It haa been discovered by Villerm6, and Lacassagne, that rapes, and other offences against chastity, are most numerous in May, June, and July, showing a decided seasonal influence; and Legludic, in his record of 159 cases, places the maximum of these at the June-August period, and the minimum at that of February-March.1
It is a remarkable fact that sexual outbursts occur among prisoners during the spring period; and Dr. Hamilton Wey, writing from theEimira (New York) Reformatory, says—"beginning with the middle of February, and continuing for about two months, is the season of an ascending sexual wave."*
I am informed, also, by custodians of criminal court records that the facts in their possession corroborate, in the main, Legludic's statements.
It ts remarkable that these statistics correspond closely with those of suicide, a crime which, strangely enough, is more prevalent in the bright, clear days of summer, than in the gloom and dreariness of winter. See Durkheim, "Lc Suicide;" Tissot, de la Manie du Suicide, pp. 60. 149, ISO; Hawkins's "Medical Statistics;" Winslow'a "Anatomy of Suicide," pp. 131-2, and Eocy. Brit., xxn, 629-31.
Oribasius quotes from Rufus to the effect that sexual feeling is strongest in the spring;1 as Aetius also states. Wichman remarked that pollutions and nymphomania are most common during the same season; and Lay-cock makes a similar statement in his work on the nervous diseases of women.1
But, apart from this seasonal influence, and those racial and temperamental instincts which cannot here be discussed, the crime of rape presupposes a temporary and uncontrollable sexual lust, excited by alcohol, disease, or some other highly stimulating cause. Krafft-Ebing considers it quite improbable that a man both morally and mentally intact would attempt so brutal and unsatisfactory a crime;' and Lombroso, with his well-known tendency to lay every vice in the moral catalogue at the doors of our fore-parents, makes every man who attempts it a "degenerate."
The fact is, while rape is very frequently the result of congenital influences, disease, or imbecility, it is quite as frequently the result of alcohol, vile associationa and acquired depravity, on the part of white men, and one or all of the causes enumerated in reference to the negro.
The crime of rape, following the murder of the victim, must be clearly distinguished from unintentional murder, committed during the act, or murder to destroy evidence of the crime, as affording the very strongest proof of mental disease.4 Wherever very young children are made the motives, as well as the victims, of lust-murder, a reasonable presumption of mental as well as sexual abnormality naturally arises; many of such cases presenting the most horrible post-mortem evidence, in bruises and lacerations of the genitals, of failure to perform the act.
A remarkably cynical instance of this kind was reported to the Philadelphia police in 1904, in which the negro fiend deliberately enlarged the girl's vulva with his pocket-knife, to enable himself to commit the crime. But, while there is usually a sadistic element in those cases where unnecessary wounds are inflicted upon the victim, particularly when the body is opened, or certain portions of it maltreated, or abstracted, all lust-murders committed with accomplices, or with elements of prearrangement, are necessarily excluded from those which occur as a result of psychopathic conditions.
Thus, the following, the act of an epileptic, is clearly that of a diseased mind. The boy-victim was playing with other children, when an unknown man enticed him into the woods. The next day he was found, in a ravine, with the abdomen slit open—sexual intercourse by the incision being presumed—and with two stab-wounds in the neck. Before this, a man, answering to the description given of the murderer by the children, had attempted violation of a girl, six years old; but as she had an eruption on her head, and was crying loudly, his desire cooled, and he fled. After his arrest he confessed to the boy's murder, giving his motive. When the boy had accompanied him into the woods, he was seized with a desire to abuse him; and when the victim began to cry out, he stabbed him twice in the neck. Then he made an incision above the pubes, in imitation of the female organ, with the intention of satisfying his lust; but, the body seeming cold, he lost his desire and fled.
Marro in Italy, and Gamier in Paris, very ingeniously discovered that all crimes of blood are six times more frequent in adolescents than in adults;1 so that, while the aged libertine is mischievously active along minor sexual lines, the lust-murderer may usually be looked for among the young, lusty, and sexually vigorous. There are men indeed, as we saw in discussing the questions of sadism and masochism, to whom violence in some form is an indispensable adjunct of the sexual act; a survival, possibly, as was hinted, of that primitive form of courtship which, Herbert Spencer declares, was once universal; and which was conditioned by the power of the male to both overcome rivalry and subjugate the female; but this primordial instinct Bhould be carefully discriminated against, in investigating acts due to perverted morality, disease, or degeneracy of the sexual instinct. Cases occur in which satyriasis, either congenital or pathological, is the underlying cause; but that imbecility, and defective moral sense, frequently figure as causative agents is proven by the fact that even the bond of blood is not always respected, mothers, sisters and daughters being made the victims of such brutal sexual attacks.1