The "evacuation theory" of the erotic feeling is largely disproved by the fact that sexual sensations are felt, and sometimes, as we have seen, intensified, when extirpation of the seminal vesicles has taken place; and still further, that in children there exists frequently a well-defined sexual feeling long before there is any true sexual secretion, as also in women long after the sexual glands have discontinued their functions.
The discovery of sexual sensation in children is, I think, in most cases accidental. This belief was first impressed upon me by a circumstance which, while amusing, is worth repeating. Some boys were playing "I spy" in my father's orchard, and one little fellow of ten or twelve hid himself in an apple tree. During the wait for the regular count to be completed, he must have gotten to rubbing and fingering his penis, probably unconsciously, in the excitement of the play, and, when the orgasm occurred, the shock was so great that the little fellow tumbled headlong to the ground, the older boys, who had probably passed through a somewhat similar experience, being only apprised of the true status of affairs by the erect condition of his penis, and the few drops of blood which betokened his initiation into the great Eleusinian mystery of nature. The circumstance was rendered the more laughable by the fact that the boy was crying, dismally, and insisted that somebody had struck him with a stone.
That sexual feeling exist, however, from even earliest infancy, in some cases, we have Braxton Hicks's positive assertion, as well as many facts within our own knowledge to prove. " The progress towards development," he remarks, " is not so abrupt as has been generally supposed;" the changes which take place at puberty being simply the culmination of forces already at work, and the imperious manifestation of a sexual impulse which physiological maturity at that moment makes capable of gratification.
Nor is even congenital absence of the sexual glands in females always fatal to sexual feeling. Column reports a case in which neither ovaries nor uterus could be discovered, and where the smallness of the vagina rendered natural intercourse impossible, in which "pleasurable intercourse took place by the rectum, and in which the sexual desire was so strong as to approach nymphomania;" and Clara Barms gives an account of a woman, in whom subsequent autopsy proved the congenital absence of both womb and ovaries, yet whom violence of passion led to illicit intercourse with a lover.* Both Bridgman and Cotterill report similar experiences, according to Mr. Ellis;1 and the rather weak argument of Fe"re, and others, who adhere to the " evacuation theory," that persistence of sexual feeling after castration may be due to nerve influence in the cicatrices, which preserves sexual sensation just as the illusion of sense retains an amputated member, is, not to speak of the fact that congenital absence of the sexual organs is not dealt with at all, to say the very least, untenable. The conclusion which Elba reaches, indirectly, as he admits, that "the spinal nerve-centers, through which the sexual mechanism chiefly operates, are not sufficient to account for the whole of the phenomena of sexual impulse," and that there may be present a cerebral element, is precisely the hypothesis with which I started; and to which, notwithstanding the ridicule heaped upon Gall and other "brain-center" advocates, I purpose devoting some little part of the present inquiry.
While various investigators have attempted to locate the sexual-center in the brain, and while that center, though it may naturally be presumed to exist, is at present largely hypothetical, it cannot be denied that the phenomena tabulated by Gall and hia successors, Obici and Mara-chesini, are difficult of explanation on any other rational ground. The manifestation of the sexual impulse in children, before the sexual glands have matured; its continuance in old age, when the glandular function has long since ceased; the absence of any direct proof that the latter is the seat of the sexual passion, and the persistence of that passion in congenital absence, and after extirpation of, those glands, all point very unmistakably to some psychological cause not yet defined, but for which the recognition of an organic brain-center would quite satisfactorily account.
The theory that man's sexual pleasure, and passion, are due to the mere natural need of glandular evacuation, is bo intrinsically improbable as to require little comment. The violence of the emotion aroused by sexual intercourse, so entirely disproportionate to the trifling quantity of fluid emitted in the act, the utter exhaustion which follows, and the facte already stated, that pleasurable sensations supervene where there are no glands at all, sufficiently, I think, dispose of the few physiological facts that undoubtedly do support such a view.
The exhibition of sexual passion in old age, while not necessarily pathological, proves clearly the relation of the brain to the sexual feeling; and presumption of a pathological condition is naturally suggested when that exhibition is attended by physical decrepitude, unnatural direction of desire, shamelessness of its character, a marked change from sexual moderation to violence, or the exercise of criminal force.1
1 I am inclined to think, although not aware that I have ever seen the subject discussed, that the well-known mania of old men for young girts is largely the result of a remembrance, or reminiscence, of youthful pleasure, as contrasted with the less intense, experiences of later life; and an instinctive desire to reproduce feelings which blunted nerves and absence of virility render totally unattainable.