Aus Plain Facts for old and young von John Harvey Kellogg (Erfinder der Frühstücksflocken) 1877
If illicit commerce of the sexes is a heinous sin, self-pollution, or masturbation, is a crime doubly abominable. As a sin against nature, it has no parallel except in sodomy (see Gen. 19:5, Judges 19:22). It is the most dangerous of all sexual abuses, because the most extensively practiced. The vice consists in any excitement of the genital organs produced otherwise than in the natural way. It is known by the terms, self-pollution, self-abuse, masturbation, onanism, manustupration, voluntary pollution, solitary or secret vice, and other names sufficiently explanatory. The vice is the more extensive because there are no bounds to its indulgence. Its frequent repetition fastens it upon the victim with a fascination almost irresistible. It may be begun in earliest infancy, and may continue through life.
Even though no warning may have been given, the transgressor seems to know, instinctively, that he is committing a great wrong, for he carefully hides his practice from observation. In solitude he pollutes himself, and with his own hand blights all his prospects for both this world and the next. Even after being solemnly warned, he will often continue this worse than beastly practice, deliberately forfeiting his right to health and happiness for a moment’s mad sensuality.
Alarming Prevalence of the Vice.—The habit is by no means confined to boys; girls also indulge in it, though, it is to be hoped, to a less fearful extent than boys, at least in this country. A Russian physician, quoted by an eminent medical professor in New York, states that the habit is universal among girls in Russia. It seems impossible that such a statement should be credible; and yet we have not seen it contradicted. It is more than probable that the practice is far more nearly universal everywhere than even medical men are willing to admit. Many young men who have been addicted to the vice, have, in their confessions, declared that they found it universal in the schools in which they learned the practice.
Dr. Gardner speaks of it as „the secret cause of much that is perverting the energies and demoralizing the minds of many of our fairest and best.“ He further says:—
„Much of the worthlessness, lassitude, and physical and mental feebleness attributable to the modern woman are to be ascribed to these habits as their initial cause.“ „Foreigners are especially struck with this fact as the cause of much of the physical disease of our young women. They recognize it in the physique, in the sodden, colorless countenance, the lack-luster eye, in the dreamy indolence, the general carriage, the constant demeanor indicative of distrust, mingled boldness and timidity, and a series of anomalous combinations which mark this genus of physical and moral decay.“
The extent to which the vice is practiced by an individual is in some cases appalling. Three or four repetitions of the act daily are not uncommon; and the following from Dr. Copland is evidence of much deeper depravity:—
„There can be no doubt that the individual who has once devoted himself to this moloch of the species becomes but too frequently its slave to an almost incredible degree. A patient who was sent to London for my advice confessed that he had practiced this vice seven or eight times daily from the age of thirteen until twenty-four; and he was then reduced to the lowest state of mental weakness, associated with various bodily infirmities; indeed, both mental power and physical existence were nearly extinguished.“
Testimony of Eminent Authors.—Says a medical writer, „In my opinion, 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.“
„The sin of self-pollution, which is generally considered to be that of Onan, is one of the most destructive evils ever practiced by fallen man. In many respects it is several degrees worse than common whoredom, and has in its train more awful consequences, though practiced by numbers who would shudder at the thought of criminal connection with a prostitute.“
46 Dr. Adam Clarke.
„However revolting to the feelings it may be to enter upon such a subject, it cannot be passed over in silence without a great violation of duty. Unhappily, it has not been hitherto exhibited in the awful light in which it deserves to be shown. The worst of it is that it is seldom suspected. There are many pale faces and languid and nervous feelings attributed to other causes, when all the mischief lies here.“
47 Sir W. C. Ellis.
We scarcely need add further evidence of the fearful extent of this evil, but will conclude with the following:—
„The pernicious and debasing practice of masturbation is a more common and extensive evil with youth of both sexes than is usually supposed.“ „A great number of the evils which come upon the youth 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.“ „Many of the weaknesses commonly attributed to growth and the changes in the habit by the importanttransformation from adolescence to manhood, are justly referable to this practice.“
48 Boston Medical and Surgical Journal.
Not a Modern Vice.—That this vice is not entirely a modern one is proved by the fact that in many ancient writings directions are given for treating its effects. Even Moses seems to have recognized disorders of this class. Hippocrates and others devoted considerable attention to them.
Victims of all Ages.—The ages at which the habit may be practiced include almost the whole extent of human life. We have seen it in infants of only three or four years, and in old men scarcely less than sixty, in both extremes marked by the most unmistakable and lamentable consequences. Cases have been noted in which the practice was begun as early as two years of age. It is common among African boys at nine and ten years of age, according to Dr. Copland.
Unsuspected Rottenness.—Parents who have no suspicion of the evil, who think their children the embodiment of purity, will find by careful observation and inquiry,—though personal testimony cannot be relied upon,—that in numerous instances their supposed virtuous children are old in corruption. Such a revelation has brought dismay into many a family, only too late in some cases.
Not long since a case came under our care which well illustrates the apathy and blindness of parents with respect to this subject. The parents of a young man whose mind seemed to be somewhat disordered, sent word to us through a friend respecting his condition, asking advice. We suspected from the symptoms described the real cause of the disease, and urged prompt attention to the case. In a short time the young man was placed under our immediate care without encouragement of a cure, and we gave the case still closer study. The characteristic symptoms of disease from self-abuse were marked, but the father was positive that no influence of that kind could have been at work. He had watched his son narrowly from infancy, and did not believe it possible for him to have been guilty. In addition, the young man had long been remarkable for his piety, and he did not believe there could be any possibility of his being guilty of so gross a crime.
A short time sufficed, however, to secure the indisputable evidence of the fact by his being caught in the act by his nurse.
This young man was a sad example of what havoc is made with the „human form divine“ by this debasing vice. Once a bright boy, kind, affectionate, active, intelligent, the pride of a loving mother and the hope of a doting father, his mind had sunken to driveling idiocy. His vacant stare and expressionless countenance betokened almost complete imbecility. If allowed to do so, he would remain for hours in whatever position his last movement left him. If his hand was raised, it remained extended until placed in a position of rest by his attendant. Only with the utmost difficulty could he be made to rise in the morning, to eat, drink, or walk. Only by great efforts could he be aroused from his lethargy sufficiently to answer the most simple question. The instinctive demands of decency in regarding the calls of nature were not respected. In short, the distinguishing characteristics of a human being were almost wholly obliterated, leaving but a physical semblance of humanity; a mind completely wrecked, a body undergoing dissolution while yet alive, a blasted life, no hope for this world, no prospect for the next. In the insane asylums of the country may be seen hundreds of these poor victims in all stages of physical and mental demoralization.
Causes of the Habit.—It is needless to recapitulate all the causes of unchastity which have previously been quite fully dwelt upon, nearly all of which are predisposing or exciting causes of solitary as well as of social vice. Sexual precocity, idleness, pernicious literature, abnormal sexual passions, exciting and irritating food, gluttony, sedentary employment, libidinous pictures, and many abnormal conditions of life, are potent causes in exciting the vile practice; but by far the most frequent causes are evil associations, wicked or ignorant nurses, and local disease, or abnormality. These latter we will consider more particularly, as they have not been so fully dwelt upon elsewhere.
Evil Associations.—A child may have been reared with the greatest care. From infancy he may have been carefully shielded from all pernicious influences, so that at the age of ten or twelve, when he is for the first time sent away to school, he may be free from vice; but when he associates with his fellow-students, he soon finds them practicing a habit new to him, and being unwarned, he speedily follows their filthy example and quickly becomes fascinated with the vice. Thousands have taken their first lessons in this debasing habit at school. Teachers and scholars testify that it is often practiced even in school hours, almost under the teacher’s eyes; but where the infection most quickly spreads is in the sleeping apartments, where more than one occupy the same bed, or where several sleep in the same room.
Nothing is more indispensable to purity of body and of morals than a private sleeping room and single bed for each student. Such an arrangement would protect the youth from the reception of much evil, and would allow an opportunity for privacy which every young man or youth needs for his spiritual as well as physical benefit. Not the least benefit of the latter class is the opportunity for a thorough cleansing of the whole body every morning, which is almost as indispensable to purity of morals as cleanliness of body. The same suggestion is fully as applicable to the sleeping arrangements of girls. The exceptional cases in which this plan would not be the best are very few indeed.
Corruption in Schools.—Says Dr. Acton, „I cannot venture to print the accounts patients have given me of what they have seen or even been drawn into at schools. I would fain hope that such abominations are things of the past.“ The entrance of a single corrupt boy into a school which may have been previously pure—though such schools must be extremely rare—will speedily corrupt almost the entire membership. The evil infection spreads more rapidly than the contagion of small-pox or yellow fever, and it is scarcely less fatal.
This danger exists not in public or city schools alone, but in the most select and private schools. A father who had kept his two sons under the care of a private governess for several years, and then placed them in a small school taught by a lady, and composed of a few small children from the most select families, was greatly astonished when informed by a physician that his sons showed symptoms of the effects of self-abuse. He was totally incredulous; but an investigation showed that they had already practiced the vile habit for several years, having learned it of an infantile school-mate.
We were acquainted with one instance in which a primary school in a secluded and select community was nearly broken up by the introduction of this vile habit through a corrupt student. Many a watchful teacher has seen the light of growing intelligence suddenly dim and wane in the eye of his favorite student just when he was giving the most promise of developing unusual talents in literature, mathematics, or some one of the natural or physical sciences, and has been compelled to watch the devastating influence of this deadly upas tree that often claims the best and fairest human flowers as its victims.
Wicked Nurses.—In those cases in which the habit is acquired at a very early age, the work of evil is usually wrought by the nurse, perhaps through ignorance of the effects of the habit. Incredible as it seems, it is proved by numerous instances that it is not an uncommon habit for nurses to quiet small children by handling or titillating their genital organs. They find this a speedy means of quieting them, and resort to it regardless or ignorant of the consequences.
Not an Uncommon Case.—Prof. Lusk, of Bellevue Hospital College, New York, related to his medical class in our hearing a case which came under his observation in which all of the children in a large family had been taught the habit by a wicked nurse for the purpose of keeping them quiet after they were put to bed. The vileness that would lead a person to thus rob childhood of its innocence, and blast its prospects for this life and the next, is base enough for the commission of almost any crime. Indeed, the crime could hardly have been a worse one had the nurse referred to in the above case in cold blood cut the throats of those innocent children; perhaps it might have been better for the children.
A gentleman once declared that if he should detect a person teaching this crime to his child he would shoot him on the spot; and if homicide is allowable under any circumstances, it seems to us it would be extenuated by such an aggravation. If occasional bad associations will work an immense damage to the youthful character, what terrible injury may be wrought by an agent of sin, an instructor in vice, who is within the household, who presides in the nursery, and exerts a constant influence! No one can estimate it.
Acton remarks on this point, „I need hardly point out how very dangerous this is. There seems hardly any limit to the age at which a young child can be initiated into these abominations, or to the depth of degradation to which it may fall under such hideous teaching. Books treating of this subject are unfortunately too full of accounts of the habits of such children.“
In not a few instances the „hired man“ has been the means of communicating to innocent little boys the infamous knowledge which, fortunately, they had not acquired in babyhood. With no knowledge of the evil they are committing, they begin the work of physical damnation which makes a hell of life and leads to endless death.
The „hired girl“ is often an equally efficient agent for evil in the instruction of little girls in this debasing vice. Some time ago, the very intelligent parents of a bright family of children were awakened to the importance of this subject from the perusal of the first edition of this work, and upon investigation were horrified to find that their oldest child a promising daughter of ten, was already a victim to the vile practice, having been initiated by a „hired girl.“ After using in vain every means he could bring to bear upon the case, the father brought her to us, and with tears in his eyes gave his story. After telling of his unsuccessful attempts to effect a reform, he declared that he would far prefer to place his daughter in the grave than to see her grow up a wretched victim of this vice. We were most happy to be able, after a few weeks‘ treatment, to restore her to her parents, as we hope, permanently reformed. Not a few such cases are constantly coming to the attention of the medical profession.
The Instructor in Vice.—Are these lines perused by any one who has ever taught another this vice so vile, and so certainly followed by penalties so terrible—penalties not upon the instigator but upon the hapless victim? let such a person clothe himself in sackcloth and ashes, and do penance for the remainder of his life. The only way in which he can hope to atone even in some small degree for such a heinous crime, is by doing all in his power to warn those in danger against this sin. When all men receive their just deserts, what will be the punishment of such a one who has not, by thorough repentance and a life spent in trying to undo the work of ruin so foully wrought, in some measure disburdened himself of the consequences of his act!
Sending children very early to bed before they are weary, „to get them out of the way,“ or for punishment, is a grave error, as this may give rise to the vice. Confining children alone in a room by themselves is an equally reprehensible practice, as it favors the commission of the act, at least, and may afford a favorable opportunity for its discovery. Allowing children to form a habit of seeking solitude is an evil of the same nature.
Local Disease.—In the male, a tight or long foreskin is a frequent cause of the habit. The constant contact of the prepuce with the most sensitive part of the organ increases its sensibility. The secretion is retained, and accumulates, often becoming hardened. In this manner irritation is set up, which occasions uncomfortable feelings, and attracts the hands to the part. Owing to the great degree of excitement due to irritation, but a slight provocation is necessary to arouse voluptuous sensations, and then the terrible secret is revealed. The child readily discovers how to reproduce the same, and is not slow to commit a frequent repetition of the act; and thus the habit is formed.
An Illustrative Case.—A case in which the vice originated in this manner was recently under our observation. The patient was a man of considerable intellectual power and some culture, but showed unmistakable signs of his earlyindiscretion. He stated that although he mingled quite freely with other boys of his age, he obtained no knowledge of the habit from others. He often heard allusions which he did not understand, and of which he did not, fortunately, discover the meaning. But he was afflicted with congenital phimosis, the prepuce being so tight that retraction was impossible. This, together with urinal irritation,—which occasioned nocturnal incontinence of urine,—constipation, and highly seasoned food, produced so much local irritation as to occasion frequent erections, and an increased secretion. He soon noticed that there was an accumulation of hardened secretion beneath the foreskin, and in attempting to remove this, he accidentally provoked voluptuous sensations. He speedily abandoned himself to the habit, often repeating it several times a day. Beginning at the age of twelve years, he continued it for three or four years.
Soon after acquiring the habit, he became aware of its tendencies, through reading books upon the subject, but he found himself so completely enslaved that abstinence seemed impossible. One resolution to reform after another was formed, only to be speedily broken. His unwholesome diet, habitual constipation, and especially the unfortunate organic difficulty in his genital organs, produced an almost constant priapism, which was only relieved, and then but temporarily, by the act of pollution. His sedentary habits increased the difficulty to an extreme degree.
In the meantime, his constitution, naturally weak, was being gradually undermined. He suffered from constant headache, heart-burn, pains in the back and limbs, weakness, and lassitude. Yet he attributed none of these ailments to the true cause. After the lapse of three or four years thus spent, and after repeated ineffectual attempts, by a powerful effort of the will, by the aid of prayer, and by adopting a more wholesome diet, he succeeded in getting the mastery of his vice. But the local difficulties still continued in a great degree, and under particularly aggravating circumstances occasioned a relapse at long intervals. After a time, the local difficulties grew less and less, and enabled him to gain a complete victory over the habit, though the results of previous sin still remained, for which he desired treatment.
This case will serve as a fair illustration of many of similar character, in which the child accidentally makes the discovery which leads him to work his own ruin.
Other Physical Causes.—Constipation, piles, irritable bladder, fissure of the anus, local uncleanliness, and pruritis of the genital organs, will produce the habit in both males and females in the manner described. Sleeping on feather beds increases the local congestion, and thus favors the exciting influences of any of the above-named causes. It may, perhaps, itself be the exciting cause.
We once treated a patient who was affected with stone in the bladder, and who asserted that the constant irritation which he suffered in the end of the penis was only relieved by friction. This might readily be the cause of masturbation, though in this case the vice had been acquired many years before, and was still continued in spite of all efforts to reform.
Lying upon the back or upon the abdomen frequently leads to self-abuse by provoking sexual excitement. Certain kinds of exercises, as climbing, in particular, have been attended by the same results. It is said that children sometimes experience genital excitement amounting to pleasure as the result of whipping.
Influence of Stimulants.—The use of stimulants of any kind is a fruitful cause of the vice. Tea and coffee have led thousands to perdition in this way. The influence of tobacco is so strongly shown in this direction that it is doubtful if there can be found a boy who has attained the age of puberty and has acquired the habit of using tobacco, who is not also addicted to this vile practice. Candies, spices, cinnamon, cloves, peppermint, and all strong essences, powerfully excite the genital organs and lead to the same result.
It should be further added that there is evidence that a powerful predisposition to this vice is transmitted to the children of those who have themselves been guilty of it.
Signs of Self-Abuse.—The net which this vice weaves around its victims is so strong, and its meshes are so elaborately interwoven with all his thoughts, his habits, and his very being, when it has been long indulged, that it is important to be able to detect it when first acquired, as it may then be much more easily overcome than at any subsequent period. It is often no easy matter to do this, as the victim will resort to all manner of cunning devices to hide his vice, and will not scruple to falsify concerning it, when questioned. To be able to accomplish this successfully, requires a careful study, first, of the signs by which those who indulge in the practice may be known, and, secondly, of the habits of the individuals.
In considering the subject it will be found that there are two classes of signs, as follows:—
- Those which may arouse suspicion, but any one of which, taken singly, would not be an evidence of the practice.
- Those which may be regarded as positive. Several suspicious signs together may constitute a positive sign. Under these two heads, we will consider the signs of this vile habit.
It is well to bear in mind the fact that one or two suspicious signs are not evidence of the disease. It is likewise well to remember that the habit may be found where least looked for, and where one would have a right to expect perfect purity. Prejudice must be allowed no voice upon either side. A writer has said that every young person under puberty ought to be suspected of the disease. We can hardly indorse this remark, in full, but it would be at least wise for every guardian of children to criticize most carefully their habits and to quickly detect the first indications of sinful practices. Parents must not think that their children, at least, are too good to engage in such sinful abuses. It is most probable that their children are very like those of their neighbors; and any amount of natural goodness is not a protection against this insidious vice when it presents itself as a harmless pleasure to the unwarned and ignorant child.
Suspicious Signs.—The following symptoms, occurring in the mental and physical character and habits of a child or young person, may well give rise to grave suspicions of evil, and should cause parents or guardians to be on the alert to root it out if possible:—
- General debility, coming upon a previously healthy child, marked by emaciation, weakness, an unnatural paleness, colorless lips and gums, and the general symptoms of exhaustion, when it cannot be traced to any other legitimate cause, as internal disease, worms, grief, overwork, poor air or poor food, and when it is not speedily removed by change of air or appropriate remedial measures, may safely be attributed to solitary vice, no matter how far above natural suspicion the individual may be. Mistakes will be rare indeed when such a judgment is pronounced under the circumstances named.
- Early symptoms of consumption—or what are supposed to be such—as cough, and decrease in flesh, with short breathing and soreness of the lungs—or muscles of the chest—are not infrequently, solely the result of this vice. That such is the case may be considered pretty surely determined if physical examination of the lungs reveals no organic disease of those organs. But it should be remembered that solitary vice is one of the most frequent causes of early consumption. Several cases which strikingly prove this have fallen under our own observation.
- Premature and defective development is a symptom closely allied to the two preceding. When it cannot be traced to such natural causes as overstudy, overwork, lack of exercise, and other influences of a similar nature, it should be charged to self-abuse. The early exercise of the genital organs hastens the attainment of puberty, in many cases, especially when the habit is acquired early, but at the same time saps the vital energies so that the system is unable to manifest that increased energy in growth and development which usually occurs at this period. In consequence, the body remains small, or does not attain that development which it otherwise would. The mind is dwarfed as well as the body. Sometimes the mind suffers more than the body in lack of development, and sometimes the reverse is true. This defective development is shown, in the physical organization of males, in the failure of the voice to increase in volume and depth of tone as it should; in deficient growth of the beard; in failure of the chest to become full and the shoulders broad. The mind and character show the dwarfing influence by failure to develop those qualities which especially distinguish a noble manhood. In the female, defective development is shown by menstrual derangements, by defective growth either in stature, or as shown in unnatural slimness, and in a failure to develop the graces and pleasing character which should distinguish early womanhood. Such signs deserve careful investigation, for they can only result from some powerfully blighting influence.
- Sudden change in disposition is a sign which may well arouse suspicion. If a boy who has previously been cheerful, pleasant, dutiful, and gentle, suddenly becomes morose, cross, peevish, irritable, and disobedient, be sure that some foul influence is at work with him. When a girl, naturally joyous, happy, confiding, and amiable, becomes unaccountably gloomy, sad, fretful, dissatisfied, and unconfiding, be certain that a blight of no insignificant character is resting upon her. Make a careful study of the habits of such children; and if there is no sudden illness to account for the change in their character, it need not require long deliberation to arrive at the true cause, for it will rarely be found to be anything other than solitary indulgence.
- Lassitude is as unnatural for a child as for a young kitten. A healthy child will be active, playful, full of life and animal spirits. If a young child manifests indisposition to activity, a dislike for play, lifelessness and languor, suspect his habits, if there is no other reasonable cause to which to attribute his unnatural want of childish sprightliness.
- In connection with the preceding symptom will generally be found, instead of that natural brilliance of expression in the eyes and countenance, an unnatural dullness and vacantness altogether foreign to childhood. This is a just ground for suspicion.
- Sleeplessness is another symptom of significance. Sound sleep is natural for childhood; and if sleeplessness be not occasioned by dietetic errors, as eating indigestible food, eating between meals, or eating late suppers, it may justly be a cause for suspicion of evil habits.
- Failure of mental capacitywithout apparent cause should occasion suspicion of evil practices. When a child who has previously learned readily, mastered his lessons easily, and possessed a retentive memory, shows a manifest decline in these directions, fails to get his lessons, becomes stupid, forgetful, and inattentive, he has probably become the victim of a terrible vice, and is on the road to speedy mental as well as physical ruin. Watch him.
- Fickleness is another evidence of the working of some deteriorating influence, for only a weak mind is fickle.
- Untrustworthiness appearing in a child should attract attention to his habits. If he has suddenly become heedless, listless, and forgetful, so that he cannot be depended upon, though previously not so, lay the blame upon solitary indulgence. This vice has a wonderful influence in developing untruthfulness. A child previously honest, under its baneful influence will soon become an inveterate liar.
- Love of solitude is a very suspicious sign. Children are naturally sociable, almost without exception. They have a natural dread of being alone. When a child habitually seeks seclusion without a sufficient cause, there are good grounds for suspecting him of sinful habits. The barn, the garret, the water-closet, and sometimes secluded places in the woods, are the favorite resorts of masturbators. They should be carefully followed and watched, unobserved.
- Bashfulness is not infrequently dependent upon this cause. It would be far from right to say that every person who is excessively modest or timid is a masturbator; but there is a certain timorousness which seems to arise from a sense of shame or fear of discovery that many victims of this vice exhibit, and which may be distinguished from natural modesty by a little experience. One very common mode of manifestation of this timidity is the inability to look a superior, or any person who is esteemed pure, in the eye. If spoken to, instead of looking directly at the person to whom he addresses an answer, the masturbator looks to one side, or lets his eyes fall upon the ground, seemingly conscious that the eye is a wonderful tell-tale of the secrets of the mind.
- Unnatural boldness, in marked contrast with the preceding sign, is manifested by a certain class of victims. It can be as easily distinguished, however, as unnatural timidity. The individual seems to have not the slightest appreciation of propriety. He commits openly the most uncouth acts, if he does not manifest the most indecent unchastity of manner. When spoken to, he stares rudely at the person addressing him, often with a very unpleasant leer upon his countenance. In some few cases there seems to be a curious combination of conditions. While mentally fearful, timid, and hesitating, the individual finds himself, upon addressing a person, staring at him in the most ungainly manner. He is conscious of his ill manners, but is powerless to control himself. This sign is one which could hardly be of use to any except a very close observer, however, as few can read upon the countenance the operations of the mind.
- Mock piety—or perhaps we should more properly designate it as mistaken piety—is another peculiar manifestation of the effects of this vicious practice. The victim is observed to become transformed, by degrees, from a romping, laughing child, full of hilarity and frolic, to a sober and very sedate little—Christian, the friends think, and they are highly gratified with the piety of the child. Little do they suspect the real cause of the solemn face; not the slightest suspicion have they of the foul orgies practiced by the little sinner. By the aid of friends he may soon add hypocrisy to his other crimes, and find in assumed devotion a ready pretense for seeking solitude. Parents will do well to investigate the origin of this kind of religion in their children.
- Easily frightened children are abundant among young masturbators, though all easily frightened persons are not vicious. It is certain, however, that the vice greatly exaggerates natural fear, and creates an unnatural apprehensiveness. The victim’s mind is constantly filled with vague forebodings of evil. He often looks behind him, looks into all the closets, peeps under the bed, and is constantly expressing fears of impending evil. Such movements are the result of a diseased imagination, and they may justly give rise to suspicion.
- Confusion of ideas is another characteristic of the devotee of this artful vice. If he attempts to argue, his points are not clearly made. He may be superficially quick and cute, but is incapable of deep thought, or abstruse reasoning; is often very dull of apprehension. Ideas are not presented in logical order, but seem to fall out promiscuously, and fairly represent the condition of a disordered brain. Attempts at joking are generally failures, as the jest is sure to be inappropriate or vulgar, and no one but himself sees any occasion for laughter except at his stupidity. Such individuals are not scarce.
- Boys in whom the habit has become well developed sometimes manifest a decided aversion to the society of girls; but this is not nearly so often the case as some authors seem to indicate. It would rather appear that the opposite is more often true. Girls usually show an increasing fondness for the society of boys, and are very prone to exhibit marked evidences of real wantonness.
- Round shoulder sand a stooping posture in sitting are characteristics of young masturbators of both sexes. Whenever a child seats himself, the head and shoulders droop forward, giving to the spine a curved appearance.
- Weak backs, pains in the limbs, and stiffness of the joints, in children, are familiar signs of the habit. To the first of these conditions is due the habitual stooping posture assumed by these children. The habit referred to is not the only cause of these conditions, but its causative occurrence is sufficiently frequent to give it no small importance as a suspicious indication.
- Paralysis of the lower extremities, coming on without apparent cause, is not infrequently the result of solitary indulgence, even in very small children. We have seen several cases in which this condition was traced to the habit of masturbation, in children under six years of age.
- The gait of a person addicted to this vice will usually betray him to one who has learned to distinguish the peculiarities which almost always mark the walk of such persons. In a child, a dragging, shuffling walk is to be suspected. Boys, in walking rapidly, show none of that elasticity which characterizes a natural gait, but walk as if they had been stiffened in the hips, and as though their legs were pegs attached to the body by hinges. The girl wriggles along in a style quite as characteristic, though more difficult to detect with certainty, as females are often so „affected“ in their walk. Unsteadiness of gait is an evidence seen in both sexes, especially in advanced cases.
- Bad positions in bed are evidences which should be noticed. If a child lies constantly upon its abdomen, or is often found with its hands about the genitals, it may be at least considered in a fair way to acquire the habit if it has not already done so.
- Lack of development of the breasts in females, after puberty, is a common result of self-pollution. Still it would be entirely unsafe to say that every female with small mammary glands had been addicted to this vice, especially at the present time when a fair natural development is often destroyed by the constant pressure and heat of „pads.“ But this sign may well be given a due bearing.
- Capricious appetite particularly characterizes children addicted to secret vice. At the commencement of the practice, they almost invariably manifest great voracity for food, gorging themselves in the most gluttonous manner. As the habit becomes fixed, digestion becomes impaired, and the appetite is sometimes almost wanting, and at other times almost unappeasable.
- One very constant peculiarity of such children is their extreme fondness for unnatural, hurtful, and irritating articles. Nearly all are greatly attached to salt, pepper, spices, cinnamon, cloves, vinegar, mustard, horse-radish, and similar articles, and use them in most inordinate quantities. A boy or girl who is constantly eating cloves or cinnamon, or who will eat salt in quantities without other food, gives good occasion for suspicion.
- Eating clay, slate-pencils, plaster, chalk, and other indigestible articles is a practice to which girls who abuse themselves are especially addicted. The habit sometimes becomes developed to such a wonderful extent that the victims almost rival the clay-eaters of the Amazon in gratifying their propensity.
- Disgust for simple food is one of the traits which a victim of this vice is sure to possess. He seems to loathe any food which is not rendered hot and stimulating with spices and other condiments, and cannot be induced to eat it.
- The use of tobacco is good presumptive evidence that a boy is also addicted to a practice still more filthy. Exceptions to this rule are very rare indeed, if they exist, which we somewhat doubt. The same influences which would lead a boy to the use of tobacco would also lead him to solitary vice, and each sin would serve to exaggerate the other.
- Unnatural paleness and colorless lips, unless they can be otherwise accounted for, may be attributed to secret sin. The face is a great tell-tale against this class of sinners. Justice demands, however, that an individual should be given the benefit of a doubt so long as there is a chance for the production of these symptoms by any other known cause, as overwork, mental anxiety, or dyspepsia.
- Acne, or pimples, on the face are also among the suspicious signs, especially when they appear upon the forehead as well as upon other portions of the face. Occasional pimples upon the chin are very common in both sexes at puberty and for a few years afterward, but are without significance, except that the blood may be somewhat gross from unwholesome diet or lack of exercise.
- Biting the finger nails is a practice very common in girls addicted to this vice. In such persons there will also be found, not infrequently, slight soreness or ulceration at the roots of the nails, and warts, one or more, upon one or both the first two fingers of the hand—usually the right.
- The eyes often betray much. If, in addition to want of luster and natural brilliancy, they are sunken, present red edges, are somewhat sore, perhaps, and are surrounded by a dark ring, the patient, especially if a child, should be suspected and carefully watched. It should be observed, however, that dyspepsia, debility from any cause, and especially loss of sleep, will produce some or all of these signs, and no one should be accused of the vice upon the evidence of these indications alone, neither could he be justly suspected so long as his symptoms could be accounted for by legitimate causes.
- An habitually moist, cold hand, is a suspicious circumstance in a young person who is not known to be suffering from some constitutional disease.
- Palpitation of the heart, frequently occurring, denotes a condition of nervous disturbance which has some powerful cause, and which may often be found to be the vice in question.
- Hysteria in females may be regarded as a suspicious circumstance when frequently occurring on very slight occasions, and especially if there is no hereditary tendency to the disease.
- Chlorosis, or green sickness, is very often caused by the unholy practice under consideration. It is very commonly attributed, when occurring in young women, to menstrual derangements; but it is only necessary to remember that these menstrual irregularities are in many cases the result of the same habit, as has been already pointed out.
- Epileptic fits in children are not infrequently the result of vicious habits.
- Wetting the bed is an evidence of irritation which may be connected with the practice; it should be looked after.
- Unchastity of speech and fondness for obscene stories betray a condition of mind which does not exist in youth who are not addicted to this vice.
As previously remarked, no single one of the above signs should be considered as conclusive evidence of the habit in any individual; but any one of them may, and should, arouse suspicion and watchfulness. If the habit really exists, but a short time will elapse before other signs will be noticed, and when several point in the same direction, the evidence may be considered nearly, if not quite, conclusive. But persistent watching will enable the positive signs to be detected sooner or later, and then there can no longer be doubt. It is, of course, necessary to give the individual no suspicion that he is being watched, as that would put him so effectually on his guard as, possibly, to defy detection.
Positive Signs.—The absolutely positive signs of solitary vice are very few. Of course the most certainly positive of all is detection in the act. Sometimes this is difficult, with such consummate cunning do the devotees of this Moloch pursue their debasing practice. If a child is noticed to seek a certain secluded spot with considerable regularity, he should be carefully followed and secretly watched, for several days in succession if need be. Many children pursue the practice at night after retiring. If the suspected one is observed to become very quickly quiet after retiring, and when looked at appears to be asleep, the bedclothes should be quickly thrown off under some pretense. If, in the case of a boy, the penis is found in a state of erection, with the hands near the genitals, he may certainly be treated as a masturbator without any error. If he is found in a state of excitement, in connection with the other evidences, with a quickened circulation as indicated by the pulse, or in a state of perspiration, his guilt is certain, even though he may pretend to be asleep; no doubt he has been addicted to the vice for a considerable time to have acquired so much cunning. If the same course is pursued with girls, under the same circumstances, the clitoris will be found congested, with the other genital organs, which will also be moist from increased secretion. Other conditions will be as nearly as possible the same as those in the boy.
Stains upon the night shirt or sheets, occurring before puberty, are certain evidences of the vice in boys, as they are subject, before that time, to no discharge which will leave a stain resembling that from the seminal fluid, except the rare one from piles. In the very young, these stains do not occur; but when the habit is acquired before puberty, a discharge resembling semen takes place before the ordinary period. Of course, the stains from urine will be easily distinguished from others. The frequent occurrence of such stains after puberty is a suspicious circumstance. A discharge in some respects similar may occur in girls.
Before puberty, the effect of the vice upon the genital organs is to cause an unnatural development, in both sexes, of the sensitive portions. When this is marked, it is pretty conclusive evidence of the vice. In girls, the vagina often becomes unnaturally enlarged, and leucorrhoea is often present. After puberty, the organs usually diminish in size, and become unnaturally lax and shrunken.
All of these signs should be thoroughly mastered by those who have children under their care, and if not continually watching for them, which would be an unpleasant task, such should be on the alert to detect the signs at once when they appear, and then carefully seek for others until there is no longer any doubt about the case.