after which the
curve in the back began to appear; and then these limbs regained
their sensibility, force, and motion, while the gibbosity remained
always the same. This curve, then, could not be the cause of the
paraplegia, because the latter appeared first, and the spine remained
curved after the paralysis was removed. The development of symptoms
apparently scrofulous, in a man more than twenty years old, who had
hitherto presented nothing analogous, and whose parents were healthy;
the loss of his hair; the affection of the seminal passages, and the
state of the genital organs, &c., &c.--facts to which we shall recur
hereafter--all contribute to render this case interesting.

We shall see, in the following case, also related by M. Dalandeterie,
an instance of vertebral caries in an onanist:--

A cook, forty-five years old, of bad constitution, but having always
enjoyed robust health, indulged in masturbation, although not to
very great excess. Eighteen months before his case was published,
he perceived pains and weakness in the loins, frequent colics,
often followed by brownish dejections, and sometimes by obstinate
constipation. He suffered, too, from flatulency; and in the left haunch
there was a pain, which increased or diminished with this flatulence.

The patient, notwithstanding the progress of these symptoms, continued
to masturbate. Debility and pains in his loins extended into the
abdominal limbs, and increased so much, that he was obliged to keep
his bed: he could only lie on his left side; but in this position his
motions were easy. The diminution in the natural heat, the livid color
of the skin, the softness and flaccidity of the flesh, debility, loss
of sleep and of flesh, thirst, constipation, &c., were added to the
symptoms already mentioned.

At the same time, a hard, indolent tumor, the size of a pullet’s egg,
was formed at the lower part of the dorsal region. This tumor, which
did not enlarge, evidently resulted from the prominence of the spinous
processes, and consequently from a curve in the spine, which was
doubtless caused by a softening of the bodies of the vertebræ.

Nearly at the same period, there was developed, at the lower part
of the sternum, a hard, indolent tumor; the color of the skin was
unchanged: it gradually became the size of a nut, suppurated, and
assumed the appearance of a scrofulous ulcer. The lymphatic ganglions
of the neck, which were somewhat swelled, now returned to their natural
size. The treatment was similar to that used in the former case, and
was attended with the same result: the strength, bodily heat, and
appetite returned. Finally, the patient was able to walk with crutches;
and could stand, unsupported, for a few moments.

The circumstances in this case are not detailed with sufficient
accuracy, to enable us to follow exactly the cause of the symptoms. We
would remark, however, that one of these seen first was the neuralgic
pains, which extended from the loins into the lower extremities. Now,
as this symptom belongs to irritation of the medulla or its membranes,
more than to their compression, there is reason to think that this
irritation preceded the curve of the spine. In this patient, also, as
in the preceding case, the affection of the marrow had not so much
influence in causing the destruction of the bodies of the vertebræ, as
a disposition to caries--a disposition which was evidently increased by
onanism, and which appeared at the same time in several bones.

The following case, from Meyrieu, is not sufficiently detailed, to
affect in any manner the question, how caries of the vertebræ is
produced in onanists; but it is interesting, as it shows that the
disease may extend to the soft parts which cover or are adjacent to the
affected vertebræ.

L--, twenty-two years old, was moderately tall, with a narrow chest,
and had never enjoyed good health, particularly for the six years
preceding the time when he entered the prison at Bicetre, when he
indulged in the disgusting practice of onanism. In the course of
January, 1819, he was affected with general numbness, with frequent
cough and expectoration of mucus: these symptoms were occasionally
attended with slight fever. When admitted to the infirmary, the 1st of
February, he complained, in addition to the symptoms already mentioned,
of a violent pain in the posterior part of the neck. A slight swelling
was seen at the level of the first and second cervical vertebræ, and
pressure on that part was painful; the head was bent to the left side,
and remained motionless; the thoracic abdominal limbs were numb; and
deglutition was painful. Local resolvent frictions, blisters, and moxas
were used. The 15th of February, he was affected with hemoptysis,
which yielded in two days to the use of bleeding and astringents.
The vertebral disease, however, generally made progress, like that
of the chest, which seemed to relax. In July, the thoracic limbs
were perfectly paralyzed; and in August, this was true also of the
abdominal limbs. At this period, the head was absolutely immoveable;
the phthisis seemed as yet in the second degree. Finally, the patient
died suddenly, from moving his head, while the attendants were changing

_Post-mortem Examination._ The soft parts of the posterior region of
the neck were changed to a whitish, lardaceous substance; the right
condyle of the occipital bone was carious: there was also a deep caries
of the upper part of the right lateral mass of the first vertebræ, and
of the odontoid process. The transverse and odontoid ligaments were
degenerated and softened; and the medulla oblongata presented a kind
of strangulation, resulting from the compression caused by the left
posterior part of the edge of the occipital foramen: in fact, there
was a dislocation of this bone, on the first vertebræ. The cerebrum
was unaffected; the right lung was tuberculous, and very small; that
of the left side was also tuberculous, but was larger. The peritoneum
presented some marks of inflammation.

In the preceding cases, the caries of the vertebræ was not attended
with a congested abscess. The following case, published by Levêque
Lasource, will present to us this symptom, which is so common in this

N-- O-- was addicted to onanism, from twelve to eighteen years of age;
but could not renounce this fatal habit, although reminded of its
danger by a curve in the spine, and by other symptoms. When received
at la Charité Hospital, in 1806, beside a well marked gibbosity, he
presented a congested abscess at the upper and inner part of the thigh.
Two cauteries were applied to the sides of the vertebral prominences:
these suppurated freely, but did no good. The abscess was punctured
in several places. This young man, who could not survive, left the
hospital; so that the organic changes produced by his disease could not
be verified. (_Jour. de Med., Chir. and Phar._; vol. xvii., p. 261.)

The same author has related another case, which terminated more
fortunately:--A child, seven or eight years old, addicted to
masturbation, entered at la Charité, affected with gibbosity and
paralysis of the lower limbs. During the month he stayed in the
hospital, several cauteries were applied around the tumor, which
suppurated; tonics and strengthening medicines were administered
internally. He left, perfectly cured of the paralysis, and of the other
symptoms caused by the affection of the medulla; but the deformity
resulting from the prominence formed by the spinous processes of the
vertebræ continued. Three years after, this child, who had abstained
from this bad habit, had experienced no relapse.

We have seen, in several of the preceding cases, that permanent
contractions of the lower limbs resulted, in onanists, from affections
of the spinal marrow. Guersent, also, admits the possibility of
essential contractions--that is, those which do not result from a
disease of the nervous centres. According to this practitioner, these
kinds of contractions are seen most frequently in those nervous
children who indulge in bad habits, like that of masturbation. The
following case has been considered by him as an instance of this

D-- E--, five years old, and addicted to masturbation, after passing
a part of the winter at the Hospital des Enfans, to be treated for
scrofulous engorgements of the glands of the neck, was sent to the
country in the spring. He had been there about three months, when he
was suddenly affected with a contraction of the lower extremities.
Examined the 5th of July, he complained neither of pain in the head
nor spine. The digestive passages were in very good state; there was
no derangement in the circulation or respiration; the muscles of
the lower extremities were permanently rigid: the tension, however,
was more marked in the adductors; for the patient constantly kept
his knees crossed. There was no deviation in the vertebral column.
Different remedies were employed, but without success; except a little
improvement under the use of carbonate of iron. The legs and thighs
of the patient could be flexed and extended with the hands; but he
could neither flex them when extended, nor extend them when flexed.
This child was cured in a singular manner. His state was as described,
when, at the beginning of September, he was affected with symptoms
of roseola. The contraction of the lower extremities disappeared,
when the fever came on. The eruption went through its course, and the
contraction of the limbs did not return. Thus, this disease, which
had resisted several efficacious remedies, disappeared before another

The loss or debility of the external senses, particularly those of
hearing and sight, when this state is the consequence of venereal
excesses, often result, as may be seen in several of the cases above
stated, from a disease of the brain. This organ was probably diseased
in the old man whose case was mentioned by Réveillé Parise. This man
was desirous of living with a young Italian girl, whose temperament
was extremely ardent. He paid for his imprudence by blindness, which
occurred in eight days, and which was followed by death. Sometimes,
however, the eye alone is diseased: at least, the pathological
state which it presents is unattended by any symptoms indicating an
affection of the brain or its membranes. Many libertines present only
an irritation of the conjunctiva and of the edge of the eyelids. It is
a sort of chronic ophthalmia; their eyes are red, watery, fatigued,
painful; and they cannot engage in the evening in any occupation,
such as reading, which requires the attention to be confined to one
object. Sometimes, a severe and deep-seated pain proves that, beside
the outer parts of the eye, the interior of this organ is the seat of
a severe irritation. Hoffmann has seen several cases of this. He cites
that of a young man, who indulged in onanism from the age of fifteen
to that of twenty-three. “His eyes and head were so weak,” says he,
“that these organs were often affected with violent spasms, during the
emission of semen. Whenever he attempted to read, he experienced a
sensation similar to that of drunkenness: the pupil was considerably
dilated, and excessive pains were felt in the eye. The eyelids were
glued together every night; the eyes were also watery; and there was,
at the two angles, a collection of whitish matter. These irritations,
especially when seated within the eye, may be followed by the loss
of sight.” Dr. Juengken, professor of clinical ophthalmology at the
Berlin faculty, and who has published an excellent work on the diseases
of the eye, indicates, when speaking of amaurosis resulting from
masturbation, that the pupil assumes a peculiar form, which is found
only (says this professor) in those individuals habitually addicted to
this vice. In these cases, the pupil, instead of being in the centre of
the eye, is removed upward, but does not lose its roundness: the upper
part of the iris seems narrower, and contracted on its ciliary edge.
This symptom has been mentioned, also, by Dr. Sichel, as occurring in
certain scrofulous ophthalmias: iritis then exists. Photophobia, which
is a greater or less aversion to light, resulting from the pain which
it occasions in the eye, has been indicated, by Sanson, as sometimes
preceding amaurosis, caused by too frequent a loss of semen.

All authors agree in placing venereal excesses, and particularly
those from masturbation, among the causes of amaurosis. They are so
unanimous on this point, that we shall cite no authorities. They
generally agree to regard amaurosis, in onanists, as produced by the
exhaustion caused by diurnal or nocturnal pollutions. Beer, and many
others, assimilate, in this respect, the loss of semen to that of other
fluids; and compares venereal excesses, especially those from onanism,
with cholera, diarrhœa, &c., as a cause of amaurosis. This idea of
exhaustion probably led Scarpa to remark, that amaurosis, resulting
from premature abuses of masturbation or coition, must generally be
regarded as incurable. This prognosis may be made, we believe, in
regard to most cases of amaurosis. Dr. Buzzi has published, with four
other cases of amaurosis, which were cured, that of an individual in
whom it had been produced by masturbation. It, however, yielded, on the
abandonment of bad habits, to the moderate use of good wine, combined
with milk diet.

Dr. Rognetta, in a memoir on the causes of amaurosis, insists on
the opinion that onanism produces this disease, by exhausting the
sensibility of the body. He compares this habit to decay. “Nothing,”
says he, “enervates the body so much as too frequent emissions of
semen, especially when they are caused by the hand: the spasm which
attends them throws the body into all the infirmities of old age. The
retina and optic nerve then gradually lose their sensitive faculty,
which finally becomes extinct. Those who masturbate are affected with
amaurosis, like decrepit old men.” Rognetta adds, that he has the
notes of several cases of amaurosis, which had resisted all remedies,
and which were caused entirely by the _luxuria manuensis_. He relates
the history of a young ecclesiastic, nineteen years old, a native of
Palermo, whose sight became very weak. This unfortunate young man had
been in the habit of masturbating seven times a-day: he was also prone
to sodomy. Rognetta advised him to leave off this bad habit, and to
return to his native place and take cold baths.

Sanson, also, places voluntary and involuntary pollutions among the
asthenic causes of amaurosis: he, however, regards these pollutions as
sometimes causing irritation of the retina. He assimilates them, as do
many other authors, to all abundant discharges of fluids. The following
case has been considered by him as one of asthenic amaurosis, produced
in this manner:--A notary’s clerk, twenty-four years old, experienced
for a year a progressive debility in his sight. He had labored much at
night, by lamp-light, and attributed his disease to this cause; but
another, which had contributed to the development of the amaurosis,
was the excesses of this young man, in onanism and coition. Venereal
disease, which he had contracted, might also contribute to this bad
result. The pupil was dilated; the iris was immoveable; the eye was
perfectly clear; and the retina, of a dull color, could be seen through
the pupil. An antivenereal treatment, purgatives, emetics, and
blisters around the organ, &c., produced no effect.

In my opinion, blindness from amaurosis, being not so much a disease as
a symptom, or rather the consequence, of many other diseases, is not,
in onanists, the result of exhaustion, of asthenia, any more than the
debility and paralysis of the lower extremities are, when the spinal
marrow is diseased. Besides, what difference does it make, how the
sight is lost in onanists? the most essential thing to be known is,
that they can lose it. This unfortunate circumstance is to be dreaded
by those whose sight is much affected during the act of venery, and
who remain, as it were, in a mist for a few moments after this act.
Thus, amaurosis was predicted in a public girl, whose case is mentioned
by Hoffmann, and whose sight was obscured whenever she had connexion
with men. She finally became blind. (_De morbis ex nim. ven._, § 26.)
The sight is rarely lost suddenly: it commonly fades away gradually;
and the onanist, if he can understand this warning, may, by abandoning
his bad habits in time, preserve the vigor he still possesses; and,
sometimes, even may recover what he has lost.

The weakness and loss of sight, and the other affections of the eye
already mentioned, are not the only ones which may arise from excessive
onanism or coition: the muscles of the eye may also be affected. Lorry
was, we believe, the first to notice this fact. “The eyes,” says he,
“are affected with convulsive and spasmodic motions, after venereal
excesses, rather than with blindness.” He states, that strabismus
may be caused by onanism. We have before stated the case of a young
man, whose eyes were affected with violent spasms at the moment of a
discharge of semen. Demours has observed similar facts. “Masturbation,”
says he, “affects the optic nerves, and also acts on the motor nerves
of the eye.” He admits that he can see no reason for this. The same
author mentions venereal excesses among the different causes of partial
paralysis of the muscles of the eye.

We have already mentioned the wandering pains, which frequently affect
onanists; we have also alluded to those which depend on an affection of
the spinal marrow. We have reason to think, from our own observations,
and the statements particularly of English authors, that the number of
pains dependent on an affection of the spinal marrow is much larger
than is generally thought: we think, that most of the pains termed
rheumatic, particularly those affecting the trunk and the limbs, are
neuralgic; and that most of these neuralgias proceed from an irritation
of the medulla or its membranes. We do not say that the spinal cord
is always affected then, as in those cases of myelitis which attend
paralysis and death: we think that it is affected in some manner;
and that these pains, which are commonly so severe, and frequently
so general--sometimes attended with tumefaction, but more frequently
without it--which are felt in the course of these nerves, are the usual
consequences of this affection. Hence, it is not surprising, that the
act of venery, which excites the nervous system so much--which has so
marked an action on the spinal marrow, has frequently predisposed to
neuralgic or rheumatic pains, and has directly caused or increased this
kind of pains. It is well ascertained, and many authors--particularly
Hoffmann--have remarked, that those who indulge in onanism, during
youth, are more subject to these pains than others. The act of venery,
even when indulged in to a moderate extent, generally increases their
violence. I have often seen attacks of neuralgia supervene immediately
after coition. It was an affection of this kind which was felt by the
onanist who wrote to Tissot, that he felt in his face a pain similar to
that caused by applying a great number of pins.

Individuals who have braved the usual causes of rheumatism with
impunity, not unfrequently become vulnerable to these causes after
venereal excesses. M. Villeneuve relates the case of a stonecutter,
who had long been exposed to changes of weather without inconvenience,
and who was violently attacked with rheumatism after unusual venereal
excesses. He also mentions the case of a groom, who had long slept in
a damp and narrow stable without suffering, but who was attacked with
rheumatism the winter after his marriage. Saucerotte has seen a similar
case: it was that of a man who had constantly braved the changes of
weather, and who was affected with rheumatism after indulging in
women and wine. The same author has established, in the memoir where
this fact was reported, that muscular rheumatism is only a variety of
neuralgia. Among the proofs which he gives of it, he states that many
authors, as Barthez, Scudamore, Chaussier, Olivier, and Ferrus, have
placed venereal excesses among the causes of neuralgias and those of

Most authors have considered these excesses as one of the predisposing
causes of gout. Hippocrates, probably, entertained the same idea, if we
may judge from these two aphorisms:--“_Eunuchi neque podagra laborant,
neque caluescunt. Puer podagra non tentatur ante venereorum usum._”
Sydenham also regarded excessive indulgence in venereal pleasures as
tending to produce gout. Guilbert remarks, that even hereditary gout
is neither a disease of infancy nor of youth: he admits, however, that
venereal excesses may produce it before the time it generally appears.
Roche exclaims against this opinion: he thinks that venereal excesses
can only cause attacks of gout. He says--

“What influence have masturbation and venereal excesses in producing
gout? According to men of the world, and even to some physicians, they
are the most fruitful source of this infirmity: and yet on what facts
does this opinion rest? On this, that several gouty people have been
great libertines in their youth. But how many chaste persons, and how
many prelates, too, are attacked by this cruel disease? On the other
hand, are there not as many, and even more libertines among the poor,
than among the rich? and yet, in general, they are not attacked by the
gout. Finally, the shameful vice of onanism is observed most frequently
among the young; and we have already said that gout is a disease of
manhood and old age. Hence, it is wrong to attribute to this order of
causes a part of the influence which it has not, and cannot have, in
producing gout. Here, doubtless, has been committed the error which
has been several times pointed out: attacks of gout have frequently
been known to supervene after venereal excesses or masturbation; and
it has been concluded that these causes concur powerfully in producing
the disease itself. Good living and gormandizing are, we repeat, the
real--the only sources of gout: sobriety, frugality, are the best
preservatives from it.”

This last phrase shows clearly the origin of Roche’s opinion. It is
evident that he denies the influence attributed to venereal excesses,
in the production of gout, only to sustain a favorite theory. Roche
certainly never would have said, that there is more libertinism in the
lower than in the higher walks of life, if he had not been preoccupied
with the desire of proving that good living is the cause of gout,
to the exclusion of every other cause. It may be asserted, that one
mode of living predisposes to the gout more than another; and we will
agree with every author, that this disease appears particularly in
individuals who are well fed; but we cannot admit, that the possible
action of certain influences, as that of venereal excesses, should be
denied. Impressed, however, with the vast extent of the influence of
venereal excesses, and with the uncertainty of its limits, we prefer to
allow, with all authors, that venereal excesses, like many other known
and unknown causes, may predispose to gout. This opinion seems to be
more logical than that sustained by Roche with his usual ability.

Roche, also, in accordance with other authors, regards venereal
excesses as injurious to those affected with gout. “The indulgence in
venereal pleasures,” says Barthez, “should seldom be permitted to those
affected with gout; for they should abstain from whatever weakens or
exhausts. Coste, who has written on gout, is much more formal. “A gouty
person,” says he, “should choose between living apart from his wife,
and being cured of his disease; or caressing her, and rendering his
disease incurable. Whenever a gouty person sees a female,” he adds,
“if young, a new root to his disease sprouts forth; and if he be old,
he drives a nail into his coffin.” This opinion differs from that of
Pietsch, who maintains that gout arises from the absorption of vitiated
semen, which is retained by continence in the seminal vesicles.

Can venereal excesses cause hemorrhoidal affections? For want of facts
on this subject, we would remark, that these excesses _may_ contribute
to develop these affections, and particularly the exacerbations to
which they are subject. This was Montegre’s opinion: he admitted, that
the nervous debility which resulted from the abuse of the genital
organs, generally favored the occurrence of fluxes, motions which occur
most frequently in people subject to hemorrhoids; and also, that in
those females who have hemorrhoidal tumors on the rectum or vagina, the
abuse of coition may excite inflammation of these tumors. Montegre,
however, thinks that excessive continence has a more detrimental effect
on those affected with hemorrhoids than the contrary. He thought that
the irritation which extreme continence causes in the seminal vesicles
and adjacent parts, may excite a hemorrhoidal paroxysm: hence, he
regards the act of venery as generally useful to persons affected with
hemorrhoids, provided it is confined within certain limits. On this
opinion, we would say, that if the irritation of the seminal passages
may extend to the adjacent passages, venereal excesses which produce
this irritation may also cause inflammation of the hemorrhoidal tumors
much more frequently than continence. This is the opinion of Begin,
also, who mentions, among the direct causes of hemorrhoids, “excesses
in venereal pleasures--excesses which are always attended with a state
of orgasm and vascular fulness in the genital system, and in all the
parts connected with it; and particularly in the lower region of the
rectum, which receives the same vessels in the neck of the bladder,
the prostate gland, and the seminal vesicles, in the male, and in the
uterus and vagina in the female.”

We may believe, from the enervating action of masturbation, that the
development of scrofula may be excited or favored in those young
patients who are addicted to it. Few proofs of this, however, are found
in authors; and it is rare to find records of scrofulous symptoms in
the histories of those onanists which have been published. It, however,
would be absurd to conclude, from this silence, that the coincidence
of these symptoms and the ordinary effects of onanism never occur, or
that this habit cannot call into action a disposition to disease. But
we must admit, that if masturbation be an active cause of this disease,
this fact would have been noted more frequently.

Further: Certain circumstances seem to indicate, that onanism must be
but little favorable to the development of scrofula. First, onanism
renders the limbs thinner, dries them, then deprives them of those
white fluids with which the flesh of scrofulous persons is generally
infiltrated. Next, since in these latter the sensibility is as it
were blunted, and the susceptibility is slight, onanism tends to
excite them. Besides, one of the most common effects of the action of
the genital organs, at puberty, is the disappearance of scrofulous
engorgements and other symptoms, if they exist. Sometimes, the normal
development of the genital apparatus excites in those who have arrived
at puberty the swelling of the lymphatic ganglions of the neck, axillæ,
and particularly of the groins: but in this case, these ganglions
are painful, and present a kind of inflammatory state, analogous to
that which is attempted to be produced when they are affected with
scrofulous engorgements. Cabanis has well described what then takes
place:--“From the time,” says he, “that the evolution of the genital
organs commences, there is a general motion in the whole lymphatic
apparatus; the glands of the groins, the mammæ, those of the axillæ,
and neck, swell: they often become painful. It is not only in girls
that the mammæ swell; in young men, I have frequently seen them form
tumors, which seemed inflammatory: they have often been considered as
such by ignorant quacks. This symptom generally causes uneasiness in
those who experience it: but this depends not so much on the pain,
(which sometimes impedes the free motions of the body,) as on the
influence of this new action--the commotion caused in the imagination
by the new system.” This state of the lymphatic system would be, as is
seen, rather antithetic, than analogous to what is seen in scrofulous
patients. Farther: we have only to compare the eunuch with him who
has vigorously passed through puberty, to see that the action of
the genital organs is not adapted to favor the development of this

The act of venery often causes, also, ganglionary swellings; but they
do not resemble scrofulous engorgements, more than those which arise
from the influence of puberty. “The first essay of venereal pleasures,”
says Cabanis, “is often necessary to complete the development of the
genital organs: thus, the general swelling of all the parts where the
glands are situated, especially of the bosom, of the anterior face
of the neck, is often the consequence of this great commotion. The
characters which manifest this swelling are much more remarkable in
females; hence, perhaps, the old physicians, and even some moderns,
have stated the sudden swelling of the neck in young girls as a sign of
defloration. But it is wrong to consider this as a general and certain
sign: it is certainly not one.” If the act of venery can produce such
an excitement in the lymphatic system, it ought to be still more
manifest when a part of this system is already inflamed. This is
confirmed by a fact stated by Lordat, in the bulletin of the scientific
society of Montpelier. It relates to a young woman, in whom the jugular
glands being swelled, a few days after her marriage, increased or
diminished in size, according as she yielded to her husband’s embraces
or not. Thus, then, if we consider the genital organs, either during
the acute period of their development, or when the act of venery is
indulged in, we see that they extend their action to the lymphatic
apparatus, as they do to the other systems; but in a manner which seems
the reverse of that reputed to favor the production of scrofula.

Symptoms, however, analogous to those caused by scrofula, have been
known to occur where there is evidence of venereal abuses. Two cases,
which we have already quoted from M. Dalandeterie, are instances of
this. The first relates to a young man, twenty-four years old, whose
health, before he was addicted to masturbation, had been good; and
whose parents, so far as could be ascertained, had never been diseased
with scrofula, and had never presented any disposition to the disease.
First, he was affected with numbness in the little finger of the
right hand, and the ring-finger of the left hand; the articulations
swelled, and formed in these parts tumors, which were regarded as
scrofulous, and which were soon followed by ulceration and caries. The
patient experienced no pain; and only felt an intolerable itching. The
lymphatic ganglions of the groin and axillæ were permanently swelled;
and the bodies of several vertebræ became, as we have seen, affected
with caries.

The other patient, who was forty-five years old, presented an advanced
case of myelitis, and caries of the vertebræ, when there formed, at the
lower part of the sternum, a hard and indolent tumor, which soon became
apparently a scrofulous ulcer. The pus from this ulcer was ichorous,
and the edges were of a violet red, swelled and hard; and the soft
parts adhered to the subjacent bones. The lymphatic ganglions of the
neck swelled for some time, but they then returned to their natural
state. M. Dalandeterie adds, that these two cases have been selected
from many other similar or analogous facts: hence, he considers caries
of the vertebræ as having then been the consequence of a scrofulous
principle, which was developed by onanism.

If, however, we carefully analyze these facts, we shall find that they
do not indicate a scrofulous disease, the development of which was
but slightly favored by the age of the patients, as a _tubercular_
affection--that is, a disease which might be developed at every period
of life. We think that tubercles were developed, in the phalanges,
in the first case; and in the sternum, in the second; that these
tubercles softened, and suppurated; and thus were formed the apparent
scrofulous ulcers presented by these individuals. Probably, a similar
circumstance occurs in the vertebræ, the bodies of which are destroyed;
for distinguished observers, especially Delpech, have regarded Pott’s
disease as a tubercular affection of the body of these bones. The cases
of Dalandeterie would prove only that onanism favors the development of
tubercles. Unfortunately, they are not the only cases, as we shall see,
which establish this fact.

Consumption, or phthisis tubercularis, is, in fact, one of the diseases
caused most frequently by onanism. The act of venery--that power which
has so much influence on the internal life of the tissues, and on the
respiratory organs, and which, to use Rullier’s expression, seems
to agitate the lungs--is commenced in most onanists exactly at that
age when the chest enlarges in every direction, and which phthisis
seems to prefer. “How many young persons,” says Portal, in his work
on phthisis pulmonalis, “have been victims to their unhappy passion?
Physicians find those every day, who remain imbecile, or who are so
enervated, physically and morally, that they barely drag along a
miserable existence: others die with marasmus; and many with phthisis
pulmonalis.” In another work, the same author relates the case of a
young person, seventeen years old, who was addicted to masturbation,
and who fell a victim to this disease. This young person, who had
became much deformed, was affected with raising of blood, and soon
died of phthisis. “It results from numerous well ascertained facts,”
say Fournier and Begin, “that those persons who indulge in onanism are
generally remarkable for the imperfect development of their thorax, and
for the promptitude with which the least exercise renders respiration
difficult and hurried. Almost all these individuals contract chronic
catarrhs, or more serious affections of the pulmonary organs; and
finally perish, in a complete state of phthisis.” Broussais, also,
places among the causes of phthisis pulmonalis, “erotic spasms, no
matter in what manner they are excited.”

We have seen this affection, more frequently than any other, resulting
from onanism. Among other instances, we would mention that of a young
man, who died in 1833. This young man sustained himself so well in
public debate, that he was placed, at the expense of government, in a
public school. He was then sixteen years old; and his health, which had
previously been good, now failed. He became pale, languished, and grew
thin; and this, too, although his appetite was keen, and his digestion
excellent. Having my suspicions, and having communicated them to the
patient, and also to other persons who could enlighten me, we were led
to believe, from the answers made to me, that the too rapid growth of
the body was the only cause of the state presented by the patient;
and his state varied so little from that of health, that the young
man assured me that he was very well. I therefore simply directed him
to take more exercise, and to be more free in his diet. His loss of
flesh, however, and paleness continuing, his parents felt anxious about
him. I examined his organs separately: I could find none presenting
any marks of disease, or which could explain the general state of the
patient. My first suspicions then returned; but on questioning him, the
same answers were given. The patient, who had already seen an instance
of the bad effects of onanism, in the person of his younger brother,
seemed deeply impressed with the danger of his habit. He, however,
continued to lose strength. One day, after taking more violent exercise
than usual, he fainted away. At the same time, a dry cough supervened,
to which the patient at first did not attend. This was the first
symptom indicating an affection of any particular organ. This cough
soon became more frequent; and, by means of auscultation, we found that
the respiration, at the summit of one of the lungs, was imperfect.
At this time, the patient avowed to his father his deplorable habit.
This had been contracted at school; it had been indulged in for two
years; and of late, much more frequently than before. His danger was
fully pointed out to him; parents, friends, physicians, all conjured
him to abandon this secret vice. Treatises on onanism were placed in
his hands; and every attempt was made to arouse in him the feeling
of self-preservation. He was terrified; but the power of the habit
was so great, that he did not leave it off till consumption had
progressed very far. Deep abscesses successively formed in his lungs;
the expectoration soon became purulent and excessive. Night sweats and
diarrhœa followed; and the patient died in a terrible state of marasmus
and exhaustion.

In 1829, we prescribed for a young man, whose career was much more
rapid. He had always enjoyed excellent health; and his parents
exhibited no marks of consumption. Having married a very pretty widow,
he indulged himself with her very freely at night, while during the
day both were assiduously engaged. The female was seven or eight years
older than her husband, and did not suffer much. He, however, soon
became affected with cough, attended with bloody expectoration. When
consulted, we informed the patient of his danger, unless he changed
his mode of living. Our advice was not followed; and shortly after,
hemorrhage from the lungs supervened so abundantly and obstinately,
that notwithstanding the most active treatment, he died in eight days.

The young man, too, mentioned by Tissot, was also doubtless affected
with phthisis. “He came to Montpelier to pursue his studies; but was
affected with phthisis, from excessive onanism: and I remember that his
cough was so hard and constant, that all those who were near him were
incommoded by it. He was frequently bled; doubtless, with a view to his
relief. On consultation, he was ordered to go home, and take turtle
soup; and two hours after, he died.”

It is with phthisis, as with most of the other diseases, caused
by masturbation. This habit causes disease, by cherishing and by
cultivating special dispositions. Thus, the onanist born of consumptive
parents, whose chest is narrow, with a long neck and thin limbs,
and who presents symptoms of scrofula, is more liable to be affected
with phthisis or consumption. This was the case with a young man, as
mentioned by Rozier. This patient was evidently scrofulous, and many
members of his family had been affected with the disease. He remained,
however, pretty well until he was eighteen years old, when, in
consequence of a contusion in one of his legs, he became affected with
an ulcer, which was a long time healing. After it was cured, however,
he remained in good health, and was lively, animated, and intelligent;
but when twenty-five years old, he commenced indulging in onanism.
He soon felt oppression at the chest, and cough; and although the
affection of his chest increased, and he was aware of the dangers of
onanism, he continued to indulge. Many physicians were consulted; but
he did not mention his bad habit. The affection of the lungs continued;
his sleep was interrupted; hectic fever supervened; his cheeks were
tinged with an unnatural color; and his expectoration was grayish
and purulent. The patient then decided on avowing his habit. Rozier
attempted, in the most touching and persuasive manner, to induce him
to abandon it; but in vain. Consumption continued to progress; and he
was soon unable to talk, to move, or to make the least motion, without
danger of suffocation. After remaining in this horrid state three
years, the patient died.

We have already remarked several times, that the respiration in
onanists is frequently affected. Their breath is often short; they
pant on the slightest exercise; are subject to stifling, &c. These
symptoms, the existence of which cannot always be explained by that
of any organic alteration in the heart or lungs, finally assume, in
some individuals, the characters attributed to _nervous asthma_.
The authors who have written on this subject, have all classed
venereal excesses among its most frequent causes. “Individuals of a
nervous temperament,” says M. Ferrus, “seem most particularly liable
to it. But the influence of certain bad habits--as masturbation,
the abuse of venereal pleasures by young persons, excesses of the
table in old men, &c.--contribute, as powerfully as individual
predispositions, to produce this disease.” Jolly remarks, in nearly
similar language:--“Venereal excesses and masturbation,” says this
distinguished physician, “have appeared in some cases to produce
asthma. And if some authors think that too much importance is attached
to this cause, they may readily appreciate its value by observing the
effects of the venereal orgasm on the pulmonary circulation.” Daily
observation proves that persons affected with asthma have generally
used the goods of this life freely. To admit that venereal excesses
often prepare for or excite an attack of asthma, we have only to regard
an attack of asthma, whether excited or not by an organic lesion, as
consisting in a spasm of the glottis; or, as Reisessen and Cruvelhier
think, of the ramifications of the bronchi.

Our remarks on asthma may apply to diseases of the heart and large
vessels. The frequent repetitions of an act which render the emotions
so powerful, frequent, and tumultuous, has often produced or increased
aneurismatic dilatations of this organ; the thickening of its parietes,
or other diseases, of the parenchyma, or of the vessels which leave
it and go to it. Thus, the abuse of onanism, and of the pleasures of
love, holds a high place on the list of causes of this affection.
We have seen dilatations of the left ventricle of the heart, which
evidently arose from this cause. “In some cases,” says Fournier and
Begin, “palpitations, and even considerable lesions of the heart and
large vessels, could have no other cause, in patients whose vigorous
constitutions have long resisted the destructive practice of onanism,
and who, notwithstanding their excesses, have attained an advanced
age.” This last remark is particularly just. These diseases are by no
means so immediately dangerous as is generally believed. The principal
symptoms of diseases of the heart may exist, although this organ may
not be materially altered. A remarkable instance of this may be seen
in one of the cases already mentioned. The patient experienced for
a long time difficulty of breathing; which increased on walking, and
especially on going up stairs. These symptoms were so marked, that on
entering the hospital, he exhibited all the symptoms of a hypertrophy
of the left cavities of the heart. Four months after his entrance into
the hospital, the patient died of the consequences of myelitis; and on
opening the body, the heart was found perfectly healthy, of its normal
size, and presented nothing unusual in the extent of its cavities, or
in the thickness of their parietes.

Among the diseases of the heart which may be caused by venereal
excesses, there is one in particular mentioned by Blaud. He thinks
that too frequent coition predisposes to _polypi of the heart_. He
maintains, that the act produces its effects, either by weakening the
motive powers of this organ, which they over-excite momentarily; or
by causing too great an accumulation, and consequently a congestion
of blood, in the cardiac cavities. This last fact seemed to him to
be proved, by the oppression, the congestion in the head, and the
palpitations, which attend coition.

If venereal excesses may cause diseases of the heart, they may increase
those which exist. They may also, by causing the rupture of an
aneurism, produce instant death. But having already treated of these
effects, we shall not return to the subject.

Rachitis, and particularly alterations in the height, have been named
by many authors among the ordinary effects of premature indulgences.
We have already given, from Portal, the remarkable case of a young
girl, who, indulging in excesses of onanism, became humpbacked, and
then consumptive. In six months, the curve of the vertebral column
progressed rapidly; the chest was depressed at the lower part of the
sternum; there was a deep hollow in the epigastric region, while the
abdomen was prominent. The same author has observed other similar
cases. “I have seen,” says he, “four or five of these unfortunate
creatures, from fifteen to eighteen years old, in whom the back was
very convex, and the abdomen seemed pressed into the chest; the
extremities of the long bones, particularly those which form the elbows
and knees, were very much enlarged; the legs were thrown out, and
their muscles were scarcely developed; their eyes were sunken; their
countenances pale and white; and their voices acute. Any one, to judge
of their ages by their looks, would think that they were not more than
twelve years old. They were extremely weak, physically and morally,
and became imbecile long before they died.” Dr. Richard, cited by
Petit, has also seen considerable deformity of the ribs, resulting from
onanism. Tissot placed this habit first among the causes of rachitis.
M. Lonyer Villermey, also, regards onanism and involuntary pollutions
as an active source of deviations in height. On the other hand, Dr.
Laguerre, a gentleman who has attended to rachitic persons a good deal,
tells us that the habit has been observed by him only once, as a cause
of spinal deformity.

It has also been advanced, that premature enjoyment may arrest the
growth of the body, and consequently prevent it from attaining its
normal height. We do not deny the possibility of such a result. We have
seen many onanists, however, grow very rapidly, notwithstanding their
excesses, and all the symptoms of extensive alteration. It follows,
also, from the researches of Villermé and Quetelet, that the mean
height of man is generally greater in the city than in the country; and
yet, in the former, masturbation is more frequent. We can see, too, by
comparing the increase in weight to that in length, during the first
twenty years, that the development of the genital organs exercises
much more influence on the mass of the body, than on its height: thus,
between the ages of four and fifteen years--that is, during the period
of puberty--the annual increase of weight is quadruple of what it was
in preceding years. Do not these reasons authorize us to think, that if
premature excesses have any influence on the height of man, this action
is less than is generally imagined?

Besides rachitis, caries, and tubercles, which have been mentioned,
are the bones ever affected with any other disease, in consequence
of venereal indulgences? The only case in point is that already
mentioned,(p. 85) as reported by Serrurier, of a man who was reduced
to a complete state of marasmus, in consequence of venereal excesses
and nocturnal pollutions. In this man’s case, a remarkable circumstance
occurred. Having attempted, a few days before death, to rest himself
from the fatigues of the bed, by spending a few hours in the easy
chair, he fractured the bone of his right thigh at its centre, merely
by attempting to cross the right thigh on the left. Might not this
disease, which is very rare, and is termed friability of the bones, be
also caused by the excesses we have mentioned?

These excesses, if accompanied by those of the table, or if indulged
in under unfavorable circumstances, may be followed by acute, as
well as by chronic affections, and particularly by fevers of a bad
character. This result of excessive enjoyments is frequent; and cases
of it have been seen by almost every physician. It was known to the
ancients. Hippocrates gives the history of a young man of Melibœa, who,
after indulging in women and wine, was attacked with all the symptoms
of typhus fever. Bartholin knew a person, recently married, who was
attacked, after conjugal excesses, with an acute fever, attended with
great depression, sinking, nausea, immoderate thirst, &c. This patient
was cured by rest and tonics. Hoffmann, who states this case, also
mentions that of a man, who never indulged in venereal excesses without
being attacked with fever, which continued several days. Tissot, in
1761 and 1762, knew two very healthy, strong, and vigorous young men,
who were attacked, one the day after, and the other the second night
of their marriage, with a very violent fever, preceded by no chill,
pulse quick and hard, wakefulness, many slight convulsive motions, very
great inquietude, and dry skin. The appearance of the second was very
much altered, and he was troubled with dysuria. He first thought that
an intemperate use of wine was in part the procuring part of these
symptoms; but I was of a different opinion in regard to the second.
They were cured at the end of two days. This circumstance added to the
character of the disease, leaves no doubt of the cause.

Sauvages admits, after Dellon, that a typhus of exhausted persons
exists. The Portuguese term patients affected with this malady,
_esfalfados_. The exhaustion caused by immoderate indulgence in
venereal pleasures, says this author, is very common among the
Indians. It is a continued fever, in which the pulse is sometimes full
and strong, sometimes weak, and almost imperceptible. The urine is
sometimes very red, but transparent; the skin is hot and dry; and there
is watchfulness, nausea, and violent thirst.

Farther: All authors who have written on the diseases of warm climates,
have mentioned the too frequent repetition of the act of venery among
the causes of these typhus affections, which have been termed _febris
ardens_, _causus_, _yellow fever_, &c. In temperate climates, adynamic
ataxic fevers, &c., and very severe acute diseases, have often been
known to occur from excesses in venery, or from masturbation.

If _satyriasis_ and _nymphomania_ have been regarded as rare diseases,
it is only because the meaning of these terms has been too confined
to embrace numerous cases which, however, have the greatest analogy
with those diseases to which these terms are applied. Generally, these
persons are considered as affected with satyriasis and nymphomania,
who are irresistibly impelled to coition, and resort, to satisfy
their desires, to the most indecent actions, and to the most direct
provocations. Thus defined, these diseases are rare; and most
practitioners have never seen them. But if satyriasis and nymphomania
be regarded as an unusual state of heat, by which one is led to desire
and to practise not only coition, but the act of venery in any mode,
then the scene enlarges, and these affections deserve to be placed
among those which are observed most frequently.

We shall adopt the latter sense. In our view, male and female onanists
are affected with satyriasis and nymphomania, as much as those to whom
these terms are generally applied. In both, the sense of venery,
existing to an unusual extent, affects the mind, and incites to
dangerous actions, repugnant both to modesty and reason. Onanists do
not, like other persons affected with satyriasis, expose their persons,
and solicit with voice and gesture those of the other sex: their
deranged and delirious imaginations pursue another course. What need
have they of the other sex? Their inclinations lead them to solitary
indulgence. Their thoughts and actions, however, are not less vile than
those of others affected with satyriasis; but they are indulged in
secret. Hence, between the satyriasis of books and that of onanists,
there is only a difference of form: the foundation is the same. Admit,
however, that it be desirable to distinguish this satyriasis from the
former, and to give it a special name; is it not better to consider
them only as two varieties of the same affection, one of which impels
to onanism, the other to coition?

The degree of onanistic satyriasis and of nymphomania depends on the
power the venereal sense has over the will. These affections do not
exist in those with whom it is optional whether they shall indulge in
onanism or not, nor in those who can refrain from coition. Thus, then,
a person may masturbate, without being affected with satyriasis. This
is the case, when the sentiment of self-preservation is sufficiently
strong to resist desires, when the persons yield readily to reprimands
and punishments. Satyriasis may be considered as existing to some
extent in the onanist, if he cannot refrain. This was the case with a
young man, whose history is given by Begin and Fournier. From early
puberty, he was addicted to masturbation; and when eighteen years
old, he presented some of the bad effects of this habit. This young
man was endowed with a brilliant mind: but, although well educated,
and although he well knew the dangers of his habit, yet he could not
refrain. His good resolutions were formed only to be broken. He died.

In a young woman whom we attended, the struggle with her passions
terminated more favorably. It was not the desire of preserving her
life, which induced her to leave off her bad habits; but the wish of
conforming to the will of her father. Her constitution was already
considerably affected, when the cause of it was discovered. The father
of this young girl told her how much pain and shame her bad habit
caused him, and requested her to abstain from it. She was extremely
mild and docile, and made every effort to please and obey him. It was
in vain: but whenever she was inclined to masturbate, the fault was
confessed as soon as committed. Coercive measures were finally resolved
upon. The patient not only consented to have her hands tied every
night, but requested it, and even stated the manner in which she might
be most effectually prevented from abusing herself. The venereal sense
gradually became subdued, and confined within the proper limits. And
thus, this habit--or, rather, the nymphomania, which was the result,
and also the cause of it--was cured.

Satyriasis and nymphomania, arising from onanism, are most intense,
when the persons affected with it can no longer conceal their feelings,
but indulge openly in vile manœuvres. We have already mentioned some
remarkable instances of this state. The following may serve as the type
of the greatest degree of nymphomania. The patient was a little girl
less than three years old, who indulged freely in onanism. Neither
caresses, entreaties, threats, nor punishments, could correct her.
The child grew, however. But at the sight of any pleasant object, she
abandoned herself to her manœuvres. At the period of the crisis, she
seemed almost entirely to have lost her sight and hearing. Threats
and punishments finally restrained her, while in the presence of her
parents; but when alone, she still continued her bad habits. This
state resisted all remedies. When married, the legitimate sources of
enjoyment took the place of the passionate indulgences to which she had
been accustomed from infancy. She finally became pregnant, and died in
labor. (_Dict. des Sc. Med._; vol. xxxvi., p. 566.)

Onanism is not only a direct cause of satyriasis and of nymphomania;
it may leave in the genital organs a certain disposition, which, if
cherished, may degenerate into one of these affections. The following
case, published by Duprest-Rony, seems to us to be an instance of

A young man, twenty years old, of a strong and almost athletic frame,
but who had been enfeebled by onanism, abandoned himself, from the age
of fifteen to eighteen years, to this destructive habit. He indulged
in this habit even while in the bath, and sometimes to the extent of
fifteen times in a day. His constitution was enfeebled; his mind was
affected; his memory impaired. In accordance with the advice of some
prudent people, this young man renounced this fatal habit. During the
next two years, he was perfectly continent. His constitution resumed
its vigor; his memory and other mental faculties were restored. His
parents now placed him with a merchant. He entered upon his new
occupations with zeal and activity; but receiving marks of attachment
from the merchant and his wife daily, he imagined that she was in love
with him. On his side, the passion was returned. Actuated by the fear
of violating the duties of gratitude, and the desire of possessing this
lady, who was neither young nor pretty, his situation daily became
more embarrassing. Whenever she looked at him, erections took place,
and there was a discharge of semen. During the night, he had frequent
pollutions. His faculties now became deranged: this derangement
supervened after reading the Phedra of Racine. He identified himself so
closely with the characters of this piece, that he supposed himself to
be Hippolyte, and considered his mistress to be Phedra, and her husband
as Theseus. More amorous than Hippolyte, and no less virtuous, he threw
himself one day at the feet of Theseus, and said, “Theseus! the crime
is not yet consummated--your wife is not yet guilty. I have hitherto
resisted her prayers--her tears: but I am no longer master of myself;
and if she is not removed from my presence, I must yield.” Great was
the astonishment of the supposed Theseus. He resolved to send the
young man away. This cured the delirium: but the erections and seminal
emissions continued. The stomach and intestinal tube became inert. The
patient’s appetite was good; but as soon as he ate food, pains occurred
in the epigastric region, and uneasiness in the rest of the body. The
disease finally yielded to the combined use of antispasmodics and
tonics. And now, this young man, who has been married for five or six
years, enjoys fine health. (_Diss. sur le Satyriasis._ Paris, an xii.)

Instead of the disposition just mentioned, masturbation may leave in
the genital organs an irritability of a different kind, the results of
which are not less disagreeable. A case of this presented itself in a
young female, whom we attended. While at board, she indulged freely in
onanism. She was married when seventeen years old; and then expected
legally to enjoy what had seemed to her the extreme of pleasure. She
was disappointed, however: marriage was only the source of uneasiness
and pain. She was perfectly insensible to the caresses of her
husband--or, rather, in submitting to them, she experienced the most
disagreeable sensations. A painful state of spasms and convulsions then
affected her, which continued several hours after the cause had ceased
to act. We were called to her several times at night, to relieve this
state, which caused great anxiety. This lady’s susceptibility, also,
was very great; and she constantly complained of some of the attendants
of hysteria. She presented every appearance of a lymphatic temperament.
During her youth, too, she had been affected with symptoms of scrofula,
from which even now she is not entirely free, although twenty-two years
old. Do not these circumstances, not generally coexistent with extreme
sensibility, prove, that the extreme irritability of the uterine system
is to be ascribed to her self-abuse?

Priapism, which signifies permanent erection of the penis, without
pleasure, and even in some cases with pain, sometimes follows
indiscretions. This has been seen particularly in young children, whose
genital organs have been excited: sometimes, too, it occurs in old
men. Cœlius Aurelian, (lib. iii., ch. 18,) relates, that an old man was
affected with priapism for several months. The erection was firm, like
a horn, but not very painful. Finally, it yielded.

The genital organs may, from too much excitement, lose their
sensibility, and waste. The manipulations, which at first were followed
with the desired result, become unable to excite the genital sense.
They may sometimes cause the erection of the penis, and even excite a
painful or inconvenient priapism; but they cannot renew the fountain of
enjoyment. The remembrance of past pleasures remains; and the onanist,
disturbed by their recollection, torments his blunted organs. Obtaining
no satisfaction from the modes formerly employed, he now resorts to
others, which are sometimes dreadful. His hand which is now armed with
some instrument, no longer confines itself to the surface: the surface
no longer feels. He now ventures inside, and shrinks from nothing. This
continues until these dangerous resources fail, which happens, because
they also lose their effect, or because of the severe accidents with
which they are sometimes attended.

The following case from Chopart, on diseases of the urinary passages,
shows the almost incredible extent of insensibility which the penis may
attain, or of delirium which may affect a man, who, having exhausted
his faculties by excesses, still remains a slave to his passions:--

“A shepherd of Languedoc, Gabriel Gallien, about the age of fifteen,
became addicted to onanism, and to such a degree, as to practise it
seven or eight times in a day. Emission became at last so difficult,
that he would strive for an hour, and then discharge only a few drops
of blood. At the age of six and twenty, his hand became insufficient:
all he could do, was to keep the penis in a continual state of
priapism. He then bethought himself of tickling the internal part of
his urethra, by means of a bit of wood, six inches long; and he would
spend in that occupation several hours, while tending his flocks in
the solitude of the mountains. By a continuation of this titillation
for sixteen years, the canal of the urethra became hard, callous, and
insensible. The piece of wood then became as ineffectual as his hand.
At last, after much fruitless effort, G., one day in despair, drew
from his pocket a blunt knife, and made an incision into his glands,
along the course of the urethra. This operation, which would have
been painful to any body else, was, in him, attended with a sensation
of pleasure, followed by a copious emission. He had recourse to his
new discovery every time his desire returned. When, after an incision
into the cavernous bodies, the blood flowed profusely, he stopped the
hemorrhage, by applying around the penis a pretty tight ligature. At
last, after repeating the same process, perhaps a thousand times, he
ended in splitting his penis into two equal parts, from the orifice of
the penis to the stratum, very near to the symphisis pubis. When he
had got so far, unable to carry his incision any farther, and again
reduced to new privations, he had recourse to a piece of wood, shorter
than the former: he introduced it into what remained of the urethra,
and exciting at pleasure the extremities of the ejaculatory ducts, he
provoked easily the discharge of semen. He continued this about ten
years. After that long space of time, he one day introduced his bit
of wood so carelessly, that it slipped from his fingers, and dropped
into the bladder. Excruciating pain and serious symptoms came on.
The patient was conveyed to the hospital at Narbonne. The surgeon,
surprised at the sight of two penes of ordinary size, both capable
of erection, and in that stage diverging on both sides; and seeing,
besides, from the scars, and from the callous edges of the divisions,
that this conformation was not congenital from his birth; obliged
the patient to give him an account of his life, which he did, with
the details which have been related. This wretch was cut, as for the
stone--recovered of the operation--but died three months after, of an
abscess in the right side of the chest; his phthisical state having
been evidently brought on by the practice of onanism, carried on
nearly forty years.”

Whatever may be the degree of degradation attending onanism, we do not
think it possible to adduce a second instance of such a mutilation.
Gallien’s unhappy idea of introducing a foreign body into the
urethra, has often occurred to others, who had availed themselves,
but unsuccessfully, of the ordinary resources of masturbation. These
unfortunate people have always been obliged to call in medical advice,
either on account of the diseases caused by their dangerous manœuvres,
or--much more frequently--by the symptoms to which they fall victims,
through their carelessness. In fact, the implements used often escape
into the bladder; and then the acute suffering and fear of death oblige
them to reveal what they had formerly concealed, and to undergo an
operation which is always painful, and which is not exempt from danger.

We will give a few instances of this kind of accident. An innkeeper,
near Saumur, was in the habit, like Gallien, of titillating the
urethra, by introducing foreign bodies. He used an iron wire, seven
or eight inches long, the end of which was crooked like a hook, to
obtain, probably, more exquisite pleasure. One day, while indulging in
this singular manœuvre, he suddenly felt severe pain. The membraneous
portion of the canal was ruptured. The unfortunate man made several
attempts to withdraw the wire; but the hook, which had entered the soft
parts, rendered it impossible. Overcome by suffering and shame, he
wished to get rid of it; and with this view, he rounded the loose part
of the wire into the form of a ring, proposing in this manner to pull
upon it more firmly. He exercised this force till the ring was nearly
broken, but the iron was still in its place. He now expected death; but
the suffering was so great, that he was obliged to call a physician;
and Dr. Fardeau, of Saumur, visited him.

The penis, and also the skin of the scrotum, was enormously tumefied:
all the tissues which are inserted in the penis were also swelled,
hot, and painful. The belly began to be puffy, and the urine was
suppressed; the face was red, and the eye filmy; the mind began to be
affected; the pulse was hard, frequent, and corded. Dr. Fardeau grasped
the loose portion of the wire, pulled upon it slightly, and immediately
found that the other end was arrested by an immoveable obstacle. He
then examined the parts attentively; and found, to his astonishment,
that the hook was fixed in the inner edge of the ischiatic tuberosity.
An oblong incision was now made over this part, the hook seized, and
the wire was withdrawn through the perineum. The patient was relieved,
and finally was completely restored. (_Lancette Fr._, October 13th,

Saraillé has reported a similar case. The patient was fifty years old,
and called this surgeon the 18th of October, 1813. He stated that a
sailing needle, about four inches long, had unfortunately slipped into
the urethra; and the point had become fixed upward, near the root of
the penis. After suffering for eight days, during which the presence of
this body excited frequent erections, Lallemand operated, and extracted

Many individuals have been similarly affected. They have all imagined
that they could extract the instrument they used, when some unforeseen
accident has deprived them of it. A young man, nineteen years old,
whose case is mentioned by Louis Senn, made use of the stalk of a
plant, which he introduced into the urethra. It broke; and after much
suffering, the operation for stone was employed to extract it, and the
calculi which had formed around it. A similar circumstance happened
to a man, thirty-eight years old, a patient of Rigal’s. This man
introduced into his urethra the stalk of a sword lily, (_gladiolus
communis_.) This stalk broke, fell into the bladder, and after two
months of pain and danger, the operation for stone was employed to
extract it. It was two inches long; and was already covered with a
saline concretion, one or two lines thick. Bonnet, formerly surgeon at
Hotel Dieu, at Clermont, stated in his lectures, that a vine-dresser
used a vine-stalk for this purpose. During an emission of semen, he
dropped the stalk, which entered the urethra, and passed into the
bladder, where it caused symptoms which required the operation of
lithotomy. The foreign body extracted was three inches long, and three
lines thick. Would it be believed, that Civiale has extracted from the
bladder of a man, by means of lithotrity, a bean, which was introduced
eleven months before, and which gave rise to all the symptoms of stone?
A volume might be filled with facts of a similar character. Many may be
found in the Ephemerides Curiosorum, Memoirs of the Royal Academy of
Sciences, those of the Royal Society of Medicine, and of the Academy of
Surgery; in the works of Chopart, Deschamps, Lamotte, Tolet, Morgagni,
Van Swieten, Morand, Pouteau, &c.

The dangers of these practices are not simply those which are stated in
the facts already mentioned; nor are they confined to exhausting the
rest of the sensibility preserved in the genital organs: they finally
cause chronic diseases of the urethra and bladder. These organs, when
constantly irritated by applications which in individuals not entirely
exhausted are always painful--these organs inflame; indurations,
ulcerations, and strictures, form in the urethra; after which supervene
all the symptoms of acute and chronic blenorrhea, detentions of urine,
and catarrh of the bladder.

Venereal delirium has led other individuals to use processes no less
ridiculous, and equally as dangerous. The penis of those who are thus
unfortunate has remained in the places where it has been introduced,
with a view to imitate the natural process better. Sabatier has related
the case of a young man, who had passed his penis through the handle
of a key. The handle had been pushed far towards the pubis, and the
penis had swelled so as to conceal it from sight: the swelling was also
increased by the efforts of the patient to withdraw it. After oiling
the parts well, the handle was slipped down as far as the glans; but
here scarifications were required, to diminish the engorgement, before
the penis could be liberated. After this, escars sloughed off, which
were followed by cicatrices, which rendered the part deformed, although
a sound was introduced into the urethra, to prevent this result.

The same author relates that a young man had passed his penis into a
copper ring: this, however, was fortunately divided with a pair of
strong scissors. Another used a rough iron ring for this purpose. The
penis puffed out, above and below this ring. A locksmith was called in,
to file it off, which could only be done by placing small bits of wood
between the penis and the iron ring. Much time was required to remove
it. In the same manner--that is, by filing--a ring was removed from
another patient, where gangrene had threatened to appear.

One of the most horrid cases of this kind on record, is that of a young
man, who, on taking a bath, indulged in masturbation, by placing his
penis into the hole in the bottom of the tub, made for the removal of
the water. The glans soon became so much swelled, that he could not
withdraw it. His cries brought him assistance; but it was not easy to
remove him from the fetters he had forged for himself. (_Dict. des Sc.
Med._, vol. xxi., p. 167.)

Many similar cases have occurred in Dupuytren’s practice. One was that
of a young man who came to the clinical lecture at Hotel Dieu, having
the socket of a candlestick, in front of which the glans was enormously
tumefied. Being unable, by any effort, to remove it, the cylindrical
portion surrounding the penis was filed, and thus taken from him. It
would occupy too much room, to enumerate all the facts of this kind
which have been noted by practitioners; but a common accident, and
which has been seen several times by Dupuytren, is the ligature of
the penis by a thread or wire. Some young men, and even adults, have
bound the penis in fits of erotic delirium, so that the knot could not
be loosed; and a circular section has been made in the skin, and the
urethra even has been opened and cut. It is evident, that, in these
cases, the only thing to be done is to divide the thread, to dress the
wound, and then to introduce a gum-elastic sound, in order to prevent
the formation of an urinary fistula, or of an accidental hypospadias.

Another kind of strangulation--which is much less serious, however,
than those we have mentioned--may result from masturbation and coition,
in those individuals where the opening of the prepuce is too narrow.
This prolongation of the skin, after being drawn violently back behind
the corona glandis, strangles the penis, as would be done by a foreign
body, and cannot be brought again to its primitive situation: there is
then a paraphimosis. All authors who have treated of this affection,
have placed among the causes of it that which we have mentioned. We
have seen several instances of this character. I will cite that of a
young boy, seven or eight years old, in whom this accident was produced
during masturbation. The glans was tumefied, and the prepuce formed a
large fold around it. The frightened parents sent for our assistance.
Methodical and long continued pressure soon brought things to their
proper state.

_Herpes praeputialis_, another affection of the prepuce, may arise from
the constant excitement of this part. Fortunately, this eruption is a
slight disease, and generally terminates in a week or two, even without
medical treatment.

Persons who indulge in lascivious ideas, are often affected with a
discharge from the end of the penis--and this though there has been no
masturbation--of a viscid, whitish mucus, which leaves on the linen
spots similar to those produced by the white of an egg. The edges of
the meatus urinarius may also be glued together, by the drying of this
mucus. This discharge, which has been described by John Hunter, is
not a disease, although it has all the appearance of it; and it keeps
some people in constant fear, lest they have contracted gonorrhœa. It,
however, results from an unusual excitement of the mucous membrane,
lining the glans and urethra. Now, if the simple excitement of the
venereal sense can cause such an effect, what might not be expected
from excesses in coition or masturbation? Thus, these causes are
mentioned, whenever the causes of balanitis and blenorrhagia are
alluded to. All authors agree on this subject; and if but few cases are
brought forward in support of this opinion, it is because the subject
has not been disputed. The following is found in a dissertation of
Closs. The patient was a young man addicted to masturbation, who had
been affected for more than six months with a gonorrhœal discharge,
which had been neglected because it occasioned no suffering. The
matter of the discharge, however, becoming acrid, green, and yellow,
he was obliged to ask medical advice. He protested, under oath, that
he had never been exposed to contract disease; and Closs, therefore,
considered this blenorrhea as the result of masturbation, in which the
patient had indulged even before puberty.

This symptom is seen still more frequently after excesses in coition,
especially if attended with excesses in drinking, as Lallemand has
remarked, or if one has cohabited with a female whose genital organs
were very small. It has often been observed in the newly married, and
has sometimes occasioned unmerited suspicions and reproaches. It is
said, too, that excesses indulged in by persons whose genital organs
are perfectly sound, may produce in one or both of them a more or less
intense blenorrhea. Cullerier and Ratier say, that they have verified
this fact several times. Can such a blenorrhea be communicated? Cassan,
in the Bulletin Universel of Ferussac, has inserted a note, in which he
states that many of the facts observed in man and animals, particularly
of the genus Bos, prove, that blenorrhea, which is simply the result
of venereal excesses between healthy individuals, easily assumes a
contagious character, and is attended with symptoms analogous to those
of syphilis, and requires the same treatment.

Inflammation of the urethra may become very intense, and extend
to the bladder, particularly when venereal excesses coexist with
intemperate habits: the discharge of urine may then be interrupted, and
consequently all the symptoms of dysuria and strangury may supervene.
Chronic catarrh of the bladder is often observed, also, in those
individuals who have abused the pleasures of love.

Montegre, speaking of a kind of cystitis, which he terms _vesical
hemorrhoids_, mentions among its causes venereal excesses, and
particularly those repeated titillations, which keep the genital organs
in a state of semi-orgasm, which is not terminated by any crisis.

Lallemand reports the case of an individual, who, being addicted to
venereal excesses, experienced frequent desire to urinate, and found
it difficult to empty his bladder. Finally, unable to pass water
without the use of a sound, he learned to introduce it himself. This
was not difficult, although the bladder could not be emptied without
it. The urine was turbid, thick, and deposited a great deal of glairy
mucus, which adhered to the pot de chambre. The prostatic portion of
the urethra was cauterized, but without success. Lallemand thought
that there was a morbid development of the middle lobe of the prostate
gland. In another patient, whose history is given by this excellent
observer, excessive masturbation appeared to have predisposed to a
chronic inflammation of the genito-urinary organs, which were developed
under the influence of the abuse of coition. (_Obs._, &c., p. 440.)

It is easily seen, that if coition and masturbation may cause all
these inflammations, so, too, they may sustain and increase them.
The pleasures of love, therefore, should be strictly forbidden to
persons affected with diseases of the genito-urinary passages. Acute
inflammation of the urethra, blenorrhagia, has often been known
to pass to a chronic state by a single act of venery; which, says
Lewedrain, may even cause this change several months after the apparent
termination of acute blenorrhagia.

May an incontinence of urine be produced by excesses in coition or
masturbation? We have more than once seen this disease in young
onanists. Sainte Marie, also, places it among the symptoms of
daily involuntary pollution; and Lallemand has remarked, that most
individuals affected with this pollution had been subject, in their
infancy, to incontinence of urine. May not the relations between these
two affections extend to the causes which determine them?

One of the most common causes of excesses in venery is, the
_involuntary loss of semen_. This disease, which has been termed
_spermatorrhœa_, _involuntary pollution_, may also arise from other
causes; but as it results most frequently from excesses in masturbation
or coition, we shall devote particular attention to it.

Let us consider the mode in which the excretion of semen takes place in
the normal state. It is the remote consequence of a voluntary action,
and the immediate result of involuntary contractions. The venereal
sense is excited voluntarily, either by copulation, or by applying the
hand: this excitement is carried to as great an extent as possible; and
then a crisis, entirely independent of the will, terminates it. This
crisis occurs sooner or later. It may even be quickened or retarded by
the will, which may excite or modify the venereal sense; but when it
does take place, it is always by involuntary contractions--that is, by
a true convulsion.

This last action has two well marked periods. In the first, the semen
passes from the seminal vesicles into the urethra; in the second,
this liquid is violently expelled. The contraction of the seminal
vesicles--and perhaps, also, that of the levatores ani muscles--are
the powers by which the semen comes into the urethra. The ejaculation
is caused by the muscles of the perinœum, and particularly by the
bulbo-cavernosus muscle. The swelling and hardness of the corpus
cavernosum furnish this muscle with a point of resistance, which
enables it to compress more efficiently the semen with which the
urethra is filled; and the straightening of this canal, by the
erection, renders the expulsion of this fluid more easy. All these
motions take place by jerks; and, we repeat it, convulsively, without
the aid of the will.

The involuntary excretion of the semen, the morbid pollution, may take
place sometimes in the manner described, sometimes in another mode.
In the first case, it differs from what occurs in the normal state,
only not being preceded by those acts which are performed voluntarily
by man. Secondly, the semen is excreted without any convulsive effort;
it flows like the tears, the saliva, the bile. The semen comes into
the urethra, and escapes from it merely because it is there. There
is no ejaculation: and this is easily conceived of; for the genital
organs are not sufficiently excited, to cause the ejaculatory powers to
be convulsed, as is proved by the excessive weakness of the venereal
sensation. And, secondly, one of the indispensable conditions of
the ejaculation--erection of the penis--does not exist. There are,
then, two kinds of involuntary pollutions; one which is _convulsive_,
and the other which is _not so_. Between these two kinds, there are
intermediate degrees, in which spermatorrhœa partakes more or less of
one or the other. These degrees often mark the passage from convulsive
spermatorrhœa to that which is not convulsive; for the latter has
generally been preceded by the former. We shall see hereafter, that the
existence of one of these affections does not forbid that of the other;
and that the ejaculation of semen is possible in some individuals who
present habitually an insensible flow of this fluid.

Involuntary pollutions have been distinguished until now in another
manner: they have been divided into _diurnal_ and _nocturnal_.
These distinctions are founded only on accessory circumstances.
What difference does it make, whether the pollutions occur by night
or by day, provided they are similar in other respects? If, on the
contrary, there are more essential differences, why not give to them
the importance they demand? Farther: is not convulsive spermatorrhœa,
like that which is not convulsive, seen both at night and day? These
are the reasons why we have sought to distinguish these affections more
logically, and which have led us to propose the new distinction just

Convulsive spermatorrhœa may occur in all individuals, and under the
influence of a great many causes, without being necessarily a disease.
After excessive continence, it may even prove a salutary crisis. This
pollution has a pathological character, when it is repeated too often,
or under unfavorable circumstances; and then it produces the same
result as excesses in coition or masturbation, and generally occurs
only in individuals already enfeebled by this kind of excess. Sleep
is the most favorable state for an attack of spermatorrhœa; and from
this circumstance it is called nocturnal pollution. The temperature of
the bed, and lying on the back--circumstances which favor the warmth
and excitement of the lower part of the spinal marrow--may also cause
the convulsive excretion of the semen. But another cause of it is,
that during the sleep of the external senses, the internal senses have
control, and have more power, because the action of the others is
completely suspended. Cabanis remarks this fact, in saying that the
genital organs do not participate in the repose of the external senses,
but seem to be more excitable when these are asleep. We consider, that
what takes place then is analogous to what is observed in idiots,
who, deaf, blind, and dead to all the feelings of relation, abandon
themselves to every excess, to satisfy a sense, the excitement of which
in them often amounts to constant satyriasis.

If the sleep be very profound, pollution may take place without the
consciousness of the patient, or, at any rate, without his remembrance
of it. When he wakes, the loss of semen is then discovered only by its
stain, and the state of fatigue, weakness, and malaise attending it. A
lascivious dream, however, generally attends a pollution. These dreams
are not, as is generally thought, the cause of the pollution: if they
exist, it is because the venereal sense, which is excited, speaks for
itself, even as hunger, thirst, or any internal sensation may do. These
dreams have a peculiar character, which has been pointed out by many
writers. The individual is rarely placed in voluptuous circumstances,
where his imagination places him during his waking hours; but he is
surrounded by females who are hideous and repelling, and whom he is as
it were compelled to enjoy.

In fact, these pollutions fatigue more than those which are excited
voluntarily. On rising, the patient experiences a general and more
or less distinct feeling of feebleness and of suffering. His loins
and limbs seem as if he had taken a long walk, or as if they had been
bruised; the countenance is pale; the eyelids are swelled and bluish;
the patient is sad and stupid. Finally, he presents physically and
morally the consequences of an abuse of venery. It may readily be
imagined, that the periods of spermatorrhœa render the exhaustion more
rapid than the voluntary excesses already commenced. If, contrary to
custom, the onanist remains one night without pollution, the organs
which he permits to rest supply the unaccustomed activity. Happy is
he, when these symptoms do not seem to him an evidence that this flow
of semen is necessary. Every thing which specially excites the genital
organs, as lascivious thoughts, voluptuous sights, riding, a soft and
warm bed, &c., and also every thing which produces a more general
excitement, in which these organs participate, as wine, liquors,
coffee, spices, &c.; are so many causes which combine with the direct
provocations of the patient, to multiply the causes by which he is

The nocturnal pollutions, however, are not formidable to those onanists
who are reformed. Inspired by the sentiment of self-preservation,
warned by the sufferings, counsels, and by reading, they have resolved
to abandon for ever the manœuvres which they know to be dangerous.
This resolution they will be able to keep: they, however, anxiously
demand if they are not too late. The genital organs rebel against the
decision. How melancholy must be the state of the patient! He sees, in
perspective, sufferings, even a death, which seems to be inevitable.
To avoid it, he had made a sacrifice; he has abandoned those tastes
which exercised such absolute control over him: but his organs, which
have been irritated, continue the work which he wished to interrupt.
He is irritated--he despairs. Let him be of good cheer; when the will
perseveres, it generally triumphs. I attended an onanist, who was
suddenly converted by reading the work of Tissot, and who experienced
all the troubles to which we have alluded. He was constantly tormented
by the remembrance of the past night, and the fear of that which was
to come. He slept on a coarse bed; and always enveloped the privy
parts with linen, wet with vinegar and water, before going to sleep;
promising himself to awake, as soon as he was assailed by dreams.
By his will, however, he finally succeeded; and he had the power of
watching himself during sleep. His pollutions gradually became less
frequent, and finally disappeared entirely. This is generally the case
where all bad habits cease.

Convulsive spermatorrhœa is not very common, while a person is awake:
it then rarely presents the purely convulsive character, with perfect
erection, and distinct ejaculation, that is seen in a healthy emission
of semen. This state, however, is possible: an instance of it may be
seen in the case of satyriasis stated by M. Duprest-Rony. Whenever this
young man beheld his mistress looking at him, erection took place, and
ejaculation followed. He, however, had refrained from masturbating for
two years, and had regained in a great measure his former strength. M.
Sainte Marie has reported a case of priapism, during which the patient
ejaculated fourteen times in a few hours. But this affection was not in
consequence of venereal excesses, and the emission of semen presented
nothing more extraordinary than other cases of priapism. Diurnal
convulsive pollution is seldom accompanied, in individuals exhausted
by abuses of masturbation and coition, with a perfect erection. The
size of the penis increases, but it does not become hard. The semen is
then emitted only to a short distance, if there be any ejaculation. The
least cause, the slightest touch, is sufficient to excite this. Thus,
in a man thirty years old, whom Tissot has mentioned, after Boerhaave,
the semen escaped whenever there was a commencement of an erection,
for it was never complete; and instead of being expelled forcibly,
it oozed out drop by drop. The patient became impotent. This symptom
(adds Tissot) is very frequent among those who are exhausted, and it
contributes to continue the exhaustion. The slightest excitement causes
the commencement of an erection, which is followed by an emission.
We have seen a similar phenomenon in one of the patients of M.
Dalandeterie. There were frequent painful erections, of short duration,
which always terminated by a more or less abundant discharge of fluid.
These kinds of pollutions were always painful, and were followed by
extreme prostration. It is evident, from the remarks we have quoted,
that there was no ejaculation in this patient; and probably, also,
the erections, though painful, were imperfect. Daily convulsive
spermatorrhœa assumes then, as it were, a bastard character in
onanists: it occupies an intermediate place between proper convulsive
spermatorrhœa, such as occurs during sleep, and the non-convulsive
spermatorrhœa, which we shall mention directly.

There is a phenomenon very similar to this bastard spermatorrhœa, and
which shows itself when the patient is inclined to indulge in coition
or masturbation: the emission of semen takes place on the commencement
of the act of venery. It is a quasi involuntary pollution. In this
case, which is by no means rare, the erection is not complete, simply
because there is not time for it to be so, the premature emission of
semen not admitting it to be perfect. Sometimes, erection is radically
impossible, and prevents the ejaculation. This was the case with the
onanist who wrote to Tissot, that the semen would flow, but there was
no ejaculation. Farther: when there is no erection, either because
this is impossible, or because the semen is discharged prematurely,
the person becomes impotent, because the power of procreating requires
erection and ejaculation.

In persons affected with spermatorrhœa, the seminal fluid must preserve
its normal characters. It is generally thinner, less opaque, and
similar to serum: sometimes it resembles a fetid sanies or corrupt
mucus; in other cases:, the seminal vesicles are evidently affected.
Sometimes, blood is exhaled from these vesicles, and is even
ejaculated. We have already stated instances of this emission. Tissot,
also, has published a case of it. It was a young man, less than sixteen
years old, who indulged in onanism to such an extent, that blood was
finally emitted, instead of semen. This emission was soon followed by
excessive pains, and an inflammation of all the genital organs. We must
remark, that blood never seems to be discharged, unless the pollution
is excited directly: this, at least, would seem to follow from the
cases stated, and particularly from one mentioned by Dalandeterie. The
erections (said he) always terminate with a more or less abundant flow
of mucus--perhaps, also, of prostatic fluid, or even of a very diluted
semen. In ejaculations excited by the hand, a semi-clotted, blackish
blood comes, instead of semen: sometimes, a teaspoonful is discharged.
This is always attended with pains, and followed by great prostration.

We have seen that involuntary pollution may take place, like voluntary
pollution, by the convulsive contraction of the ejaculatory muscles,
with erection of the penis, and sensations of venery. We have also
seen, that the semen may be discharged, although the erection of the
penis, the sensation of venery, and the convulsive contraction of the
ejaculatory muscles is slight, and almost nothing. When this exists
to a still greater degree, we have _non-convulsive_ spermatorrhœa, or
_diurnal involuntary pollution_, as it is called: here there is no
erection, convulsion, nor ejaculation; there is no feeling of venery;
the semen flows, instead of being expelled; and there is no feeling of
pleasure attending this discharge.

This affection may arise from different causes. It is owing most
frequently to venereal excesses; and, as but little is known in regard
to it, we shall enlarge on the subject. This pollution for a long time
was confounded with all the discharges from the urethra, which were
blended under the term gonorrhœa. A contrary opinion was then adopted,
and the existence of the disease was denied _in toto_. The remarks
of several authors, and particularly of Wichmann, Sante Marie, and
Lallemand, place its existence, however, beyond a doubt. The first
ideas on this kind of spermatorrhœa may be referred to the earliest
periods of medicine. It was known to Hippocrates, who has mentioned
(_De Morbis_, lib. ii., sect. 5) one of the principal symptoms, the
loss of semen, during the emission of urine, and of feces, when
describing the tabes dorsalis which affects libertines and those
lately married. Celsus, also, (_De Medicina_, lib. iv., ch. 28,) has
admitted that there may be loss of semen, without pleasure, without
voluptuous dreams, and which may be followed by a fatal consumption.
After this, we find no mention of the disease for a long period.
Tauvry says positively, (_Naw. Anat. raisonnée_, 1693, p. 164,) that
men who abuse themselves are liable to have emissions of semen on
the slightest compression of the seminal vesicles, when they pass
urine or feces. Morgagni admits that the semen may escape without any
pleasurable sensation, as happens from the effect of an injection which
is too warm, and from the excretion of hardened feces; but he adds,
that the fluid discharged may come in some from the prostate gland,
in others, from the seminal vesicles. There is much uncertainty on
this point of science among authors, many of whom have considered as
spermatic most of the discharges from the urethra. The dissertation of
Wichmann, however, on the subject of diurnal pollution, is valuable.
This dissertation was printed in 1782, at Gœttingen. In it, Wichmann
states, first, the characters which distinguish diurnal from nocturnal
pollution. The first occurs when the patient is awake, and without
his experiencing erection or desire. He is unconscious of it; and
this circumstance, with the absence of any swelling of the corpora
cavernosa, and of all venereal ardor, serves to distinguish this
pollution from the flow of the fluid of the prostate gland, or from a
loss of semen, which takes place in some persons when they are excited
by desire. To these characters, Wichmann adds another, drawn from the
mode in which the excretion of semen takes place. In diurnal pollution,
(says he,) men do not lose their semen constantly by a continual
excretion of this fluid, like females subject to leucorrhea; but they
ejaculate, at a single time: and this circumstance has rendered the
term pollution applicable to this disease. He does not consider, as
a diurnal pollution, the gonorrhœa in which the semen is continually
escaping drop by drop. He, however, doubts the existence of this
last affection, and remarks that authors are very much confused on
the subject. Nor would a pollution which was involuntary, and during
the hours of waking, be considered as a diurnal pollution, if the
evacuation of semen had been caused by any aphrodisiac substance. And
on this topic, he relates the case of a man, who, having been addicted
to onanism in his youth, was affected with involuntary pollutions if a
blister was applied to him, if he perceived the odor of cantharides, or
even spoke of them.

According to Wichmann, the semen never escapes with the urine: thus,
it is not a seminal discharge which comes from persons affected with
external or internal hemorrhoids, who pass off with their urine a
milky fluid. He, however, admits, with Hippocrates, that the straining
of persons at stool often occasions, in those affected with diurnal
pollution, the discharge of a greater or less quantity of semen. When
the existence of this affection is suspected, we must attempt to
ascertain its truth; and for this purpose, the patient should be made
to urinate freely; and then, in passing the feces, he should sit in
such a manner that the penis may be outside, and one can see all that
escapes from it in the efforts at stool. In a diurnal pollution, there
is rarely as much semen lost as in a nocturnal pollution. The disease
is quite as serious, if it be semen which escapes--if it occurs once
a-day, and even more frequently; and at the lightest effort to stool,
and without any pleasure, to inform one of the risk which is run.

Thus, then, involuntary emissions of semen, while the patient is awake,
without erection, without pleasure, and while the patient is ignorant
of it; an emission which takes place, not drop by drop, but at one
time, and especially while at stool, are, according to Wichmann,
specific characters of involuntary diurnal pollution.

The general effects of this diurnal pollution, as he has often observed
them, are those seen in onanists. He remarks:--When you see a man
extremely thin, pale, stupid, enervated, complaining of great debility,
especially in the thighs and loins, lazy in his actions, and with
sunken eyes, you have reason to suspect this cause.

Patients in this state never complain of any absolute pain. Their
digestive powers are ruined: the appetite, however, continues--even
increases, and sometimes becomes voracious. After taking food, they
seem to have more strength; but this advantage is soon paid for, by the
inconveniences resulting from digestion--especially if that variable
appetite be too much indulged. As the stomach and most of the other
viscera do not perform their functions properly, the more that is eaten
the more the belly is tumefied, by the relaxation of the digestive
organs. This swelling is attended with a painful feeling of anxiety,
which exists in these unfortunates at other periods of the day, and
impels them to avoid society. They are more disposed to sorrow than
to joy--that is, the news of an unfortunate event brings with it more
sorrow than that of a happy event causes pleasure. In them, as in
onanists, there is a want of intelligence; they are stupid; natural
sleep does not refresh them; the memory and sight are particularly
debilitated. And this is the state of things, until the patient becomes
affected with phthisis. At first, neither moral causes, nor affections
of the soul, nor disappointment, can be suspected. There is apparently
no viscus affected; nor can we ascribe the disease to any deleterious
substance concealed in the body, and consuming the flesh. The patient
has no pain, excepting that obtuse, compressive pain, which is referred
to the hypochondria, and which depends on the swelling of the weak
intestines. If you add to the characters the absence of fever, and of
the ordinary causes of exhaustion, you may be persuaded that diurnal
pollution exists--that it is the hidden cause of all the symptoms. This
is a general description of the disease, drawn up from a considerable
number of cases which we have observed.

Wichmann, also, remarks the resemblance between individuals affected
with diurnal pollution and those affected with phthisis pulmonalis.
Experience has taught me, (says he,) that in many patients who have
been considered as affected with true phthisis, the disease must be
referred to this cause alone. The symptoms of diurnal pollution are not
very dissimilar to those of the first period of phthisis pulmonalis,
at this purely spasmodic period, which I should be tempted to term
insidious, if I considered merely the difficulty and uncertainty of the
diagnosis at this period. The cough which then attends some patients,
also, leads physicians to dread phthisis: or, rather, consumption,
arising from diurnal pollution, assumes so much the characters and
form of this disease, that one is disposed to treat it by the ordinary
method, to the great disparagement of the patient, whose state requires
opposite remedies. Farther: it is clear, that the disease of which we
speak must infallibly terminate in phthisis, if it be not soon arrested.

In 1772, Wichmann observed internal pollution for the first time. The
case was that of a young man, over twenty years of age, who for a long
time had been affected with spasms. “He was manifestly in a state of
cachochymia, and of wasting away. The physicians whom he had consulted
before he came to me judged, from these appearances, that he was
hypochondriac: in fact, different symptoms led to the belief that the
disease was situated in the hypochondria. The loss of strength--the
languor of digestion, although the appetite was not lost--the paleness
of the countenance--the sadness and pusillanimity which led him to
seek solitude--the vivid redness which rushed over his cheeks in
conversation--his restlessness of character--and, finally, a certain
weakness of intellect--seemed to justify the diagnosis. He had formerly
indulged with females, and had been affected with venereal disease,
to which he attributed his present state. Although there was not the
slightest trace of these old affections, the physician, misled by the
false conjectures of the patient, had kept him for a long time on
mercurial preparations, by which the symptoms were aggravated, the true
cause being overlooked.

“Mercury was then abandoned for tonics; and the ferruginous waters were
employed, with the idea that the patient suffered from hypochondria.
But this was no better than the former treatment; and the patient
begged me to take charge of him. I could not attribute the extreme
thinness which existed to the remnant of an imperfectly cured venereal
affection, nor to the usual cause of exhaustion and fever. I then
asked the patient if he indulged with females, or in onanism; or if
he was affected with involuntary loss of semen. He almost swore to
the contrary. I then told him of his obligation to speak the truth,
and assured him that I should not prescribe for him until he was
attentively examined. Some days after, he came to me again, and told
me that he had been affected with something like loss of semen. I
satisfied myself that the observation was correct. The cause of the
evil being known, the treatment was simple. In a few months, the
patient was restored to health; and this happy effect of the remedies
proved that we had attacked the origin of the evil.

“This young man had probably indulged in premature excesses: in fact,
this is the most usual cause of involuntary pollution. All the patients
observed by me, (says Wichmann,) were from twenty-five to forty years
old. All were addicted to the pleasures of love, or to onanism; or had
become affected with blenorrhœa, by intercourse with diseased women.

“I am led to believe,” (adds he,) “that the effects of onanism would
not be so pernicious, were it not for this diurnal pollution; that
without it, this shameful habit would not be followed with consumption,
and other symptoms of phthisis. In fact, onanism does not always give
rise to this pollution. If this were the case, the number of onanists
affected with consumption would be very great. The number of men
addicted to this vice from early childhood is immense; for we do not
know a greater scourge than this social corruption. From the fact, too,
that onanism sometimes produces involuntary diurnal pollution, we ought
to investigate if it does not exist in those who have renounced this
pernicious habit. Advice to them would be useless, inasmuch as, having
renounced this vice, they do not suspect the enervating cause which
destroys them. About eighteen years ago, before I had discovered this
cause of consumption, I knew a young man, thirty years old, who had
been addicted to masturbation from the time he was ten years old, and
who learned this pernicious habit from his preceptor. He died, after
experiencing all kinds of infirmities, with extreme debility of all
his physical and moral faculties. He acknowledged his error, and that
for a long time he had renounced his bad habit; but his late return to
continence did not save him. Now, I feel confident that this shameful
habit had brought on an involuntary diurnal pollution, which caused his

Wichmann remarks, that it is at the commencement of the fine season of
spring that the patients are most conscious of their situation. They
owe this increase of their ills (says he) to that general procreative
faculty which becomes more active in all animated beings at this period
of the year. The more full the vesicles of semen, the more liable are
patients to lose it. We must also remark, that most patients secrete
prolific semen, and preserve their procreative power. This, however,
requires the patient to have the faculty of erection; for, otherwise,
he would be impotent. This was the case with an individual, whose case
is stated by Henry Van-Hers.

A young man of rich family, and who had arrived at puberty, consulted
this physician, avowing, that from the time he was ten years old, he
had enjoyed frequent intercourse with young girls, who had excited him
by their lascivious touches; adding, that from this period the power
of erection had disappeared. He had travelled for a long time, and
had received advice from several French physicians. He went to the Spa
waters, and there his case was examined by Van-Hers. The sensibility
and weakness of the genital organs were so great, that on the slightest
touch, and without any desire for coition, or any sensation, there was
a discharge similar to thin milk. This excretion continued both night
and day, whenever he passed urine, or on the least rubbing of his
shirt. A great many remedies had already been tried. Van-Hers regarded
the disease as incurable, but the young man would not listen to his
advice; and being very rich, he continued to travel in Italy, France,
England, and Germany, in the hope of recovering his lost virility.
He consulted many physicians. He then had recourse to quacks; and
even tried the powers of magic: but all in vain. After six years of
travel, he returned to Van-Hers, regretting that he had not taken his
advice. The young man then returned home, deploring the advantages of a
large fortune, which rendered him the victim of a precocious abuse of
pleasure, of a kind of premature depravity.

Wichmann’s dissertation was but little known in France, when Sainte
Marie undertook its translation; and not only this, but added many
important notes, which have shed new light on diurnal pollution.
Wichmann had said, as we have seen, that patients affected with this
disease _ejaculated_ the semen. This expression was inexact, and has
been rectified by M. Sainte Marie. The patients (said he) do not
ejaculate the semen; but it runs away from them: it is not emitted with
force. The characters which it presents had briefly been alluded to by
Wichmann: his translator has stated them more clearly. According to
him, the semen which runs away in diurnal pollution is paler, thinner,
and more watery, than that which escapes when the act is attended with
pleasure. Its odor, also, is fainter; and the stains it leaves on the
linen are slight, superficial, and not very apparent. Wichmann had
admitted the existence of a discharge from the prostate gland, which
ought not to be confounded with diurnal pollution. Sainte Marie has
attempted to point out the characteristics of this discharge. Those in
whom it exists, (says he,) find the glans moistened in the morning when
they rise with an unctuous substance: if they then compress the urethra
from the root to the end of the penis, they press out some drops of a
greenish, gluish, and slightly fetid fluid. They thus lose a little of
this fluid after indulging in desires, or after erections which have
not been followed by the act of venery. Sainte Marie considers it as
probable that the mucus of the urethra then mixes with the fluid of the
prostate gland, and forms a part of the discharge.

This author confirms Wichmann’s remarks on the general effects of
diurnal pollution. He says, “Since I read his treatise, I have found
this pollution in diseases of languor, which I could not attribute to
a special or primitive alteration of any organ; and I have discovered,
that a great many cases of hypochondria, of slow nervous fevers, of
consumptions, were kept up by this kind of gonorrhœa, to which the
patients, unable to observe themselves, had paid no attention. I have
known several individuals, who have been affected with this diurnal
pollution for a long time, without experiencing any marked derangement
in their health: to them, it was an inconvenience; rather than a
disease. But in these cases, diurnal pollution is not habitual: it only
occurs when continence of days or weeks, an exciting or substantial
regimen, long exercise on horseback or in a carriage, have accumulated
semen in its reservoirs, or have irritated specially the genital
organs: then the least effort to expel the feces causes the seminal
vesicles to pour forth the surplus of fluid which they contain. Let not
this state inspire too much security. Diurnal pollution is commenced:
it is not yet serious; but it may progress, return every day at
each evacuation, and finally produce all the bad results noticed by

Wichmann said nothing in regard to the organic conditions of the
diurnal pollution: he merely stated that this affection was the
result of debility. M. Sainte Marie, on this point, makes many
interesting remarks. He considers diurnal pollution as sometimes
the cause, and sometimes the effect, of dorsal consumption; and he
considers this to be an affection of the spinal marrow. We will quote
this passage:--Diurnal pollution (says Sainte Marie) is sometimes
only an effect; the origin of which must be sought after in a serious
and primitive alteration of an important system of organs. Thus, we
must reason, for instance, in respect to dorsal consumption. It is
said, that one remarkable symptom of this disease is an abundant
discharge of watery semen, which comes sometimes at each emission
of urine. Involuntary diurnal pollution is here only a symptom: it
occurs, because the genital organs do not receive, _from the spinal
marrow_, the nervous and well regulated influence which they require
to perform their functions properly. Hence, the super-abundant
secretion of semen--its unfitness for fecundation--the relaxation of
the seminal vesicles, which allow it to escape so readily--the atony
of the scrotum--the inconvenient pulling of the spermatic vessels--the
weakness of the erections--impotence, &c., &c. The same state of the
organs which deprives the genital organs of life, explains, on the
other hand, the wasting of parts which respond to this sensitive
centre--the thinness of the loins, thighs, and lower extremities--the
debility--the paralysis of these extremities--the obstinate
constipation, complained of by the patients, and which is similar
to that of old men, yielding only to the employment of stimuli--the
formications along the back--the incontinence of urine--the gangrenous
eschars, which at a more advanced period of the disease form on the
sacrum, hips, and trochanters. We might easily pursue this subject,
and extend it to the most general symptoms of consumption, as deep
melancholy, weakness and slowness of the pulse, disposition to faint,
and all those marked symptoms which assimilate this disease to slow
nervous fever; but this would estrange us from the principle we seek to
establish--which is, that diurnal pollution is sometimes the cause,
and sometimes only the symptom, of dorsal consumption. Wichmann has
treated only of the first: the second is connected with a general
disease, and cannot be studied separately. These remarks of Sainte
Marie will be admitted to be much more important, if compared with our
remarks on the abuse of the genital organs on the spinal marrow, and
with what we shall say hereafter on the power which this has on the
same organs.

Swediaur, who was acquainted with and approved of Wichmann’s work,
admits, in addition to the diurnal pollution described by this latter,
and which he considers as arising either from relaxation or from
irritation of the testicles and seminal passages--he admits, we say, a
blenorrhœa of the prostate gland, the characters of which, as stated by
him, are precisely similar to those of diurnal pollution. Blenorrhœa of
the prostate gland (says he) is a morbid discharge of the mucus from
this gland, sometimes mingled with the fluid of the seminal vesicles.
It occurs particularly during the day, and without venereal desire.
This disease is soon followed with general debility or weakness: this
exhaustion is attended with emaciation of the body, and is followed
by death, if the patient delays consulting a well-educated physician,
as is too often the case; or if the proper remedies are not used in
time. He admits, also, that the discharge from the prostate gland does
not occur in some individuals, except when they go to stool; and that
hardened feces, in passing through the rectum, press the prostate
gland more firmly. The discharge is clear mucus, and of a particularly
nauseous odor. Cullerier describes two kinds of spermatorrhœa: one
with loss of semen and of the prostate fluid; the other, produced by
constipation. He remarks--Persons who are habitually costive often see
a few drops of semen ooze from the penis, while they are at stool.
We have been consulted several times for cases of this kind. Some
regard it as resulting from a relaxation, a debility of the genital
organs: they imagine that their genital powers are lost, and that their
procreative power is lost. Others attribute it to old blenorrhœas,
which have _struck in_, as it is said. All, generally, are terrified
at the effect; and quacks have often profited by its existence, to
persuade patients that they were affected with an inveterate venereal
disease, and thus to dispose of their remedies. This effect arises, as
every one knows, from the pressure of the feces in the rectum on the
seminal vesicles, and may be removed by removing the constipation.

This was the state of science, when Lallemand devoted himself to the
study of the diseases of the urinary passages, and enriched it with
many important remarks. As, in acute inflammations of the urethra,
the irritation sometimes extends, following the course of the seminal
passages to the testicles; so, in retentions of urine, produced by
chronic inflammation of the prostatic portion of the urethra, the
irritation extends more or less to the seminal vesicles and testicles,
producing in the former normal contractions, and in the latter an
excessive secretion, whence would result a spermatic flux. In patients
thus affected, the ejaculation is very sudden: nocturnal pollutions
are frequent--or, rather, the semen is expelled during the emission
of urine, and of the feces. It is also more liquid, less odorous, and
in short less elaborated than usual. In many patients, the venereal
desires are nearly extinct; the erections are feeble, imperfect, or
even impossible. This spermatorrhœa has general effects, analogous to
those which have been attributed to other pollutions: the patients
become timid, idle, indifferent to all which is not connected with
their disease; all the functions of the economy languish, and are
deranged; and, finally, both body and mind are degraded.

Lallemand has known all the phenomena which we have described to
disappear, on curing the retention of urine--or, rather, the disease
of the urethra which caused it--and relates cases of this character.
Do not the remarks of this practitioner, compared with our remarks on
convulsive spermatorrhœa, and particularly on the different states
which the semen may present in this affection--do they not establish
clearly, that in many, perhaps in most cases of spermatorrhœa, there is
not relaxation, weakness of the seminal vesicles and ejaculatory ducts,
but irritation or inflammation of these parts?

It would, then, seem well established, that the semen may be discharged
without pleasure, without erection, and without ejaculation; and that
this discharge may give rise to accidents analogous to those observed
after all free discharges of this fluid, arising from any cause
whatever. This fact, however, has been contested by different authors.
Boerhaave says positively, that he has never known the semen to escape
spontaneously, without solicitation; and that when such a case has
been suspected, the fluid discharged was not probably semen; and that,
farther, if this kind of spermatorrhœa exists, it must be very rare.
Swammerdam, Hunter, and Haller, have expressed a similar opinion: the
latter admits that a discharge may take place from the penis, under the
circumstances mentioned above; he thinks, also, that this discharge
comes from the prostate gland and seminal vesicles. But the fluid
which escapes is only the mucus secreted by these parts--it is not
semen; and unless opinions had been made up from wrong evidence, wrong
consequences, it would not have been attributed to it. At present, the
opinion that all cases of spermatorrhœa are only blenorrhœas, is still
very prevalent. Descamps, physician at Castilliones, having brought
before the Medical Society, in 1821, two cases of spermatorrhœa, the
consequences of masturbation; Chantourelle, who was the reporter,
raised some doubts, which the society seemed to admit, as to the nature
of the discharge, thinking it was mucous, rather than spermatic. We,
however, are disposed to think, that when the subject of diurnal
pollution is better understood, it will be observed more frequently,
and then its existence will not be denied. It is with the hope of
contributing to this result, that we have dwelt so long on the subject.

If the imperceptible loss of semen may be followed by all the symptoms
which are referred to it, it is evident that those authors who have
advanced that the emission of semen should be counted as nothing in
the influence of the act of venery, and that the nervous disturbance
which attends it is the only cause of its consequences--those authors,
we say, who assert this, have advanced too positive an opinion, and
are consequently mistaken. The same may be said of those who ascribe
the danger of venereal excesses simply to the discharge of urine. It
is well ascertained, that those individuals who have carried the act
of onanism to such an extent as to procure enjoyment without losing
semen, have finally became diseased, and their constitution has been
impaired. Instances of this might be cited. Fournier and Begin mention
that of a young man, who, at the moment of ejaculation, compressed the
remote parts of the urethra, so that not a drop of semen was lost.
The fatigue, however, following efforts of this kind was very great,
notwithstanding these exertions. Finally, the strength diminished, and
the person wasted away as much as if the semen had been discharged.
(_Dict. des Sc. Med._, Art. _Masturbation_.)

There is frequently some derangement in the functions of the testicles,
in those who have lost the genital sense, where the penis is no
longer capable of erection, or who are affected by one or other of
the pollutions mentioned by us. But these organs may be affected more
evidently. In many onanists, these parts are extremely tender, or
more or less vivid pains are felt, which extend along the cord. These
symptoms sometimes assume an evidently neuralgic character; and it
may readily be imagined, that, in individuals affected with wandering
pains, excesses in venery may fix them in these parts. This has been
remarked in gout. Hallé and M. Guilbert observed, in a middle-aged
man addicted to excesses of this character, a severe pain in the
left testicle, unattended by swelling, which extended to the whole
surface of this organ: this pain followed an attack of articular
gout. Irritation of the testicles sometimes constitutes an attack of
orchitis--that is, an inflammation, which, among other consequences,
may be attended with the loss of these parts. Brodie has published two
cases of this character. The first was that of a young man, thirty
years old, who entered St. George’s Hospital in 1805, affected with
pains in the left testicle. This testicle was soft, flabby, and one
third smaller than that of the opposite side. The patient had never
received a blow on this part, nor had he been affected with blenorrhœa;
but he admitted, that for five years he had been addicted to onanism,
and that a day seldom passed without his indulgence. Before wasting
away, the testicle had been the seat of a swelling, which had been
preceded by severe pains. These pains had continued to be felt, and
the disease was attended with such a degree of moral depression,
that the countenance of the patient assumed a sombre and melancholy
character. This young man was treated by various remedies, but he left
the hospital uncured. The other patient, on applying to Mr. Brodie, in
1820, was thirty-one years old. Here the two testicles were wasted, and
the patient was impotent. This man stated that his intercourse with
females began when he was fourteen years old; that he had indulged
excessively for many years; that, when twenty years old, in consequence
of external violence, he was affected with severe inflammation of the
testicles; that this inflammation had been completely cured; and that
the wasting of the testicles had commenced some time afterward. In
three years, the testicles had shrunk to their present size. (_London
Med. and Phys. Journal_, October, 1826.)

According to Morgagni, the too frequent return of venereal ideas will
produce varicocele and hydrocele. Some authors, also, place venereal
excesses among the causes of the first of these two diseases, and also
of circosele. We have seen several cases of varicose dilatation of the
spermatic cord and testicle in onanists. This fact is also confirmed
by Breschet, in his memoir read at the Academy of Sciences, Jan. 13th,
1834. He thinks that circosele and varicocele are by no means diseases
of adult and old age, but that they are seen most frequently in young
men. These affections seem to him to be caused most particularly by
venereal excesses. He adds, that the varicose tumors of the bursæ,
and the organs they contain, are not only very troublesome, causing
severe pain in the cord, but that in some patients they cause extreme

One consequence of onanism, which has been omitted by Deslandes, may
be stated here. We allude to the smallness of the genital organs. In
several severe cases of onanism, which have fallen under the notice
of Dr. A. Sidney Doane, of New-York, this important feature has
been observed. The same fact has been remarked by Professor John W.
Francis, of New-York; Professor Otto, of Germany; and by other eminent

Excesses in masturbation and coition, _in females_, cause affection of
the several organs much more frequently than in males. By too frequent
titillation, the clitoris may become enormously large. This cause (says
Bouillaud) may determine schirrous engorgement, or even a cancerous
degenerescence of this organ. The most frequent alteration, however,
of the genital organs of the female, which may be thus produced, is
an inflammation of the membrane which lines the vulva and vagina.
This inflammation is constantly indicated by a more or less abundant
leucorrhœal discharge, and often by swelling, redness, and pain.
When this discharge continues, which is often the case, it occasions
in young females symptoms analogous to those of diurnal pollution.
The complexion loses its color, and becomes yellowish; the eyes are
constantly suffused, and the countenance is sad; the patients are
feeble and careless; they generally experience gnawing sensations in
the epigastric region; and, thinking that these are occasioned by
hunger, are constantly eating. Sometimes, the appetite is voracious,
and the digestive powers are preserved; but these are commonly soon
altered. Severe and constant pains are often felt in the back and
epigastrium; the body wastes; and a short, dry, and frequent cough,
renders the patient, parents, and sometimes the physician, anxious
as to the state of the chest. Add to these symptoms those already
described, when speaking of the general effects of masturbation, and
you have the state most frequently presented by girls addicted to this

As females have no testicles, nor organs which, like the testicles in
the male, serve to prepare and excrete the semen, they cannot have
seminal pollutions: they, however, like men, are subject to voluptuous
dreams, and then there may be a secretion, analogous to that which
exists in them at the moment of the act of venery. May a too frequent
return of this symptom have any influence on the health? The only
remarks on the subject, to our knowledge, are to be found in Swediaur.
He says, when speaking of diurnal pollution--I have seen, although much
more rarely, similar diseases in the other sex. I have under treatment,
at this moment, a female, twenty-eight years old, who, since her
miscarriage, a year and a half ago, suffers from frequent involuntary
nocturnal pollutions, excited by libidinous dreams, and attended with
all the symptoms of the tabes dorsalis, described by Hippocrates, as a
disease of the male. Even the lungs begin to feel this disease. She,
however, has been cured.

Inflammation of the external organs of generation, and the fluor albus,
resulting from it, is most generally, at least in young girls who have
not arrived at puberty, a consequence of onanism. We are convinced,
too, that if it were possible to arrive at the facts, we should find
that the cause of fluor albus in adults was either recent or former
abuses. Whenever we have addressed females on the subject, to ascertain
this fact, our conjectures have been verified. This has frequently been
the case with servant girls. We have seen several, who were so weakened
by fluor albus, and the irritation of the sexual parts, that they have
been obliged to quit their situations, being unable to do their duty.
We will even say, that the most sincere of these girls have given me
such information as to their habits, that we suspect most of this class
of onanism.

Besides, all authors who have spoken of leucorrhœa and blenorrhœa in
females, have mentioned excesses in masturbation and coition as among
their most frequent causes. It would be easy to adduce general evidence
and special cases in support of this proposition; but this would be

For the same reasons, we may state, that diseases of the uterus may
very frequently be determined by these excesses, and more particularly
by those of coition. Daily observation proves that acute and chronic
inflammations of the body and neck of the uterus frequently appear in
those females who have indulged in premature enjoyments.

We have attended, for more than ten years, a lady affected with chronic
metritis, arising from this cause. This lady had began to masturbate
before she was eleven years old. She soon became affected with fluor
albus, from which she has never been free since. When eighteen years
old, she married a vigorous man, and then became addicted to another
kind of excess. She now experienced constant pains in the loins, lower
part of the belly, and in the groins: she was also troubled with a
disagreeable feeling of fatigue in the upper part of the thighs, and
experienced as it were a weight, as if something was constantly trying
to escape from the sexual parts. The neck of the uterus, instead of
retaining its usual situation, proved on examination to be almost
at the external orifice of the vagina. Our advice, as to moderation
and abstinence, was but imperfectly followed: she was so addicted to
onanism, that, although she indulged lawfully, and was the mother
of several children, she continued in this habit. It may readily be
imagined that she did not derive much benefit from my advice: in fact,
the symptoms mentioned above, and many others, still continue. Similar
cases are related by other authors, and have fallen under the notice of
almost every practitioner.

In this case, there was evidently _prolapsus uteri_, or a falling
of the womb: the neck of the uterus was almost at the vulva. This
displacement, which is the usual consequence of inflammations of
the body of the uterus, very often results, like it, from venereal
excesses. This fact has been noticed by all writers on this subject.
Schirrous and cancerous affections of the neck of the uterus, also,
arise from this cause. Cullerier remarks, that uterine affections
in females are loo frequently the sad and cruel consequence of
solitary manœuvres. Richerand, after stating that premature or too
frequent indulgence is a cause of cancer of the uterus, says, that of
forty-seven females affected with this disease, eleven had indulged
with males before the period of puberty, seven at this period, and
most of them were barren. He adds, that those public girls who escape
venereal disease generally die of cancer of the uterus. Bayle and Cayol
have attempted to verify this assertion, by examining numerous cases,
but they have obtained no marked result; which is not surprising,
considering the number of causes, which, especially in hospitals,
render such investigations useless. The influence of excessive
indulgence, in producing such a disease, is very great. A short time
since, we were called to a lady, who had a slight syphilitic ulceration
of the neck of the uterus. She, however, still admitted the embraces
of her husband, although they were painful, and were followed by a
discharge of blood. The parenchyma of the neck, around the ulceration,
was gradually engorged: it became schirrous, then cancerous, and
the patient finally died. Probably, coition had great influence in
developing this disease. Such a thing might happen frequently; for
Ricord has shown, that superficial ulcerations of the neck of the
uterus are frequent. The cancers which affect these parts, in public
women, are, probably, often produced in this manner.

In the lady whose case has been mentioned, the act of coition produced
a discharge of blood from the vulva. We have seen cases of a similar
character, where the neck of the uterus presented no evidence of
organic alteration to the touch. Females in whom this occurs should,
however, be very careful in their pleasures, as this slight accident
indicates a bad state of the system, and one which should be
mistrusted. Sometimes, blood appears on return of coition, when females
have not indulged for a long time. Rondelon cites an instance of this.
It occurred in a lady from whom her husband had been absent for three
years: at the end of this period, he returned. The frequency of coition
the first night caused excessive uterine hemorrhage. A similar accident
may result from this act, and a fortiori from its abuse, during or
just before the menstrual period. Very serious hemorrhages have often
occurred in consequence of excessive copulations. Tissot states--In
1746, a girl, twenty-three years old, submitted to the embraces of six
Spanish dragoons, at a house near the gates of Montpelier. She died
the next day, from excessive hemorrhage of the uterus. A similar case
has been related by Virey. We know (said he) that a public woman, who
submitted in one night to twenty-one soldiers, the next day died, with
hemorrhage of the uterus. This was a dark, thin woman, in the flower
of her age. (_Dict. des Sc. Med._, vol. xiv., p. 339.) Onanism causes
in young women, and even in children, a discharge of blood from the
vulva. This fact was mentioned by Duges. The blood lost is then never
abundant, and the occurrence is by no means serious.

The irritation produced or kept up by too frequent coition, is very
often the cause of sterility. Even as, generally speaking, an inflamed
surface refuses to absorb substances applied to it, so irritation of
the uterus and vagina renders them unfit for impregnation. Thus, then,
libertinism, instead of adding, as we might think, to the chances of
fecundation, acts in a contrary manner. Marc remarks, that two hundred
public girls do not produce more than two or three children annually.
Farther: it seems well ascertained, that if these girls resume a
regular life, they again become fruitful. The English, wishing to
people Botany Bay, transported there a large number of public women.
Those who were sterile in their own country proved fruitful, when
subjected to the rigid laws of marriage. Is it not notorious, too, that
among the public girls, those who bear children are not those most
frequently liable to become mothers? De Chanes, physician at Macon, has
established, by statistical researches, that but few conceptions take
place in the early months of marriage--that is, when the congress of
the sexes is most frequent, and causes the most irritation. Villermé
has ascertained the same to be true in the early days, and even the
early weeks, after marriage. Hence, this learned physician regards
the fecundity of copulations as being inversely as their frequency.
It may, then, be stated as a fact, that females may become barren, in
consequence of venereal abuses.

These abuses are not only injurious, as opposing reproduction, but
they also injure, by causing a deterioration of the human family.
Marc asserts, that the few children born of prostitutes rarely have
the strength and health of those born in lawful wedlock; and that the
mortality of the former is fifty per cent greater than of the latter.
Too early marriages are attended with results similar to those arising
from libertinism. Aristotle mentioned this fact. Delafontaine, first
surgeon of the last king of Poland, attributes the extreme physical
debility of the Polish Jews to these premature marriages. Marc
says--It is proved, that the physical strength of the child depends,
in the main, on the mother, rather than on the father; and this is
confirmed, too, by referring to domestic animals. The height of the
pony depends on the mare, rather than on the stallion. Mules, too,
furnish a striking proof of this. The eggs of pullets, whatever may be
the size of the cock, are much smaller than those of hens. Farther: it
is well known, that females who become mothers before attaining their
strength, generally give birth to small children, which are raised with

We have seen in a former page, that men had recourse to artificial
means to procure a semblance of coition. Accidents of a similar
character have happened to girls; and they have been obliged to call
in surgeons to their assistance. There are numerous instances, where
foreign bodies have been introduced into the vagina, and particularly
into the urethra, and could not be withdrawn. We shall mention some
of them. Pamard has reported that of a girl, thirty-one years old,
who used an ivory whistle, three inches and a half long, and five
lines round in its centre. This she introduced, not into the vagina,
but into the urethra. One day, it entered so far, that she could not
remove it. After many efforts, it was withdrawn, with polypus forceps.
Another girl, seventeen years old, was less fortunate. She was in the
habit of introducing a large piece of wood into the urethra. This
instrument having entered very deeply, fell into the bladder. Faure
was called, and was obliged to cut for it, to extract it. Rigal was
obliged to do the same, to relieve a young girl, twenty years old, who
used a wooden needle-case in masturbating. Needles and pins have often
escaped into these passages. Morgagni asserts that it is by no means
unfrequent in Italy for the lascivious girls to introduce into the
urethra the golden pins worn in their hair, and that they sometimes
fall into the bladder. This they conceal for a long time; but they
are finally obliged, through pain, to confess their fault. Moinichien
mentions a Venetian girl, whom Molinetti relieved of a golden needle,
which had slipped from the hand into this organ. In 1751, Lachese,
(according to Morand’s report,) was called to a girl twenty years old,
who had introduced into the urethra a toothpick, which she had lost;
and after two months, it was extracted. A happy circumstance favored
Lamotte in a similar case. An old maid had introduced into the bladder
a very large pin. Having sounded several times very patiently and
attentively, Lamotte finally felt the pin distinctly. He sounded for
the fourth time, when, by accident, it became engaged in the sound.
Wishing to withdraw it, and finding some resistance, he introduced his
finger into the vagina, and ascertained whence it proceeded. By skilful
manipulation, he now succeeded in withdrawing it. These symptoms
usually happen only in those who are imprudent, and who introduce
into the urethra an instrument designed for an adjacent passage. The
vagina is so short and large, that foreign bodies seldom remain in
it. For such a thing to take place, certain conditions are requisite,
which are not very common. This, however, is possible; and many cases
of it are recorded. The following is mentioned by Dupuytren. A female
consulted him for some derangement in the vulvo-uterine passage. On
examination, a foreign body was felt, the nature of which could not at
first be determined. The patient refused to give any information on the
subject: by examining, however, it was found that the body presented a
large opening or deep cavity. The tumefied walls of the vagina covering
the edges of the kind of vessel, prevented its disengagement. After
much effort, however, the body was removed; and it proved to be a
pomatum-pot, which had been introduced by its base. (_Additions à la
Med. Operat., de Sabatier_; vol. iv., p. 96.)



There are two indications, which embrace every thing relating to
venereal excesses. The first is, to prevent the bad effects; the
second, to remedy them. To _preserve_, to _recruit_, is what these
excesses require. Hence, some of the remedial measures must be
hygienic, and others therapeutic. To these, we shall devote two
chapters of this second part.



The preservative rules which relate to venereal excesses present
fundamental differences, as to the success and facility of their
application, according as reference is made to the act of masturbation
or coition. Let us point out these differences.

Coition is an act, the mode and purport of which, considered in a
scientific point of view, are legitimate; and which, consequently,
is lawful, so long as the constitution and health are unimpaired.
Hence, it should not be prohibited, except when abused--that is,
when indulged in too often, or under circumstances which render it
injurious. Except in these cases, it may be permitted, or even advised.
When it is forbidden, the advice is generally understood, as it is
commonly addressed to adults, children having neither the power nor
the opportunity to indulge in coition. This advice may be easily
followed, as the individual who indulges in coition to excess, may
find it absolutely impossible to indulge: in fact, means to satisfy
his taste can only be found by the concurrence of another. Hence, it
is only necessary to shun this concurrence, to render this kind of
excess impossible. To address one’s self to the reason of an adult--or,
rather, of a young man--and to create for him, if he cannot create
for himself, obstacles to sexual relations, these are the only two
preservative indications which abuses of coition require. We have
discharged the first, or have stated the mode of fulfilling it, by
mentioning the bad consequences attending these abuses, and by making
known the circumstances which render the act of venery injurious to
those addicted to it. Hence, we shall not return to the subject. The
second indication can find no place in a book, and consequently will
not detain us. Our remedies, then, as to preservation, will apply
exclusively to onanism. In a subsequent page, when we are treating of
the restorative remedies, the distinction here laid down between this
habit and coition will disappear; and we can then treat of all venereal
excesses conjointly.

Although coition, if confined within certain limits, and under certain
circumstances, may not be forbidden, this is not the case with
masturbation. This latter indulgence has nothing legitimate in it;
and nothing respectable--nothing which can palliate the veto of the
physician. We are aware that onanism is not always necessarily followed
by any inconvenience or danger; but, practically, this distinction
disappears. But onanism, without regard to the mode, its frequence, or
the individuals or circumstances under which it occurs, may always be
considered an abuse, and, consequently, be earnestly proscribed.

This view of the subject rests on two facts: one is fundamental,
and applies to all individuals, without distinction of age, sex,
or constitution; the other relates only to those who are addicted
to onanism, before they are perfectly formed and constituted. The
first of these motives is founded on this, that when this practice
is not actually bad, it may constantly be suspected of becoming so.
When onanism once commences, it is difficult to say how far it will
extend. The taste for it, and the facility of indulging in it at night,
and often in the day, cause this habit to be in a measure indulged
in without limits. It becomes so soon imperious, and the despotism
it exercises is so absolute, that we ought always to attempt its
prevention. It should be regarded as a scourge, and be treated as
such, without waiting for the bad effects which may result from it.
This course is still more necessary, when children, young patients,
and individuals who have not attained their growth, are interested.
When maturity arrives, the evil is possible; before it happens, it
is probable, and often certain. Farther: our remarks on precocious
enjoyments prevent our recurring to the subject.

Before speaking of the preservative means, a question presents itself.
How can it be told when these means may be used? or, in other words,
what are the signs which indicate that an individual is an onanist, or
may become so? The suspicion may extend very far: in fact, every age is
exposed to it, as onanism is possible from early life to old age: it,
however, belongs to the age before puberty. A great many young girls
and boys masturbate: hence, this maybe suspected of every one. This
habit is less frequent, but it is far from being rare. The precautions
to prevent onanism, and constant vigilance, should then be exercised
constantly towards children and young people--in fact, towards all who
are not of mature age. This rule is an important one; and cannot be
neglected, without exposing one to danger and to deep regrets.

It would be desirable to ascertain the existence of onanism before its
effects appear; but this is seldom the case. There is in children a
kind of instinct which leads them to conceal this manœuvre, although
they have not learned that it is an illicit act. The art with which
they elude vigilance is often inconceivable. Watch where the child
goes. Have an eye to him who seeks solitude--who remains a long time
alone, and who cannot give a good account of himself. Be watchful
about the periods of lying down and of rising. At this time, the
onanist may be detected in the act. His hands are never out of bed,
and his face is often hidden under the bed-clothes. Soon after lying
down, he appears sound asleep: this circumstance, which always causes
distrust in the experienced man, is one of those which contribute the
most to inspire the parents with a feeling of security. The affectation
of sleep in the young person may serve to detect him. When approached,
he is frequently found red, and covered with sweat, although neither
the temperature of the chamber, the weight of bed-clothes, nor any
other cause, can explain this state: at the same time, the respiration
is more hurried, the pulse is fuller, harder, and more frequent; the
veins are larger, and the heat is greater, than usual; in fine, there
is that kind of fever, of general turgescence, which usually attends
the act of venery.

When the young person is disturbed suddenly, his hands, if he has not
had time to remove them, will be found on or near the genital organs.
The penis, also, may be found in a state of erection; or you may even
find marks of recent pollution, which might be known by the peculiar
odor arising from the semen, and which comes from the soiled fingers.
Have an eye to those young persons, whose hands, when in bed, or during
sleep, are in the position described: they are onanists, or will
become so. The same is true in those who frequently have erections
of the penis. This erection, and this attitude, are certainly not
positive signs of onanism; but they are the probable, or precursory
signs of it: they should not, then, be neglected. The stains of semen,
on the bed-clothes or dress, may also increase suspicion. When the
patients are very young, they are not very evident, the fluid which
they emit not having the characters of real semen: the traces which
it leaves, however, are too remarkable, not to cause suspicion as to
their origin. In those who have attained the age of puberty, there
would be nothing equivocal: the only question then would be, that they
might be produced by involuntary pollution. On this topic, we would
remark, that this pollution seldom occurs before the age of fifteen or
sixteen years, and is seldom frequent before twenty. When involuntary
discharges of semen are frequent in young persons, you may be assured
that they are the indirect results of onanism: hence, there is reason
to regard stains of semen as positive proofs of onanism, when the
patients have not attained the age of puberty; and as more probable
signs of this habit, when older, if these stains be frequent.

A loss of color, or an earthy tint of the countenance--a violet
appearance of the eyelids--a languid expression of face--an air
of fatigue and _nonchalance_, when the patient rises from bed--a
difficulty in getting up--are all signs which may lead to the discovery
of this pernicious habit. Here we might trace the physical state
produced by onanism, if this had not already been done. Unfortunately,
it is consumption which sounds the alarm; and this disease must be
advanced, too, before the parents seek the cause. Sometimes, the true
cause is overlooked, and all remedies are directed to an imaginary one.
We will admit, however, that it is not always easy to refer the wasting
caused by masturbation to its real origin. A young man, although not
addicted to onanism, may lose his strength, grow thin, and present,
both morally and physically, the characters belonging to this habit:
this effect is often produced by intestinal worms, by dentition,
puberty, by a too rapid growth of the body, &c.; and likewise by some
chronic diseases of the stomach, intestines, liver, lungs, heart, &c.
Hence, we should not be too quick to attribute to masturbation a state
which may be produced by other causes. The practitioner who would
pronounce too precipitately that a patient indulged in onanism, would
commit an error which might be serious in more than one respect.

When a young patient presents signs of consumption, there is cause
to suspect that onanism is the cause of it; and modes may be used to
ascertain whether this be the case. Sometimes, the patient is watched,
as has already been stated. Sometimes, we attempt to discover if
any other cause has produced consumption; and when this cause is not
found, the existence of onanism is supposed. The patient, for instance,
presents all the symptoms of exhaustion, and these increase. We inquire
if this state may not result from a want of nourishment, or from
improper food--from hard work--from long watching--from melancholy,
&c.; if it may not be caused by a disease about which the patient is
silent, or by one of those maladies which produce effects similar to
those of masturbation. Now, if the gradual sinkings of the patient
cannot be explained by any of these causes; if he is weak, pale, thin,
&c.; if, notwithstanding abundant and nutritious diet, a moderate
degree of labor, the absence of all chagrin, &c.; if he presents no
sign of disease--or, rather, if the first symptoms of diseases which
he would present are not manifested until after the appearance of
those of consumption; farther, if these diseases are too slight to
have caused this state; if they cannot explain the numerous and varied
symptoms observed, and particularly the countenance, the character of
which is so significant, that it alone often reveals onanism: then we
may consider, if not as certain, at least as very probable, that the
patient is a victim to this habit, and we must act accordingly.

But, of all the proofs, it is most important to obtain an avowal of
the habit from the patient. First, it removes all doubt; then it
renders the action of the physician more frank, and consequently more
efficacious. He is no longer fearful of wounding his feelings--of
compromising his character, by showing a wrongly founded suspicion;
of awaking the attention of the young patient to a subject of which
he was ignorant, or of teaching it to him. Advice, remonstrances,
punishments, and all the moral remedies, are now easily applicable; and
if therapeutic or coercive measures are called for, the patient can no
longer deny their utility, and reject their use. Finally, an avowal
places the physician, parents, instructors--in short, all who have
authority over the patient--in a position to proceed directly to their
aim, and thereby attain it.

An avowal never takes place spontaneously: to obtain it is difficult.
With males, one need not be so particular; but we must be careful with
females. On this topic, no positive advice can be given: much must
be left to the _tact_ of the practitioner. We will only add, that we
have more than once simply given advice; and we could see, from the
manner in which it was received, that our conjectures were right. The
physician, however, should always attempt to acquire the confidence
of the onanist, to place him at his ease. They have no frankness when
a person is stern, or when a moral lecture is expected. The physician
should confine himself to his profession. In his eye, onanism should
be regarded as a cause of disease--as a cause similar to an excess
of labor, bad regimen--in fact, like any influence which might prove
injurious to the health. If he should moralize, he would probably be
debarred from that confidence which would enable him to give advice,
and prescribe the resources of the art.

Masturbation is often overlooked, because it is thought that the hand
is a necessary agent in producing it: this is far from being the
case; as it may be indulged in, by both sexes, without the aid of the
hands. When this is suspected, it is soon discovered, by the manners,
face, and silence of the onanist: there is something unusual in the
appearance of the patient, which is readily observed; and generally,
also, the thighs are crossed, or, at least, are pressed closely

To prevent the development of the habit, and, when it is developed,
to arrest it, are the two indications prescribed by hygeia. These two
indications may be embraced in one--that of _preventing_ the occurrence
of onanism. If, for instance, you have before you the case of two
individuals, one of whom is not addicted to onanism, while the other
may be, you should _prevent_ one from continuing, and the other from
commencing it. In the two cases, the means used have the same tendency;
only when you wish to prevent the habit commenced, you have need of
more efforts than in the first case, where it does not exist. These
means are, then, preventive--essentially preventive; for, whatever may
be their mode of action, they all tend to prevent the act. Although
the prevention of onanism, and the arrest of the habit, are apparently
different, yet we shall state the mode of attaining this double result,
to avoid repetitions.

In masturbation, we must consider three things--the desire, the will,
and the power. Onanism is not possible, where these three conditions
do not exist: there is no wish without desire; and the latter is often
completely mastered by the former, and both present no result, if there
be no possibility of indulging. Hence, to prevent masturbation, and to
arrest it, the desire, the wish, the power to indulge, must not exist.
These are, as it has been seen, three distinct indications. It is
sufficient to attain one of them. It is easily seen, that by appeasing
the desire, the will is aided; and the obstacles opposed would be more
efficacious, the less vivid the desire, and the weaker the will. It is,
therefore, sufficiently understood, that the three indications we have
mentioned, although very distinct, require each of them special means,
the attainment of one of which renders that of the others useless,
while they all can and may be pursued conjointly.


The desire of masturbation is very distinct from venereal desires,
which may be felt without experiencing the other. This desire is
special: it is that of onanism, and no other. The influences, also--the
result of which is more or less proximate, and which is to excite the
genital sense--are only the _indirect_ and _predisposing_ causes of
onanism. The direct and efficient causes are those which lead to the
indulgence of it, and the preferring of it to coition. Consequently,
two indications relate to the desire of masturbation: one consists in
preventing the exaltation of the venereal sense, or in appeasing it;
and the second, in preventing or destroying the special causes of
the desire of onanism. We proceed to study these two indications in

1. _Rules relative to the general or indirect causes of onanism._--The
genital sense, and, consequently, the venereal desires, may be felt too
vividly and too early, in consequence of different circumstances, which
may be divided into two groups. Some belong to the human body, and
consist in certain innate acquired arrangements of the organization,
in consequence of which the venereal sense presents more or less
susceptibility. Others consist in different influences, as education,
food, climate, kind of life, &c.; which may act on the sensibility in
general, and particularly on that of the genital system. We will begin
with the rules connected with the former.

_Of the innate or acquired causes of venereal excitement, and of the
rules of preservation connected with them._--Some individuals seem, as
it were, marked by their organization, to become victims of venereal
excesses. In them, the genital sense is excited, and exercises great
power, long before the usual period of its manifestation. In others,
on the contrary, this sense is not excited until late: in fact, it is
so slight, that even this excitement may be doubted. In the present
state of the science, these differences can by no means be accounted
for. In many cases, however the great development of certain organs,
the increase of their vitality or their diseased state exercise
considerable influence on the strength and precocity of the venereal

Gall, and the phrenologists of his school, place amativeness in the
cerebellum. They consider this organ as the legislator of the sexual
parts, the seat of physical love; and assert that the differences in
the mass and vitality of this portion of the brain, correspond exactly
to the differences of the intensity of the genital desires. We will
proceed to mention the different facts on which these physiologists
formed their opinion.

Comparative anatomy furnishes them with no argument worthy of mention:
in fine, facts contradictory to Gall’s opinion may be derived from
numerous classes of animals who have been deprived of their cerebellum,
and yet have exercised the act of reproduction. This opinion applies
only to man, and the mammalia resembling him. The relation between
the development of the cerebellum and that of the genital organs, has
furnished a more plausible reason: it has been adduced as an argument,
that, in the encephalon, the fibres of the cerebellum are the last to
appear distinctly; and this organ is not perfect, till from the age of
eighteen to twenty-six years. A remark of Sœmmering, also, has been
adduced, to show that the cerebellum, at the period of puberty, is to
the cerebrum as one to five, while in infancy it is only as one to

We have already seen that the genital sense is more powerful in males
than in females. But it is said positively, that the cerebellum is
commonly smaller in females than in males.

Phrenologists have also sought to establish a reciprocity of action
between the genital organs and the cerebellum, by means of the results
of castration, and also the influence which the development of the
cerebellum may have on the testicles. Castration, (say they,) while it
opposes the development of the sense of venery, prevents the cerebellum
from gaining the size it would otherwise have attained. Observe, too,
how much broader the neck in the bull is, than in the ox. They have
also advanced, that if castration occurs only at a period when the
cerebellum acquires its development, the genital sense may survive this
operation; that, in some cases, it may reduce this organ to a state
approximating atrophy; that the removal of one testicle from an animal,
whatever may be its species, may produce atrophy, or some alteration
in the lobe of the cerebellum, on the side opposite to the testicle
removed. They have added, that the alteration of the cerebellum had
caused a wasting of the testicles; and that, in the cases where one
of the lobes only was disorganized, the testicle of the opposite side
was alone affected. According to Gall and his disciples, the size of
the cerebellum is discerned externally by the size and breadth of
the nucha. They remark, that this part of the skull is generally more
convex in males than in females--in entire animals, than in those
who have been castrated--in early life, and in those individuals who
are distinguished for their salacity, more than in those who are not
susceptible to the pleasures of love. Larrey pointed out to Gall a
soldier, whose antipathy to females amounted to mania: the sight of a
female caused in him violent convulsions, and almost fury. Spurzheim
saw a similar instance in England. Now, in both of these individuals,
the cerebellum was but slightly developed. The portraits of Newton,
Charles XII., and Kant, according to Gall, by the narrowness of the
neck, show that the organ of which we were speaking was but slightly
developed in these great men, who history states had but little relish
for venereal pleasures. Dispositions diametrically opposite, on the
contrary, co-exist with an enlarged volume of the brain. The following
is related by Gall:--

“A highly intellectual lady was affected from infancy with very
passionate desires; and her careful education alone saved her from
those excesses to which she was exposed by her violent temperament.
When arrived at a more advanced age, she was left to herself. She
attempted every mode to satisfy her burning passions; but enjoyment
seemed only to irritate her. She was frequently almost in a state of
mania. In despair, she left her house, quitted the city, and took
refuge with her mother, in a desolate country, where the want of
exciting objects, and the utmost severity, and the cares of gardening,
prevented the evil. After a time, she returned again to a large city,
was again threatened with relapse, and took refuge a second time with
her mother. On returning, she came to see me at Paris, and complained
to me in great despair. ‘On every side, I see images of luxury--in
every place--at table, and even in my sleep, the demon pursues me. I
shall either be mad, or die.’

“I told her briefly the natural history of the instinct of propagation.
I called her attention to the form of her neck. Although her head was
very large, yet the diameter of the nucha exceeded the distance from
ear to ear. She formed an idea of the cause of her state. I advised her
to visit her mother again; to vary her occupations, so as to diminish
the activity of her cerebellum; to apply leeches to the nucha, to
diminish the irritation of this organ; to avoid all stimulating meats
and drinks, &c. &c.

“I have seen at Paris,” says the same author, “a boy, five years old,
who seemed sixteen, in respect to his corporeal strength. His genital
organs were perfectly developed; his beard was strong; his voice was
rough and hoarse: in short, he presented all the signs of virility.”

Dr. Gall was struck, also, with the development of the cerebellum in a
boy ten years old, who had been detained in a house of correction at
Leipzick, for having violated a young girl. He had also seen at Paris
a young mulatto, less than three years old, who was remarkable in the
same respect. He made advances, not only to young girls, but to women,
and urged them to consent to his desires. His sexual organs, with the
exception of long-continued erections, exhibited nothing remarkable.
As he was surrounded by girls who indulged him, he died of consumption
before he was five years old. His cerebellum was unusually developed;
the rest of the head was of the common size. Gall has related other
instances of the kind.

A case published by Dr. Chauffard, of Avignon, deserves to be stated
here. This physician accompanied the prefect in 1823, in his tour to
the departments, to examine those young men who wished to be discharged
from military service. A stout farmer, with coarse beard and hair, and
disagreeable odor, was undressed, being, as it was said, affected with
a disease which he dared not name. It was at the close of December; the
season was cold, and the room very chilly. No sooner was he undressed,
than the penis began to swell. He was confused--he blushed--he turned
his back to the assistants. He could not avoid the priapism; nor,
finally, an emission of semen, which took place without a sensible
diminution in the size of this organ. This man was ignorant and stupid,
but he answered questions correctly. He said he was always tormented
by continual erections, often followed by seminal emissions. He even
admitted that he was accustomed to solicit them. His neck was short;
broad, and thick; the posterior portion of the occipital bone presented
a very marked slope: finally, the cerebellar portion of the cranium
was very prominent, and much developed. This man was reformed. (_Jour.
univ. des Sc. Med._, December, 1828.) We have also observed a very
remarkable development of the posterior part of the skull, in a boy
eight years old, who was addicted to masturbation for several years,
and whose penis was almost constantly in a state of erection. This
prominence so elongated the antero posterior diameter of the cranium,
that the mother found it difficult to fit caps to his head.

One of Gall’s most distinguished pupils, Dr. Voisin, has tested
phrenology, in a visit recently made to the convict galley, at Toulon.
Renaud, the Director, informed of the scientific purpose of the
visit of this physician, allowed him to examine the cerebral organs
of 350 thieves, forgers, or homicides; among whom he had designedly
distributed 22 other convicts, condemned for rape, requesting M. Voisin
to discover them from this number, by examining the posterior part of
the head. This gentleman picked out 22, 13 of whom only were condemned
for violence. Thus, then, he had selected nine who were not guilty of
this crime; and, on the contrary, had allowed to escape him nine who
had been committed. Now, the nine wrongly selected were libertines,
whom the Director admitted required to be constantly watched; and
the nine, on the contrary, whom he had not detected, were guilty
by accident, or when intoxicated: with them, libertinism was only
accidental, and not organic.

A few experimental proofs have been invoked, in support of Gall’s
opinions of the cerebellum. We will cite a remark made by Serres, as
to those bulls killed by striking them on the back of the neck. “The
penis, in those where the cerebellum was injured, oscillated very
evidently during the experiment.” The same gentleman observed a very
marked erection in a young horse, who was killed by plunging a knife
into the cerebellum. Segalas has produced the same effect in Guinea
pigs, by pushing a stylet into this organ.

The principal proofs, however, have been drawn from the action of the
diseased cerebellum on the genital apparatus. Thus, the erection of
the penis in those who die by hanging, has been attributed, by Gall,
to the affection of the cerebellum in this kind of death. Cruvelhier
has contested this explanation. He thinks it may be explained by the
stasis of the venous blood. “Respiration,” says he, “is retarded, in
consequence of the medulla oblongata; and hence results a semi-asphyxic
state, favorable to erection. In hanging, there may be an affection of
the cervical part of the medulla; and priapism has been observed more
than once in lesions of this part.” Phrenologists have also shown, that
this symptom often follows the application of a blister or seton to the
neck. Another fact, to show the connection of the cerebellum with the
genital apparatus, is that of a soldier, whose generative powers had
disappeared, after the fleshy scalp of the occiput had been removed
by the blow of a sabre. We doubt whether similar cases to this, which
was observed by Larry, have often occurred; although Dr. Bischoff has
advanced, that wounds of the back of the head, and blows on this part,
have often been followed by inflammation of the genitals.

Peculiar excitement of these organs has more than once attended a
disease of the cerebellum. We have already mentioned this fact; and
the cases stated were selected as those where the affection of the
cerebellum might be considered as produced by venereal excesses. In
those now to be mentioned, the genital excitement is, or seems to be,
the consequence of this affection.

Erection of the penis, with or without pollutions, has several
times been noticed as a symptom of apoplexy of the cerebellum. This
phenomenon may have been observed in some cases of this affection
which we have cited. Serres was the first one to call attention to
this phenomenon, in his Memoir on Apoplexy of the Cerebellum, inserted
in the Journal of Experimental Physiology; the principal facts of which
have been adduced in his work on the comparative anatomy of the brain.
One fact is, that of a man, forty-six years old, who died with violent
apoplexy of the cerebellum, during which satyriasis and ejaculation
appeared, with swelling of all the genital organs. Similar cases,
which it is unnecessary to state here, might be added. One of them was
observed by Falret. “The priapism was presented to my observation with
a very remarkable circumstance. The patient had been affected with
apoplexy, and presented a complete paralysis of the left side of the
body. Different nervous symptoms indicated that there was also great
irritation of the encephalon or its membranes. This man, although
half frantic, made amorous proposals to the female who attended him,
and presented a semi-erection of the penis: this part, instead of
being straight, presented a concavity, which looked towards the side
not paralyzed. I regret that I could not examine the cadaver of this
individual. The affection of the genital organs, in apoplexies of the
cerebellum, might probably have been noticed in many cases, if it had
been sought after.” It has not been noted, in any of the cases analyzed
by Andral. Cruvelhier, also, has never noticed priapism, in a case of
apoplexy of the cerebellum which he has seen; but he adds, that he
would not dare to say that it has never existed--at least, temporarily.
In fact, it may easily escape observation.

Hydrocephalic patients often show a great passion for venereal
indulgences. Gall, in noticing this remark, observes, that of all
the parts of the encephalon, this is the least changed in these
individuals. Chauffard has seen a hydrocephalic patient, fourteen
to fifteen years old, with an enormous head, who was addicted to
masturbation, and spoke of the pleasures he derived from it.

An acute or chronic irritation of the cerebellum, or of its envelopes,
may cause venereal symptoms more than the alterations just mentioned.
In a cadaver, brought from the hospital Bicetre to the amphitheatre,
where the penis and testes were considerably swelled, the whole of the
cerebellum was inflamed. One of the most interesting facts of this
kind was reported by Chauffard. It was that of a man, fifty-three
years old, of pleasant manners and mild character, who, in falling,
struck his head against the bed-post. The inferior occipital region
became inflamed; and subsequently, the habits of the patient were much
changed: he became affected with satyriasis, and was so salacious,
that he persecuted his wife and daughter, and all the females around
him. This man, hitherto pious and modest, gradually became affected
with the most violent erotic delirium, and finally committed the most
indecent acts. During the next three months, this state increased;
but, at the same time, his strength and intelligence failed. Finally,
one day, after a violent fit of anger, occasioned by the refusal of
his wife to listen to him, he became convulsed. The pain left the back
part of the head, and affected the top of it. The left side of the
body now began to be paralyzed; and the satyriasis was replaced by
religious delirium, with constant mumbling of prayers. The patient died
eight days afterward. According to Chauffard, at first, there was an
affection of the cerebellum. When the state of the patient was changed,
the organ of veneration was affected: this organ corresponds to the
central posterior and superior part of the frontal bone, where the
patient finally felt severe pain.

Was not the cerebellum, also, affected, in the following case reported
by Sainte Marie:--“A merchant of Lyons, an educated and honorable man,
seemed to be cured of an inveterate venereal affection, for which
he had undergone a course of treatment with mercury. He, however,
complained of restlessness, heat in the throat, _pains in the occiput
and nucha_, and frequent erections. In 1812, after domestic troubles,
he became affected with furious delirium. This state lasted three days,
and terminated in priapism; during which, the patient had fourteen
emissions in a few hours. This singular crisis resulted in a perfect
calm: extreme debility, however, remained, which soon yielded to
tonics and analeptics. Two years and a half afterward, this disease
reappeared, under the influence of these same causes, and with similar
symptoms. The termination was the same. There was a slight return of
it after two years; but, this time, the patient escaped with slight
erections, without much loss of semen.”

Facts of a similar character have induced several authors to attribute
satyriasis and nymphomania exclusively to an innate or accidental
state of the cerebellum. “The material condition of satyriasis,” says
Voisin, “resides in the encephalon; and in all cases, the deranged
manifestation of it depends on the nature and preponderating power of
the cerebellum, or on those moral and intellectual causes which have
favored the development of this organ--or, rather, on the external
circumstances which at the moment of disease have brought it violently
into action.” On the other hand, the localization of physical love in
the cerebellum has been violently contested by excellent observers,
particularly by Flourens and Bouillaud, who consider as the special
function of this organ its presidence over locomotion. Bouillaud,
particularly, has attempted to establish, by analyzing the observations
of Gall and Serres, that they are not so conclusive as these authors
asserted, and that they may be interpreted differently. Chauffard
thinks that Gall has gone too far, and that his remark, that physical
love and erections should not be attributed to the presence of the
semen and the irritation which it causes, should be qualified by using
the term _exclusively_. We also think, that, thus altered, Gall’s
remark would be more just. The cerebellum has certainly a powerful
action on salacity; but we shall see that each part of the genital
apparatus exercises one equally great; and that, consequently, the
organic principle of the state of rutting, and of venereal excesses,
cannot be sought for solely in the encephalon.

In consequence of Gall’s opinions, many authors, among whom we will
mention Chauffard, Voisin, and Londe, have thought it necessary, in
order to subdue too great a degree of amativeness, to make applications
directly to the cerebellum. Some attempts have seemed to justify
this view of the subject. Sainte Marie says, that a physician of
Lyons has cured inveterate nocturnal pollutions, by applying ice to
the occiput and nucha before going to bed. A man, thirty years old,
had three or four seminal emissions every night, which Lallemand had
tried in vain to cure, by cauterizing the ejaculatory canals. Gensoult
applied leeches and ice to the nucha: the pollutions were arrested,
as if by magic. Serres, who reports this case, adds, that, since the
publication of his memoir on cerebellar apoplexy, he has seen two cases
of apoplexy, where erections appeared during the paroxysms. Both were
cured by applying leeches and emollient cataplasms to the nucha. Might
not narcotics be applied, endermically, near the cerebellum, to subdue
the onanistic satyriasis? Might not belladonna, opium, &c., introduced
in this manner, be used with advantage? Might not, also, the hair of
the head be kept short, especially behind, and rest on a pillow of
hair, instead of feathers? Setons and blisters, also, should be applied
to the neck, in onanists, only with the utmost care; and they should
be removed as soon as they are considered indispensable. Besides the
irritation caused near the cerebellum, the influence of the cantharides
is to be guarded against.

We have already stated, that there is a reciprocity of action between
different organs: if there be one which exercises a marked influence
on the other, the latter will in turn affect the former. This may be
proved by the cerebellum, which sometimes becomes diseased after abuses
of the genital organs, and sometimes communicates to these organs the
over-excitement which is accidentally seated in it: the spinal marrow,
also, confirms the fact.

Willis, who, before Gall, had sought to localize in the nervous centres
the faculty of reproduction, had designated the spinal marrow as the
organ of this faculty. Numerous observations, and many experiments,
have lately given some credit to this opinion. Segalas, who produced
erections of the penis in Guinea pigs, by introducing a stylet into
the cerebellum, caused ejaculations by pushing this instrument into
the spinal column, near the lumbar region. Serres repeated this last
experiment, and the result was similar: he therefore concluded that the
lower part of the spinal marrow acts on the secretory and excreting
seminal apparatus, as the cerebellum acts on the genital sense. We
shall see, also, that this opinion is too positive, as the lesions of
the medulla exert a marked action on erection of the penis and the
venereal sense, besides the influence on the ejaculation attributed to
it by Serres.

A case, reported by Lenhossek, seems to establish, that compression and
atrophy of the spinal marrow may oppose the development of the genital
organs. This patient was twenty-four years old: he was thin, wasted,
and his height was that of an individual twelve years of age. Neither
his face nor genital system presented the characters of puberty. This
individual died suddenly; and it was found, that in consequence of a
malformation of the first and second cervical vertebræ, the diameter of
the occipital foramen was contracted one half. The medulla oblongata
had been compressed in this part, and its development was impeded.
Might not the singular disease, observed by Larrey in Egypt, and
afterward in Paris, be referred to an affection of the spinal marrow?
Here the testicles gradually wasted; the patient lost the power of
feeling venereal sensations, and also that of erections; the lower
extremities shrunk away, and tottered; the face was discolored; the
digestive powers and intellectual faculties were deranged. Does not
this coincidence, of a considerable weakening of the lower extremities
and the wasting of the testicles, indicate that this latter has been
the consequence of an affection of the spinal marrow?

Dupuytren long since established the fact, that priapism was caused
by a lesion of this organ. Numerous instances of this are found in
Olivier’s work on the spinal marrow: they prove, that every part of
the medulla, but particularly the cervical portion, when injured, may
cause an erection of the penis. Potain, Renauldin, and Hedelhofer, have
stated similar facts. This last author saw a man who fell upon his
sacrum, and instantly had an emission. Professor Fages was in the habit
of mentioning the following case in his lectures:--“An aid-de-camp of
General Dumourier was affected with complete paralysis of the lower
extremities, in consequence of a fall from his horse. This paralysis
was attended with a great degree of priapism, which encumbered him
very much, and caused retentions of urine, which were treated by the
most active refrigerants. Going through Montpelier, on his way to
Balaruc, he rested several days at the military hospital, where it
became expedient to sound him. In order to do this, it was necessary
to uncover the whole body, to expose it for some time to the cold air,
and to apply to it cold water; and, even then, the sound had to be used
promptly, otherwise erections would soon have supervened, merely by
touching the penis, and by the presence of the sound in the urethra.
The baths of Balaruc almost cured the paralysis; and as motion returned
to the lower extremities, the priapism disappeared.”

Do not these facts show that the spinal marrow has a marked influence
on the genital organs. We have already mentioned the opinion of Sainte
Marie, who regards involuntary pollutions as sometimes the cause and
sometimes the result of affections of the spinal marrow. May not an
original or accidental state of this organ be, in some subjects,
the indirect cause of venereal excesses? Remark the influence of a
recumbent position, in producing voluptuous dreams and emissions of
semen. Does not this singular effect depend on the heat of the spinal
marrow caused by this position? This is possible, particularly if you
consider the advantages derived in involuntary pollution, priapism,
and satyriasis, from douches of cold water along the vertebral
column, particularly on the lumbar and sacral regions, and also from
the application of ice to these parts. Sainte Marie has sometimes
arrested the spasm of the genital organs by frictions on the sacrum
with bladders full of ice. We think, then, there are cases where these
remedies may be used successfully to combat the habit of masturbation.
Narcotic frictions and endermic applications may be made along the
vertebral column, as we have said, when speaking of the cerebellum. In
vigorous patients, leeches and cups may be applied to the loins. We
will not allude here to the remedy recommended by many old authors, of
a sheet of lead to the kidneys, for this cannot produce the refrigerant
effect expected from it.

The organic conditions of venereal desire are confined neither to the
cerebellum nor spinal marrow: they may exist, also, in all parts of the
genital system, as we shall demonstrate.

A considerable part of this system is formed of a tissue termed the
_erectile_, on account of its power of swelling, hardening, and
becoming erected. It constitutes the whole of the cavernous bodies--the
glans, which is the loose extremity of these bodies--the spongy part of
the urethra--the clitoris--and a considerable portion of the vulva and
vagina. The part taken by this tissue in the work of generation, would
indicate that it is affected in amatory desires, and that its state
must exercise some influence upon them; which is demonstrated by the
facts we shall mention.

There is no vice in the human species without its representative in
some class of animals. Thus, the inclination to theft, to destroy,
&c., are found in some species existing to a great degree. So, too,
with luxuriousness. There is a class of apes--the dog-faced--which
represent it. It is impossible to form an idea of the lasciviousness
of these animals, which is manifested at sight not only of a female
of their own class, but at that of a woman: they show by their looks,
gesture, and voice, that they are excited. They are extremely jealous
at sight of a man. They indulge in coition to great excess; and if
this be impossible, they abuse themselves. How does their organization
differ from that of other animals?--in the cerebellum?--in the spinal
marrow? No: but according to Desmoulins, by the enormous mass of
erectile tissue which they have. This tissue abounds not only around
the sexual organs, but is found in the haunches and pubis. In the face,
it is not confined as in us to the lips, but it covers the face, and
there presents a brilliancy of color which exceeds that of the vulva
and glans in our species. It should be remembered that the kunocephali
do not exhibit this lasciviousness until puberty, when this tissue is
developed, and assumes its brilliant colors.

Here, then, are animals, in whom the erectile tissue evidently performs
the part attributed by phrenologists exclusively to the cerebellum.
Why may not the same thing exist in our species? Are not the penis
and clitoris, generally speaking, much larger in those who have a
marked propensity for the pleasures of love? Is not their erection the
most constant sign of the activity of the venereal sense? Is not the
erectile tissue developed at puberty, at the same time with this sense,
and does it not collapse in old age? Finally, does not the genital
sense exist at its highest degree in the glans--the clitoris--that is,
in the organs formed entirely of this tissue?

There is, then, reason to seek the principle of masturbation in this
tissue, and to this remedies should be applied. This is done in a
vigorous and healthy patient by blood-letting, and by applying leeches
or cups around the sexual parts. Lotions and cold applications to these
parts, and cold hip-baths, act in the same manner; and as they do
not contribute to the exhaustion, they are employed more frequently.
Sainte Marie recommends that the genital organs of individuals affected
with spermatorrhœa should be covered with bladders of pounded ice,
which should be removed as often as it melts. This remedy seems more
efficacious and convenient than the application of wet sponges or
linens to the parts. It might also be used in those onanists who will
consent to it. The same indication is fulfilled by forbidding children
to be washed in warm water, and by causing them to use hard cushions
to sit on; and likewise, by keeping the pelvis lightly covered, and the
clothes large enough to allow the air to circulate freely around the
genital organs. The cold injections, in girls, may also be somewhat
useful. There is also another remedy which is applicable to parts
formed of erectile tissue, and which we shall mention--viz., their

Some nations are accustomed to practise upon their female children
a kind of circumcision, which consists in cutting off several parts
of the vulva. This custom is very ancient, and exists particularly
in Egypt, Ethiopia, around the Persian Gulf, and in several parts of
central Africa. What portions of the vulva are cut off? Many authors
think that these are the nympbæ, clitoris, and even the hymen. In fact,
Niebuhr has given a colored plate of the sexual organs of an Egyptian
girl, eighteen years old, drawn by the painter Baurenfiend, the
original of which is in the library at Gottingen, in which the parts
just named seem to have been extirpated. Sonnini, who has examined two
young Egyptian girls, one of whom had been circumcised for two years,
while the operation was performed on the other in his presence, states,
contrary to Niebuhr’s opinion, that this operation has reference to
the interior of the vulva, and is confined to the excision of a thick,
flabby, and fleshy excrescence, covered with skin, which in several
African races rises above the commissure of the external labia; the
length of this was only six lines, in the two girls observed by him,
but it may be four inches long, at the age of twenty-five years. As the
opinion of Niebuhr agrees with that of all authors who have lived in
these countries, the facts observed by Sonnini are exceptions, rather
than the rule. Hence, it appears, that in many nations it is the custom
to remove from the females a considerable portion of the erectile
tissue, which is found around their sexual organs.

What is the origin of this singular custom? Is it to remove in infancy,
from the vulva of the girls, certain prominences which, at a later
period, might prove inconvenient? Has this custom been established
with a view to cleanliness? May it not be, to take away the power of
self-abuse? Whatever may be the reason of its existence, its effect is
to deaden the venereal sense, by removing a portion of the surfaces
in which it is situated. This seems positively established, by the
testimony of Niebuhr, and many others.

If this be so, may not the removal of the internal labia and of the
preputial portion of the clitoris--especially if these parts are
large--be attempted, in order to avoid a more extreme thing, which
we shall mention directly. Might not this removal blunt, if it did
not deaden, the propensity to solitary enjoyments, and render the
other remedies employed more efficient? Although we have but little
confidence in this operation, yet, when we consider that a superficial
cauterization of the nymphæ and clitoris has cured nymphomania, as
will be stated hereafter, we can conceive that the excision of the
internal labia may in some ca«es present a chance of success. Farther:
this operation is not very painful--is easily performed--and cannot,
even under the least favorable circumstances, be attended with any
inconvenience, except that of being useless. It certainly would not be
practised generally if it caused severe pains, or was followed by bad
consequences. In Africa, it is performed by the females of Said, who
use a razor. And it should be remembered, too, that it is not children
who submit to this operation; but girls eight or ten years old, as may
be seen in the travels of Niebuhr and Sonnini.

The exquisite sensibility of the clitoris, and the size it commonly
presents in lascivious females--that which it acquires in those who
masturbate, or who are affected with nymphomania--have led to the
opinion, that voluptuous desires are situated exclusively in this
organ, and that its removal will extinguish them. Levret was, we
believe, the first who conceived the idea of curing nymphomania by this
operation. Dubois performed it on a young girl, who was so addicted
to onanism, that she was almost in the last stages of marasmus. Aware
of the danger of her situation, and yet too weak, or too much under
the control of voluptuousness, she could not resist. In vain were her
hands and limbs tied: she rubbed herself against the bed, and thus
procured excessive discharges. Her parents applied to Dubois, who
proposed amputation of the clitoris. This was assented to. The organ
was removed by one stroke of the knife: the hemorrhage was arrested by
the actual cautery, and the girl recovered her health and strength.
Richerand, who has reported this case, considers the operation
performed on this young girl as the most efficient remedy in such a
case. If the idea of cauterizing the vessels is disagreeable to the
patients, the vessels of the clitoris might be tied, as are those of
the penis after amputation. (_Nosog. Chirurg._, second edition, 1808;
vol. iv., p. 326.)

The following, which is similar to the preceding, but more remarkable
in some respects, was published in the Journal of Surgery, by Graefe:--

“The subject of this case was born in 1807, and grew very well, till
the age of fourteen months, when she became ill: for eight days, she
was affected alternately with constipation, diarrhœa, and vomiting. She
remained sick till she was two years old, and did not walk till she was
four. She, however, never learned to talk, and exhibited symptoms of
idiocy. This idiocy resisted the most varied treatment, progressively
increased, and the patient was finally reduced to a state below the
brute. She swallowed her feces, and passed hour after hour in a corner,
her tongue lolling from her mouth.

“The most experienced physicians considered her case as hopeless. A
physician at Berlin undertook to cure her. She was now fourteen years
old. He remarked first in her a strong inclination to onanism: she
indulged in this practice night and day. In this, there was a curative
indication, which the physician embraced immediately. It seemed evident
to him that masturbation prevented the development of the intellectual
faculties. Hence, she was prevented from sitting down; and the head
was cauterized, to obtain revulsion by the pain. The wound from this
operation did not suppurate till after six weeks. Cold effusions were
applied to the wound, and a solution of antimony was injected into it.
These remedies were followed by a slight degree of amendment. Douches
and emetics were then used, but in vain. Finally, when the patient was
fifteen years old, her physician resolved to extirpate the clitoris.
The operation was performed June 20, 1822, by Professor Graefe, of
Berlin. The wound soon cicatrized; and the good effects of the process
exceeded all expectations. The disposition to onanism was removed; the
mind became expanded; and the education of the patient commenced. In
three years, she could talk, read, write, and even play a few tunes
on the piano--to be sure, rather imperfectly; but still she might be
regarded as being in the way of recovering from her long and cruel

The details of this case are not sufficient to establish whether
idiocy was the cause or effect of onanism. We may conclude, however,
from the result, that it was at least in great part the consequence of
this habit. It, however, was necessary to put a stop to the onanism
before the idiocy disappeared. Farther, this case shows the extent
of the restorative power of nature, when it is no longer impeded by
masturbation. It also shows, by the good effects arising from removing
the clitoris, that it would be wrong to think, as several authors, and
particularly Voisin, have asserted, that nymphomania always depended
on an affection of the cerebellum. Powerful and the most energetic
revulsives had been applied to this latter organ, but unsuccessfully.
It was not the first time the remedies had been used. Villeneuve long
since recommended the application of caustics to the legs, and of cups
around the genital organs, with extensive scarifications, to appease
venereal desires.

The two following facts were communicated by Biett. The first is that
of a lady, thirty-five years old, who became affected with nymphomania,
after long absence from her husband. After many unsuccessful efforts
to cure this disease, extirpation of the clitoris was decided upon.
The operation was not easy, and there was considerable hemorrhage,
requiring the application of ligatures. In a few weeks, the patient

The success of this operation induced Biett to advise a similar one in
the following case:--

“Mademoiselle C***, ten years old, of strong constitution and good
muscular developments, had been addicted to onanism since she was two
years old. She was taught it by her nurse, who remarked that she was
quieted, when crying, by titillating the clitoris, in which she was
soon imitated by the patient. The habit finally caused great moral
and physical degeneration. At first, the cause of her wasting away
was unknown; but when it was discovered, the parents tried every mode
to break her of it. Their vigilance was in vain--she still continued
it. Her mind remained unaffected, but not so with her physical
constitution. Mechanical means were now employed: the apparatus of
Lafont was applied, but without success; and there was danger of her
becoming idiotic. Her parents, after long hesitation, decided to have
the clitoris removed. The operation was performed June 26, 1831, with
perfect success. The patient became restored, and her voluptuous
feelings disappeared.”

Many have scruples in regard to this operation. They ask whether
it is right to nip the enjoyments of love in the bud, &c. These
considerations seem to me only to impose circumspection in respect to
the operation, and to show that the operation never should be employed
until all other remedies have been tried. But when life is to be saved,
or the mind is to be preserved, then we ought not to hesitate. We then
do, as in amputating a limb--we sacrifice a part for the whole. Nor is
it demonstrated, that the venereal sense is for ever extinguished, by
removing the clitoris. This organ is not the exclusive seat of venereal
sensations, as we have already seen, and shall see again. Hence, it may
be feared, for this reason, that the operation may not be successful.
In fact, only the prominent part of the clitoris is cut off: a large
portion of the cavernous bodies remains. If the operation is performed
before puberty, perhaps by developing their tissue, this feeling may
extend at this period of life: but, even then, if these chances of
reparation did not exist--if it were certain to destroy all sexual
desires--still this operation ought to be performed; as, without these
feelings of love, a female may become a good mother, and a devoted wife.

Our remarks on the cerebellum, spinal marrow, and erectile tissue,
may apply to all parts of the genital apparatus; as each part may be
a direct cause of venereal excitement, and consequently an indirect
cause of venereal excesses. This is certainly true of the mucous
membrane, which lines the genito-urinary passages. Every one knows
that acute inflammation of the interior of the urethra often causes
painful erections, and which may attend a deformity of the penis; and
hence the term _chordee_ is applied to these blenorrhœas. We have seen,
when speaking of diurnal pollution, that chronic inflammations of this
canal may be followed by losses of semen. The presence of a stone in
the bladder usually causes an itching and tickling at the end of the
penis, which has sometimes been the beginning of bad habits. If, after
excesses of the table, coition is indulged in to excess, it is because
the abuse of wine and liquors stimulates the mucous membranes, and
particularly those of which we are speaking--excites their action,
and new desires arise. Is it not on the special character possessed
by cantharides, of inflaming the urinary passages, that the violent
satyriasis caused by this remedy depends?

The phenomena we have mentioned are seen much more frequently in
females than in males, as the mucous membrane of the genital organs is
much more extensive and more exposed to the action of external agents
in the former. We have known several cases of nymphomania to be caused
by herpetic affections, which were seated within the vulva. Biett knew
a case of it in a female, sixty years old, affected with prurigo of
this part. Trousseau has known similar cases. Hence, the irritations
of the vulva, attended with itching, have been considered by many
authors among the causes of onanism. Eczema, when it has extended to
the vulvo-vaginal mucous membrane, has been known to induce this habit
violently in females. Ascarides, which have escaped from the anus, have
often caused violent itching, and afterward a venereal excitement,
which was followed by the same result. Beck has known these worms to
produce nymphomania in a female seventy years old. Bitter injections
into the vagina were followed by the evacuation of a great number of
these animals, and by the cessation of the symptoms.

The remarks of many authors on the salacity of individuals afflicted
with herpetic eruptions must apply particularly to those who are
afflicted with pruriginous diseases of the skin around or near the
genital organs. The excitement then extends to these organs, and awakes
in them the sense of venery; a similar result may attend irritation of
the inner surface of the rectum. Wichmann thinks, and a case published
by St. Marie confirms the opinion, that simply the presence of
ascarides in this instance may cause discharges of semen. Hemorrhoidal
irritation has sometimes produced them. Thus Wichmann relates the case
of an individual, in whom hemorrhoids caused an obstinate diarrhœa
during the day, and frequent pollutions at night. Nymphomania has been
produced by drastic enemata, and particularly by those made of gratiola.

It is not uncommon to see symptoms of inflammation appear at the same
time or successively in different mucous membranes. The membrane lining
the genital organs is not more exempt from this, than others. The heat
which patients feel in the genital parts, the redness and swelling
which are there developed, are generally the only symptoms which then
become known to the physician. But there is another, the excitement
of the venereal sense, which often escapes him; either because the
patients are too young to explain it, or because a natural feeling
prompts them to conceal it. Hence this symptom is frequently unnoticed,
except in rare cases, where it exists to a great degree, and presents
characters analogous to those of satyriasis and nymphomania. Dr.
Desportes was we believe the first one to point out a certain relation
between venereal excitement and different catarrhal affections among
which he has particularly mentioned the aphthous inflammation of the
pharynx termed by Guersent _angina pultacea_. M. Desportes has known
attacks of at least eight cases of this angina to be preceded by a
vivid excitement of the reproductive system, an excitement which is
sometimes manifested by an irritation, which although not exactly
the venereal appetite, is analogous to it, and causes in the patient
an evident feeling of distrust, inquietude, and chagrin. As this
phenomenon has presented itself as a precursory symptom in at least one
half of the cases of angina pultacea observed by him, he regards it
as an index of the imminent invasion of this disease. He also thinks
and with reason, that this phenomenon may, in young patients, become a
cause of masturbation, and even in some cases, may pervert momentarily
the ideas and sentiments, so as to impel individuals to the commission
of acts reputed criminal or culpable. This opinion of Desportes is
supported by eight facts. The most remarkable is that of a lady seventy
years old, in whom the angina pultacea, was preceded for about a month
with vivid and frequent venereal desires: they became so irresistible,
that notwithstanding her religious opinions, she forgot herself so far
as to relieve her ardor by onanism.

Desportes has attempted to explain this singular feeling, by the
connexion of the nerves of the neck with certain parts of the
encephalon, the commencement of the spinal marrow. He might, we think,
have explained this more naturally, by observing that the genital
excitement, instead of appearing simultaneously with the affection of
the pharynx, disappeared simply from the appearance of the latter.
Thus, in one of these patients, a man of fifty years old, whose habits
were chaste, and who was suddenly affected with unusual venereal
desires and priapism, these symptoms ceased, when after twenty days,
an angina appeared; which was followed by an eczema which affected
the hairy scalp, and the parts behind the ears. In another of the
cases reported by Desportes, the genital excitement which appeared
during convalescence from pleuro pneumonia, was suddenly replaced by
an inflammatory irritation of the digestive passages, and particularly
of the inner membrane of the mouth. Is it not evident that the
irritation was transmitted in these cases from one membrane to another.
If, however, Desportes has erred in the manner in which the genital
excitement is produced, he deserves credit for pointing out a symptom
which merits the attention of practitioners.

The irritation of the internal integuments of the genital parts, is not
only, as this physician has thought, a precursory sign of that of the
pharynx. It may show itself during the continuance of an inflammation
of any other portion of the mucous membranes, or it may even follow
this inflammation. Dr. Mirambeau has communicated to me two cases which
confirm this fact. The first is that of a boy who was affected after a
chill, with a very obstinate gastroenteritis. This disease was nearly
terminated, when the mucous surface of the penis became the seat of a
very severe irritation, which was soon attended with satyriasis. Things
came to such a pass that his hands were obliged to be tied to keep him
from those manipulations which he had never indulged in before. The
subject of the second case was a girl nine years old, who presented the
same circumstances as in the preceding case. She also was obliged to be
tied. This fit continued in these two cases, from ten to twelve days.

Hence irritation of the mucous membrane which lines the genito urinary
passages may alone cause venereal excitement, and consequently onanism,
independent of any affection of the nervous centres. This fact is
highly essential on account of the important indications which may
be deduced from it. Aware of the possibility of its existence, the
physician will be more attentive to discover this irritation; he will
find it more frequently and may in a degree prevent a fatal habit: he
will also carefully remove every cause of irritation from the mucous
integument of the genital parts and discuss as promptly as possible
the inflammations which may be developed there. The mode of doing
this is by attending to the following rules. To keep the sexual parts
perfectly clean by repeated ablutions: to forbid all excesses of the
table, and the use of such food and drinks as tend to render the urine
more irritating, and the genito urinary mucous surface more irritable;
hence to discard the use of wine, liquors, coffee, tea, spices,
beer, particularly that made strong with hops: to allay irritations
of the interior of the rectum, around the anus or those affecting
the integuments around the genital organs. When children complain of
itching around the anus, you must ascertain whether this be not caused
by ascarides which is easily done by inspecting the parts and the
feces: no means should be spared to get rid of these worms when they
exist:[1] and finally the most efficient remedies should be used to
cure the itching of the genitals as soon as this affection commences.
Ozanam communicated to the academy of medicine August 12, 1828, a
very acute case of nymphomania which had resisted antispasmodics,
narcotics, cold baths, &c.; and which was finally cured by applying to
the internal labia and clitoris a solution of four grains of nitrate
of silver in an ounce of water. There was a marked inflammation of
the parts to which this was applied. (_Rev. Med._, _Sept. 1828._) In
1833, we employed successfully another remedy, for a lady thirty-four
years old and subject to nervous affections. She experienced a
feeling of heat and irritation in the vulva and vagina which caused
her excessive trouble. Solutions and injections of an infusion of
the wild cherry-tree, produced no relief. The introduction into the
vagina of a pledget of lint moistened with a solution of the extract of
belladonna, (one grain to the ounce,) had a better effect. Different
symptoms indicated the absorption of this drug into the system and the
irritation disappeared. But it returned a few days after, and we then
advised the application of ice within the vagina which relieved her,
and finally brought about a permanent cure.

The irritation of the uterus in this lady might have had more or
less influence in producing these distressing symptoms. Venereal
desires, and nymphomania may in fact also depend upon the state of
this organ. The excitement preceding and attending the period of
menstruation, renders females much more lascivious. This phenomenon
is much more marked in the small number of animals who menstruate: it
always coexists in them with the period of rutting. This remarkable
fact, which has long been known, of asses and monkeys, has lately
been ascertained to exist in the roussettes by Carnot and Lesson, and
in the genette by Cuvier. Farther inflammations and diseases of the
uterus have often been observed in those affected with nymphomania.
Helwiel relates the history of a lady, who, after being for a long time
indifferent to conjugal pleasures, became extremely salacious. She died
some time afterward, and on opening the dead body, fibrous tumours were
found in the tissue of the uterus, and hydaleds in the ovaries. Calmeil
found in a monomaniac, who was most furiously addicted to onanism, and
who had a perfect hymen, that the os tincæ and a part of the neck of
the uterus were of a violet colour, and were softened and ulcerated.
This author observes that generally, when deranged females imagine
themselves pregnant, or that they have been violated, are finally known
to think of their genital organs, there is commonly some lesion of the
uterus. (_Dict. des Sc. Med._, _art. Alienes_.) In the cases which
have been mentioned, the affection of the uterus was not so much the
cause as the result of the excesses which had been committed, but this
cannot be said of those cases where Lisfranc has seen cauterization
of the neck of the uterus to be followed in the genital organs with a
kind of erethism which is attended with void desires. Is not this an
experimental proof, that an irritation of the uterus may produce an
exaltation of the venereal sense.

This excitement from congenital or accidental dispositions, may
affect the ovaries; to prove this we have only to consider that
their development exactly follows that of the venereal sense: that
at forty-five years they begin to diminish in size, and finally they
disappear: their removal or destruction too is always attended with the
extinction of venereal desires. The respective size of the veins and
arteries of the ovaries has been mentioned by some authors as a cause
of salacity: the amorous ardor of animals, say they, is much greater,
when the veins of the ovaries are smaller and fewer than the arteries.
Haller found that the last-named vessels were very much developed in a
female whose temperament was extremely amorous. Different alterations
in the ovaries have been found in those affected with nymphomania.
Bosset, Blancard, Vesalius, Riolan, Mangel, Dimmerbroede, Riviere,
Lieutaud &c. have observed cases of this. De Blegnay states that one
of the girls confined at the Salpetrière, and who had been affected
several times with furor uterinus, was once seized so violently
that it was necessary to tie her. This unfortunate girl perished by
suffocation, while struggling to extricate herself. On opening the dead
body the left ovary and Fallopian tube were found much diseased.

The removal of the ovaries has been performed successfully to appease
excessive uterine ardor; a swineherd, irritated by the conduct of his
daughter, extirpated these organs and thus extinguished her passions.
The ovaries however have been extirpated several times on account of
disease. The operation has been performed on several women and with
success by Dr. Sacchi of Italy, and Dr. D. L. Rogers of New York. The
usual effects in those who are fortunate enough to survive, are a
wasting of the mammæ and a perfect indifference to the act of venery
(_Bulletin therapeutique_, vol. iv., p. 313.)

We need not make many remarks on the effects of castration in the male
to show the influence of the testes on the development and vivacity
of lascivious desires. We know that it has been asserted that these
desires may remain after the loss of these organs. In support of this
opinion have been quoted Galen, Juvenal, Brantome and many other
authors, particularly Franck, who states that four eunuchs in a city
had so many intrigues with females, that the police were obliged to
interfere. (_Dict. des Sc. Med._, vol. iv. p. 269.) But these facts
only prove that eunuchs may indulge in pretended coition and that they
preserve some sparks of the fire which is generally seated in the
testicles. Most authors have attributed the action of these organs
in the sense of venery, to the fluid secreted by them, to the semen.
They say that this fluid awakes this sense either by the qualities it
assumes, when accumulating in the testicles or seminal vesicles, or
because it is carried by absorption to all parts of the body. This
opinion is certainly much too positive: but in the present state of
science, can we, as do many authors, assert that it has no foundation?
The qualities of the semen may certainly vary much, as may be proved by
the presence or absence of the spermatic animalculæ. It is entertained
for instance, that these animalculæ do not appear before puberty, and
that they are not to be found in old age, that they disappear during
sickness, and that in many animals, in most birds for instance, they
occur only during the season of mating (_Dumas_, _Dict. class. d’hist.
nat._, _art. generation_.) The venereal sense becomes imperious, when
the individual secretes real semen, and this sense may be felt in
old men, after semen is no longer formed. The fulness of the seminal
vesicles cannot be absolutely necessary for venereal desires, because
these organs do not exist in birds, in many cold-blooded animals and
in some of the mammalia. Are these persons in whom the testicles,
instead of descending into the bursæ as usual about the seventh mouth
of fetal life, remain in the abdomen, are these persons, who are termed
cryptorchides more addicted than others to sensual pleasures? This has
been asserted by many authors, and particularly by Monro and Hunter.
They certainly are not less so. Poliniere has related a case of a
person of this character 17 years old whom he saw at Brest in 1812, and
who indulged most immoderately in venereal pleasures contrary to the
advice of his physicians. Death soon put an end to his career.

The sensuality attributed to the cryptorchides has been explained
by the greater degree of heat experienced in the testicles, when
they remain in the abdomen. Be this as it may, the excitement of
these organs probably exalts the sense of venery. When the state of
excitement is very marked, they swell and become more sensible: these
symptoms however are much more marked in animals during the period of
rutting, than in our species. Accidental irritations of the testicles
have sometimes also caused an unusual excitement of the sense of
venery. Moreau attended for a long time a man advanced in age, who
consulted him particularly for pollutions attended with amatory dreams.
These symptoms which were very distressing constantly occurred,
whenever the fibrous membrane of the testicles was affected with
chronic rheumatism.

From our remarks, we can conceive that extirpation of the testicles
would be a powerful remedy, in fact the most efficient of all remedies,
to quell lascivious desires, and to put an end to venereal excesses.
Hence individuals have been known to sacrifice these organs, and thus
to rid them«elves of a salacity which rendered them unhappy. Baldassar
relates the history of a man on whom he tried every remedy, and
finally found nothing better than fasting and prayers. “Not recovering
under these remedies,” says this author, “he wished the operation of
castration to be performed, but I thought it inexpedient. The patient
however pressed me very earnestly, and sought to win over to his
views by presents those who opposed his wishes. He even promised me an
ambling poney of remarkable beauty, if I would consent to perform it.”
Reduced to despair some individuals have even castrated themselves.
Origen, it is well known, mutilated himself, in order to extinguish
the warmth of his temperament. This operation has been performed by
surgeons and with happy results. A surgeon of Bernstadt was less
fortunate: he removed the testes of a man 73 years old, in consequence
of the unusual desires he experienced. The operation was not attended
with the expected result. (Sprengel, _Hist. de la med._, _vol. ix_.)
Hence this remedy is not infallible. We will add that it is far from
being without danger, particularly in those individuals who are already
exhausted by excesses. Farther, the operation is not confined, as in
amputation of the clitoris, to the extinction of the venereal sense: it
takes away the procreating power, and causes that moral and physical
deterioration which is seen in eunuchs, even when they have lost their
testicles after puberty. These therefore are reasons why this operation
should not be performed; an operation which is disapproved of by most
authors. We will except however Simon, who advises as a last resource
in those affected with onanism to press upon or tie the vas deferens
or the spermatic artery; for it is better, said he, that the patient
should live a eunuch, than that he should inevitably perish. (_Hygiene
de la jeunesse_, p. 174.) Some practical conclusions may be drawn
from the facts we have mentioned. Thus in some patients, cold lotions
or applications of ice to the scrotum, and of leeches around it, may
be used with advantage. Young patients also should have these parts
clothed lightly.

Diseases affecting various parts by their action on the organs
mentioned, that is on the cerebellum, spinal marrow and the genital
system, may cause a kind of a state of rutting and thus become the
occasion of venereal excesses. For instance an unusual venereal
excitement is sometimes a forerunner of an attack of gout, which may
be explained by considering that the invasion of the local symptoms of
this disease, is usually preceded by the irritation of several mucous
membranes. Does not the salacity which all authors have mentioned
as being peculiar to phthisical persons depend on the part which
the genito-urinary membrane takes in the general excitement of the
mucous membranes which is so common in the tuberculous affection of
the lungs? Pathological anatomy has thrown no light on the subject.
Of forty patients affected with phthisis, where the prostate gland,
seminal vesicles, and vasa deferentia were carefully examined by Louis,
three only presented an alteration of these parts; this consisted in
the deposition of a quantity of tuberculous matter in the prostate
gland: in one of them this matter was found in the seminal vesicles
and vasa deferentia. (_Recherches anatopath. sur la phthisie_, 1825,
p. 132.) Louis says nothing in regard to the amatory passions of these

The affection of the genito-urinary mucous membrane, accounts also
for the venereal sensations which many authors have mentioned as a
symptom of the elephantiasis of the Greeks, otherwise termed lepra
tubercularis. The frequency of this symptom was so remarkable, that
the ancients confounded elephantiasis with satyriasis. Sonnini saw at
Cana, in the island of Candia, a great many individuals of both sexes,
affected with this kind of leprosy. They were confined according to
custom, in barracks without the walls of the city, and there they
indulged in the most unbridled licentiousness. Even the old men were
very lascivious. He gives an instance of a leper who, on the night of
his death, indulged his desires. Niebuhr speaks of another leper who
carried away by his ardor, imparted his disease to a woman of Bagdad,
who was admitted with him into the lazaretto of that city. Vidal
and Joannis assert that they have seen this _libido_ in those Greek
sailors affected with elephantiasis. After these proofs, it required
some boldness to deny the possibility of this symptom, which to us
seems easily explained. Consider the nature of elephantiasis: while
it affects the skin, it extends to the mucous membranes, where we
find tubercles, ulcerations, softenings, &c. Why should the membrane,
lining the genito-urinary passages, be exempt from these alterations?
Is it not then probable that this membrane was diseased in some way
or other, in those individuals affected with libido? We can easily
imagine, too, that as these alterations cannot be constant in lepra
tubercularis, the symptom of which we are speaking must often be
deficient, which explains why different authors who have observed cases
of elephantiasis, particularly Alibert, Rayer and Cazenave, have not
met with it. An affection of the genital organs may produce results
completely opposite to libido: it may arrest the development of the
genital organs when it appears before puberty. The individuals then
present the marked characters of eunuchs, which has been observed by
Adams, (Obs. on morbid poisons.) and probably Pallas, who asserts that
the Tartans affected with elephantiasis, are averse to the pleasures of
love. Farther, in lepra tubercularis, the sexual parts are often, and
according to Alibert, most generally affected; this would necessarily
extinguish all venereal desires. This probably was the case in the
patient mentioned by Cazenave, in whom the testicles, glands and
prepuce were found converted into a lardaceous tissue; and where, too,
the corpora cavernosa were destitute of blood, and presented an evident
hypertrophy of their septa.

It often happens that the genital sense is exalted, because it is the
only one, or nearly so, which continues. This is frequently seen in
idiots, and in those affected with dementia. The imbeciles, if left to
themselves, “says Esquirol,” sometimes at the period of puberty become
affected with onanism, nymphomania, or hysteria. Idiots also often
indulge in the most unrestrained masturbation. This can readily be
imagined: these individuals are in a measure isolated by the debility
or weakness of their senses and intelligence. As they receive no
external impressions, those which are inherent, exercise unlimited
power. The internal senses are then much more regarded, because they
speak alone. That which is in others only a desire, becomes in idiots
a want: hence there are many who seem to live, merely to eat, drink,
and indulge in licentiousness. When speaking of the effects of onanism
on the mental faculties, we have shown that the venereal sense becomes
heightened, as these other faculties are weakened. This fact may be
remarked, whatever may have been the cause of derangement: for many
individuals become affected with onanistic satyriasis, because they are
imbecile or idiotic. Finally, idiocy may be the effect and cause of
onanism. Sometimes the disease appears first, sometimes the habit--but
as soon as they exist they strive continually to increase, and we are
unable to say which of the two exercises the stronger influence on the

Our remarks on idiocy are equally applicable to cretinism, which is a
variety of this affection. The cretins, though small, goitrous, hideous
and imbecile, are extremely salacious, and this feeling is allayed by
intercourse between them, or by onanism. A remarkable fact which has
been observed twice, once in a cretin and once in an idiot, may throw
some light on the organic causes of the inverse progress followed by
the external and internal senses in this kind of patients: it is the
_hypertrophy of the ganglionnary nervous system_. One of these cases
is recorded by M. Schiffner. He found, on the cadaver of a cretin,
that the ganglions of the great sympathetic nerve, situated along the
vertebral column, were unusually large. The sympathetic nerve of the
left side, on a level with the 6th vertebra presented a ganglion the
size of a hen’s egg. Before this case of Schiffner, in 1819, Cayre
also, in a thesis on idiotism, had mentioned the excessive development
of the ganglionnary system, in one born an idiot. The cervical
ganglions were three times their usual size; those of the thorax were
larger than in the healthy state, and this was the case also with the
semilunar ganglions.

We have seen that individuals appear much more lascivious, as they
become more stupid and insensible; venereal sensuality often developes
itself under very different circumstances. It may be only an episode,
and sometimes it is an effect of the general susceptibility. A person
is lascivious, because he is alive to vivid impressions; because the
genital organs, like the rest of the economy, are easily excited,
and their excitement is vividly felt. This disposition occurs often
in hypochondriac and hysterical people; that is, in individuals who
are so susceptible as to be habitually sick. They are easily excited,
and have nocturnal pollutions from the slightest cause. The genital
organs, also like the others, may become affected by an irritation
which is seated at a greater or less distance from them; for instance,
in the stomach, lungs, skin, &c. Those persons who are affected with
cutaneous diseases, which cause itching, are generally extremely
lascivious. Symptoms similar to priapism and satyriasis, appear in
numerous diseases. Nervous or flatulent colics have often been known
to produce a similar effect. A woman observed in 1833, at Hotel Dieu,
in the ward of Bouillaud, and whose case is reported by Donne, (Revue
Med., June, 1833,) presented a phenomena, which, notwithstanding its
strangeness, is explained by what we have said. She was thirty years
old, of a strong constitution, and hysterical. After an attack of acute
rheumatism affecting the wrist, her hand became exquisitely sensible,
and the slightest friction upon it, procured for the patient all the
sensations arising from coition. This aberration of the sensibility
disappeared with the last traces of the rheumatic inflammation, and
the part regained its natural state. A highly respectable man, Dr.
Mirambeau, communicated to us the case of a child who procured similar
sensations by pulling his umbilicus. His health suffered so much
in consequence of this singular habit, that coercive measures were
employed to check it. We must remark, however, that notwithstanding the
sensations mentioned, this patient presented no erection nor any other
phenomena in the genital organs, similar to those of the act of venery.

_Of the things which may produce venereal excitement, and of the modes
of preservation which are connected with them._ These things are all
those which are capable of increasing the sensibility in general
and particularly that of the organs of venery: the means are, the
influences which may be used to act in a contrary direction.

The venereal desire may develope itself at all seasons. The most
favorable to its appearance, however, is spring. This fact was well
known to the ancients: but it did not rest on a scientific foundation
till recently. The confirmation of this fact is owing to the
statistical labors of Villermé in France and of Quetelet and Smits in

Villermé proposed to establish, from the register of births, the
periods of the year when conceptions occur most frequently. He arranged
the months in the following order. May, June, April, July, February,
March, December, January, August, November, September, October.

Hence the three months when there are the most conceptions are April
May and June, and those in which there are the fewest are September,
October, and November. Hence it is in spring, at that period of the
year when vegetation sprouts forth and when the trees are covered with
foliage, when most animals seek their mates, that pregnancy is most
common: while in autumn, that season in which vegetable life is as it
were extinguished, is also the period when the human race labors least
at reproduction. The results obtained by Quetelet and Smits, conform
entirely with the above. It now remains to know whether the difference
between spring and autumn arises from there being less procreative
exertion or whether conception or impregnation at that time are more

To resolve this question Villermé consulted the criminal calendar to
ascertain at what period of the year there were the most attempts
at rape: and he found that it was the same as that when the most
conceptions occur, that is in the spring. The same result was obtained
by Quetelet and Smits. May not these crimes be more common in the
spring because then men have more opportunity of being guilty, as
at that time females may be found alone and loosely clothed, in the
woods and distant places? But these same circumstances exist in the
months of August and September, and yet the respective number of
these crimes diminishes in these two months. Nor can this greater
number of pregnancies be attributed to the fact that more marriages
are contracted at one period of the year than at another, for the
_maximum_ and _minimum_ of births can be referred in every country and
at all times, with but few limitations to the same periods, while the
_maximum_ and _minimum_ of marriages in different countries present
great and numerous differences. We may then consider it as determined
that man is subject to a certain extent to a kind of _periodical heat_,
which returns every year in the spring.

It is not the heat of weather which produces this phenomenon, for if
this were the case, it would appear in July and August rather than
in April and May: but it is _the return of early warmth_. Perhaps
this phenomenon also arises from influences now unknown, which would
contribute in early spring to the vernal resurrection of organized
beings. The slight variations in the period of heat in men, in
different climates, confirms what has been said as to the action of
spring. Villermé having compared the different parts of France, of
Europe and even of the two hemispheres, found that the maximum of
conceptions is, like this season, more precocious in warm than in cold
climates. There is then a period of the year when man is more disposed
to indulge in these excesses and when his desires should be more
carefully controlled. We have already seen that Wichmann regards the
spring as a cause why diurnal pollutions are more active and frequent;
the same may be said of nymphomania. In a female whose history has
already been given and who was affected with this disease, the period
of the greatest degree of salacity extended from the beginning to the
end of this season.

There is another observation which at first seems only of a moderate
degree of importance but which may present practical deductions of
great interest. Villermé has found that the maximum and minimum of
conceptions are much less marked in the cities than in the country, and
still less so in the large cities. This fact confirms our remarks on
the influence of seasons, for it shows that this influence is less, the
more individuals are exposed to it. It shows too how far the salacity
of men may be influenced by his mode of living. This remark has long
been made in regard to animals: the period of rutting ceases to be
marked periodically when they pass from a savage to a domestic state.
We have now to learn in what manner a retired life acts on the venereal
sense. Another observation of M. Villermé seems to us to throw light on
this topic.

The law of _maximum_ and _minimum_, which has just been treated of,
presents a remarkable exception which is seen in cold countries as
Sweden, Finland, St. Petersburgh, &c. In these countries, exceptions
occur most frequently in the months of December and January, in short
in winter. Different causes have been supposed to account for this
exception: there is but one however, which will explain it well--that
is the manner in which the inhabitants of these countries are clothed
during the cold season. By means of dress and warmth they then create
an artificial climate by which they are enabled to resist the rigor
of that in which they dwell. The whole body is enveloped in numerous
thick and warm garments, which fit accurately, envelope it exactly
and preserve for the body its natural temperature: placing these
individuals in a position analogous to that of vegetables which are
hastened in their growth by manure. Farther they preserve in their
dwellings a degree of temperature which would be insupportable in a
temperate climate. In fact if the inhabitants of the polar regions
should keep civil registers of births, their examination would
doubtless demonstrate that in these rude climates, the fine season is
not that of amours. It is well known that puberty in these countries
is more precocious, as is the case under the tropics. Thus the Samoid
women menstruate at the age of 11 years and are often mothers at 12.
(Klingstadt, _Memoire sur les Samoides_, pp. 41. & 43.) This is not to
be wondered at when we consider that they live in subterranean caves,
where there is a stifling heat produced by throwing water on redhot
stones. Dwellings then in cold countries may be considered as hot
houses which act on man as they do on vegetables.

These facts established, let us consider their consequences; do they
not prove, that an artificial climate may develope the venereal sense
prematurely or too vividly? That on the coming of winter a young man
ought not to be clothed too warm? That too many quilts should not be
put on the bed at night? That the cold should be braved? That we should
forbid too long a continuance in warm rooms? These principles are
deduced naturally from observations on the seasons. It is unnecessary
to say, that these rules, good as they are, are more particularly
applicable to those who are suspected or convicted of masturbation.
In our preceding remarks we have paid regard only to the temperate
zones of the two hemispheres, that is, to those countries where there
are four distinct seasons nearly equal in length. But if we approach
the equinoctial line, those regions of the globe where the year is
divided into a very long summer and a very short winter, the influence
of seasons is effaced by that of _climate_. We shall not repeat in
this place all that has been said in regard to the precocity of the
inhabitants of warm countries, their ardor in love, the excesses to
which they are addicted, the rapidity with which they grow old; all
these facts are well known. But we will make a remark which seems
to us important: if the habitual and long continued action of solar
heat, hastens the appearances of the venereal sense, and gives it so
much power, why will not the continued action of any other heat, for
instance of clothing, dwellings, baths, &c., produce a similar result?
It seems to us that the admission of the first fact necessarily implies
the other. Thus whether we regard the influence of seasons exerted
around us, or that of climates which are far distant, we always arrive
at the conclusion that by a delicate education, and by taking care to
preserve children from the slightest cold, we hasten the excitement
of their sensual feelings, to which they are more liable to become
victims. Hence in prescribing a change of scene for a young man
addicted to onanism, we should be careful not to expose him to hot

Are there any emanations which have the power of deadening the
venereal sense? From a case already mentioned, and which we owe to M.
Villermé, we might suspect that emanations from stagnant waters have
this effect: but it is probable that if procreation is less active in
marshy countries during the most unhealthy seasons, it is because the
number of sick is greater. It is well known that notwithstanding all
emanations, the venereal sense may be very precocious, and may lead
whole communities to indulge in excesses: we might cite as instances
the inhabitants of the marshy parts of the Landes of Bordeaux, and the

The power which certain odors have of exciting to desire is by no
means doubtful, at least so far as animals are concerned. Most of the
mammalia at the period of rutting, exhale certain emanations which
serve to inform the male at a distance of the presence of a female and
to excite in him the desire of copulation. Even in the insect kingdom
some facts exist which cannot be accounted for except on the principle
of odorous effluvia. Thus if we shut up in a perfectly close box a
female bombyx, we shall soon see males flying around it, who cannot be
guided there by the sense of sight. Does any thing similar occur in
the human family? Many authors assert the affirmative. “Odors,” says
Cabanis, “act powerfully on the nervous system: they incite it to all
pleasurable sensations: they communicate to it this slight disturbance
which seems to be inseparable from it, and this because they exercise
a special influence on the organs which are the seat of the most vivid
pleasure granted us by nature. In infancy, the influence of smell is
but slight: in old age, it is feeble: it is most active at the period
of youth which is that of love.” (_Rapports du phys. an morale de
l’homme_, vol. I, p. 222.) Among many nations even in remote antiquity,
voluptuous females excited their visitors to desire by the cosmetic
use of different perfumes, particularly by musk. This substance has
been said to be capable of producing even nocturnal pollutions. (_Luc.
Lebrœchus, Hist. Moschi_, ch. 24, p. 153.) On the other hand, we read
that Henry IV. thought that the natural odor of the sexual parts was
more powerful than any cosmetics. Notwithstanding these testimonials
and many others of a similar character, which might be adduced, we
believe that in our species, where the sense of smell has so little
influence compared to what it has in animals, that odors have but a
slight effect in exciting to sexual pleasures. We think it prudent
however to forbid the abuse of cosmetics in young people.

Irritation of the skin, particularly in the neighborhood of the sexual
parts, may act on them as we have seen, and produce venereal desires.
Debauched libertines have frequently sought pleasure in this, and
have sometimes lashed themselves with thongs, or other instruments
of torture. In the time of Nero, the art of invigorating the virile
powers with green nettles was known and practised. Many authors have
stated details on this topic which may be found in the treatise of
Melbourne, (_De flagrorum usu in re venerea_, Lugd. Batav. 1643,[2])
and an article by Virey. (_Dict. des Sc. Med._, art. _Flagellation_.)
The pleasures of flagellation, however, also have their limits: it
has therefore been prescribed to deaden carnal desires, as well as to
excite them. More than one saint has flagellated himself with this
hope. In order that it should be efficacious, it should be used with

It can easily be imagined that this remedy may have a very different
effect from that proposed. Castigation, and also the denuding of the
body, which is necessary, often have an effect on children, indicated
by the erection of the penis. Young persons sometimes desire this
punishment. The sensations caused by it have been so strong, as to
be followed by an immediate emission. How many children have become
addicted to onanism, in consequence of this imprudent punishment!
how often has the fatal habit of onanism been encouraged by it!
These consequences have been pointed out by many authors. Pic de
la Mirandole, Rhodoginus, &c., have related instances of it. The
following is from Serrurier. “One of my school-fellows,” says he,
“found an indescribable pleasure in being whipped: he took every
occasion to provoke the master, who never pardoned an offender, but
had him scourged, by individuals to whom this duty was committed. This
same school-fellow declared that he was sorry when the punishment was
ended, because then the pollution was not complete. What has been
the consequence of this horrid discovery. The unhappy person became
addicted to onanism. Reduced to the lowest stage of consumption, in
consequence of the habitual loss of semen, his death presents us a
picture of depravity, and an instance of the danger to which one is
exposed by this fatal passion.” Castigation is much more to be dreaded
when practised by one of an opposite sex from that of the patient. Even
young children notice this difference. Rousseau, describing the effect
produced on him by being punished by Mademoiselle Lambercier, says,
he was then eight years old, “For a long time she confined herself to
threats, and the threat of punishment seemed very dreadful to me; but
after it was performed, I found it less terrible than I expected; so
much so, that it required all my natural sweetness to prevent me from
seeking a return of the punishment, by averting it: for I found in
the pain, and even in the shame, a mixture of sensuality which had
left rather a desire, than a fear to be punished by the same hand.
The same punishment from the hand of her brother would doubtless have
been less agreeable.” Rousseau having exposed himself a second time to
punishment, it was seen _by a certain sign_, that this chastisement
did not produce the desired effect: he therefore escaped afterward.
Thanks to his temperament, Rousseau did not contract, at that dangerous
period, a habit which would have extinguished, at their source, those
admirable faculties which were afterward developed.

The importance of separating the sexes in schools can be seen from the
preceding remarks: this is done in many institutions, and should be
practised in all. The rod, too, should also be excluded from families,
and physicians should explain to families the double danger of a loss
of modesty, and of exciting the senses.

Certain articles of clothing may excite the skin, cause an itching,
and thus produce effects similar to those of flagellation. Haircloth
and sackcloth, with which some orders of monks are now clothed, have
contributed, it is said, together with the mode of life to that
reputation for incontinence possessed by some orders of friars. A want
of cleanliness has also had the same effect. Be this true or not, it
is wise to avoid the use of flannels next the skin, particularly in
young patients, and around the pelvis. Hence woollen pantaloons should
always be lined. The importance of keeping the sexual organs clean, has
already been pointed out; the same remarks apply to the whole body.

This cleanliness must be maintained by lotions and baths. The former
ought generally to be cold: this rule is seldom contra-indicated. As
to baths, we would remark that hot baths ought seldom to be prescribed
for onanists and for young persons generally, because of the excitement
which they cause. Tepid baths should also be used with care, as they
render one susceptible and delicate. Cold baths ought always then to be
preferred, when the season and health of the patients permit. There are
other rules to be mentioned hereafter.

The venereal appetite may be much modified by food and drinks. This
passion and the excesses with which it is attended may be connected
with the diet used. Hence when we attempt to cure a young person of
onanism a good selection of food and drink is very essential. It is
therefore important to state the dietetic conditions by which the
venereal appetite is excited or depressed.

_Sine cerere et Baccho friget Venus_ is an old proverb, which however
is too obsolete. Generally speaking abundance of good food is more
favorable to venereal desires than a contrary mode of diet. This may
be seen on a large scale by comparing years of plenty with those of
scarcity. We can then remark how injurious periods of public distress
are to the procreative power. This has long been observed, but has
now been demonstrated beyond a doubt, by the patient researches of
Villermé. He has ascertained from several statistical tables of
population in France, that at the period of the revolution when
the duty was removed from wine, salt, &c., when the laborers found
themselves unusually prosperous, when they indulged in feasts and
celebrations, in short, lived better, the number of births evidently
increased. Eleven tables were examined by Villermé, and to this
remark--he found but one exception. On the contrary, when the diet
of the people is poor and insufficient, the number of conceptions
diminishes and never resumes its level till abundance is restored. It
would even seem that after the period of scarcity has passed away, it
still continues to exercise an extraordinary degree of energy.

These facts were very manifest after the bad harvest of 1816: the
number of conceptions, proportionally speaking was less, from November
1816 to September 1817, especially during the months of April, May,
June, and July, than in other years. (_Ann. d’hyg. publ., Jun. 1834._)
Similar observations have been made in animals: it is remarked that the
period of heat supervenes when they are best fed, and that generally
they are much more productive when they are domesticated than when in
a wild state, where they are often liable to long fasts. Hence there
is reason for prescribing fasting to deaden carnal passions. Villermé
has remarked that in all those catholic countries of which he has seen
statistics, Lent, as it is now observed, and particularly as it was
formerly kept, seems to exercise an unfavorable influence on generation.

The facts which have been mentioned may be explained in several ways:
first by the action of plenty and scarcity on the health of the public.
Probably in times of scarcity, a state of things is observed analogous
to what is seen in marshy countries during the reign of epidemics.
The action of abundance on the power of procreation may be explained
also by the direct influence of the labor of digestion on the organs
where the venereal sense is located. It is known that amorous desires
are often developed directly after taking food. Nocturnal pollutions
sometimes occur directly after lying down. Serrurier speaks of a
maniac who had seminal emissions on taking food after long abstinence.
(_Dict. des Sc. Med._, vol. xliv. p. 116.) Farther the effect alluded
to may be produced as is readily imagined, more easily and forcibly
when the excitement attending the labor of digestion is excessive when
for instance, the repast has been great, composed of many exciting and
stimulant articles of food and of good wine or with a small quantity of
alcoholic drinks. Those individuals who are subject to pollution, feel
the direct influence of these circumstances.

Beside the immediate effect mentioned, a warm and analeptic diet by
giving the body an increase of excitement and force, may render amorous
desires more frequent and vivid. Thus the habitual free use of meats,
game, pork, ragouts, spices, heavy wines, liquors, coffee, &c., must
be considered as an indirect cause of venereal excesses, particularly
if the persons who live on this regimen do not counteract its effects
by active exercise. The use of vegetables, especially those which are
not very nutritious, have contrary effects. This remark must not be
considered too obsolete. A debilitating diet and excessive salacity
sometimes coexist: The Landes of Gironde are a striking instance of
this; their diet is very miserable; they live on vegetable soups made
with rancid lard; broths of meal, of coarse bread, and water, pure or
acidulated at most with vinegar, &c. Hence they are extremely thin, are
dark and sallow, and have an appearance of unhealthiness: this however
does not prevent their indulgence in love, to which they are extremely

Different articles of food have been mentioned as contributing more
than any others to excite the genital powers. Among them are found
_fishes_. It would seem that this quality has long been attributed
to them; this opinion however has not been received by moderns with
much credit until it was admitted doubtingly by Montesquieu. (_Del
l’esprit des lois_, Book xxiii. ch. 15.) Many authors have admitted
this to be fact on the authority of this great man, and then instead
of investigating whether it was true or not have attempted to assign
the reasons for it. Thus the prolifick virtue of fish has been said
to depend on the aromatics and other condiments with which they are
prepared; on their seasoning: on the phosphorus contained in their
flesh and more particularly in their milt: and by this fact, that
populations on the sea-coast live almost exclusively on fish. This has
been carried still farther: the parts of fishes which furnish the most
of the seminal material have been determined: and this property has
been ascribed to the milt, either because the semen is here secreted,
or on account of the phosphorus which Fourcroy and Vauquelin have
discovered in it. Some fishes however are thought to induce venereal
passions more than others.

We have attempted to find the origin of this opinion in regard to
fish but without success. In fact it has not the support of popular
notoriety which arises insensibly from daily observation. Thus
Benoislon has proved directly by statistical facts that fecundity
is not greater among the inhabitants of maritime coasts than among
those who live in other places. (_Bulletin de Férussac_, Jan., 1827.)
Villermé has noticed that in Greenland and among the Esquimaux, who
live principally on fish, on sea-calves, that is, aliments, containing
these oily parts, which are regarded as so prolific, women have rarely
more than two or three children during their life. Besides if fish has
the property ascribed to it, why is it that during Lent, that period
of the year when this form of food is most used, the procreative
power should be most inactive; a fact which is proved from documents
collected in almost every country by the laborious investigations of
Villermé. (_Annales d’hygiene publ._, Jan. 1831.) Hence it is extremely
improbable that fish possesses this property, which it is important to
establish in order not to discard from the regimen of youth, an article
of diet which being both nutritious and slightly stimulating, is well
adapted to prevent genital excitement or to subdue it.

Many other articles of food beside fish have been regarded as
aphrodisiac. Many insect eating reptiles, a bird called torcol and
numerous insects of which it is useless to speak. Eggs have also been
regarded as having the same property, and also truffles, mushrooms,
artichokes, celery, cocoa and all its preparations, onions and
condiments as ginger, pepper, and vanilla, and finally certain fruits
as strawberries, apricots, peaches, pineapples, &c.

Among the articles which we have named there are certainly some which
being heating and exciting, may cause desire although containing
nothing more specific than a great many substances which are esteemed
as antiaphrodisiac, because being cooling and soothing they may
produce the opposite effect. Among these latter, we find milk, which,
according to Ste. Marie, generally contributes less to form the semen
than most other articles of food. Among these also we may mention fresh
vegetables and particularly the sorrel, purslain, lettuce, endive,
cucumber, mushroom, melons, &c. To these may be added the flesh of
young animals, chicken, lamb, veal, &c., and also cooling drinks,
as orgeat, lemonade, &c. The regimen best adapted for appeasing all
carnal desires consists as we have seen in an antiphlogistic diet which
is composed of those fluids or solids which when introduced into the
stomach are digested and assimilated with the slightest possible degree
of excitement and heat. This regimen is that which should be prescribed
to those patients who possess a certain degree of vigor and wish to
protect themselves against urgent and dangerous desires.

Different medicines have also been prescribed for the same purpose:
many of them act in the same manner as the articles of food we have
mentioned: of this character are tisans of marshmallows, violets,
barley, emulsions, water distilled from lettuce, purslain, &c.:
of a similar character are iced drinks, ice given internally, and
even prepared ices. To calm the excitement of the genital organs
drugs having a positive influence on the nervous system are also
administered. Thus camphor given alone or in combination with nitre
has often been prescribed for this purpose. The special action of this
article on the urinary passages, leads to the belief that in some
cases it may be useful. Primrose and St. Basil have boasted of the
internal use of cicuta for moderating too ardent desires. Opium and its
preparations have been prescribed for the same purpose. The use of this
article by the Orientals and its effects upon them render us rather
suspicious of it; there may be cases however in which it is useful.
Belladonna deserves more confidence. Dr. Powell, in the London medical
magazine for April, 1824, relates the case of a young girl 27 years
old, who for more than three years experienced twice a month and even
more frequently violent attacks of a libidinous hysteria: her cure was
attributed to a potion composed in part of the tincture of belladonna,
which was used to such an extent as to produce dilatation of the
pupils. The results obtained by Chaussier, and by many others, from
applying belladonna to the neck of the uterus either to combat rigidity
in labor or to alleviate puerperal convulsions, lead us to think that
medicine may prove efficacious in satyriasis and nymphomania. Thridace
also may be tried in these cases, and Angelot has related a case of
spermatorrhœa supervening in consequence of excesses at the table which
was cured by this remedy. Distilled cherry-tree water also might be
added which Louyer Villermay indicates as useful in nymphomania.

Boracic acid, formerly termed the sedative salts of Homberg, has also
been recommended to subdue amorous passions. This is true likewise of
nitre, which, under this name, or that of Sal Prunelle and mineral
crystal, has been much esteemed as an antiaphrodisiac. The use of this
remedy according to Baldassar cured the man, who demanded so earnestly
the removal of his testes, and whose case has already been mentioned:
this salt was used because Prevatius, a physician at Pavia, having
administered it to a man for an affection of the bladder rendered him
impotent. The hemp and the willow have also been recommended: Etmuller
believes particularly in the action of this latter; and recommends the
extract of its leaves, and the sap obtained from its young branches in
spring. (_Trait du bon choix des medicamens_, 1710. Lyons.)

But among all drugs, those which are the longest known, and which were
most esteemed, are the _agnus castus_ or _vitex_, and the _nenuphar_.
Human credulity is severely taxed, to believe what has been said
as to the virtues of these articles. The Greek women, according to
Dioscorides, slept during the festivals of Ceres, on the leaves of
the agnus castus to preserve their chastity. Arnaud de Villeneuve
states that an infallible mode of preserving the breast from all
men’s attempts, is to carry a knife, the handle of which is made of
this wood. Even now its leaves and seeds are used both externally
and internally in monasteries to support more easily the rigors of
celibacy. At present, however, no one believes in its virtues. The
same is true of the nenuphar. Its reputation, as soothing the genital
organs, belongs to the early periods of sciences. It is mentioned in
Dioscorides and Galen, and its history is as fabulous as that of the
agnus-castus. The list of antiaphrodisiacs would terminate here, if
Montegre had not mentioned a tree called mairkonsia, which grew in the
East Indies, and which was used by some fakirs to render themselves
impotent. Every day those children, who are designed to be fakirs,
swallow a small roll of its leaves: the dose is gradually increased,
and at the age of twenty-five, the effect is irrevocably produced. This
tree is yet to be known by scientific men. (_Dict. des Se. Med._, _Art.

Besides those articles which act as stimulants on the genital organs
specially, these latter are excited by whatever tends to increase
the sensibility in general. A great degree of susceptibility, and a
moderate development of the venereal sense, may co-exist, and are often
found combined: but this only proves that the genital apparatus may
escape certain influences, and not respond to the excitements which
are impressed on it. Thus, whatever _tends_ to develop, or to diminish
the sensibility of a subject, must be considered not as necessarily
modifying that of the genital organs, but as having the power to modify
it, and as exercising this power in many cases.

Now if we consider that the abuses of the genital organs arise most
generally, because the sensibility of these organs has been excited
too soon, or too vividly, we can imagine that a very great degree of
susceptibility may predispose to these abuses, and, that consequently,
to prevent and repress them, we must attend to every thing which favors
the development of the genital organs. The power of sensation, like
that of thought and action, is in many respects just what it is formed.
The _education_, that is, the cultivation of these three faculties, may
then give the senses a precocious language, and become indirectly a
principle of excess. It may also, when properly directed, be a powerful
means of preventing any excess. Let us see then how education acts, and
how it is directed.

It is only by exercise that the faculties are cultivated. It would
be very wrong, however, to suppose that each one of them has an
individual existence, and by use may be developed separately, and
independent of the others. The human faculties seem to have a certain
extent of power in common, which they divide in such a manner that one
cannot increase except at the expense of the others. An individual
who possesses excessive sensibility, rarely enjoys a great degree of
muscular vigor. Those men who are noted for muscular strength, are
seldom distinguished for the brilliancy of their intellect. Education
then acts in two ways: directly, by developing the faculties which it
exercises, and indirectly, by opposing the progress of those which it
neglects. What it gives to one, it takes from another: it is both a
positive, and a negative power. As to the modes of directing it, they
act by regulating the use of the three faculties during the period
of life when they are forming. This is not the place to say how far
education should be carried, so that, in a physical, intellectual, and
moral point of view, it should be good: we seek only to determine what
it ought to be, in order that a too vivid, or too precocious a facility
to receive impressions, may not become the causes of venereal excesses.

It is not among the working classes, that those subject to hysteria and
hypochondria, are most numerous. The fatigue of body, when constant,
dulls the senses. On the other hand, whatever enervates, renders one
susceptible to excesses. These facts, which are generally known, and
are confirmed by daily observation, ought to show the influence of
exercise and rest on the venereal passion. Onanism is arrested in those
children, much more readily, who are extremely active and always in
exercise, than in those who are sedentary. The period of puberty, this
emancipation of the genital organs, is later, by two or three years,
in those individuals who take just enough of repose to rest them from
fatigue, than in those who take exercise simply because wearied of
repose. Other things being equal, the adult who depends upon his daily
labor for his bread, thinks less of sexual pleasures than the idler.
Helvetius (_de l’homme sect._ 10, _note_ 4,) attributes the lascivious
tastes of the Asiatics to their idleness, and the indifference of
the Canadians to the pleasures of love, to the fatigues experienced
by hunting and fishing. Villermé has attempted to show by statistics
the influence of great labor on conceptions, but has not accomplished
it. He, however, is disposed to regard the influence of fatigue on
the sexual feelings, as the cause of the enormous difference said
to have been observed in the Antilles, between the fecundity of the
black slaves, and that of the whites. He remembers to have read, that
in 1798, at St. Domingo, three marriages of blacks produced only two
children, while each union between whites produced three children.

It may be seen from the preceding remarks to what extent exercise is
useful to young children. Unfortunately, the intellectual and moral
necessities of our age cause physical education to be sacrificed in
many respects. How many desires must necessarily be cherished, by
confining the physical activity of young people, chained down as it
were, hour after hour. How many men of mind have protested against the
brief period of recreation allowed in our schools. Mr. Taillefer has
done this in an excellent work published in 1824, on the improvement to
be introduced in schools. This is true, also, of Pavet de Courtailles
and Simon, (_Hygiene des Colleges, and Hygiene de la jeunesse_,) and
in America by Dr. A. Brigham, of Hartford, whose work entitled, _The
Influence of Mental Cultivation upon Health_, is full of judicious
precept and sound logic. Gymnastic exercises, which are now beginning
to be generally used in boys’ schools, and to be adopted in some
seminaries for young ladies, compensate in some measure for their
enervating education. Simon (of Metz) asserts that masturbation,
formerly so destructive in the Orphan Asylum at Berne, has been
expelled from it by introducing exercises. He adds, too, that this
scourge has also disappeared from the schools of Switzerland, since
mutual instruction was introduced, which, as is well known, obliges
children to change their position frequently.

A very active life may remedy a too great degree of lasciviousness.
Hunting, particularly, has been recommended for this purpose. ‘Diana
has been regarded as the enemy of Love,’ says Rousseau, “and the
allegory is just: the languor of love only comes from sweet repose.
Violent exercise extinguishes the tender emotions.” Rullier has known
hunting to produce in a man forty years old, who was passionately
addicted to it, a true anaphrodisia, which disappeared when the patient
adopted, in accordance with the advice of his physician, another mode
of life. Some exercises, however, produce a contrary effect, viz.:
those which excite the genital organs directly. Riding in a carriage,
especially if it jolts much, and still further riding on horseback,
may act in this manner. This effect was known to the ancient authors.
Aristotle speaks of it. All those accustomed to riding know that the
motions of the horse often produce an erection, and sometimes an
involuntary emission of semen. A similar occurrence may take place from
riding in a carriage. Serrurier has known this to happen in himself.

The sitting posture, when long continued, excites the genital organs.
Simon thinks so; because this attitude, by the pain and obstruction
which it causes to the circulation, brings the blood to the lower parts
of the trunk, and keeps it there: hence, it exposes the young man to
excitement of the genital organs, and to engorgements of the spermatic
cord: even hemorrhoids appear in those who ride and sit much. This
author concludes by condemning the custom, in schools, of keeping the
students sitting the greater part of the day. He thinks that the number
of hours spent in school should be less, and that the students should
study as many of their lessons as possible, in the erect posture. He
recommends, also, that the seats should be so constructed as not to
generate much heat, as do those which are stuffed.

The action of intellectual labor is extremely analogous to that of
muscular exertion. Persons whose minds are much occupied, who are
devoted to their studies, are generally but slightly sensual in their
feelings. There are some literary men who thus have become prematurely
impotent. On the other hand, individuals whose minds are naturally dull
and heavy, the imbeciles and idiots, are frequently remarkable for
their extreme salacity. The cultivation of the intellect then is not in
itself a predisposing cause of venereal abuses, but it may become so
indirectly, either by the physical inaction which it demands, or by the
nature of the ideas it excites. We have spoken of the former, and will
now consider the latter.

The moral influences, that is, those which are impressed on the senses
through the medium of the intellect, often predispose young patients
to the abuses of which we are treating. The action of these influences
is direct: it is by the impressions which they develop, that they may
give to the senses the power of holding a language, and of exercising
a precocious influence. They are particularly to be dreaded when they
address the instinct of propagation, and excite it before the organized
system is perfectly developed. The moral education also, that education
which consists in keeping from the young certain impressions, does not
act until their time has come, and must be considered as one of the
most efficacious modes of preventing the premature abuse of venereal

Notions of love may, when acquired too soon, excite in the soul a
sensation which is first vague, then more precise, and which only
requires an opportunity to become a fatal passion. Thus the reading
of romances, and books which always interest the soul in love scenes
which are painted in bright colors, ought to be strictly forbidden to
young people. The same is true of theatrical representations. Here love
is in a measure materialized: we see the persons who are animated by
this passion: they express themselves in a manner to make one really
think they feel it: they attempt by every kind of coquetry to deceive
and delude the public, and even to excite desires. Art lends her aid
to eloquence and gesture to move the heart, and the fear of failing to
enlist the feelings, often induces the actor to overstep the bounds
of nature, and then he represents libertinism, not love. Conceive of
the effect which this must produce upon one who is uninitiated, who
is thus, as it were, introduced into a new world: the venereal sense
becomes excited sooner than it ought to be, and desires demand to be
satisfied before the body has attained its strength, and consequently
before legitimate pleasures are practicable or allowable.

Balls, parties, and assemblies, all opportunities of seeing the world
in its gayest and most attractive attire, are dangerous to youth.
Generally speaking, the habitual intercourse of the two sexes ought
to be avoided as much as possible. In a report made to the Industrial
Society of Malhouse, as to the number of hours which children ought
to labor daily, the evening labor which brings the different sexes
together in the workshops, is mentioned as a great source of trouble.
One advantage of schools is, that the different sexes are kept
distinct. In families, and we do not except those which are models of
morality, the opportunities of intercourse between boys and girls are
too frequent. Certain emotions, of an obscure character at first, are
felt: curiosity is excited, and soon the secret of solitary indulgence
is found. Young persons may also, under their paternal roof, acquire
dangerous notions in regard to the material differences between the
sexes, and other facts which are the consequence of them. “I do not
see,” says Rousseau, “but one mode of preserving in children their
innocence; which is, that all those around should respect and love it.”
Unfortunately, the smallness of dwelling houses in cities, and other
necessities, particularly that of watching their offspring obliges
parents to keep their children near them, and their curiosity being
always on the alert, often leads them to unfortunate discoveries. Abbe
Chappe has stated the manner in which the Samoides live in their huts,
as an active cause of libertinism. These individuals do not use beds,
but lie, almost naked, on straw and on benches. The children witness
much that should be concealed from them; become loose in their morals,
and hence they have to be married early to prevent excesses. (_Travels
in Siberia, Vol. 1._) If accidental observations in the most moral
families may be attended with the results just mentioned, what must be
the consequence of constant depraved manners; their empire is so great
at this age when the mind is unexperienced, and is always ready to
adopt the impressions of the moment. In pity then to youth, let every
magistrate prevent the publicity of immodesty and vice; do not let
prostitution be sanctioned by the law: for when our sons and daughters
are liable to find out in an instant what we have so carefully
concealed from them, the responsibility should rest not simply on those
unfortunate beings who follow such a course of life, but also on the
part of those who having the power to prevent it, close their eyes, and
permit, or even authorize it.

_Rules relating to the direct and special causes of onanism._ The habit
of onanism may have three origins: it may be, 1st, that the individual
discovers it spontaneously; 2d, that the vice may be taught him; 3d,
that being unable to satisfy his desires for coition, he seeks a
resource in onanism.

We have already seen that an unusual irritation of the genito-urinary
mucous membrane may develop venereal excitement capable of causing
satyriasis and nymphomania. This irritation may also act in another
manner. The itching it occasions may cause the hands to be carried to
the genital organs; unknown sensations are produced, and masturbation
is accidentally discovered. We see by this how necessary it is in young
patients to protect these parts from all sources of itching. Sometimes,
too, a knowledge of this vice comes from accident. Hence children at
an early age should be taught habits of modesty; all handling of the
genital organs should be prohibited. Children should not be allowed to
keep their hands in their pockets. Neither should they be left alone
long: the necessity of observing, which is so vivid at their age,
is exercised on themselves, when they find nothing else to interest
them, and they sometimes make dangerous observations. It is in bed
particularly that this evil is most liable to happen; hence they should
be taken from their beds as soon as they awake, and the hour of rest
should not long precede that of sleep. Many children have been led to
onanism by their efforts to resist the wish to urinate. The pressure
exercised on the penis by pressing the thighs firmly against each
other, has excited sensations which they have attempted to re-produce.
We mention this cause of onanism as being much more common than is
generally supposed.

There is another cause, which is much more rare, but which deserves to
be known: domestic animals, as cats and dogs, have sometimes licked the
sexual parts of young children, particularly girls, and have excited
a sense which ought to sleep. Hufeland publishes a remarkable case of
this character in support of some peculiar views on venereal disease,
and adds that Ruggieri some years before, published in the medical
journals, a case where, by the licking of a dog, ulcers of a bad
character were developed in the genitals of two old maids. (_Bibliot.
Med._, May, 1821, p. 250.)

Most frequently, however, the habit of onanism arises from direct
provocation, from instruction. Sometimes this provocation can be
attributed only to imprudence. Thus nurses sometimes titillate the
genital organs in children to stop their cries. We have already stated,
from Biett, the instance of a young girl who had thus contracted
this bad habit, and who was cured by the amputation of the clitoris:
this case arose probably only from ignorance. Sometimes, however,
servants teach their masters’ children from wilfulness. One should be
particularly careful of female servants, as it is to them that young
children are generally entrusted. Male domestics are generally to be
feared, only for those young persons who are near the age of puberty.
The wish to please their young master, often induces them to give the
most disgusting lessons. Most frequently, however, these lessons come
from their associates, the older boys teaching those who are younger.

If among young patients onanism is practised for itself, it is
afterward only an apology for the want of more legitimate enjoyments.
Celibacy, in adults, is with some few exceptions the only cause of
onanism. This practice, and others still more revolting, are common
among monastic orders, as the consequence and punishment of vows made
contrary to the laws of nature. Polygamy, the quasi celibacy to which
the females of many countries submit, also causes great derangements
in the system. A kind of consumption has been described to which the
Turkish women are subject, and which can be traced to no other cause.
(_Journal de Med., Vol._ 44, p. 539.) It is in prisons, however, where
there is no moral feeling, that this vice is most prevalent. Villermé
remarks, that the amount of this vice in prisons, is almost incredible.
Young and old abandon themselves to it so freely, that the physicians
of the prisons of the department of the Seine, attribute the frequency
of pulmonary consumption, of cramps in the stomach, muscular debility,
weakness of sight, and of the intellectual faculties, to this cause
alone. This physician considers onanism as one of the causes of the
excessive mortality existing in the depots of mendicity. (_Dict. des
Sc. Med._, _art. Prison_.)

Sailors also often abandon themselves during their long voyages to
this vice. Many adults, and particularly females, seek in solitary
indulgence a compensation for the restraints imposed on them by
laws and customs. Even animals indulge. Montegre has published some
interesting details on this subject. (_Dict. des Sc. Med._, _art.

We have said that onanism is performed so easily that it is much more
to be feared than sexual intercourse. If then the physician has to
choose between the two, he ought not to hesitate. In human things
we cannot always choose between an injury and a benefit. Sometimes
the selection is between a greater and a lesser evil. We may then
without detriment to physical and moral laws, counsel the young man
who indulges in onanism, to gratify his feelings in a less dangerous
manner. This also was Rousseau’s opinion. He says, in his Emile, “If
a tyrant must conquer you, I would prefer to yield you to that from
which you can be released most easily: and you can be weaned from
females more readily than from yourself.” The physician in these cases
should recommend marriage.

This advice, too, is sanctioned by experience. Many young men after
indulging in sexual intercourse, have commenced onanism; despising the
latter, after exercising the former. “We have known a father,” say
Fournier and Begin, “who finding his son disobeyed his advice, married
him, and with success.” The same remedy has often been tried, and with
good effect. A single coition has often sufficed to appease excessive
ardor in females, and we could state several cases of nymphomania which
have been thus immediately cured. Pregnancy also has been followed by
the same results: this fact was known to the ancients and is mentioned
in a work ascribed to Hippocrates. Panarolus, Matthew de Grado, and
others, have related cases of females affected with nymphomania, who
are never calm except during pregnancy. The following fact, observed by
Esquirol, shows the influence of coition and pregnancy on the genital
system. “A strong and healthy girl, of good family, nineteen years
old, became affected with hysteria, with violent and almost constant
convulsions. After a long and ineffectual course of medical treatment,
this young woman disappeared from her father’s house, and all inquiries
for her were in vain. After a few months, Esquirol, passing in the
evening through a noted and dissipated quarter of Paris, was stopped by
a female, whom he recognised to be his patient. On inquiring what she
was doing, she answered, “Getting well.” For eighteen months this girl
was a prostitute of the lowest order. She miscarried twice, and finally
returned to her father’s house perfectly well. This woman is now
married, a mother, and extremely circumspect in her conduct.” (_Dict.
des Sc. Med._, _art. Continence_.)


When a desire can be satisfied, and is not, it is because the will is
enchained, or this is distracted by circumstances more powerful than
desire. Thus then it is possible to inspire an individual with certain
fears, or by distracting his thoughts to make his will resist his

The fear of God and his ministers may have great influence over the
minds of many, and preserve strict continence. The fear of confession
has often, to our knowledge, produced a denial of desire in young
persons. At the present day, however, this latter influence cannot be
depended on much, and confessors, by their imprudent questions, have
often excited curiosity in hearts yet innocent.

The fear of transgressing the rules of modesty taught in youth,
restrains some individuals. Others abstain because they fear the
correction and reproaches of a father, and think on the shame with
which they would be covered were their secret known. Chastisement has
sometimes had the effect of rendering the guilty ones very circumspect.
But of all fears, that which has produced the most effect on onanists,
is the fear of disease and death.

Onanists rarely believe what is told them by parents and others, as to
the dangers of their course, but place more credit on what they read
in books; and of these, Tissot is the only one which possesses much
reputation. It has been much read, and although attended with great
good effects, it has not always been useful. Many think its statements
exaggerated, and therefore injurious. We have known it to fail entirely
of its desired purpose, and to cause deplorable effects. On the whole,
however, it has done much good, which it would be unjust not to
acknowledge. At the same time, we must say, that a knowledge of the
reproaches against Tissot, and the desire to avoid them, have had no
influence over a word of the present treatise. In composing it we have
been actuated by a desire to tell the truth, and have more than once
remarked that we must not judge of the common effects of onanism by the
cases which have been published, as those only which are very severe,
appear in print. We have also said that the most common effects of
onanism consist rather in certain vitiations of temperament, than in
diseases having a precise form, and a distinct place in the systems
of nosology. We have also shown how rapidly the health is generally
restored when indulgence in onanism ceases. But this was done not to
exercise any influence over the minds of those who might read the book,
but simply to do justice to the truth.

The word of a physician may frequently however produce a change in
the patient; more frequently than the reading of a book. He should
not hesitate to speak boldly, for if it be requisite he can afterward
modify his opinion. The effect of an opinion as follows, “In three
months you will be a dead man” is often very great. The onanist
trembles and becomes pale: his heart beats quickly, his strength fails.
Do not regret it, it is not by encouragement that you will save him
from himself. Add however that in a few months he will be a well man,
provided he will renounce his bad habits. These words of hope will
console him and encourage him to resist his evil desires. Frequently
however the impression caused by this language is soon effaced. In this
case another remedy must be sought for. The language and tone of the
physician too should vary according to the person addressed; but he
should always present the certainty of death if the vice is continued,
and that of relief if it be arrested.

Sometimes the onanist leaves his old habit very gradually, a course
which is recommended by Swediaur. This course may be pursued for two
reasons: the first is that it is more easy to quit this habit by
degrees than to break it off violently: the second that it is not
always prudent to leave off habits suddenly even if they are bad.
Persons have sometimes been blinded by being taken from their dungeons
too suddenly.

When a young man however finds himself unable to resist the force of
his desires notwithstanding the perusal of books and the advice of
his physician, there is still one resource, which is the sight of
an onanist dying. Approach and look at him: he was recently healthy
and his prospects bright. He indulged in onanism: see what he is now;
friends and physicians remonstrated with him but in vain; he would
listen to nothing, he believed nothing. Now however he believes, but
it is too late, for in a few days his earthly career will be closed.
If terror does not affect him who witnesses this doleful picture you
cannot produce it. A surgeon named Bertrand aware of the power of this
mode of instruction constructed in wax two figures which represented
onanists of both sexes. These figures were exhibited to those suspected
of indulging in onanism and produced it is said very beneficient

The ancients and we will cite Avicenna, and Paul of Egina, recommend
that we should attempt to excite in the minds of those addicted to this
vice an interest about external objects. _Distraction_ is then a mode
which may be usefully recommended to those onanists over whom their
desires have not much power. Travelling, study, recreation, in fact
every thing which can give the mind a strong and new direction, should
be recommended, and may have the effect of distracting the onanist from
his bad habit.


Masturbation is possible only under the two following conditions: first
there must be an opportunity to indulge in secret; next there must
be a possibility of indulging. Hence by frustrating these conditions
we can prevent onanism, the wishes of the onanist to the contrary

The opportunities for onanism are all embraced under one term,
_isolation_. It is necessary for the onanist to be alone. Hence
watchfulness, that precaution which makes the young man constantly
observes, which exposes him every moment to detection and consequently
to shame, to reproaches and to punishment for his fault, is a powerful
means of preventing it.

Watchfulness should be particularly practised over young people, when
they are undressed, in bed, in the bath or in the privy. Hence the
young patient should undress, go to bed and rise under your inspection.
If this be not sufficient, he should share your bed. This measure is
frequently the only way to prevent onanism. In large boarding schools
there should be no private rooms: the sleeping chambers should be
extensive, and a lamp, which would give sufficient light to assist your
watchfulness, but not enough to prevent sleep, should burn in it all
night. The masters and those who have charge of the pupils ought to
examine in silence at different hours and the most perfect quiet should
exist in the apartment. Here too the hours of retirement and of rising
should be calculated according to the ages, so that the suspected or
guilty might never go to bed except to sleep. Be watchful of those who
stay long in privies: those however with ample accommodations are not
so dangerous as those which are single. In some schools the doors of
the privies are open at the top, so that an adult can look into them.
Need we add that persons who are suspected should be watched in the

Onanism is executed with the hand and thighs on the sexual parts or
by rubbing these parts against external bodies. Different modes have
been proposed to obviate and prevent these. The most simple of all is
to oblige the children to keep their hands out of bed. This plan when
it can be observed is often sufficient, particularly in boys. Besides
this we knew of only one remedy, the purpose of what can be concealed,
viz., the application of a cold cataplasm to the sexual parts, a plan
we have recommended several times. Pavet de Courtielle proposes the use
of a chemise reaching below the feet and which is drawn together at the
bottom: this remedy may be efficacious. The remedies which remain to
be treated of are essentially coercive: hence the chance of success is
smaller the older and stronger the patients are.

The hands may be tied to keep them from the sexual organs, and the feet
also may be tied so as to keep the thighs separated. The child too may
be placed in a straight waistcoat fastened behind, which may force the
arms to rest on the chest. Different apparatus has been contrived also
to keep the thighs asunder. One is composed of thick pieces of cork
which are attached to the inside of the thighs. Drawers opening behind
are sometimes used: these serve to imprison the lower part of the trunk.

A kind of truss is sometimes used to preserve the sexual parts from
external contact. The principal piece of this is of metal, either
silver or tin: for females its form is triangular, and for boys
it represents a sort of mould, in which the penis and scrotum may
be placed: the bandage is kept in place by springs, like those of
herniary bandages. To add to the security of this apparatus it is
sometimes applied to a dress which opens only behind. In young and
feeble children these means are exceedingly efficacious, as experience
has proved. The art of the onanist has even sometimes evaded these
bandages. The following case occurred in the practice of Reveille
Pariset; a little girl 7 years old, whose health failed every day
having been detected in onanism, her mother instead of reproaching her,
gave her to understand that it was the custom to apply a bandage to
girls of her age. This bandage was fitted very accurately and attained
the purpose desired; the health of the child being rapidly established.
Soon however the symptoms reappeared and more violently than before.
The bandage was examined and it was found to be undisturbed. She
however was watched and it was found that she used a quill for the
purposes of onanism, which she slipped in under the bandage. After
this, the mother stayed with her daughter all the time, and by her
vigilance the child was saved.

These mechanical bandages have other inconveniences which limit their
use. First they cannot be employed in boarding schools as they become
the subject of remark; and then they keep up in the genital organs
a constant heat, irritation and moisture. The edges of the principal
piece also may cause deep excoriations. For all this, however they are
often useful and ought not to be neglected.



In therapeutics we proceed in two ways; sometimes tracing the symptoms
to their cause, we attempt to destroy this cause in the organ in which
it is situated, and sometimes we attend only to symptoms. The same plan
is applicable to the abuses of the genital organs, which as we have
already seen forms a real disease.

The most efficient way to arrest the evil caused by these abuses, is
to stop them. When this is done, order is established very rapidly.
Hence the preservative means are in our view better than any remedial
measures. Often however, when these excesses have been frequently
repeated and long continued, the genital organs continue without
provocation the work which was commenced by onanism. Thus _involuntary
pollutions_ keep up and increase a degree of exhaustion and other
complaints which would otherwise disappear. In this case the treatment
to be followed is to arrest the pollutions. These generally result, as
we have said, from an inflammation of the seminal passages analogous
to that existing in the urethra in blenorrhœa. This fact has lately
been demonstrated anatomically by Lallemand and M. Davila. Hence the
treatment of involuntary spermatorrhœa resembles in many respects that
of chronic catarrh. The following are the principal remedies to be

First must be placed cold applications to the genital organs; of these
pure water and ice are more generally and successfully employed. In
using these, Coelius Aurelian employed sponges. Wichmann wet cloths,
and Ste. Marie, who preferred ice, used a bladder. Cold washes and
affusions to the part and cold douches to the perineum, and hipbaths
and seabaths have also been used. Lallemand who repudiates enemata too
hot or warm thinks that those which are cold may be useful. Sulphurous
baths have likewise been employed by Lallemand, in the manner described
in his work in diseases of the genito-urinary organs. Davila in his
thesis relates instances cured in this mode, and also the case of a
young man who was cured of a diurnal pollution by introducing into the
urethra a sound, which was retained there as long as the patient could
bear it. Lallemand entertains the same opinion, and has also employed
acupuncture and he says with success. He has known patients who after
the application of needles between the posterior parts of the bursœ and
the anus, have passed three or four months without pollutions.

Some practitioners have succeeded by directing their remedies to the
cerebellum and the spinal marrow.

Many medicines have been administered internally for losses of semen.
Those most in repute are the preparations of iron and quinine,
either separately or together. Ferruginous waters, particularly
those of Spa, and the oxides of iron, have often been used. Wichmann
recommends several glasses of Spa water every morning combined with
some preparation of cinchona: Serrurier has related a case showing
the efficacy of this treatment. Lallemand thinks that cinchona and
generally all remedies which contain tannin, only benefit temporarily.
Many authors also disapprove of the use of astringents and tonics in
spermatorrhœa, attributing to them among other inconveniences, that of
causing constipation.

Many narcotic substances have also been used. We have related a case
where thridace has succeeded. Belladonna also might be useful. In a
patient mentioned by Serrurier, opium seems to have exasperated the
complaint. Davila however thinks that opiates have been prescribed with
success: but he dreads the constipation which they generally cause.
Other remedies as the mineral acids, phosphoric lemonade, lime water,
some preparations of lead, magnesia, ipecac, &c. have been used. Might
not advantage be derived from the use of balsam copaiva and pulverized
cubebs in some cases of spermatorrhœa.

We have already made some remarks on regimen, when speaking of the mode
of avoiding or calming the venereal sense, and our rules for restoring
individuals exhausted by onanism, will be stated hereafter.

The object of the treatment stated is to remedy the disease, caused
by the loss of semen. A mode has been proposed by Wender to prevent
this physically; this consists in the compression of the canal of the
urethra: it is accomplished by means of a pair of forceps made of
flexible wood, six to seven inches long, and from twelve to eighteen
lines thick. This forceps is used by passing the penis between its two
branches, one being above, and the other below; the two extremities
are then tied with a cord. In this manner the penis is compressed and
slightly confined; which is sufficient, says Wender, to remove all
voluptuous sensation from this part, and to arrest the pollution. He
has given the details of a case obtained by these means, and by the
proper administration of tonics.

Wender’s forceps may have several inconveniences, and may frequently
fail of the proposed end. But has it not been too much ridiculed, and
is it not susceptible of improvement? Serrurier thinks that the idea
may be turned to advantage, and Reveillé Pariset assures us that he has
used it twice in cases of pollution, and with success. (_Revue. Med._,
_April_, 1828, p. 94.)

Having mentioned the course to pursue in order to reach the seat of the
disease, that is, the voluntary and involuntary pollutions, let us now
speak of their effects. One of two things must happen; either these
pollutions pursue their work, or finally the economy becomes insensible
to their action. The first supposition is that least favorable to
success: the physician prescribes for effects while the cause continues
to act; he _doctors_, as it is called, for symptoms; and it is the
same as if one should attempt to cure gastritis or pleuritis, without
attending to the pleura or stomach. This, however, is no reason for
abstaining completely from treatment. We may also sometimes retard the
progress of the disease, or calm any painful and disquieting symptom.
The physician has a much better prospect of success, when there is no
longer a habit to destroy the health, and when no pollutions occur.
We shall not attempt in this place to give the treatment proper for
the different diseases which may be produced by onanism. Myelitis,
dementia, amaurosis, epilepsy, &c., &c., whether caused by onanism or
not, require special remedies, which are stated in works which treat of
these affections. We would remark, however, that when these diseases
are caused by onanism, it is perfectly futile for the physician to
attempt to treat the disease, unless the habit of self pollution be
arrested. In this place we will only mention that consumption, that
exhaustion, in fact, that deterioration, which we have described in the
third chapter of our first part.

Onanistic deterioration presents two very distinct phenomena: 1st,
the consumption of the strength; 2d, the excitement of the senses.
Thus, then, to restore the strength without increasing, and even, if
possible, to diminish the general disposition to receive impressions,
are the two indications to be fulfilled.

But before commencing, it is well to remember that this cannot be done
in a few days. A disease which is gradual in its appearance is removed
in the same manner. The physician who would attempt to hurry it by
employing active remedies, would soon exhaust the system.

The best mode of reparation is found in diet: the body must be
recruited by food, and inasmuch as only those things are nutritious
which are digested, the first rule to be observed is, that all the
conditions of good digestion are properly observed. Inasmuch as these
conditions present nothing special in respect to onanists, we shall
be very brief, referring to our previous remarks on this subject. It
must first be considered, that in patients accustomed to onanism the
digestive functions are always deranged, or are liable to be so.

The slightest error in diet may aggravate this state considerably;
which is, in itself, an evil, and may add to the trouble of cure.
Hence, if the rules of a good regimen should always be vigorously
observed, this necessity is still more imperious when patients indulge
in onanism.

Every article of food which is difficult to digest should be forbidden,
and among articles which can be digested, those should be selected
which contain the most nourishment, and are the least exciting. Thus
condiments, which are but slightly nutritious, and are very exciting,
ought never to be used, unless they are indispensably necessary to
digestion, and then only in very small quantities. Milk is very
nutritious, and does not excite; it should therefore be preferred
by all those who are exhausted. If cow’s milk be found difficult of
digestion, asses’ milk and that of woman has been recommended. But if
this article be difficult of digestion, it should be prohibited, for
then it is injurious. The flesh of young animals, particularly veal
and poultry, is good; but beef and mutton is still better, for they
contain more nutritious matter in a smaller compass. These articles,
when roasted or broiled, are better than when boiled. Fresh fish is
generally a suitable article of food: we allude to those kinds which
are easily digested, as shad, perch, &c. Soups, especially those of
beef, turtle, and the different broths, should always, in order to be
digested, be mingled with solid articles of food, and should even take
their place, if these latter cannot be digested.

Farinaceous substances, and especially bread, rice, potatoe, &c., are
very suitable, because they are nutritious, and but slightly stimulant;
but they are often bad to digest.

The rule _little and often_, is the rule to follow, in regard to the
division of food. The patient has always taken too much food: if he
feels perfectly satisfied, or if he experiences any inconvenience
after it, the quantity of nourishment should be so regulated that
nothing of this kind could occur. The meals should be taken frequently,
only because they are small. We prefer to give broth warm, or more
frequently still, cold, by spoonfuls, and have seen a benefit from it.

Drinks are not very nutritious, and generally stimulate much. Those
which are given to strengthen, only do so for a few moments. They
excite, and do not nourish. If the patient takes them to quench
thirst, he should take as little as possible, for they also must be
digested. In this respect wines may be useful. To choose among them,
the experience of the patient must be consulted. A general rule governs
the use of drinks at meals, viz.: to attain the proposed end with the
smallest quantity of drink. Very dry wines, liquors, coffee, tea, &c.,
ought not to be permitted, unless absolutely necessary to digestion.
The use of Selzer water, and particularly of Spa water, may be very
advantageous. Very cold drinks are often the only ones suitable to the

Medicines have often been administered, either to strengthen the
system, or to re-establish the digestive powers. Of these, the most
useful are preparations of iron, quinine, and bitters. It is possible
to improve the digestive organs with these drugs, and also with others;
but this is not the place to give the treatment of diseases which are
marked by difficulty of digestion. I know that some tonics may be used
with great advantage, especially if they are given in such doses as to
have no direct and immediate effect, particularly if their local action
on the stomach and intestines be not too powerful.

Very cold baths, like every remedy capable of having an intense effect,
should be forbidden to patients exhausted by onanism. But if the baths
are simply cold, and particularly if they are taken in running water,
or in the sea, they may strengthen the constitution. Dry, or aromatic
frictions on the limbs, or along the vertebral column, are useful. The
exercise should be moderate exercise, for too much fatigue exhausts
the strength, instead of increasing it, and might excite or hasten the
development of one of the diseases produced by onanism. A pure and dry
air, like that breathed in hilly countries, may also have a favorable
influence on the economy generally, or on digestion.


The preceding pages may seem to many of our readers more particularly
adapted to France; and it may be presumed that onanism is not so
frequent in America. This however is a mistake: an able writer in that
valuable periodical, the Boston Med. and Surg. Journal, when treating
on the subject remarks as follows:--

“The pernicious and debasing practice of MASTURBATION is a more common
and extensive evil with youth of both sexes, than is usually supposed.
The influence of this habit upon both mind and body, severe as it has
been considered, and greatly as it has been deprecated, is altogether
more prejudicial than the public, and, as is believed, even the medical
profession, are aware.

“A great number of the evils which come upon the young at and after the
age of puberty, arise from _masturbation_, persisted in, so as to waste
the vital energies and enervate the physical and mental powers of man.
Not less does it sap the foundation of moral principles, and blast the
first budding of manly and honorable feelings which were exhibiting
themselves in the opening character of the young.

“Many of the weaknesses commonly attributed to growth and the changes
in the habit by the important transformation from adolescence to
manhood, are justly referable to this practice.

“This change requires all the energy of the system, greatly increased
as it is at this period of life, which if undisturbed will bring about
a vigorous and healthy condition of both the mental and physical powers.

“If masturbation be commenced at this period, it cannot fail to
interrupt essentially this important process; and if continued, will
inevitably impress imbecility on the constitution, not less apparent in
the body than the mind, preventing, as it will not fail to do, the full
development of the powers of both.

“The individual becomes feeble, is unable to labor with accustomed
vigor, or to apply his mind to study; his step is tardy and weak, he is
dull, irresolute, engages in his sports with less energy than usual,
and avoids social intercourse; when at rest he instinctively assumes
a lolling or recumbent posture, and if at labor or at his games takes
every opportunity to lie down or sit in a bent and curved position.
The cause of these infirmities is _often_ unknown to the subject of
them, and _more generally_ to the friends; and to labor, or study, or
growth, is attributed all the evils which arise from the practice of
this secret vice, which if persisted in will hardly fail to result in
irremediable disease or hopeless idiocy. The natural consequence of
indulgence in this, as in most other vices, is an increased propensity
to them. This is particularly true of masturbation. In my intercourse
with this unfortunate class of individuals, I have found a large
proportion of them wholly ignorant of the causes of their complaints,
and if not too far gone the abandonment of the habit has, after awhile,
removed all the symptoms and resulted in confirmed health.

“One young man, now under my care, was first arrested in his career
by reading the chapters on the subject in the Young Man’s Guide. For
many months, he has totally abstained from the practice, and yet he
is feeble, depressed, irresolute, and unable to fix his attention to
any subject, or to pursue any active employment. But he is steadily
convalescing, and will doubtless recover.

“If the symptoms above enumerated do not lead in any way to a
discontinuance of the habit, other symptoms more formidable, and more
difficult of cure, will present themselves. The back becomes lame and
weak, the limbs tremble, the digestion is disturbed, and costiveness
or diarrhœa, or an alternation of them, take place. The head becomes
painful--the heart palpitates--the respiration is easily hurried--the
mind is depressed and gloomy--the temper becomes irritable--the sleep
disturbed, and is attended by lascivious dreams, and not unfrequently
nocturnal pollutions. With these symptoms the pulse becomes small, the
extremities cold and damp; the countenance is downcast, the eye without
natural lustre; shamefacedness is apparent, as if the unfortunate
victim was conscious of his degraded condition.

“The stomach often rejects food, and is affected with acidity, and
loathing; the nervous system becomes highly irritable; neuralgia, tabes
dorsalis, pulmonary consumption, or fatal marasmus, terminate the
suffering, or else insanity and deplorable idiocy are the fatal result.
Long before such an event, the mind is enfeebled, the memory impaired,
and the power of fixing the attention wholly lost. These are symptoms
which should awaken our attention to the danger of the case, and which
should induce us to sound the alarm, and if possible arrest the victim
from the inevitable consequences of persisting in the habit.

“In females, leucorrhœa is often induced by masturbation, and I doubt
not incontinence of urine, stranguary, prolapsus uteri, disease of the
clitoris, and many other diseases, both local and general, which have
been attributed to other causes.

“It is often difficult to obtain information on the subject of
masturbation. Where it is suspected by the physician, the friends are
wholly ignorant on the subject, and the individual, suffering, is not
ready to acknowledge a practice which he is conscious is filthy in the
extreme, although he may have had no suspicions of its deleterious
influence upon his health.

“It is not sufficient that we know the consequences of masturbation,
for these are often irremediable disease; we ought to know the symptoms
of its commencement, of the incipient stages of those diseases which
result from it, as well as the influence which the moderate practice of
it will have upon the physical and mental stamina of the man--for it is
not too much to say that the practice cannot be followed by either sex,
even in a moderate way, without injury, especially by the young.

“Nature designs that this drain upon the system should be reserved
to mature age, and even then that it be made but sparingly. Sturdy
manhood, in all its vigor, loses its energy and bends under the too
frequent expenditure of this important secretion; and no age or
condition will protect a man from the danger of unlimited indulgence,
legally and naturally exercised.

“In the young, however, its influence is much more seriously felt; and
even those who have indulged so cautiously as not to break down the
health or the mind, cannot know how much their physical energy, mental
vigor, or moral purity, have been affected by the indulgence.

“_Nothing short of total abstinence can save those who have become
the victims of it._ In this indulgence, no half way course will ever
subdue the disease, or remove the effect of the habit from the system.
Total abstinence is the only remedy. If the constitution is not
fatally impaired--if organic disease has not taken place, this remedy
will prove effectual, and must be adopted, especially in all cases in
which the effects are visible, or the consequences cannot fail to be
ultimately fatal.

“This means of cure may be seconded by others, which may be found
necessary to remove the effects upon the physical system. Suffice
it to remark here, that total abstinence, in an aggravated form of
masturbation, is not easily effected. Slight irritation will produce
an expenditure of the secretion quite involuntary, and spontaneous
emissions and nocturnal pollution may for a long time prolong the
danger, and prevent that renovation of the powers which would
otherwise be the result of the good resolution of the victim of the

“No cause is more influential in producing insanity, and, in a special
manner, perpetuating the disease, than masturbation. The records of the
institutions give an appalling catalogue of cases attributed to this
cause; and yet such records do not show nearly all the cases which are
justly ascribable to it. For it is so obscure, and so secret in its
operation, that the friends in almost all cases are wholly ignorant of
it. It is in a few cases only, where the practice of the vice becomes
shamefully notorious, that friends are willing to allow its agency
in the production of any disease, particularly insanity; and yet no
cause operates more directly upon the mind and the feeling. The mental
energies are prostrated by the habit in innumerable cases, long before
the delusions of insanity appear. Indeed there are many cases, in
which insanity does not intervene between the incipient stages of that
mental and physical imbecility, which comes early upon the victim of
masturbation, and the most deplorable and hopeless idiocy, in which it
frequently results.

“This is perhaps peculiar to this cause of idiocy. I know of no other
which does not produce the ravings and illusions of insanity, or the
gloomy musings, agitations and alarms of melancholy, before the mind is
lost in idiotism. But the victim of masturbation passes from one degree
of imbecility to another, till all the powers of the system, mental,
physical and moral, are blotted out forever!

“This is not, however, always the case. In some individuals there is
all the raving of the most furious mania, or the deep and cruel torture
of hapless melancholy, before the mind is obliterated and the energies
of the system forever prostrated.

“There are other circumstances attending the insanity from
masturbation, which render this the most distressing form of mental
disease. I allude to the difficulty of breaking up the habit while
laboring under this malady. When insanity is once produced by it, it
is nearly hopeless, because the cause of disease is redoubled and
generally perpetuated. The libidinous desires are greatly increased,
and the influence of self restraint cannot be brought sufficiently
into action to prevent the constant, daily, and I might say almost
hourly recurrence of the practice. Thus the cause is perpetuated; and
in spite of every effort, the disease increases, the powers of body
and mind fail together, and are lost in the most deplorable, hopeless,
disgusting fatuity! And yet the practice is not abandoned. All the
remaining energies of animal life seem to be concentrated in these
organs, and all the remaining power of gratification left is in the
exercise of this no longer secret, but loathsome and beastly habit.

“Those cases of insanity arising from other known causes, in which
masturbation is a symptom, are rendered more hopeless by this
circumstance. It is a counteracting influence to all the means of cure
employed, either moral or medicinal, and coinciding as it does with
whatever other causes may have had an agency in producing disease,
renders the case almost hopeless. Of the number of the insane that
have come under the observation of the writer (and that number is not
small,) few, very few have recovered, who have been in the habit of
this evil practice; and still fewer, I might say almost none, have
recovered, in which insanity or idiocy has followed the train of
symptoms enumerated in a former paper, indicating the presence of the
habit, and its debilitating influence upon the minds and bodies of the

“Most of the cases of insanity from this cause commence early in life;
even confirmed and hopeless idiocy has been the melancholy consequence,
before the victim had reached his twentieth year.

“Of eighty males, insane, that have come under the observation of the
writer, and who have been particularly examined and watched, with
reference to ascertaining the proportion that practised masturbation,
something more than a quarter were found to practise it; and in about
10 per cent., a large proportion of which are idiotic, the disease is
supposed to have arisen from this cause.

“Would it be believed, if it should be said that the proportion will
not vary essentially in the other sex? On a former occasion I observed
that the absolute abandonment of the practice, even in those whose
minds were unaffected by insanity, was not always easily effected.
If no _voluntary_ practice is continued, the habit may be so far
established, and the susceptibility to the complaint be so great,
that slight irritation will produce it, and that often for a long
time after the danger is fully appreciated, and the victory over the
propensity achieved so far as cautiously avoiding known and intentional
indulgence. Nocturnal pollution and involuntary emissions come from
slight causes and trifling irritation, but perpetuate for a long time
all the train of unhappy influences that have been heretofore detailed.
The unfortunate subject of this detestable vice, whose mental energy
is unimpaired, and whose moral feelings are susceptible of impression,
can be persuaded to abandon it, if the danger is set before him in its
true light; but hundreds can bear me testimony that the effects of
it are long felt, and the involuntary excitement produced by dreams,
lascivious companions, warm beds, and improper intercourse with corrupt
society, has for a long time after had its influence in retarding
complete recovery to health. With the insane we can have no such hopes,
and no such prospects of cure. They will rarely form resolutions on
the subject, and still more rarely adhere to them. Reason, the balance
wheel of the mind, being denied them, they are obnoxious to the
influence of all the propensities in a high degree.

“After the practice of masturbation, as a voluntary habit, is entirely
suspended, long and persevering efforts will be required to remove
the effects from the system, and restore it to vigor and soundness.
The individual himself must exercise great self-denial, and resolve
to persevere with the means and overcome all obstacles that may be
in his way, however formidable and difficult. The regimen to be
adopted must be strictly adhered to on all occasions. As the inebriate
would probably never conquer his appetite for alcoholic drink if he
indulged once a month only--so in this habit, the occasional indulgence
will thwart the whole plan of cure. The diet should be simple and
nutritious; the exercise should be moderate and gentle; indulgence
in bed should not be allowed, and the individual should always sleep
alone. A mattress is better than a soft bed. He should rise immediately
upon waking, and never retire till the disposition to sleep comes
strongly upon him. The cold bath is a valuable remedy; a sea bath is
better, and the shower bath often superior to either.

“Narcotics, if there is a high degree of irritability in the system,
are valuable remedies, of which conium, belladonna, hyoscyamus, nux
vomica, and opium, may be used under different circumstances, combined
or singly, according to the effects. Blisters and issues on the pudenda
or perineum, promise well, and the different preparations of bark and
iron, and other mineral tonics, should be used till all the effects of
the habit are removed, till the propensity is fully conquered, and the
constitution is restored to health and vigor.”

Among the cases which occurred in the practice of this gentleman, are
the following:--

“A respectable young gentleman, of one of the learned professions,
was out of health for a long period; his head and eyes suffered
exceedingly, and he was in a state little short of insanity. He
placed himself under the care of one of the most eminent men in the
metropolis, and followed his prescriptions a year, but without benefit.
He then called upon another, who asked him whether he was addicted to
masturbation, to which he answered in the affirmative. The advice given
him was principally to abstain from the indulgence, and his health
gradually improved, and is now re-established.

“B. D., aged 20, had had ill health for a year or more; he was pale,
feeble, nervous--lost his resolution--had no appetite--took to his
bed most of the time, and became dull, almost speechless, and wholly
abstracted and melancholy. His brother was his physician; but not
ascertaining the cause of his symptoms, he gained no advantage over
the disease, and the unhappy young man was constantly losing strength
and flesh. After a while he came under the care of the writer. He
was in the most miserable condition conceivable; emaciated, feeble,
pallid--had night sweats, diarrhœa, or costiveness, total loathing
of all food; his heart beat, his head was painful, and he felt no
desire, and would make no effort, to live. Suspecting masturbation, I
found, upon strict inquiry and watching, that my suspicions were well
founded. I pointed out the danger of the practice, assured him that it
was the cause of all his sufferings, and that he might be restored to
usefulness and health again if he would strictly adhere to the course
prescribed for him. He took bark and iron alternately for a long time,
pursued a course of gentle exercise and invigorating diet, and gave up
at once the vicious indulgence. After a long time he wholly recovered,
and is now a healthy and valuable citizen.

“P. W., aged 27, called for advice in the summer of 1834, having had
ill health for some eighteen months or two years. He complained of
confusion of the head and pain in the eyes, indigestion, palpitation of
the heart, and difficulty of respiration. His sleep was disturbed, his
temper irritable, and he felt dissatisfied with himself, and greatly
inclined to gloom and melancholy. He complained of listlessness and
indisposition to any bodily efforts, and of inability to fix his mind
upon any subject, or give his attention to any business. His hands
were cold, countenance pale and dejected, pulse frequent, and his
whole system in a state of great irritation. It was ascertained that
for two or three years he had been in the daily habit of masturbation.
For eight or nine months last past, he has discontinued it; he is,
however, occasionally subject to nocturnal emission, which has thus
far interfered with his recovery; but he is better, and under the use
of tonic remedies, exercise and generous diet, feels confident of
recovery, having regained his spirits and appetite.

“H. F., aged 20, was for a long time in the habit of masturbation.
He was for years confined to the house, and much of the time to his
bed. By long indulgence the habit had become irresistible, and the
consequences truly deplorable. His mind was as fickle and capricious
as that of an infant, and his health was wholly prostrated. For five
or six years he was the most wretched being imaginable. Nocturnal
pollutions, spontaneous emission, and all the evils resulting from
unrestrained indulgence, were presented in this truly unhappy young
man. He had been apprized of the danger which the continued practice
would bring upon him, and was sensible that all his trials had their
origin in this vice; and yet the propensity had become so strong that
he could not resist it, and if he did, the consequences had become
such that little benefit was derived from his good resolution. In his
intercourse with his friends he was covered with shame and confusion,
and seemed to feel conscious that every individual that he met with
knew, as well as himself, the height and the depth of his degradation.
In this condition, in a fit of desperation, he attempted to emasculate
himself, but succeeded in removing one testicle only. After he
recovered from the dangerous wound which he inflicted, he began to get
better, and after two years he recovered his health and spirits. He has
since, at the age of 45, _married_ a very clever woman, and they live
in peace and harmony.

H. ----, a young man 20 years of age, had been feeble and dejected
for two years. He was pale, torpid, irresolute, and shamefaced in the
extreme--so much so, that I could not catch his eye during a sitting of
an hour. He complained of his head, of short breathing and palpitation
of the heart, and of extreme debility. His extremities were cold
and damp, his muscular system remarkably flabby, and his snail-like
motions evinced great loss of muscular strength. His father, who
accompanied the young man, said that he had consulted many physicians
without benefit. The moment that he came into my room I was strongly
impressed that he was the victim of this solitary vice. I questioned
him sometime without ascertaining the cause of disease. His father
was wholly ignorant, and the physicians had not suspected it, or
inquired concerning it. I requested a private interview--told him the
danger of such habits, the importance of ascertaining the true cause of
disease, and my suspicions that he was in this habit, and that if so,
he would soon fall a victim to its influence. He then acknowledged that
he was in the daily practice of masturbation, and had been for three
years--that he often also had spontaneous emission, &c. He had never
suspected that it had any influence upon his health.

“The symptoms which follow masturbation, viz. nocturnal pollution and
spontaneous emission, often continue after the victim of the vice is
made sensible of the danger of voluntary indulgence. These require
distinct and separate consideration. In some cases they become very
obstinate; and in spite of every effort, continue to make such a waste
of vital energies as to prevent a recovery of the health--and the
new form of disease continuing, the same fatal results follow which
take place from a continuance of the habit. The local irritability
of the organs of generation often become so great, that the ordinary
evacuations of the bowels and the bladder produce an emission; and
even lascivious ideas, riding on horseback, or other equally slight
irritation, has the same effect. Such cases require the utmost care, to
afford any chance of recovery.

“In addition to the common remedies prescribed for the effects of
masturbation--as bark, iron, silver, the cold bath and shower bath,
&c., which are valuable remedies for this local, as well as for the
general debility attending the habit--other remedies, of a more
stimulating character, and that have a more direct local effect upon
these organs, are also indicated. Of these, tincture of lytta, bals.
copaiva, and nitrate of silver, may be named. The strong tinct. of
lytta, (made of pulv. lytta, 10 oz. alcohol, lbj.) may be taken in
doses of from 10 to 20 drops, increasing, so as to produce a slight
irritation of the urethra, and continued in such doses as will keep
up this effect without occasioning actual pain. The dose should be
repeated three or four times a day, generally. The very best effects
often result from the use of this remedy.

“Balsam of copaiva, if the urethra is irritable, may be a valuable
remedy. Nitrate of silver is also both useful as a general remedy, and
as having some local action on these organs. From one to four grains
may be taken daily, combined with a little opium, to prevent irritation
of the stomach and bowels.

“In leucorrhœa, which too frequently arises from this cause, these
remedies promise much; and when prescribed in efficient doses, often
effect a cure, whatever may have been the cause of the disease. It is
not too much to say, that no one cause more frequently affects the
health of females, and lays the foundation of fatal disease, than
severe and long continued leucorrhœa; and yet, if attended to early,
it is easily cured. It ought, however, even if slight, never to be

Many cases similar in character to those already stated, and confirming
the foregoing observations, have been transmitted to us by Dr. A.
Sidney Doane, and Prof. J. W. Francis, both of New York. Our limits,
however, forbid their insertion.


[1] The injection into the rectum of a strong decoction of pomegranate
root will destroy these ascarides. These injections should be repeated
noon and night, and in five or six days the end is attained. Should
these animals be found in the vagina, the same decoction should be used.

[2] This learned work is dedicated to the Bishop of Lubeck, and has
this motto:--

    “Delicias pariunt veneri audelia flagra
    Dum nocet, illa juvat: dum juvet, ecce nocet.”

[Transcriber’s Note:

Renumbered sections to match “Table of Contents”, reformatted section
headers for consistency.

Page 50, Changed “CHAPTER II” to read “CHAPTER III”.

Page 133, Changed unattested word “prepatialis” to read “praeputialis”.

Page 200, Changed two instances of unattested word “crysorchides” to
read “cryptorchides”.]

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