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of the organs and the complete performance of the sexual act. In the next stage, the excited nervous system, if it does not receive that shock which we have seen attends ejaculation, suffers a longer and more severe strain, lasting often days or nights, and one which is repeated over and over again. In fact, the non-occurrence of emission after sexual excitement permits for a time the repetition of the excitement; but ultimately a collapse takes place from which it is very difficult to rally a patient. The consequences are, that when after the preliminary excitement has occurred, and the control of the will shall have been able to prevent emission, the patient will very probably find that when he wishes it, emission will not follow erection. These practices, unnatural in the highest degree, cannot be carried on with impunity. Nature is sure, sooner or later, to inflict a severe retaliation.
I cannot bring to a close this important chapter without directing the attention of the profession to the dangers that married couples incur in defrauding nature. A writer in the "Lancet" has lately stigmatized the practice as CONJUGAL ONANISM, and a Mr. Bergeret has in a French work entitled “Des Fraudes dans l'accomplissement des fonctiones generatrices,” given a very succinct account of how it is that French parents determine (and carry out) that they shall only have one, or at most two child
M. Bergeret mentions that this practice of limiting the family is not confined to the poor; the system also holds good among the upper classes in France. In a discussion which took place a few years ago in the French Academy, it was publicly admitted that the arrest in the progressive augmentation of the population in France did virtually depend upon the means the nation took to check its increase by fraude génésiques.
I am far from attributing, with the author of this treatise, so many of the local ill consequences which he traces in the female to the means pursued. On the contrary, I am fully convinced that the many ailments which M. Bergeret considers to follow the practices followed in France attend—although, perhaps, in a less degree-married life in England, where, I am happy to say, the practices are hardly known, and still less frequently prac
tised. Still I raise a warning voice against either married or unmarried persons giving themselves up to ungratified sexual excitement.
SECT. III.-SEXUAL SUFFFERING IN THE MARRIED.
In speaking of continence (page 56), I admitted the difficulties some young men experienced in maintaining it, and I furnished some important evidence proving that a strong will, plenty of exercise, and surgical supervision, would enable a man to control his sexual appetites. In the present section I propose devoting a few pages to the sexual suffering in the married—a subject which has not met with that consideration from medical men which it deserves.
It often occurs that married men come to me with sad complaints of the intense suffering they have to undergo. I saw such a patient to-day. He was a man of strong sexual disposition, married, and the father of several children. In consequence of the rapidity with which his wife (a delicate woman) had brought him a family, she had been suffering severely from uterine disease, for which she was then under treatment, and the medical attendant had recommended separate beds and abstinence from all sexual relations. This patient assures me that no one could imagine what torments he has undergone, warmly attached as he is to a loving, educated, and beautiful wife, yet debarred from all the most cherished advantages of a married man. " What could I recommend ?" was his inquiry.
Let me cite another instance. Such a man as the above came to me with a budget of grievances. Married to a woman of strong animal instincts, she had proved unfaithful to him, and an action for divorce was about being brought by my patient against the lady. En attendant my married patient was the subject of most acute sexual suffering, without any immediate chance of becoming legally separated from a woman who, although his wife, had ceased to be a wife to him; yet society had decreed that he must bear his hard lot, without any chance of being
speedily released from the most acute sexual suffering. Moving in the best and most fashionable society, much admired and sympathized with by the sex, he assured me that no one could form any idea of the sufferings or temptations he had hourly to undergo; yet he was chained to this torment, and his every action watched by the most vigilant social police that the friends of the wife could call to their aid.
I regret to say that I can but offer my sympathy in such cases as these, but I have promised my patients to bring their grievances before my profession, and I truly think their sufferings deserve consideration. To persons who are thus situated my remarks on continence are of value; I admit that the distress I have attempted to depict is not sensational, but how law or equity can assist the sufferer I am unable to decide.
As a surgeon,
I have no hesitation in saying that a man of strong sexual disposition must make many sacrifices. He must eschew much agreeable female society, he should abstain from the indulgences of the table, and he must take more exercise than the indolent are disposed to adopt. The profession can offer him little assistance and but little benefit, unless he be indeed endowed with a strong will—an aid to the treatment often found wanting in strongly-developed animal natures. Is it surprising, then, that so many who, under more favorable auspices, would have made the best of husbands, fall victims to a vicious mode of living, and seek in fornication some alleviation of their sexual sufferings ?
These are some of the arcana of social life that are revealed only to medical men, in the hope (often a vain hope) that they may be in a position to suggest some mode of relief.
During the last few years, and since the rights of women have been so much insisted upon, and practically carried out by the “strongest-minded of the sex,” numerous husbands have come urging me to represent to the tribunals of the country the hardships under which they suffer by being married to women who regard themselves as martyrs when called upon to fulfill the duties of a wife. This spirit of insubordination has become the more intolerable—the husbands assert—since it has been backed by the opinions of John Stuart Mill, who in his recent work on
the “Subjection of Women,” would induce the sex to believe that they are “but personal body-servants of a despot.” Mr. Mill complains that the wife has not even the privilege of the female slave, who he states “has (in Christian countries) an admitted right and is considered under a moral obligation to refuse to her master the last familiarity. Not so the wife, however brutal a tyrant she may be chained to—though she may know that he hates her—though it may be his daily pleasure to torture her, and though she may feel it impossible not to loathe him —he can claim from her and enforce the lowest degradation of a human being, that of being made the instrument of an animal function contrary to her inclinations”
As opposed to these doctrines, I would rather urge the sex to follow the example of those bright, cheerful, and happily constituted women, who, instead of exaggerating their supposed grievances, instinctively, as it were, become the soothers of man's woes, their greatest gratification apparently being to minister to his pleasures, seeing that woman was created for the purpose of being a help-meet to her husband. Doubtless many a medical man can, like myself, recall the bitter confessions of more than one married woman who, in her repentant moments, has acknowledged that want of sympathy and affection on her part has led first to estrangement and subsequently to a permanent separation from a husband whose merits she has learned too late to appreciate.
SECT. IV.-DISAPPOINTMENTS IN LOVE.
Disappointment in love or misplaced affections are frequently attended with most painful sexual consequences, even among men who are not usually thought very susceptible. In October, 1861, I attended a patient who came to me complaining that his health was breaking down, and that (as his medical attendant had told him) he was suffering from loss of semen. It appeared that he had led an almost continent life; and, after having by strenuous exertion attained a position of some eminence, had
thought of marrying. Owing to circumstances of the exact nature of which I did not care to be informed, but for which he assured me he was not to blame, two or three serious engagements were successively formed and broken off. The last had come to an end on account of some difficulty on the important point of settlements. The young people, however, were thrown frequently in one another's way; and although I urged my patient not to expose himself to any sexual excitement, he assured me there were professional reasons which rendered it impossible that he could absent himself from the companionship of the lady. His condition when I saw him was very sad. He seemed to have had a healthy frame up to that time. But he was beginning to find his memory failing. On rising in the morning there was great languor, and a growing indisposition to transact his business. This symptom made him all the more anxious, as there was an hereditary disposition to mental affections in his family, which in several instances had resulted in idiocy. I could detect no morbid nocturnal or diurnal emissions; my patient told me that, with very few exceptions, he had led a strictly continent life, and that in these isolated instances the sexual act had been well performed.
All I could do was to point out to him the dangerous position in which he was placing himself, and the necessity for him to be more careful than others, if he would preserve his health and mental faculties. In this particular instance I did not feel justified in applying any local treatment, in the belief that nothing but a thorough change of habits was likely to relieve him. I recommended daily gymnastic exercise, with less mental labor, and entire abstinence from all sexual excitement, if marriage with the lady was impossible. As long as such excitement lasted, I told him I had no hope that physic would do him any good.
In the present day in addition to the advice given above, I should try the various preparations of potassium, remedies which are asserted to have direct effect in allaying irritation of the nervous system originating in these causes. I have witnessed some instances in which benefit has been derived from these preparations. I have observed the anomalous symptoms gradu