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.
To illustrate still further the intimate relationship which exists between all parts of the nervous system, and how even remote functions are connected in their healthy activity, we shall speak of a few disorders of the special senses which occasionally take their rise from the same cause of which we have been speaking.
By the term " special senses" physicians mean the senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and feeling. They are at times all more or less affected in diseases such as we have mentioned, but the disorders of two of them - sight and hearing - are so important in themselves, and relatively so much more common and serious, that in the present connection we shall refer to them alone.
A greater or less debility of the sight, permanent or only occasionally present, is a well-known accompaniment of an abuse of the generative faculty. Sometimes this is merely a dimness, a tendency to confuse objects and to blur them. At others, it is associated with an appearance of specks and motes before the eyes, or a sensation of prickling and heat in the ball of the eye.
Of course all these and similar symptoms more frequently arise from other and more innocent causes than the one of which we are speaking, but it is well to know that they also arise from it, and well to be aware that often as long as such habits are continued and concealed from the physician. as is generally the case, medication may be useless, and the physician be blamed for want of skill, when no one but the sufferer himself is to blame.
It is gratifying to be assured that when the cause is removed, these disorders usually rapidly disappear, providing, of course, that they have not been in existence so long as to have impaired the organ. Dr. H. Muller, whose observations on these matters we have several times quoted, says : "The feebleness of the power of vision, which is so common among those suffering from disorders of the generative function, may increase to an actual loss of the power of sight. I have in many instances witnessed its gradual diminution. But I am pleased to say that in every instance in which the patient continued under treatment, I have witnessed its restoration; sometimes quite rapidly after an appropriate local application.
" It must not be supposed, however," continues Dr. Mul-ler, " that this defect of the sight is always dependent in these cases on abuse, excess, or nocturnal emissions. On the contrary, there are various diseased conditions of the parts which, by some not well understood sympathy, lead to a disturbance of the powers of sight."
These he proceeds to mention, but as they could only be understood by the medical reader, we shall not recapitulate them. His observation, however, we deem it important to quote, for it is of utmost weight, in our opinion, that no hasty inference so damaging to the moral life of a person, or unfair suspicion of his conduct, should be drawn from anything we say. The facts are, that disturbance of the eyesight, even proceeding to actual blindness, may arise from irritation of the parts, and yet this be in no wise due to unusual practices.
The cases due to venereal excess, the same writer goes on to remark, the oculist is apt to treat in vain, for he rarely reflects on this distant sympathy, may not know it or believe in it, or feel a natural hesitancy in inquiring about it. Therefore it may be that cases which have been pronounced by the eye-surgeon incurable, will readily be relieved by attention to the precautions which we have given for preserving the function of sex in perfect health.
The hearing is impaired in a less degree by such excesses, but it unquestionably is at times implicated.
The disorders to which it is subject from this cause are chiefly of that character which are termed subjective. The patient will be annoyed by imaginary noises, such as buzzing, ringing, and roaring sounds. Occasionally actual deafness has been observed, a peculiar character of which readily distinguishes it from that usually encountered, that is, its variable nature. One day it will be marked, and only a loud tone can be heard; the next it may entirely have disappeared, or be hardly observable.
So far from being deaf, an unusual sensitiveness of hearing may also proceed from the same cause.
In short, it is enough to say that most of these disturbances of this sense, which are found generally where the nervous system has been much shocked or prostrated, also make their appearance when it is suffering under a depression from injury from this source.
As those senses - sight and hearing - are the avenues through which the most that is good, and beautiful, and useful is conveyed to us, and as their integrity is essential to allow us to be of service to ourselves and our fellow-men, certainly no ephemeral or imaginary pleasure of a mere ignoble and selfish sort should induce us for a moment to imperil their perfect working and preservation. Here, again, drawn from the discussion of an obscure point of medical practice, do we discover an argument and a powerful one in favor of that golden moderation, that self-control, and that temperate use of our powers, which in all times have constituted the kernel of the maxims of sages and been the aim of legislators. Experience here is of accord with reason, and proves by example that which the latter has long taught by precept.