THE PEOPLE’S COMMON SENSE MEDICAL ADVISER (1895) is one of the interesting historical works on the dangers of masturbation. I recommend it to students of society’s views on the subject. This extract is from the Project Gutenberg library. You can get a good flavor for its perspective from this quote:

Untold miseries arise from the pollution of the body. Self-pollution, or onanism, is one of the most prolific sources of evil, since it leads both to the degradation of body and mind. It is practiced more or less by members of both sexes, and the habit once established, is overcome with the greatest difficulty. It is the source of numerous diseases which derange the functional activity of the organs involved, and eventually impair the constitution. This vicious habit is often practiced by those who are ignorant of its dangerous results. Statistics show that insanity is frequently caused by masturbation.


Fig. 2. A Testicle wasted by Masturbation. Masturbation not only occasions loss of semen, but frequently the testicles and other generative organs waste and become reduced in size as a result of the abuse. …Fig. 2 represents one much reduced, as a result of self-abuse. [pg 773]

Note: before proceeding, please be sure you have read the Warning for Satire-Impaired

You’ll have to do a bit of scrolling to find the referenced parts. Look for the page number in the left margin.

SELF ABUSE [pg 286 et seq.]

Self-Abuse. Untold miseries arise from the pollution of the body. Self-pollution, or onanism, is one of the most prolific sources of evil, since it leads both to the degradation of body and mind. It is practiced more or less by members of both sexes, and the habit once established, is overcome with the greatest difficulty. It is the source of numerous diseases which derange the functional activity of the organs involved, and eventually impair the constitution. This vicious habit is often practiced by those who are ignorant of its dangerous results. Statistics show that insanity is frequently caused by masturbation.

Immoderate indulgence in any practice is deleterious to the individual. Emphatically true is this with regard to sexual excesses. Not unfrequently does the marriage rite “cover a multitude of sins.” The abuse of the conjugal relation produces the most serious results to both parties, and is a prolific source of some of the gravest forms of disease. Prostatorrhea, spermatorrhea, impotency, hypochondria, and general debility of the generative organs, arise from sexual excesses.

The health of the reproductive organs can only be maintained by leading a temperate life. The food should be nourishing but not stimulating. Lascivious thoughts should be banished from the mind, and a taste cultivated for that literature which is elevating in its nature, and the associations should be refining and ennobling. Let these conditions and the rules of hygiene, be observed, and virtue will reward her subjects with a fine physique and a noble character.

Woman, from the nature of her organization, has less strength and endurance than man. Much, however, of the suffering and misery which she experiences arises from insufficient attention to the sexual organs. The menstrual function is generally established between the ages of twelve and fourteen. For want of proper instruction, many a girl through ignorance has caused derangements which have enfeebled her womanhood [pg 287]or terminated her life. At this critical period the mother cannot be too considerate of her daughter’s health. Preceding the first appearance of the menses, girls usually feel an aching in the back, pains in the limbs, chilliness, and general languor. The establishment of this function relieves these symptoms. Every precaution should be taken during the period to keep the feet dry and warm, to freely maintain a general circulation of the blood, to avoid exertion, and to refrain from standing or walking too much. Menstrual derangements should never be neglected, for they predispose to affections of the brain, liver, heart, and stomach, induce consumption and frequently end in death. Young women should, therefore, properly protect themselves, and avoid extremes of heat and cold.




or emission of semen without copulation, is generally induced by the early habit of masturbation. It is one of the evidences that passion, instead of prudence, has held sway. Passion may aptly be termed the voice of the body, by which, if we listen, we are enchanted and led astray. Conscience is the voice of the soul, which remonstrates, and if we obey, we shall be guided aright. We cannot reconcile these conflicting voices, and if we indulge the passions when conscience forbids gratification, the remembrance of the wrong remains forever, and constant fear is an everlasting punishment.

[pg 773]

The Practice of Onanism squanders the vitality and bankrupts the constitution. Indigestion, innutrition, emaciation, shortness of breath, palpitation, nervous debility, are all symptoms of this exhaustion. Subsequently, the yellow skin reveals the bones, the sunken eyes are surrounded by a leaden circle, the vivacious imagination becomes dull, the active mind grows insipid—in short, the spring, or vital force, having lost its tension, every function wanes in consequence. Excessive lustful enjoyment produces feebleness, and finally terminates in disease and impotency.

Nocturnal or Night Emissions. Involuntary emissions of semen most frequently occur during amorous dreams at night, and are therefore termed nocturnal emissions. Although they are at first occasioned by lascivious dreams, attended by erections and pleasurable sensations, yet, as the disease progresses, the erections become less perfect and the losses are only revealed by the depression of spirits experienced the following morning, and by the stiffened and stained spots on the linen. At first, these emissions may occur but once in two or three weeks, unless the patient be excited by company, stimulation, food, drinks, or other causes; but, at a later stage of the disease, they sometimes take place every night. In aggravated cases, the seminal sacs are so weakened that the warmth of the bed, friction of the clothing, reading obscene literature, viewing indecent pictures, indulging in lewd conversation, or even being in the presence of women, produces a waste of semen—many times unattended by erections. When there is great weakness, seminal discharges may be induced by lifting heavy weights, pressure upon the genital organs, horseback riding, straining at stool, or even upon urinating, as observed when muscular efforts are made to expel the last drops, which appear thick and viscid. If the urine be allowed to stand for a few hours, the seminal discharge will be precipitated, and will form a light-colored deposit at the bottom of the vessel. If the sediment be examined with a microscope, spermatozoa can readily be detected in it.

[pg 777]

Impotency (Loss of Sexual Power). Masturbation prevents the excitability of the nervous system and sexual organs and causes debility, which is indicated by the premature discharge of semen during sexual intercourse. These premature emissions indicate not only partial impotency, but also that the nerve-centres have become morbidly sensitive by the practice of solitary vice, or marital excesses. At length the powers of the erectile tissues are diminished, and there is weakness which prevents the act of copulation, or the erection may be slow and not last long enough, on account of a faulty functional condition of the spinal cord.

A Peculiar Form of Impotency is associated with certain abnormal nutritive changes which give rise to a lymphatic or fat condition of the system. Not that the temperament in all these cases is originally lymphatic, but the system degenerates in consequence of nutritive perversion. With the loss of sexual ardor, there is also apathy of mind, loss of manliness, and the victim becomes cold, dispassionate, and treacherous, devoid of any admiration or love for the opposite sex. He acquires rotundity of person, the face is fat, smooth, often beardless, and the voice is feminine.

The victims of this disease represent two distinct classes, viz.: (1) those who are fearfully tormented by the consciousness that they are losing their virile powers, and become irritable, jealous and often desperate; and (2) those who are completely indifferent to this deprivation.

(1.) Patients of the former class are readily restored to health by proper treatment, for they are willing to make an effort for the recovery of their manly powers. There is not complete loss of sexual desire, yet their disappointment is so great that they may entertain suicidal thoughts. They are moody, fickle, discontented, excitable, and remarkably impulsive. With proper treatment, they regain tone of body, vigor of mind, an increase of sexual desire, and become more attentive to business affairs, and less indifferent to the gentler sex. With the restoration of the general health and the sexual functions, remarkable constitutional changes occur. It is often the case that their intimate friends hardly recognize them by looks or acts.

(2.) It is equally true that those who are wholly indifferent to the loss of virile power, uninterested in the evidences of their manhood, are sometimes incurable. In fact, it is useless to treat the latter class, because they will neither co-operate with the physician, nor persist in the treatment necessary to effect a radical and constitutional change.

Symptoms of Spermatorrhea. The indications of abuse of the sexual organs are loss of nervous energy, dullness of the mental faculties, and delight in obscene stories. The expression of the face becomes coarse, and the movements slow; the eye is sunken, the face bloated and pale, and the disposition is fretful and irritable; the appetite is capricious, the throat irritated, and the patient makes frequent attempts to clear it, in order to speak distinctly. There are pains in the chest, wakefulness, and during the night lascivious thoughts and desires. The relish for play or labor is gone, and a growing distaste for business is apparent; there is a determination of blood to the head, headache, noises and roaring sounds in the ears, the eyes may be blood-shot and watery, weak or painful, the patient imagines bright spots or flashes passing before them, and there may be partial blindness. There is increasing stolidity of expression, the eye is without sparkle, and the face becomes blotched and animal-like in its expression. The victim is careless of his personal appearance, not unscrupulously neat, and not unfrequently a rank odor exhales from the body.

There are troublesome sensations, as of itching and crawling, in and about the scrotum. Subsequently, there is obstinate constipation, and all the symptoms of dyspepsia follow. Gradually the pallor deepens, the patient becomes emaciated. There is a shortness of breath, palpitation after even moderate exercise, trembling of the knees, and eruptions on the skin. There may also be cough, hoarseness, stitch in the side, loss of voice. The sleep is not refreshing, the patient has frequent nightmare, or the dreams are lascivious, and the involuntary emissions of semen become more frequent. The weakness increasing, the sufferer experiences a weakness in his legs and staggers like a drunken man, his hands tremble and he stammers.

The victim is unable to concentrate his thoughts, cannot remember what he reads, and is mentally indolent. He begins to be suspicious of his friends, has less confidence in others, and desires to be alone, is despondent and has suicidal thoughts. He has pain in the back, does not like to walk, and is inclined to lie down. The semen is prematurely discharged upon attempting coition, and if there be offspring, it is apt to be feeble or subject to scrofula, consumption, or convulsions. The genital organs, especially the penis and testicles, diminish in size, as the disease progresses, lose their energy, and the glands of the penis become cold and flaccid. There is frequent desire to urinate, chronic irritation in the neck of the bladder, and pain in the spermatic cord and testicle, and sometimes in the end of the penis. ..The limbs are cramped and rigid, the feet bloated, and the patient becomes melancholy and relinquishes all hope of recovery. As the disease progresses, the patient lacks firmness and is absent-minded.

When the erections are imperfect and the semen is prematurely discharged, or when a lengthy coition is required before the sperm can be ejected, it is evident that the patient is rapidly becoming impotent; the virile powers are vanishing and manhood is surrendering sway to a merciless foe. We frequently witness this condition in men, even at the age of thirty-five, when the summit of vigor and strength should only have been reached. How often are we solicited to restore these lost hopes and powers! To what tales of ignorance and recklessness, or submission and remorse, do we repeatedly listen from these unfortunate sufferers! In patients of this class, sexual intercourse prevents spontaneous emissions, but it does not remove the functional and organic derangements of the nerve-centres; hence, at a time when the victims of this disease should be in the prime of life, they are impotent, and epilepsy, apoplexy, paralysis, softening of the brain, or insanity, frequently results

[pg 780]

Softening of the Brain. This malady, although less common as a result of masturbation than the complications mentioned in the preceding paragraphs, is of sufficiently frequent occurrence to entitle it to a passing notice here. This condition usually results ultimately in complete dementia, or loss of reason. It is an incurable disease.

Insanity. This deplorable malady is not a very uncommon result of masturbation and its various resultant morbid conditions, as the records of the many institutions for the unfortunate class of sufferers from this disease bear abundant witness. Sometimes it manifests itself in the milder forms of hallucination, or monomania, but in the majority of cases, the patient sinks into a despondent hypochondria, which is many times followed, sooner or later, by a raving mania.

In cases of monomania resulting from masturbation, the mental derangement is often so slight as to escape detection by the patient’s friends, the peculiar freaks of disposition being regarded rather as eccentricities of character than as symptoms of serious disease. Fits of despondency are usually common with such sufferers. The mental derangement is not always accompanied or preceded by spermatorrhea or frequent seminal emissions, the injury done to the nervous system by the practice of self-abuse, or sexual excesses, being first noticeable in various phantasms or imaginings on the part of the patient. These are, in different cases, so various, both in character and degree, as not to admit of any classification, each case presenting phases peculiar to itself. In many cases, the patient imagines that his best friends are conspiring to injure him, or that some great calamity is about to befall him. In most cases there is danger of the patient’s committing suicide, if not closely watched. Especially is this true of those who suffer from fits of hypochondria.

Except in its milder forms, insanity resulting from masturbation and sexual excesses, is rarely curable.

[pg 781]

Quackery Rampant. This country is flooded with cheap circulars and pamphlets, circulated openly and broadcast, wherein ignorant, pretentious, blatant quacks endeavor to frighten young men who may never have practiced self-abuse, or been guilty of excesses in any way, and yet who experience, now and then at long intervals, nocturnal seminal emissions. In such cases, it is the [pg 781]duty of the conscientious, honest, and sympathetic practitioner of the healing art to give assurance, and not to unnecessarily alarm those who experience nothing inconsistent with a state of fairly good health. To frighten such young men into believing themselves diseased, when in reality they experience nothing but what may occasionally occur in the experiences of any robust, healthy man, is the most detestable, downright quackery.

Moral Considerations. Masturbation is a habit which tyrannizes over the mind, perverts the imagination, and forces upon the victim venereal desires, even while he is forming the strongest resolutions to reform. It constrains into its service the higher faculties, such as friendship, confidence, love, reason, and imagination, to make its ideal graceful and beautiful.

Sensual Lust. The fancy creates an attractive partner, possessed of girlish beauty, a perfect type of goodness, blended with sexuality, and whom the subject worships with all the ardor of passion. Around this beau ideal all his affections are clustered; to her the purest of his blood is offered in sacrifice, and it is no wonder that female associates seem tame and unattractive when such imaginary and consummate divinity is courted. In the sensual delirium is conceived an elysium of carnal bliss, where half-nude nymphs display their charms and invite to sensual enjoyments. Thus we see how this habit makes the spiritual faculties subservient to morbid passion, and by what means elevating influences are prostituted to vulgar and base-born creations.

The author concludes his exposition by recommending the unfailing success of

… our peculiar methods of treating these affections, as pursued at the World’s Dispensary and Invalids’ Hotel and Surgical Institute.

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