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.
Again, as Sir James Paget remarks, there are some to whom, through ignorance or misguidance, a varicocele is a source of misery and dismay. A varicocele is an enlargement of the veins which lead to the scrotum, and occasionally, by their painful, dragging sensation, cause pain and annoyance. Quacks not unfrequently very much exaggerate the importance of this malformation, and pretend that it is a forerunner of impotence and of wasting of the parts. Such fears are groundless.
A varicocele is troublesome because of the sense of weight and aching which sometimes accompanies it, and which is generally increased by long standing and walking. In some cases, also, the veins become inflamed and sensitive. But this is the utmost harm which a varicocele does, and it never produces either impotence or wasting of the part.
The utmost treatment which is required is to wear a suspensory bandage, and to use a cooling, evaporating lotion when the part is painful from much standing or walking. It is needless to give the matter any special attention, and the less so, as it is a complaint which tends to diminish of itself as years advance. It is said by some who have examined men for military service, that about one man in twelve has this defect, and many of them are hardly aware of it until informed of it by the examining surgeon.
Another prevalent cause of hypochondria from sexual relations is the Spinal Irritation which is not unfrequent in men of nervous temperament and feeble constitution. The backache, exhaustion, sense of languor and general malaise which these persons experience after sexual connection or natural emissions during sleep are by no means signs of weakened organs or threatened impotency. In many the same symptoms are present after any unusually severe muscular or mental exertion. They are generally remediable by treatment adapted to invigorate the whole system and relieve the particular condition of the spinal cord which leads to such sensations.
In many such cases, great difficulty is found in persuading the patient that his sufferings do not find their origin in some bad habit he has at some past time been addicted to. This fear increases both his misery and the difficulties encountered by the physician in relieving it.
Such a patient is full of apprehensions. He finds it impossible to divert his mind from his generative powers, and his constant solicitude about his symptoms aggravates and exaggerates them. This leads to further mischief. Such a direction of his mind depresses the whole nervous system ; and what is more, produces a special irritability in the nerves of the part to which the attention is directed. So that it is really possible that the very anxiety lest he has the malady, brings it on.
Few conditions are more to be pitied than that of the hypochondriacs who thus suffer, and few are more difficult to cure. As we are writing this, not as a work of instruction to physicians, but to aid the sufferer in relieving himself as much as it is practicable for him to do, we cannot urge too strongly upon all who are thus tormenting themselves to strive for the strength, the courage, and the manliness to throw aside this burden.
How is this to be done ? We will say how. The life should be fully occupied in muscular, open-air work, if possible ; at any rate, in vigorous, steady labor of some kind. The general rules of hygiene, familiar from what we have already said on previous pages, should be regarded. Abundance of sleep should be taken, and habits of self-control, in all things, should be cultivated.
Especially, a resolute endeavor must be made not to occupy the mind at all with the anxieties and foreboding that have so darkened its pleasures.
The reply may be, that this cannot be avoided ; that it is to prescribe a person not to think of his troubles, but to carry out the precept is not in his power.
To this we answer that it has been well shown by Dr. Carpenter, the eminent physiologist, that mental training is acquired, not by stifling a sentiment, but by substituting a better one for it. The true plan is, when we wish to escape that fretting of the mind over some worrying topic, not to say, "I will not think of that any more," but to say, "Here is another subject that I will think of."
Let a person always have some important or entertaining and worthy topic to which his mind can turn in its vacant moments, and thus he will escape many a minute of ennui. many an idle and injurious vagary.
This precept, it is said, is much cultivated among the Buddhist scholars of the Orient. One of these, on arising in the morning, selects a verse from their sacred books, or a topic from the writings of some philosopher, and whenever, through the day, he is engaged in some occupation which permits his thoughts to wander, or when he must pass a period in waiting, he turns to this verse or topic, and thinks it over. At the close of the day he reviews his meditations, and writes them down.
Some such plan as this is an admirable one to carry out, not merely in the relation above mentioned, but in all the occasions of life where we are threatened with ennui, or wish to escape from our thoughts.