"The appearance of masturbation is a moment in the course of the development of the function of that organ which is the necessary instrument of sexuality. We find the first true manifestations of love appearing together with onanism, which is usually continued in a physiological way, though modified, into youth, and oftener through a great part of youth, according as this is precocious or retarded. In this onanism of early adolescence lies the germ of what will later be love; a pleasure of the body, and of the spirit, following the relief of a satisfied need. Onanism, at this period, psychically approximates the sexual act, and passes insensibly into it. If, however, continued on into adult age, it becomes morbid, passing into erotic fetichism. Thus onanism," continues this adept in making easy the road to ruin, " is not ahmys a vice, such as iB fiercely combated by educators and moralists." 1
Havelock Ellis, although I am glad to say he takes far less radical ground on the question, also temporizes with what all modern observation teaches to be a gross physical as well as moral evil, in such a way that even so close a student as Fer6 assumes his position to be, that masturbation is normal, and that "l'indulgence s' impose."
It is only just to Mr. Ellis, however, to say that he disclaims this position as an apologist of the habit, treating it solely from the standpoint of science, and assuming a neutral agnosticism on the subject which is possibly best defined in his own words: " I do not consider that we can decide the precise degree in which masturbation may fairly be called normal, so long as we take masturbation by itself. Masturbation belongs to a group of auto-erotic phenomena. From one point of view it may be said that all auto-erotic phenomena are unnatural, since the natural aim of the sexual impulse is sexual conjunction,' and all exercise of that impulse outside such conjunction is away from the end of Nature. But we do not live in a state of nature which answers to such demands; all our life is 'unnatural;' and as soon as we begin to restrain the free play of sexual impulse towards sexual ends, at once auto-erotic phenomena inevitably spring up on every side. There is no end to them; it is impossible to say what finest elements, in art, in morals, in civilization generally, may not really be rooted in auto-erotic impulse.3
1 I have already shown, in the Preface of the work, that most, if not all, of the crest conceptions of art and literature have a sexual root; but I venture, seriously, to disagree with the teamed writer in his tacit assumption of the potency of auto-erotic impulse* in producing them. Sexuality is one thing, its abuse quite another.
"Auto-erotic phenomena are inevitable. Our first duty is to investigate the nature and results of the manifestations, . . . under the perpetual restraints of civilized life, and, while avoiding any attitude of excessive indulgence, or indifference, to avoid also any attitude of excessive horror; for our horror not only leads to the facts being effectually veiled from our sijmt, but itself serves to manufacture, artificially, a greater evil than that which we seek to combat." 1