This section is from the book "Health Without Medicine. A Treatise On The Laws Of The Human System", by Larkin B. Coles. Also available from Amazon: Philosophy Of Health.
Under this head it is intended to speak of things which are inexpedient and unlawful. While honest and innocent amusements, used with judgment and temperance, are very important by way of giving elasticity and strength to the mind and body, unlawful and intemperate indulgences injure and often ruin both. There are amusements which are innocent and harmless in their nature, that may be used intemperately and unlawfully. Amusements should be used, not as a matter of indulgence, but of actual utility: and while kept under such a rule, all is well; but the moment they shall be used for the simple gratification they give, they are likely to engross too much of time and thought, and lead to ruinous results. But when persons resort to measures for their gratification, which are unlawful when used in any degree, the danger is greatly increased.
Private indulgences claim attention here. Indulgences which belong to married life, when used with moderation, are conducive to health; the married, all other things being equal, enjoy better health and live longer than the single; but when these are allowed in excess, they reduce the vital energies, diminishing the powers of body and mind. All licentiousness, aside from its moral evils and degradation, is destructive to the human system. Many a young man has not only ruined his reputation and moral character, by licentious practices, but has spoiled his constitution for life. He has, early in life, planted in his system the seeds of misery and premature death. One who has early in life given himself to such habits, has unfitted himself for the future enjoyment of domestic happiness. The degradation of his mind, and the vitiation of his appetite, have made him unfit to become the companion of virtue and refinement, and he is very likely to continue the indulgence of his corrupted passions, whatever may be the sacrifice to his moral and physical health.
Self-indulgence is another low-lived, contemptible vice, which has destroyed its thousands and tens of thousands annually, both of males and females. Setting aside a comparison of its sin-fulness, it is doing more injury to society than all other forms of licentiousness put together. Boys, and even girls, of respectable origin, of splendid original talents, have, by this unnatural practice, not only destroyed their physical systems, but have reduced their minds to comparative imbecility, and, in many cases, to complete idiotism. It would seem as though, if one were lost to all sense of moral accountability on this subject, that the idea of making oneself an idiot, to be a walking monument of self-destruction, would be enough, of itself, to deter the most inveterate devotee to his passions, from such habits.
The bodily diseases produced in this way are frequently very formidable, and baffle the most profound skill. Sometimes they appear in the form of spinal affections, which send distress and wretchedness throughout the whole nervous system. Accompanying this, will often be found a morose disposition, dejection of mind, and melancholy. These affections are common to males and females. And added to these, there will not unfrequently appear in males, seminal incontinence, wasting away the vital energies; and in females, vaginal discharges, which are no less destructive to health.