This section is from the book "The Transmission Of Life. Counsels On The Nature And Hygiene Of The Masculine Function", by George H. Napheys. Also available from Amazon: The Transmission of Life.
Many a victim with flagging body and enfeebled will is ready to cry out: Who shall deliver me from the body of this death ? Let them know for their consolation that very many men, now hale and happy, have met and conquered the tempter; that so long as the mind itself is not actually weakened, there is good hope for them; that the habit once stopped short of this point, the system recovers from its prostration with surprising rapidity; and that we come provided with many aids to strengthen their wavering purpose.
First, and most essential, is the advice that they must resolutely strive for purity of mind. All exciting literature, all indecent conversations, all lascivious exhibitions must be totally renounced. Next, all stimulating food and drink, and especially coffee and alcoholic beverages, must be dropped. The mind and body must both be constantly and arduously employed, the diet plain and limited, the sleep never prolonged, the bed hard, the room well ventilated, the covering light, and the habits as much broken into as practicable. Generally the temptation comes at some particular hour, or under some especial and well-known circumstances. At such times extra precautions must be taken to occupy the thoughts with serious subjects, and to destroy the old associations and opportunities. The instructions we have given on the earlier pages of this book for subduing the passions should be read and followed scrupulously.
There are also medical means which can be employed in some cases with good success, such as the administration of substances which destroy desire, and local applications, and even surgical operations which render the action physically impossible, but these means we do not propose to enter into, as they can only be properly applied by the educated physician, and do not form part of a work on hygiene.
As there may be some individuals, however, who cannot overcome the shame they have to reveal their weakness, and others who have no one within reach whom they can consult, we shall insert a few formulas which have the advantage of efficacy, and are not dangerous.
When it is believed that the habit is carried on during sleep, a tablespoonful of the following potion should be taken on retiring :-
Bromide of potash, one drachm;
Simple syrup, one ounce ;
Water, one ounce.
This is intended to produce sounder sleep, and also to diminish desire. The same effects are produced by the extractive principle of hops, which may be taken in the following form: -
Elixir of lupulin, half am ounce;
Camphor water, one ounce and a half.
One tablespoonful may be taken at bedtime.
In most cases considerable debility is present, and they will be benefited by taking after each meal a teaspoonful of the following simple tonic :-
Tincture of chloride of iron, two drachms ; . Sulphate of quinine, one scruple;
Syrup of ginger, a half ounce;
Water, two ounces.
The question whether marriage should be advised as a cure for masturbation is one which we are often asked. We are in most cases inclined to reply, no. In the first place, the condition of matrimony is too noble, too holy, to be debased by recommending it for any such purpose. Can the wife wooed and won with any such ignoble object in view ever hope to be loved as a woman and a wife should be loved ? It is a base and flagrant outrage on society for the physician to give such recommendation. Would he yield his own daughter to any man who sought her for such a purpose? How then dare he counsel it ?
Again, we believe that when the habit is not deeply rooted, an earnest endeavor, backed by rigid observance of the rules we have laid down, will enable a youth to conquer himself and his unnatural desires. But if it is deeply rooted I
We quote for our reply the words of Dr. Henry Maudsley, who gives no uncertain counsel: " Certainly marriage need not be recommended to the confirmed masturbator in the hope or expectation of curing him of his vice. He will most likely continue it afterwards, and the circumstances in which he is placed will aggravate the misery and the mischief of it. For natural intercourse he has little power or no desire, and finds no pleasure in it; the indulgence of a depraved appetite has destroyed the natural appetite. Besides, if he be not entirely impotent, what an outlook for any child begotten of such a degenerate stock ! Has a being so degraded any right to curse a child with the inheritance of such a wretched descent ? Far better that the vice and its consequences should die with him."
These are hard words, and we are glad to believe that they are harder than need be. "We have certainly known some few instances where after abuse for many years and to an excessive degree, men have married, had healthy children, and been weaned from their unnatural appetite.
"We wish most clearly to be understood that even after great excesses of this nature, a young man may recover perfect health, and that where the habit has been but moderately fostered, in nearly every case, by simply ceasing from it, and ceasing thinking about it, he will do so. Therefore there is no cause for despair or melancholy.
It is hardly credible, and yet it is true, that there are medical men of respectability who do not hesitate to advise illicit intercourse as a remedy for masturbation. In other words, they destroy two souls and bodies, under pretence of saving one! No man with Christian principle, or even with a due respect for the statutes of the commonwealth, can approve for a moment such a course as this.
Careful regulation of life according to sound hygienic rules, aided perhaps with appropriate medication which the physician can suggest, will generally effect good results.
When everything else fails we have no hesitation in re-commending surgical treatment. This is of various kinds, from repeated blistering to that ancient operation which Latin writers tell us was practised upon the singers of the Roman stage, called infibulation. This is of such a character as to render the act impossible or nearly so. Castration, which some have suggested, need never be resorted to. By one means or another we can say that there are exceedingly few cases, except the actually insane, who cannot be broken of their habit, and considerably or wholly relieved of its after effects.
A serious obstacle in the way of such reform is the unwillingness of sufferers to ask advice for fear of disclosing their weakness. They are ashamed to tell the truth about themselves, and, when they do apply to a physician, conceal the real cause of their debility, and deny it when it is asked. To such we may say that if they cannot have implicit faith in the honor as well as the skill of a medical adviser, they had better not consult him, for on their frankness his success will often depend.
[Authors and Works referred to on this subject: Acton, On the Reproductive Organs, p. 82 ; Dr. Horatio R. Storer, Is it I? Dr. John Ware, Hints to Young Men on the Relations of the Sexes: Tissot, Sur l'Onanisms; Rev. John Todd, The Student's Manual; Henry Maudsley, Physiology and Pathology of the Mind, and Journal of Mental Science, July, 1868; Muller, Ueber Unwillkurliche Samensverluste, pp. 23-34; Esquirol, Les Maladies Mentales; Reports of the Insane Asylum of the U. &. for 1868, 1869, etc.]