|Science Discovers the Physiological Value of Continence|
chastity before marriage is the rule in many parts of Africa. In some parts of West Africa a girl guilty of unchastity is severely punished. Among the Ba Henda of North Transvaal, no sexual intercourse before marriage is allowed, and if it is seen that a girl's labia are apart when she sits down on a stone she in punished as guilty of having had intercourse. Among the Syntengs, the husband does not live in the same house with his wife, but only visits her occasionally in her mother's house where she continues to live. Smyth remarks that promiscuous intercourse between the sexes is not practiced by the Australian aborigines, and their laws on the subject are strict. No conversation is permitted between single men and girls or married women. Infractions of these laws are sometimes punished by death. Among the Seri, the young man is compelled to pass a probationary period of continence for one year prior to marriage as a test of his ability of sexual self-control. Among the Pueblos, the morals of the young are supervised by a secret police which reports all irregularities, in which case the young man and girl are compelled to marry. In Uganda, continence is practiced for two years after childbirth, and among the Fijians, husband and wife live apart three or four years, so that no other babe may interfere with the time thought necessary for nursing children. Concerning the people of the Malay Peninsula, Stevens writes: "The sexual impulse among the Belendas is developed to a slight extent; they are not sexual... There is little or no love-play in sexual relations." Among the Malays, strict chastity is maintained during war time. According to Havelock Ellis, the negro races of Africa are less lascivious than white men. He writes: "Among the Cambodians, strict chastity seems to prevail, and if we cross the Himalayas to the north we find ourselves among wild peoples to whom sexual license was unknown. Thus, among the Turcomians, even a few days after the marriage has been celebrated, the couple are separated for an entire year."
Westmarck states that the more that civilization advances the greater the number of illegitimate births and the greater the prevalence of prostitution. These are greater in towns than in the country. He claims that promiscuity is not the original and natural state of man, but is a product of civilization, or rather pseudo-civilization. The customs of primitive races are comparatively chaste. Westermarck writes:
"Among a great number of simple peoples, monogamy requires of a man continence for periods of considerable length. He has to abstain from his wife not only for a certain time each month, but during pregnancy or at least during the later stage of it, since pregnant woman is regarded as unclean, and after childbirth until the child is weaned; and the latter injection is the more severe as the suckling time lasts for two or three and occasionally even five or six years."
The ancient Spartans represent a race in which a high level of sex morality existed, and who were noted for their chastity. The sexes lived apart, even after marriage, the men sleeping together in one dormitory and the women in another. After the act of conception, which followed marriage, Plutarch, in his life of Lycurgus, states that the man "modestly retired to his companions, and reposing with them at night, nor even visiting his bride but with great caution and apprehension of being discovered by the rest of the family. Some of them even had children before they had an interview with their wives in the day time. This kind of commerce not only exercised their temperance and chastity, but kept their bodies fruitful, and the first ardor of their love free and unabated; for they were not satiated like those that are always with their wives."
To achieve the chastity which he considered essential for the preservation of the vigor of the Spartan race, Lycurgus, the law-giver of Sparta, forbade the consumption of meats and other stimulating foods, and enforced a vegetarian diet. Alcoholics were also prohibited. He forbade eating at home, and had the Spartans eat at collective public tables; and by thus controlling their diet, he was able to control their morality. He forbade his people "to call in the assistance of butchers and cooks, or to fatten like voracious animals in private. For so not only their manners would be corrupted but their bodies disordered, and abandoned to all manner of sensuality and dissoluteness; and they would require long hours of sleep."
In Sparta, a matriarchate in which women had great power, the boys were brought up to be chaste. Xenophon tells us that it is easier to make a pillar of stone or a marble statue move its eyes than a Spartan boy. The boys, he said, were more bashful than the girls. A woman of another country said to a Spartan woman, "You of Lacedoemon are the only women in the world that rue the men." She answered, "We are the only women that bring forth men." The bravery and physical perfection of the Spartan race made them famous throughout the ages.
It is the purpose of this chapter to present the basis for a new biochemical understanding of the origin and treatment of neuroses and psychoses, based on new knowledge of the chemical effects of the secretions of the sex glands, both internal and external, upon the central nervous system.
The eminent physiologist, Prof. Eugen Steinach has performed experiments which definitely showed that the internal secretions of the sex glands, after being resorbed into the circulation, pass principally to the brain and spinal cord, wherein they are stored. Steinach's experiments consisted in injecting into a series of castrated frogs extracts of the brain and spinal cord of frogs in heat, and into a second series of castrates extracts of the brain and spinal cord of similar castrates were injected. In the first series a good clasp reflex appeared, while in the second series no changes were visible. Steinach also found that injections of other organs of frogs in heat were unable to evoke the clasp reflex in the castrate. He therefore concluded that the primary action of the internal secretion of the sex glands, after passing into the blood, is upon the central nervous system, through the medium of which, probably by producing local changes in blood supply, effects are produced in various parts of the body.
The physiologist, Nussbaum, conducted similar experiments, on the basis of which he concluded that "the internal secretion of the testicle acts in a specific manner only on certain nervous centers from which impulses are sent to certain organs, and the metabolism of the latter is changed in a given direction." He observed that at the approach of the breeding season in the male frog, there appeared a thickened pad of skin on the first digit of each fore-limb associated with an increased muscular development of the forearm. This modification is used in the act of copulation. If the male frog is castrated, the pad is not formed and the muscle fails to develop. Nussbaum then noted that if pieces of testis from another frog are grafted into the dorsal lymph sac of a frog previously castrated, the secondary sexual characters of the latter developed just as in a normal frog. He also found that if the nerves supplying the first digit were severed, the pad did not develop, and if the nerves supplying the clasping muscles of the fore-arm were severed, the enlargement did not occur. He concluded that the internal secretion of the testis had a specific action on certain local groups of ganglion cells, and that the influence of the testis on the metabolism of different tissues is intermediated through the nervous system.
In the light of these and other physiological experiments, the fact is well established that the action of the secretions produced by the sex glands and resorbed into the blood-stream is primarily on the brain and spinal cord. The eminent authority, Professor Thorek, in his work, "The Human Testis," writes as follows on this subject: "The gonad elaborates through its internal secretions the chemical products which are taken up by the circulation and carried to the central nervous system, and there erotization results. That these substances of internal secretion have a selective action seems probable, and that such substances are stored in the central nervous system, seems, in view of recent experiments, quite certain... O'Malleey thinks that the direct action of the chemical products of the gonads through the nervous system influences the growth and increased metabolism of every tissue of the body. That there is a direct relationship between the gonads and the hypophysis is fairly well established... Since the time of Hippocrates and Aristotle, it has been believed that there was a coordination between the testicular fluid and the nervous system, brain and cord."
There exists considerable evidence from the field of psychiatry to indicate a definite relationship between the sex glands and the brain, and that the degeneration of the latter organ is usually accompanied by a degeneration of the former. Sir Frederick Mott found that the testicles in 27 cases of dementia praecox show atrophy of the seminiferous tubules and absence of spermatogenesis. The similarity between the state of the testicles and that of the brain suggests that this disease might result from a premature atrophy of the gonads, commencing at puberty or early adolescence and becoming more marked until it culminates in impotency accompanied by cerebral involution. In this connection it should be noted that the majority of these insane subjects studied by Mott were habitual masturbators, which practice should have a relation to their testicular degeneration, which Mott considers the primary cause of their brain involution and degeneration. Mott's observations were confirmed by Obregia, Parhon and Urechia(?) who also found degeneration of the seminiferous tubules and absence of spermatogenesis in dementia praecox. These investigators conclude that spermatozoa may have an internal function that is necessary for the normal metabolism of the brain, and that dementia praecox may be due to an alteration or deficiency of their production due to degeneration of the seminiferous tubules of auto-intoxication.
That the latter may result from masturbation and sexual excess in causing a chemical withdrawal from the circulation of lecithin, cholesterin and phosphorus compounds necessary for the nutrition of the brain (all of which substances are especially abundant in the semen), is indicated by the studies of the eminent American neurologist and psychiatrist, Dr. E.C. Spitzka, a celebrated brain anatomist who was formerly president of the New York Neurological Society. In his psychiatric textbook, "Insanity, Its Classification, Diagnosis and Treatment," Dr.Spitzka writes:
"That a connection between the development of the mind and the male genitals exists is indisputable. Even if we assume that the defective development of the genital system found in brain monstrosities, idiots, imbeciles, original monomaniacs and the periodically insane is an accidental accompaniment of the neural maldevelopment, we must admit the convincing proof that the early extirpation of the testicles, as in eunuchs and castrated animals, exerts and influence on the mental complexion and development.
"The functional abuse of the male sexual apparatus is of more general importance to the alienist than its organic affections. Excessive venery and masturbation have from time immemorial been supposed to exert a deleterious influence on the nervous system, and may provoke insanity, partly through their weakening effect on the general nutrition. That there is a close connection between pathological nervous states and the sexual function is exemplified in the satryriasis of mania and in the early stages of paretic dementia, as well as in the sexual delusions of manomania, and abnormal genital sensations of that condition. In the former case the sexual exaltation is a result, in the latter the genital sensations are collateral phenomena of the psychosis, but there are certain cases in which, while an original predisposition may have existed, masturbation is the factor responsible for the production of insanity."
In his "Masturbatic Insanity," Dr. Spitzka presents a study of twelve cases of insanity, all of which he attributes to masturbation. He claims that the occurrence of psychoses as the result of masturbation is primarily due to arrested brain nutrition. This results from the withdrawal from the circulation of brain-nourishing lecithin and other phosphorus compounds through excessive seminal discharges. For we must remember that lecithin is a chief constituent of the myelin sheaths of nerve- cells and essential for their activity, during which it is consumed--for it is the nerve-oil that keeps the fire of nerve and brain activity burning. Since lecithin is also a principal constituent of the semen, we can readily understand why excessive sexual activity should lead to lecithin deficiency and undernutrition of nerve and brain cells.
While a generation and diminished size of the testicles have been found to accompany the involution of the brain in dementia praecox and other psychoses, and excessive development of the testes had been found to be associated with mental precocity. Professors Morro of Turin and Snochi of Genoa came across a child of nine who had three testicles and whose intelligence was far above that which is considered normal at its age. The parents, alarmed by the unusual characteristics of the child, had the extra testicle removed. Some months later the child's intellectual development underwent a regression, which brought it down to the mental level corresponding to its age.
In this connection, it is interesting to note that in contrast with the lasciviousness of idiots and the insane, which, according to Dr. Spitzka, is largely responsible for their arrested brain nutrition and development, most of the greatest mental geniuses in history led strictly continent lives (which should result in superior brain nutrition from the conservation of lecithin and other brain-nourishing seminal constituents). Thus among philosophers we have Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, Porphyry, Proclus, Leibniz, Berkeley, Locke, Spinoza, Kant and Spencer; among artists, Leonardo da Vinci, Michael Angelo, Raphael and Fra Angelica; among composers, Handel and Beethoven; and among scientists Newton. We have just seen how profoundly the sex glands influence the brain. Their influence on the nerves, however, is more immediate and profound. Deficiency of lecithin, present in the myelin sheaths of the nerves and necessary for their nourishment and the generation of their vitality, as the result of external discharge through the semen (which is very rich in this substance), provides a biochemical explanation of the etiology of neurasthenia, and indicates the proper method of therapy for this common malady. This fact has been suspected by Dr. Beard, originator of the term, "neurasthenia," who, in the latter part of the nineteenth century, first studied this ailment, subsequently known as the "American disease."
In his work, "Sexual Neurasthenia," Beard first called attention to the fact that though other factors may promote it, neurasthenia has a sexual origin, the weakened condition of the nerves being intimately related to the sexual life of the individual. He came to the conclusion that neurasthenia has its origin in abnormal functioning of the sexual organs by the observation that in patients who came to him with functional nervous diseases, examination invariably showed that there was a condition of inflammation of the prostatic urethra. He wrote: "In men, as in women, a large group of nervous symptoms, which are very common indeed, would not exist but for morbid states in the reproductive system... A morbid state of this part of the body is both an effect and a cause of nervous exhaustion."
Beard then proceeded to determine what caused this morbid condition in the reproductive organs (inflammation of the prostatic urethra), which he considered the predisposing cause of neurasthenia. A study of the symtomatology of spermatorrhea, a disease characterized by an involuntary loss of sexual secretions (in the urine, after defecation, or at other times), led him to a solution of this problem. Beard noted that spermatorrhea was a frequent symptom of all kinds of neurasthenic as well as other debilitating diseases, and that there was a direct relationship between the amount of seminal fluid discharged and the intensity of the nervous symptoms. He also found that frequent nocturnal emissions likewise led to neurasthenic symptoms. "Seminal emissions," he concluded, are frequently the cause of nervous and other diseases." In spite of their universality (among civilized males, but not among animals), Beard believed that nocturnal emissions are pathological; and like spermatorrhea, a related condition of seminal emission, they are suscepstantially cured, he stated. This, he claimed, by the conservation of nerve- nourishing seminal constituents that results, would markedly reduce the nervous symptoms thus produced.
As the result of his observations, Beard came to the conclusion that neurasthenia is a direct effect of the withdrawal from the blood of certain chemical substances needed for the nutrition of nervous tissue, which results from seminal discharges; and that the loss of considerable quantities of seminal fluid, involuntarily or voluntarily, leads to undernourishment of the cells of the central nervous system, causing them to be weakened and exhausted. He also pointed out that this condition is usually associated with an inflammatory state of the prostatic urethra "which is so often the source whence all these difficulties originate, and by which they are maintained." The prostatic urethra, he claimed, is the most important center of reflex irritation of the body, a morbid state of which is both an effect and cause of nervous exhaustion.
The next question that arises is: What is the cause of this congested and inflammatory condition of the prostatic urethra, which predisposes the individual to spermatorrhea and neurasthenia. This, Beard claims, is primarily a result of sexual indulgence, especially involving the practices of contraception and coitus interruptus. Neurasthenic symptoms also follow involuntary seminal emissions by night or day, whether they assume the form of excessive nocturnal emissions, diurnal emissions or true spermatorrhea. "There is quite a long series of diseases, symptoms and hygienic problems involved in the relation of the genital function to the nervous system," he concluded.
There appears to be a definite relation between disturbed functioning of the prostate gland and neurasthenia. In view of the fact that the prostatic secretion was found by Stern to contain "abundant amounts" of lecithin, which is an important constituent of nervous tissue, we can readily understand why the loss of prostatic secretion, a constituent of the semen, should tend to cause undernutrition of nerve-cells by depriving them of lecithin, and thus bring about chronic undernourishment of the nervous system, manifesting in neurasthenia. For this reason, lecithin preparations have been used for years by European physicians for the cure of neurasthenia, and with marked success. But there is no sense in administering lecithin externally if the organism is losing its own physiological lecithin through seminal discharges, the dietary prevention of which should be the first step in the treatment of neurasthenia.
Concerning the relation between the prostate gland and neurasthenia, Dr. F. G. Lydston, professor of diseases of the genito-urinary organs and syphilology at the Medical School of the University of Illinois, says:
"Considering the abundant sensory and sympathetic nerve supply of the prostate and its intimate relation to the sympathetic nervous system in general, the frequency with which nervous symptoms develop in patients suffering from prostatic disease is not remarkable... Disturbed prostate may lead to the male equivalent of hysteria, to melancholia, headache and depression... It is the author's belief that the prostate secretes a hormone, the perversion of which, conjoined with the absorption of infection toxins, often has much to do with the etiology of sexual neurasthenia."
In his book, "Psychopathia Sexualis," Kraft-Ebing mentions a number of cases of neurasthenia caused by masturbation and sexual excess. In all these cases, the nervous derangement, which was often the starting-point of a mental derangement, had one primary cause: loss of prostatic and other seminal constituents through orgasms or involuntary seminal emissions. He considers sexual neurasthenia to commence, as a local neurosis of the genitalia, accompanied by frequent seminal emissions, and to progressively develop into a neurosis of the lumbar cord, accompanied by frequent nocturnal emissions, diurnal emissions and impairment of sexual vigor.
Professor Casper, of the University of Berlin, regards spermatorrhea and neurasthenia as going hand in hand, and that both result from excessive seminal losses through sexual excess, leading to involuntary emissions. In his "Textbook of Genito- Urinary diseases, speaking of spermatorrhea, he says: "Sexual excesses may cause the symptom, either directly or by causing neurasthenia. Of the sexual excesses, masturbation occupies first place. It must be conceded that if the habit is persisted in for years it will impair the soundness of both body and mind, that it will result in enfeeblement and hyperesthenia of the nervous system... Frequent pollutions may occur in certain organic diseases of the spinal cord, in the early stages of tabes and myelitis, for instance." Among the causes of nervous diseases Casper refers to coitus interruptus as a prominent one.
Modern studies of the etiology of neurasthenia trace this disorder to a disturbance in the functioning of the endocrine glands, which glandular dysfunction has a sexual causation. According to Dr. Harrower, "The more we study the neurasthenic individual and closely observe the incidental variations in functional activity, the more evident it becomes that neurasthenia rarely exists without some associated disturbance in the work of the ductless glands."
The fluids elaborated by the testes, the prostate gland and the accessory sex glands are very rich in phosphorus, as are the spermatozoa themselves. The loss of semen must therefore lower the phosphorus content of the blood, for it is from here that these glands derive the phosphorus for the manufacture of their secretions. This must deprive the nervous system of an element so necessary for its nutrition and normal well-being. This explains the neurasthenic effects of masturbation and sexual excess, which are due to loss of phosphorus through seminal emissions. The same occurs in prostatitis, where considerable phosphorus is lost through the expelled prostatic fluid. Lorand points out the beneficial influence of phosphorus when administered in many brain disorders, which are accompanied by a diminution of the phosphorus content of the brain, as Marie found in idiocy and dementia praecox. In the brain phosphorus is present chiefly in the form of lecithin, a phosphorized fat.
Dr. Evans, an English physiologist, has presented the interesting idea that thinking is merely a phase of phosphorus metabolism in the brain, which recalls the saying of German biochemists, "Ohne Phosphor keine Gedanken" (Without phosphorus, no thought). Evans states that during thinking and mental exertion, phosphates are increased in the excreta; and he therefore concludes that thinking involves an oxidation of phosphorus compounds in the brain (under the catalytic influence of the iodine of the thyroid hormone). Evans says: "If we take a fresh brain (either human or animal), and immerse it in either absolute alcohol, sulphuric ether or olive oil, we obtain a luminous solution of phosphorus." This may be the origin of the phosphorescent "brain glow" observed by Dr. G.W. Crile as given off by the living brain in a dark room. In this oxidation of phosphorus in the brain, Evans sees the origin of the generation of electric nerve-currents (for the oxidation of phosphorus in the atmosphere causes an electric discharge to be given off. Crile has shown that the electrical energy of the nervous system is generated in the brain, which represents a central storage battery of the body.)
It is thus clear that phosphorus, oxygen and sufficient thyroid hormone (iodine) are all necessary for the normal generation of brain electricity, and that in the absence of either of these three elements, there will be deficient brain action. For it is well known that the brain is richer in phosphorus than any other part of the body, and also uses up oxygen three times as rapidly as other tissues; also without the catalytic influence of the thyroid hormone, it cannot function normally -- or without iodine on which element the thyroid depends for the manufacture of its secretion.
According to this point of view, neurasthenia may be considered as representing a condition of phosphorus deficiency, or rather lecithin deficiency -- for lecithin is the form in which phosphorus is present in the myelin sheaths of the nerves, the nerve-oil whose burning keeps the fires of nerve vitality burning. Since lecithin is a prominent constituent of the semen, we can understand why excessive loss of semen can cause nerve starvation and all the symptoms of neurasthenia. When the lack of lecithin and organic phosphorus is more serious, the brain itself suffers lecithin deficiency and becomes disturbed in its functioning, just as any other starved organ is when deprived of the elements it requires for its normal nutrition and functioning. In this way, psychoses commence to manifest. From beri beri to polyneuritis, to psychoses, is only a transition or more graver nerve-and-brain-cell starvation of the vitamin B complex and lecithin, both of which are intimately related and to a large extent replaceable. (Foods rich in vitamin B complex, like the germ of grains, legumes, Brewer's yeast, etc., are generally also rich sources of lecithin.)
That a basic cause of nervous and mental disorders is a lecithin deficiency in the organism, produced by excessive withdrawals of this substance to replace expended secretions (the semen, like nerve and brain cells, being very rich in lecithin) is probable. The action of alcohol, like that of anesthetics, is dependent on its activity to dissolve and remove lecithin from the brain; and when the concentration of brain lecithin is sufficiently lowered, insanity is the result. Sexual excess produces a similar effect; and, together with alcohol, constitutes a principal cause of neuropsychopathic conditions.