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seminales involontaires of which Lallemand speaks as continent and healthful, demonstrate neither perfect chastity nor perfect genital health. But, il faut avouer that they may manage these matters differently in France. We should more freely indulge in double-shotted epithets of vituperation, had we not surmises of their liability to act inversely, like prosecutions for witchcraft of yore, which but tended to add to the number of soi-disant witches. We doubt the frequency of extreme cases of the vice in question. But there is no case in which severe psychological penalties are not incurred, those cases not excepted in which it is not a question of moral consideration at all : and there are such, as we shall show. “Children of two or three years of age," says
Lallemand, “have been affected with priapism," (in their cases, of course, most inculpably) “owing to the irritation produced by ascarides.” “Such children must consequently possess a like irresistible tendency to relieve this irritation as they have under the same complaint to scratch and rub the nose; the sensations thus produced being calculated to lead to the formation of mischievous habits.” He authenticates an account of a nurse who regularly employed certain means, to cause an infant to go to sleep, and who made no secret of those means and thought no harm of them. It follows that many in after life have bitterly reproached themselves for this malpractice as having thus furnished an almost supernatural demonstration of early and gratuitous depravity, and have attributed all their sufferings and misfortunes to this fatal habit. Selfabuse is in such cases only an intermediate link in the chain of causes and effects. But whatever the innocence or culpability of the party, there is no mistake with regard to the amount of mental suffering endured. The earlier the age at which this malpractice is ascertained to have commenced, the more probable will it be that ascarides, or stone, or other source of mechanical pressure, or of local irritation has originated it. We have the record of many cases by M. Lallemand, and of one by Mr. McDougall, in which the expulsion of ascarides was followed by rapid and complete recovery. It is met with as a sequel to blenorrhæa. There are other causes of this species of malpractice which, at least as causes, are out of the patient's control: congenital predisposition from redundancy and tenseness of the prepuce and other causes; congenital malconformation; cerebro-spinal disorder and disease; the action of certain medicines ; spermatorrhæa may originate in these, may also be produced by intemperance, and this irrespectively of genital malpractices. It will have been seen that persons have embittered their lives by self-reproaches, whose self-reproaches have not been at all, or at least not darkly, deserved. Self-reproach, indeed, seems to be the natural retribution of self-abuse; whether merited or not, to be an ever attendant symptom of it. We have in Rousseau an example of genius blazing away as in a light-house to warn us away from the rocks and quicksands on which so many have perished. Lallemand is, after all, his only true commentator.
We have thus far spoken, for the most part, of cases exempt, wholly or in great part, from moral censure; but no ingenuity in seeking allowances will enable us to speak of all cases as such; we cannot speak of the retribution with which they meet as otherwise than deserved. There is self-contempt for pursuing an irrational course of misconduct -a reproving conscience for having done what is known to be wrong. Nothing that we could say would equal the self-taught eloquence of outraged nature. We might take hundreds of passages from Rousseau ; but we abstain from this to quote rather the ipsissima verba of a sufferer of a later date. We quote it from case 32, p. 160, of Mr. McDougall’s translation of Lallemand:
“At first,” the patient says, “I felt a gradually increasing disgust of everything, and a constant sense of ennui. From that period I saw only the dark side of life. Thoughts of suicide soon afterwards occurred to me, and this state of mind continued for twelve months; after which, other ideas took the place of those respecting suicide. I considered myself the subject of ridicule, and fancied that the expression of my countenance, or my manner, excited an insulting gaiety in the persons I met. This notion each day acquired new strength; and often when in the street, or even when in my own house, or in a room surrounded by my relations and friends, I fancied I heard insults which were aimed at me,—I think so still. At length, as my state became worse, I thought every one insulted me, and I still think so. Wrapped up in my thoughts, I am indifferent to all external impressions. These signs are evidently those of imbecility. I admit that I might have had—that I may even now have hallucinations, but I am fully persuaded that these ideas are not without foundation; I am convinced that the expression of my countenance has something strange in it,—that people read in my looks the fears which agitate, and the thoughts which torment me,—and that they laugh at this unhappy weakness of intellect, which they ought rather to pity.”
This is by no means a rare specimen; it is the language of the disease. There are the moral and mental pangs of hypochondriasis; there are propensities to suicide neutralized by a cowardice which renders the crime of felo de se, as it were, an incompleted tissue of perpetual guilt; there is a fearful looking forward to the future, both here and hereafter. What can be more lamentable? Cauterization in curing spermatorrhæa banishes all these sensations. There is a derangement of one of the wheels of the machinery, which being set right all goes on again correctly. Its symptoms amount to insanity, but the seat of the insanity is not the brain, but the prostate gland and orifices of the ductus seminales.
From abuse prior to puberty, after puberty-abuse succeeded by, abuse not succeeded by, spermatorrhoea, from spermatorrhea however caused-result dejection of spirits, deterioration of the faculties of the mind. All these causes leave like mental results; the same in kind, differing only in degree. All produce greater exhaustion of the vis vitæ than natural excesses. When children naturally quick, become dull, the cause should be sought: the same with regard to students who have arrived at the age of puberty, and who, having been rapidly proficient, manifest a debility of the mental powers, and loiter on the road to academical distinction. When we miss the clearness of the decantered wine of youth, we must investigate the quality of the dregs, and seek the means of re-precipitating them. Where there are not great abilities, there are, in childhood and youth, at least physical energies. There is always something suspicious about old heads placed on young shoulders. Is unusual sedateness a sign of premature development of mind or of premature decrepitude? It may be either. We have sometimes observed a precocity that has been short-lived, succeeded by a state of mental imbecility that has been abiding. A fondness for solitude and exhibition of timidity in boys who have been bold and rackety, demands a parent's or preceptor's scrutiny.
The results of abuse, however intermediately physical, are eventually and mainly psychological. It is through the dark passes of self-abuse that many arrive at the bourne of confirmed insanity, whence, alas! the travellers that return, though more numerous than once, owing to better treatment, are not many.
Caustic will cure spermatorrhæa: to cure this is to cure a kind of insanity. But this being conceded, we still have a moral and spiritual, as well as physical being; the former of which apprises us feelingly of its existence when we violate the laws which should regulate it. The cases in which, whether as being persisted in or relinquished, this malpractice shows itself to be a matter of volition, are numerous. then observe what it is and is not, theologically. No express command is violated, as in infractions of the seventh commandment; nor, as in certain other trespasses of a normal kind, physically considered, any direct precept. The crime of a certain offender mentioned in the Pentateuch, was not abuse as abuse: the gist of his offence consisted in his evasion of the prescribed obligation of raising offspring to perpetuate the memory and succeed to the property of a deceased relative, as was the custom of the times in which he lived. It comes, however, under the category of effeminacy, as condemned in the New Testament. Besides this, both nature and conscience tell the perpetrator that he is doing wrong; the sense of wrong doing is not slight, it is grievous and painful, shame attends it. The psychological retribution is also severe; indeed, equally so with the moral. A species of isolation of heart and
intellect ensues. In so far as pleasures are unshared, they are selfish. The whole spirit and genius of Christianity condemns selfishness. The mind, if not body, becomes emasculated. There is either existing, or apprehended, genital incapacity. A sense of segregation pervades his mind, affects his prospects in life; for “ those who would have friends must show themselves friendly;" he, wrapped up in himself, feels and shows no such amities as all should cherish and all value. The ties seem severed which unite him to his species; he proceeds through life in a wild, dark path of his own choosing, beset with spectres and shadows and unfriendly faces, knowing no real comradeship except the evil and gloomy company of his own thoughts. It does not commonly --not frequently, induce spermatorrhea. The physical ill consequences of this malpractice are, in point of fact, nine times out of ten, next to none; but in all cases its moral and psychological consequences are marked and manifold; and woe to the one among the ten upon whom, physically speaking, falls the lot of decimation. There is nothing really contradictory in what we have advanced : passages which may seem so, admit of being honestly reconciled. It is always a monomania. Is it in any one given case culpably such or inculpably? The decision is often difficult. Science may sometimes pronounce the true verdict: in a majority of instances it lies out of its power and province to anticipate the decisions of a higher tribunal.
To recapitulate :—the malpractice alluded to is an offence against nature; it is, if not directly hostile to any command or precept of religion, an offence against the spirit of Christianity, were it only inasmuch as it is a singularly selfish vice; it is not visited, except in unusual or extreme cases, with physical retribution; its moral and psychological retribution is invariably severe; it effeminates and throws open the mind to the aggressions of empiricism; exposes it to the delusions of Superstition; it isolates the senses, affections, and ideas: thus isolating them, it alienates the perpetrator from society, rendering at once precarious and disadvantageous his position in the social scale. Its usual cure is the full and active employment of the physical and mental faculties: a growing enlightenment of mind which renders visible its evil tendencies; the formation and auspicious progress and favourable termination of some virtuous attachment. Speaking of its usual course and cure, more than this need not be, in fact, cannot be said of it truly,—and, alas! that we must add, the possession and prestige of genius supply neither charm nor periapt against it. On the contrary, its temptations peculiarly beset the studious, the recluse, and the imaginative.
We cannot condense into one hour's reading a sketch of a work which it would require a twelvemonth thoroughly to study, and which is an epitome of fourteen years' observation and experience. We may, on some future occasion, when more minutely tracking some of the highways and byways of the new territories to which M. Lallemand has pioneered the way, quote from his work more largely. It will be found a work of much interest to the consulting surgeon. It did not come within our province in this paper to treat it surgically. It nevertheless is certain that there are cases in which we may confidently have recourse to Surgery to cure Insanity. In all doubtful cases it should be ascertained whether spermatorrhæa exists.
There is a question put by Audrey in “ As you like it,” which often occurs to us as both pertinent and amusing: she asks, “ Is it a true thing?" Well, supposing the reader to put the same question, we answer, we believe all we have said to be pro tanto true. We believe spermatorrhæa to be " a true thing." We, must, nevertheless, avoid being misled by a fourteen years' accumulation of cases into one volume by a surgeon who has acquired the position of a medical referee in such cases, into believing them more frequent than they really are. It is said of Sale, the translator of the Koran, that he became, through his absorption in his task, more than half a Mahometan. We knew, and have dined with Taylor, the translator of Plotinus, who was said to have erected in a room in his house (but we do not believe it) an altar to Jupiter. What is true is that the ethics of the works he translated effected a metastasis into his own mind, rendering him the most remarkable modern antique of his age. We must avoid the errors of both the Greek scholar and the Orientalist. We must not so enter into even a scientific pursuit as to suffer it to impose on us.
ART. II.-Influence des Vêtemens sur nos Organes. Déformation du
Crâne, résultant de la méthode plus générale de Couvrir la Tête
des Enfans. Par le Docteur A. FOVILLE. Paris. The Influence of Clothing on our Organs. A Deformity of the Cranium,
resulting from the common method of Covering the Heads of Infants. By Dr. ACHILLE FOVILLE, Senior Physician to the Asile Départmental des Aliénés de la Seine Inférieure. Paris. pp. 69. With Illustrations.
FOVILLE, who had the charge of the Asile Départmental de la Seine Inférieure, paid great attention to the deformities of the cranium among the idiotic and imbecile patients confined within its walls; and he traced the origin of these cranial irregularities to mismanagement in infancy, especially that of bandaging the head too tightly. This