Sexual intercourse is as unnatural in the old as in the young, according to Kellogg; he writes, "As with childhood, old age is a period which the reproductive functions are quiescent unless unnaturally stimulated. Sexual life begins with puberty, and in the female, ends at about the age of 45 years, the period known as menopause, or turn of life. At this period, according to the plainest indications of nature, all functional activity should cease. If this law is disregarded, disease, premature decay, possibly local degenerations, will be sure to result. Nature cannot be abused with impunity."
"The proper limit of man's functional activity" is, according to Kellogg, 50; and it is exceedingly dangerous for man to extend his sex life longer, for it may result in early senility and death. In addition, states the author, "When the passions have been indulged, and their diminishing vigor stimulated, a horrid disease, satyriasis, not infrequently seizes upon the imprudent individual, and drives him to the perpetration of the most loathsome crimes and excesses. Passions cultivated and encouraged by gratification through life will thus sometimes assert a total supremacy in old age."
Abnormal Sex, Birth Control & Abortion
All forms of nonprocreative sex play are considered, by the doctor, to be heinous crimes against nature, too abominable to deserve space in his book. He states, "We have at our disposition numerous facts which rigorously prove the disastrous influence of abnormal coitus to the woman, but we think it is useless to publish them. All practitioners have more or less observed them, and it will only be necessary for them to call upon their memories to supply what our silence leaves."
The doctor observes, however, that the use of various popular pharmaceutical and mechanical methods of birth control are as much a crime against nature as any act of sexual perversion. He states, "We hear a good deal about certain crimes against nature, such as pederastry and sodomy, and they meet with the indignant condemnation of all the right-minded persons. The statutes are especially severe on offenders of this class, the penalty being imprisonment between one and ten years, whereas fornication is punished by imprisonment for not more than 60 days and a fine less than $100. But the query very pertinently arises just here as to whether the use of the condom and defertilizing injections is not equally a crime against nature, and quite as worthy of our detestation and contempt."
Dr. Kellogg considers the use of such contraceptive measures as a form of abortion and deems all abortion to be murder. He is most emotionally emphatic on this point, stating: "Is it immoral to take a human life? Is it a sin to kill a child? Is it a crime to strangle an infant at birth? Is it a murderous act to destroy a half-formed human being in its mother's womb? Who will dare to answer 'No' to one of these questions? Then who can refuse assent to the plain truth that it is equally a murder to deprive of life the most recent product of the generative act?
Thus does Dr. Kellogg complete his full-rounded of sexual abstinence in marriage. The chaste are pure, for the sexual inclinations of man are surely the inspiration of Satan himself, introduced on this earth to tempt the weak and the unwary, and leading to an indescribable assortment of diseases and deaths in this world, and to eternal damnation in the next.
We know nothing of the life of Mrs. J.H. Kellogg, but it could not have been a very satisfying physical union. We can only hope that she developed a taste for the peanut butter sandwiches that were the inspiration of one of her husband's more inventive moments, since he displays such an aversion to assuaging any other sort of bodily appetite. If this personal aside seems unjustly snide, please consider the countless thousands of young couples whose chances for marital happiness were diminished or actually destroyed, because one or both of them read and believed Dr. Kellogg's book of Puritan perversion. What naive maid could consider the act of love with anything but repugnance and fear after digesting the contents of this volume; how many wives found frigidity in its pages and how many husbands derived a lifetime of sexual guilt and even impotence there? The number is incalculable. And since this book is but a single, all too typical example of the antisexual thinking of the time, it is only to be wondered that our present society is not more severely sexually suppressed than it is.
The Solitary Vice
It will come as no surprise to the student of psychosexual pathology that Dr. J.H. Kellogg saves for his last and most damning condemnation, the act of masturbation. As we have already discussed in previous installments of this editorial series, the sexually disturbed individual first fixes his fears and guilt on his own earliest sexual inclinations. Taboos against masturbation invariably play an important part in the moral dogma of the person or the society that is suffering from serious sexual repression.
We commented upon the disproportionate emphasis given to masturbation in the restrictive "penitential books" of the medieval Church (The Playboy Philosophy, August 1963). Dr. Kellogg devotes almost half his Plain Facts for Old and Young to the subject. The chapter titled "Solitary Vice" is the longest in the book.
The doctor states: "If illicit commerce of the sexes is a heinous sin, self-pollution, or masturbation, is a crime doubly abominable. As a sin against nature, it has no parallel except in sodomy (see Genesis 19:5, Judges 19:22)."
Both of these Biblical references are to sodomy and not, as might be assumed by the reader, to masturbation. The Bible contains no prohibition regarding masturbation; although, as we have previously discussed, the story of Onan (Genesis 38:9) has frequently been misinterpreted as a condemnation of this act, adding to our language the word onanism, as a synonym for masturbation. The story of Onan actually concerns the breaking of an ancient Judaic law of property, that required a man to impregnate the widow of deceased brother, so that there would be a heir, and the property of the family would remain the family; according to the story related in Genesis, Onan failed to do this, so the Lord slew him. The medieval Church misinterpreted this and several other portions of the Scriptures, including Adam and Eve's expulsion from the Garden of Eden, to support the antisexual attitude of the Church in the Middle Ages.
"This vice is the most dangerous of all sexual abuses," Dr. Kellogg observes, "because it is the most extensively practiced. The vice consists in any excitement of the genital organs produced otherwise than in the natural way [by which the doctor means, of course, sexual intercourse for the purpose of reproduction]. It is known by the terms self-pollution, self-abuse, masturbation, onanism, manustupration, voluntary pollution, solitary or secret vice, and other names sufficiently explanatory."
The doctor is convinced that any person performing the act senses, without ever having been told, that it is immoral. He states, "Even though no warning may have been given, the transgressor seems to know, instinctively, that he is committing a great wrong, for he carefully hides his practice from observation. In solitude he pollutes himself, and with his own hand blights all his prospects for both this world and the next. Even after being solemnly warned, he will often continue this worse than beastly practice, deliberately forfeiting his right to health and happiness for a moment's mad sensuality."
Actually, the association of sex with guilt and shame begins for the infant when he is first chastised by his parent for the natural exploration and manipulation of his genitals, which he early discovers to be the source of physical pleasure; this negative association then spreads, with his later development, to other areas of sex and pleasure. There is, of course, no harm in masturbation whatsoever—physical, mental, or emotional, and it is practiced by almost everyone, at one time or another; the harm lies in associating the act with ideas of perversion or sin.
Dr. Kellogg offers a helpful guide to those interested in recognizing the evil in others. Under the heading "Suspicious Signs," he states, "The following symptoms, occurring in the mental and physical character and habits of a child or young person, may well give rise to grave suspicions of evil, and should cause parents or guardians to be on the alert to root it out if possible: General debility, coming upon a previously healthy child, marked by emaciation, weakness, an unnatural paleness, colorless lips and gums, and the general symptoms of exhaustion...; Early symptoms of consumption; Premature and defective development; Sudden change in disposition; Lassitude; Sleeplessness; Failure of mental capacity; Fickleness; Untrustworthiness; Love of solitude; Bashfulness; Unnatural boldness; Mock piety; Easily frightened; Confusion of ideas; Round shoulders; Weak backs; pain in the limbs, and stiffness of the joints; Paralysis; Lack of development of the breasts in females after puberty...: Capricious appetite; Eating clay, slate-pencils, plaster, chalk, and other indigestible articles is a practice to which girls who abuse themselves are especially addicted; The use of tobacco; Acne or pimples; Biting the fingernails; Lack of luster and natural brilliancy in the eyes; Habitually moist, cold hands; Palpitation of the heart; Hysteria; Epileptic fits; Wetting the bed; [and] Unchastity of speech...."
Having done his best, in the previous chapter, to destroy the loving relationship between the husband and wife, Dr. Kellogg now sets about tearing down the mutual respect, trust and admiration that should exist between parent and child. Here is the doctor's warmhearted plan for parental detection of self-abuse in their children: "If a child is noticed to seek a secluded spot with considerable regularity, he should be carefully followed and secretly watched, for several days in succession if need be. Many children pursue the practice at night after retiring. If the suspected one is observed to become very quickly quiet after retiring, and when looked at appears to be asleep, the bedclothes should be quickly thrown off under some pretense. If, in case of a boy, the penis is found in a state of erection, with the hands near the genitals, he may certainly be treated as a masturbator without any error. If he is found in a state of excitement, in connection with other evidences, with a quickened circulation as indicated by the pulse, or in a state of perspiration, his guilt is certain, even though he may pretend to be asleep; no doubt he has been addicted to the vice for a considerable time to have acquired so much cunning. If the same course is pursued with girls, under the same circumstances, the clitoris will be found congested, with the other genital organs moist from increased secretion."