Results of Excess on Husbands
Kellogg next sets down some of the hair-raising results of "marital excess" (too frequent sexual intercourse)—upon husbands, wives, and their unborn children.
He observes that "the principal blame in this matter properly falls upon the husband; but it cannot be said that he is the greatest sufferer; however, his punishment is severe enough to clearly indicate the enormity of the transgression, and to warn him to a reformation of his habits."
The author then quotes "an eminent medical authority," whom he also fails to identify. (Through the reference to "life-giving fluid" in the quotation brought to mind a character in the film Dr. Strangelove, we dismissed the association as meaningless.) The anonymous authority states: "'Any warning against sexual dangers would be very incomplete if it did not extend to the excesses often committed by married persons in ignorance of their ill effects. Too frequent emissions of the life-giving fluid, and too frequent excitement of the nervous system are, in themselves, most destructive. The result is the same within the marriage bond as without it. The married man who thinks he can commit no excess, however often the act of sexual congress is repeated, will suffer as certainly and as seriously as the unmarried debauchee who acts on the same principles in his indulgences....
" 'The shock on the system each time connection is indulged in is very powerful.'" according to this "eminent medical authority," and "the expenditure of seminal fluid must be particularly injurious....'" He credits these as the causes of "'premature old age, many forms of indigestion, general ill health, hypochondriasis, etc., so often met with adults....'"
Kellogg quotes Dr. William Acton, a Victorian antisex crusader and prominent English surgeon, whose statements appear frequently throughout the book. Dr. Acton adds to the already dismal domestic scene, as follows: "'It is not the body alone which suffers from excesses committed in married life. Experience every day convinces me that much of the languor of mind, confusion of ideas, and inability to control the thoughts, of which some married men complain, arise from this cause.'"
Kellogg has already established, as we have noted, that undue sensuality may cause spontaneous venereal disease in husband and wife; sexual abuse in marriage is also "a very potent cause of throat disease," says the doctor; and a major cause of consumption—"this fatal disease finds a large share of its victims among those addicted to sexual excesses...."
Dr. Kellogg adds this postscript from his personal medical experience: "A case came under our observation in which the patient, a man, confessed to having indulged every night for 20 years. We did not wonder that at 40 he was a complete physical wreck."
Results of Excess on Wives
The doctor's descriptions of depraved domesticity become more extravagant as he expounds on the evil effects of sexual excess upon wives, and he here seems to be truly warming to his subject: "If husbands are great sufferers, as we have seen, wives suffer still more terribly, being of feebler constitution, and hence less able to bear the frequent shock which is suffered by the nervous system."
Dr. Kellogg describes a female patient who came to him for treatment suffering from "the serious effects of the evil named." In the author's words, "She presented a great variety of nervous symptoms, prominent among which were those of mild hysteria and nervous exhaustion, together with impaired digestion and violent palpitation of the heart."
Under the heading "Legalized Murder," Kellogg relates the following story, "the counterpart of which," he says, "almost anyone can recall having occurred within the circle of acquaintance; perhaps numerous cases will be recalled by one who has been especially observing."
Dr. Kellogg then tells his tale: "A man of great vital force is united to a woman of evenly balanced organization. The husband, in exercise of what he is pleased to term his 'marital rights,' places his wife, in a short time, on the nervous, delicate, sickly list. In the blindness and ignorance of his animal nature, he requires prompt obedience to his desires; and, ignorant of the law of right in this direction, thinking that it is her duty to accede to his wishes, she allows him passively, never lovingly, to exercise daily and weekly, month in and month out, the low and beastly habit of his nature, and eventually, slowly but surely, to kill her. And this man, who has as surely committed murder as had the convicted assassin, lures to his net and takes unto him another wife, to repeat the same program of legalized prostitution on his part, and sickness and premature death on her part."
Having shed a tear or two for the victims in this sexual soap opera, while privately admiring the prowess of the husband, we attempted to recall a counterpart of the incident within our own circle of acquaintances, as Dr. Kellogg suggested, but without success; the wives of our friends are apparently made of sterner stuff. We must confess, in fact, that when we really concentrated on the matter, we couldn't even come up with a similar occurrence from outside our circle of acquaintances. In simple truth, we were hard put to name a single female of our acquaintance who couldn't take on any male of our acquaintance, if she had a mind to, and turn him into a hospital case in less than a year.
A certain amount of the pain and suffering that the author attributes to "sexual excesses" was probably real enough, for in such a Puritan period, with so much guilt and shame associated with the normal sexual appetite and the act of sex itself, we would expect to find numerous cases of impotence and frigidity, and the emotional hysteria and hypochondria that can produce all the symptoms of a variety of physical disorders. The symptoms were caused by sexual repression, however, and not by sexual excess.
Results of Excess on Offspring
Scientific insight disappears almost completely when Dr. Kellogg describes the effects of marital licentiousness upon the hereditary makeup of offspring. The doctor states, "That those guilty of the transgression should suffer, seems only just; but that an innocent being who had no part in the sin—no voice in the time or manner of its advent into the world—that such a one should suffer equally, if not more bitterly, with the transgressors themselves, seems anything but just. But such is nature's inexorable law, and the inequities of the parents shall be visited upon the children; and this fact should be a most powerful influence to prevent parental transgression, especially in this direction, in which the dire consequences fall so heavily and so immediately upon an innocent being."
Too frequent indulgence in sexual intercourse results in an inferior grade of egg and sperm, according to Kellogg, which in turn produces an inferior offspring when impregnation occurs. The doctor writes, "Breeders of stock who wish to secure sound progeny will not allow the most robust stallion to associate with mares as many times during the whole season as some of these salacious human males perform a similar act within a month. One reason why the offspring suffer is that the seminal fluid deteriorates very rapidly by repeated indulgence. The spermatozoa do not have time to become maturely developed. Progeny resulting from such immature elements will possess the same deficiency. Hence the hosts of deformed, scrofulous, weazened and idiotic children which curse the race, and testify to the sensuality of their progenitors. Another reason is the physical and nervous exhaustion which the parents bring upon themselves, and which totally unfits them to beget sound, healthy offspring."
The doctor also does his best to discourage a couple from taking any pleasure in the act, since a child conceived in lust is certain to have an abnormally sensual nature—"its lower passions will as certainly be abnormally developed as peas will produce peas, or potatoes produce potatoes. If a child does not become a rake or a prostitute, it will be because of uncommonly fortunate surroundings, or a miracle of divine grace."
A single immoral thought on the part of either parent "at the critical moment when life is imparted, may fix for eternity a foul blot upon a character yet unformed."
Sex During Pregnancy
Sexual intercourse during pregnancy is especially dangerous, the doctor insists. "Transgressions of this sort are followed by the worst results of any form of marital excess. The mother suffers doubly, because laden with the burden of supporting two lives instead of one. But the results upon the child are especially disastrous. During the time when it receiving its stock of vitality, while its plastic form is being molded, and its various organs acquiring that integrity of structure which makes up what is called constitutional vigor—during the most critical of all periods in the life of the new being, its resources are exhausted and its structure depraved—and thus constitutional tendencies to disease produced—by the unnatural demands made upon the mother."
Sex during pregnancy also results in an abnormally sex-inclined infant: "One of the most certain effects of sexual indulgence at this time is to develop abnormally the sexual instinct of the child. Here is the key to much of the origin of much of the sexual precocity and depravity which curse humanity. Sensuality is born in the souls of a large share of the rising generation. What wonder that prostitution flourishes in spite of Christianity and civil law?"
For good measure, Kellogg adds this quote from Dr. J.R. Black: "'Coition during pregnancy is one of the ways in which the predisposition is laid for that terrible disease in children, epilepsy."
Sex During Menstruation
Sex during menstruation is, for the most author, unthinkably loathsome, and a "heinous violation of nature's laws. He states, "Reason and experience both show that sexual relations at the menstrual period are very dangerous to both man and woman, and perhaps also for the offspring, should there chance to be conception. The woman suffers from the congestion and nervous excitement which occur at the most inopportune moment possible. Man may suffer physical injury, though," Kellogg adds reassuringly, "there are no grounds for the assertions of Pliny that the menstrual blood is so potent for evil that it will, by mere touch, rust iron, render a tree sterile, make dogs mad, etc., or that of Paracelsus that 'of it the Devil makes spiders, fleas, caterpillars, and all the other insects that people the air.'"