The present tendency in this country to the apotheosis of woman, with her so-called "rights" and "advanced thought," in plain reversal of the scriptural and traditional decree of female subordination to the stronger sex, is undoubtedly erotic in its origin. Not that I would condemn it, by any meaas, any more than I would any of the other forms and manifestations of innate chivalry on the part of men; but the wholesale invasion of the prerogatives of the latter, in mart, factory and profession, precluding in great measure even a masculine thought of matrimony, and producing among women themselves a growing indifference to the sexual bond, is engendering psychological results in society too apt to escape very general observation.
There is a tendency, more and more, toward celibacy and sexual isolation among both sexes; and since the sexual instinct is not only the earliest but the most dominant impulse of humanity, insusceptible of subjection, wholly, to any power either of will or conscience, it follows as a corollary that there will be, ultimately, a return on the part of both men and women to those grosser forms of artificial erotism, homosexuality or open prostitution, which take the place of the natural relation. In point of fact this appears to be the actual present condition, as I shall attempt to show under appropriate heads in this work.
In one respect does the present writer take decided issue with an anomaly strangely obtrusive in the learned treatise of Mr. Ellis,' as well as in the works of various Continental and American psychologists,1 that, as masturbation appears to be almost universal among the higher animals, we are not justified in regarding it so much as a vice as a spontaneous and instinctive act of nature. Mr. Ellis' statement that, "while the practice of masturbation may be harmful in its consequences, it is also, in the absence of normal sexual relationships, frequently not without good results,1" I place side by side with that of the erudite, careful and observant Krafft-Ebing, of Vienna; and shall make it my business, later, to enter more fully into the relative positions of both. "Nothing is so prone to contaminate," says the learned Austrian, "under certain circumstances even to exhaust, the source of all noble and ideal sentiments, which arise from a normally developed sexual instinct, as the practice of masturbation in early years. It despoils the unfolding bud of perfume and beauty, and leaves behind only the coarse, animal desire for sexual gratification. If an individual, spoiled in this manner, reach an age of maturity, there is always wanting in him that aesthetic, ideal, pure and free impulse, which draws one towards the opposite sex. This defect influences the morals, character, fancy, feeling and instinct of the youthful masturbator, male or female, in an unfavorable way, and allows the desire for the opposite sex to sink to nil; so that masturbation is preferred to the natural mode of satisfaction."*
It will be observed that in the statements quoted, pro and con, there is no reference to the effect of the practice on physical health. This, being a mere matter of clinical observation, within the purview of every practitioner of medicine, need not long engage our attention, nor remain a matter of doubt. Indeed, Dr. Edward Carpenter, of Manchester, in his privately printed pamphlet on Homogenic Love, 1899, sets, I think, the sea! of modern scientific thought upon the whole question. At least I am content to leave it for the present to his able summing up; only to return to it, however, more fully in the section on Artificial Erotism, under which head it, and its kindred vices, will be more appropriately and explicitly reviewed.
"Purity, after all (in the sense of continence), is of the first importance to boyhood. To prolong the period of continence, in a boy's life, is to prolong the period of growth. This is a simple physiological law, and a very obvious one; and whatever other things may be said in favor of purity, it remains, perhaps, the most weighty. To introduce sensual and sexual habits and one of the worst of them is self-abuse—at an early age, is to arrest growth, both physical and mental; and, what is even more, it means to arrest the capacity for affection. All experience shows that the early outlet towards sex cheapens and weakens affectional capacity."1
1 Sec Tillier, "L'lostinct Sexuel," Paris, 1889, as a striking example. 1 hoc. '-it., i, 191.
' The concurrent statements of both Ellis and Moll that masturbation is only harmful when carried to excess, are plainly illogical, for the simple reason that what is harmful in excess must be proportionately harmful in moderation. In other words, what is harmful at all must be harmful in any given degree.
1 For instances of these statements, ruf. Krafft-Ebing, Text-Book of Legal Psycho-Datholoirv, D- 161.