In view of the fact that modesty, as previously shown, is almost universally innate in the human race, it seems to be a justifiable presumption that a man who offends social decency, and outrages his own self-respect, by a public exhibition of his genitals, is either incapable of moral discrimination —idiocy, deliberately perverse—paranoia, or the act is the result of a permanently or temporarily beclouded consciousness—insanity'
The exhibitionary disposition is rarely an actively dangerous one; prompting to clandestine exposure of the privates to persons of the opposite sex, rather than to acts of aggressive violence. The silliness and lack of purpose in these exposures, as a rule, point unmistakably to intellectual incompetency, moral weakness, and, probably, lack of virility.
The chief cause seems to be impairment of the cerebral or spinal function, due either to disease or old age, in which impotence prevents the expression of an originally strong sexuality in the accustomed manner; exhibition being resorted to as a new form of sexual stimulation.
Thus we find, in the great majority of instances, the exhibitionist to be afflicted with either senile or paretic dementia, epilepsy, impotence, following prolonged masturbation, or one or more of the neuroses incident to alcoholism.
Pelanda records five cases, all of which fell under the conditions named.' One, a paralytic, at the age of fifty-eight began to exhibit himself to women and children; was lascivious and attempted fellatio in the asylum where he was confined. Another, a predisposed drunkard, suffering with fdvt circulaire, was first detected exposing himself in church, during divine service. His brother, also, was an exhibitionist. The third, sexually excitable, was confined in an asylum on account of chronic alcoholism, and exposed himself to every woman he saw. The fourth, rachitic, microcephalic, married, father of fourteen children, was given to exhibition in spite of repeated punishment; and the fifth, a merchant of middle age, single, used to exhibit himself to children by urinating with them, under an assumption of innocence. Once he was known to kiss a little girl on such an occasion. Had a severe attack of mental disease, with an apoplectic seizure; and, losing his fortune, gave himself to drink.
His condition was that of alcoholism, with joiiwm pra-cox, and mental weakness. Penis small and testicles atrophic.
Although widely separated from the actuality, possibly to this class belong those individuals of low morality who defile water closets, and even decenter places, with pictures of male and female genitalia, associating them with such literary offal as might reasonably be expected from persons who choose such fields for the display of their talents. It is little wonder that the Muses, being self-respecting young ladies, should absolutely decline to show their favor to one who courts them in such an unsavory arena.
The following is a case of exhibition plainly due to insanity. A gentleman, aged thirty-seven, had frequently given offence by exhibiting himself to girls in the street, and even in schools, into which he forced himself.
On these occasions he would ask a girl to masturbate him, or permit him to go with her, performing the first-named act in her presence, himself, when she refused to serve him. He used to rap upon windows, having his penis and testicles exposed, so that women and children were forced to see them when attention had been thus attracted. When he had exposed himself, he knew nothing more of what he did. As precursors of his attacks, he complained of vertigo, and flames before bis eyes.1
In the following case, taken from Krafft-Ebing's valuable treatise, the irrepressible impulse to exhibit the genitals before children seems a species of sexual degeneration due to chronic alcoholism in the father, as well as in the subject himself.
Had first natural intercourse at sixteen years of age; later, gonorrhea and syphilis. Continued normal intercourse until his twenty-first year, when the exhibitionist tendency was developed from seeing children looking at him while he urinated in a playground. He noticed that their looking at him, particularly when he exposed his penis, caused him sexual excitement, with erections and even ejaculation.
Afterward, he continued the practice of exposure in every available place. He says his impulse to approach little girls is primary; and only when he has succeeded in fully fixing their attention upon his exposed genitals, do erection and ejaculation occur.
Father suffered with chronic alcoholism, and is said also to have been an exhibitionist. Head abnormally broad, penis smalt, left testicle deformed, patella reflex absent, symptoms of neurasthenia.
With reference to these psychopathic sexual conditions, the important point to be borne in mind is that in almost all cases, just as in dipsomania periodica, the bulk of the testimony goes to show that remorse, sfiame, and regret follow the act. This, no less than those clinical features of degeneracy which indicate cerebral abnormality, either congenital or acquired, should always be considered as of primary importance in medico-legal investigation of all cases of exhibition.