Next in causative importance, possibly, is masturbation. Every masturbator reaches a point at some time when, startled at the discovery of the evils which inevitably follow the vice, he strives to abandon it, and to return to that normal habit of sexual intercourse for which his psychical and physical condition renders him peculiarly, for a time, at least, unfit. When he does attempt the natural sexual act it is very apt to result in a fiasco; and disappointed, ashamed, and disheartened, he has reached the "psychological moment" for intercourse with his own sex, should opportunity or temptation occur. Instead of auto-onanism, mutual masturbation with a friend presents not only more highly exciting surroundings, but a greater degree of psychical pleasure; and from mutual masturbation to reciprocal pederasty is not only a frequent, but a very easy transition.
Where a stronger aphrodisiac effect is exercised by one of the same sex, than one of the opposite sex, a suspicion of congenital tendency may reasonably exist; but in cases of simple reversal of sexual feeling, the phenomenon is far oftener one of cultivation and habit, of which the following is typical: " My sexual life began in my thirteenth year. I had my first ejaculation when fourteen. Seduced into masturbation by two older schoolmates, I practised it, partly alone, partly with other boys; and, in the latter case, always with thoughts of the opposite sex. Later, at the university, I went home with a friend one evening, and in his room, both being in a mild state of intoxication, I grasped him by the genitals. He made slight opposition, and I accompanied him to his room, where we spent the night in mutual masturbation. From that time we indulged in it quite freely, and shortly after began to practice fellatio, or mouth-intercourse, with resultant ejaculations.
"My visits to whore-houses, which had been frequent up to that time, were discontinued; I finding in my male friend a perfect and satisfying substitute for female intercourse. Naturally, the thoughts of women receded more and more into the background. I began, on the contrary, to think of men—young, handsome men, with big penises—preferring those from sixteen to twenty-five; and strangely enough, those dressed in trousers of Manchester cloth, or leather, excited me most. It seemed to me that the mere touch of such trousers aroused my passion; while unbuttoning them, grasping the penis and kissing the young man, were simply the greatest delight.
"My sensibility to female charms is dulled; yet in sexual intercourse with a woman, particularly if she have well-developed breasts, I am always potent without the help of imagination. That my sexual sense is partly reversed is, I believe, somewhat due to convenience. The labor of entering into a relation with a girl is a matter of too much trouble.1 Again and again I have resolved with all my might to fight against onanism, but am st ill unsuccessful. When I feel the sexual impulse gaining strength, instead of seeking the natural act, I masturbate, seeming to derive from this the greater enjoyment. And yet, experience has taught me that I am potent with rirls without thinking of masculine genitals.
1 The present writer received a very singular reply from a young man whom he questioned as to the latter's practice of homosexuality. "Aw, girls are too hard to irit! They're stuck on themselves, too. They think every time a fellow tries to get up their flue that he's dead in love, and wants to marry them. Boys do it for fun, and there aint no danger of getting disease, or getting into trouble." Bating some possible improvements in grammar and orthography, the above suggests very fairly the gist of sexual philosophy, as understood by a certain class, and not a small One, of young men at the present time, particularly in large cities.
1" Psychopathia Sexualis," pp. 191-193. The word onanism is used here, and elsewhere, in its commonly accepted sense, signifying masturbation.
" In one case, however, I did not attain ejaculation, because the woman, who was in a brothel, was very repulsive. I cannot avoid the thought that my contrary sexuality is the result of onanism; and it depresses me to feel that I am not strong enough to overcome this vice by my own will power."1
Careful consideration of the psychical side of this case will convince us that it was one of acquisition purely; while, in that to follow, although there are certain neurotic tendencies revealed on the mother's side, they were in no sense greater than are compatible with perfectly healthy parentage, justifying me, 1 think, in placing it in the same category with the former, as a case of the acquired habit.
He remembers playing with his little sister at "father and mother;" remembers the nurse-maid telling him that, at her last place, the boy she was nursing had sustained regular sexual relations with his sister; but, being only eight years old, does not think her talk produced an erection, or any erotic thought.
She used to speak freely about his "little tassel," but attempted no further liberties with him. At ten he fell desperately in love with a giri of twelve, whom he had seen in a theatrical performance; bought a photograph of her, and used to kiss it passionately in secret.
"At twelve," he says, "my father's footman, who must have been educating me rapidly in sexual matters, came into my room one night and tried to put his hand upon my penis. I had an erection, but resisted him for a time, until, overcome by the sensation, I yielded. Stopping a moment in his process of masturbating me, I remember pushing his hand away and frantically finishing the act myself. When I sank back exhausted, he took out his penis and deliberately masturbated himself before me, until the orgasm occurred. I could hardly sleep afterward from excitement. 1 felt I had been initiated into a great and delightful mystery. From that on, I fell readily into the habit of masturbation, the man telling me he was surprised I had n't learned of it before." 1
This man afterward developed homosexuality in all its forms; a development clearly traceable to the footman's first tuition; but, although desire for the opposite sex became necessarily feeble, as a result of his abnormal sexual practices, there were no manifestations of true effemination, or psychical reversal, such as are usually found in cases of so pronounced a type.