It is well known, also, how largely sexuality enters into the religious psychoses of celibacy; culminating in uteromania, masturbatic insanity, and in those instances of cruel self-punishments, self-castrations, and even self-crucifixions, which constitute so large a share of early ecclesiastical history; and also, what a bearing the religious idea formerly exercised upon the attitude of the civil courts towards such offences.
In both the sexual and religious spheres, enthusiasm may lead to the sacrifice of another, in the pursuit of any pleasure peculiar to either or both. This was shown, in the case of religion, in the innumerable burnings for heresy in the early Church; and such instances should direct attention at once to the phenomena of sadism and masochism, where love takes the place of religion in such destructive acts, as probably involved factors. But conditions of religious and of sexual excitement are so similar in the climax of their development, that the close correspondence may easily, under certain circumstances, engender grave doubt as to which is the more prominent; while both, being neurasthenic conditions, may very readily become transformed into active cruelty.1 As the tendency of sexual love is to manifest itself in acts of daring, sacrifice or heroism, it will be seen how easily it may become criminal, if nobler opportunities be wanting, or the moral principles weak. Hence arises the impulse to suicide, among disappointed and weakly constituted lovers; for, as a weak love expresses itself in a weak equivalent, in effeminate poetry, in exaggerated eesthetics, as in the case of Oscar Wilde; or in religious mysticism, as in that of Peter the Hermit, or Joan of Arc; so the strong love of a strong mind manifests itself in strong deeds, heroism and aggressive action, as with Leander, Roland and Lancelot.
1 The correlation of these two passions is well portrayed in the sculptured "group of St. Theresa, by Bernini, wherein the woman sinks in an hysterical faint, on a marble cloud, with an amorous angel plunging the arrow (of divine love) into her heart." (Lubke, Krafft-Ebing, he. cit,, p. 10,note.)