For the parent or guardian turned inquisitional investigator, the author offers another clue: "Stains upon the night-shirt or sheets, occurring before puberty, are certain evidences of the vice in boys...."
The doctor adds, "If any attempt is made to watch the child, he should be so carefully surrounded by vigilance that he cannot possibly transgress without detection. If he is only partially watched, he soon learns to elude observation, and thus the effect is only to make him cunning in his vice."
The habit may be cured in children "by admonishing them of its sinfulness, and portraying in vivid colors its terrible results...." In addition, "he should not be left alone at anytime, lest he yield to temptation. Work is an excellent remedy; work that will really make him very tired, so that when he goes to bed he will have no disposition to defile himself. It is best to place such a child under the care of a faithful person of older years, whose special duty it shall be to watch him night and day until the habit is thoroughly overcome."
In younger children, with whom moral considerations will have no particular weight, Kellogg suggests "tying the hands," or "bandaging the parts," or "covering the organs with a cage." He also suggests circumcision, as "a remedy that is almost always successful in small boys.... The operation should be performed by a surgeon without administering an anesthetic, as the brief pain attending the operation will have a salutary effect upon the mind, especially if it be connected with the idea of punishment...."
In adults, or youths, a different plan must be pursued, according to the doctor. "In these cases, moral considerations, and the inevitable consequences to health of body and mind, are the chief influences by which a reform is to be effected, if at all. These considerations may be urged with all possible eloquence and earnestness, but should not be exaggerated." "The truth," says the doctor, "is terrible enough."
If there are any special influences which may be brought to bear upon a particular individual—and there always will be something of this sort owing to peculiarities of temperament or circumstances—these should be promptly employed and applied in such a manner as to secure them their full bearing."
The results of masturbation include, according to Dr. Kellogg, impotency in the male, sterility in the female, urinary diseases, dyspepsia, throat affections, heart disease, diseases of the nervous system, epilepsy, cancer, idiocy, suicide, insanity and piles.
What Dr. Kellogg chooses to describe as "the truth" is, as he puts it, "terrible enough!"
Since every sign of man's sexual nature may become repugnant to one sufficiently perverted and negatively obsessed with his subject, it should come as no surprise to find that this learned man of medicine is ever concerned with involuntary nocturnal emissions.
"That an individual may suffer for years an involuntary seminal loss as frequently as once a month without apparently suffering very great injury," says Dr. Kellogg, "seems to be a settled fact with physicians of extensive experience and is well confirmed by observation; yet there are those who suffer severely from losses no more frequent than this. But when seminal losses occur more frequently than once a month, they will certainly ultimate in great injury, even though immediate ill effects are not noticed...."
As Kellogg correctly states, for a change, "The masturbator knows nothing of this disease, so long as he continues his vile practice. But," he adds, "when he resolves to reform, and ceases to defile himself voluntarily, he is astonished and disgusted to find that the same filthy pollutions occur during his sleep without his voluntary participation."
Nocturnal emissions have two primary causes, according to Kellogg, "local irritation and lewd thoughts." Sexual thoughts are just as harmful to a person when he is sleeping as when he is awake, the doctor explains. But, curiously enough, the doctor considers emissions unaccompanied by dreaming as the most serious sort. "At first," he says, "the emissions are always accompanied by dreams, the patient usually awakening immediately afterward; but after a time they take place without dreams and without awaking him, and are unaccompanied by sensation. This denotes a greatly increased gravity of the complaint."
Students of Freud will be interested in Kellogg's comments under the heading: "Can Dreams Be Controlled?" The doctor answers his own query: "Facts prove that they can be to a remarkable extent."
Kellogg offers the case history of "an Italian gentleman of great respectability," as an illustration of what can be accomplished in the dream department with "strong resolution." The Italian gentleman had, it seems, "been inconvenienced five years before with frequent emissions, which totally unnerved him. He determined resolutely that the very instant the image of a woman or any libidinous idea presented itself to his imagination, he would wake; and to ensure his doing so, dwelt in his thoughts on his resolution for a long time before going to sleep. The remedy, applied by a vigorous will, had the most happy results. The idea, the remembrance of its being a danger, and the determination to wake, closely united the evening before, were never dissociated even in sleep, and he awoke in time; and this reiterated precaution, repeated during some evenings, absolutely cured of the complaint."
Since Freud has established that dreams actually provide a necessary and healthful "escape-hatch" for many ideas that might otherwise play havoc in our subconscious minds, this little game of dream-control, wholeheartedly recommended by the author, might be expected to produce all manner of psychic ills. If the thought, which we do not care to consciously accept, is not permitted to escape—either directly, or in some disguised form—in a dream, it will be repressed. And then the psychopathological fun begins!
Dr. Kellogg offers a number of suggestions for "curing" nocturnal emissions, including the avoidance of stimulating food and drink; sleeping on one's side, rather than on the back or abdomen (as an aide to this, he suggests fastening "a piece of wood upon the back" or "tying one hand to the bedpost"); avoiding soft beds and pillows; and arising immediately upon waking in the morning "if it is after four o'clock."
This concern over nocturnal emissions again reminds us of the penitentials of the Dark Ages, which prescribed the penance for an involuntary nocturnal emission as rising promptly, and reciting seven penitential psalms, with an additional 30 in the morning.
Dr. Kellogg states that the eventual outcome of nocturnal emissions is impotence.
There is a certain pathetic irony in the fact that the last few pages of his chapter on self-abuse and nocturnal emissions are devoted to a warning against soliciting advice in this subject from "quacks." Under a section with that title, Dr. Kellogg says, "Never consult a quack. The newspapers abound with lying advertisements of remedies for diseases of this character. Do not waste time and money in corresponding with the ignorant, unprincipled charlatans who make such false pretensions.... Consult only some well-known and reliable physician in whom you have confidence. If your physician treats the matter lightly, and advises marriage as a means of cure, you will not judge him harshly if you decide that although he may be thoroughly competent to treat other diseases, he is ignorant of the nature and proper treatment of this....
Do not despair of ever recovering from the effects of past transgression, and plunge into greater depths of sin. Persevering, skillful treatment will cure almost every case.... Every sufferer from sexual disease must make up his mind to live, during the remainder of his life, as closely in accord with the laws of life and health as circumstances under his control will allow him to do."
A Final Word for Boys & Girls
Dr. Kellogg concludes Plain Facts for Old and Young with a final "Chapter for Boys" and a "Chapter for Girls." It comes as no surprise to find that these are devoted, almost in their entirety, to additional warnings against the evils of masturbation.
Under the heading "Self-Murderers," the author states, "Of all the vices to which human beings are addicted, no other so rapidly undermines the constitution and so certainly makes a complete wreck of an individual as this, especially when the habit is begun at an early age. It wastes the most precious part of the blood, uses up the vital forces, and finally leaves the poor victim a most utterly ruined and loathsome object. If a boy should be deprived of both hands and feet and should lose his eyesight, he would still be infinitely better off than the boy who for years gives himself up to the gratification of lust in secret vice...."
The doctor offers an illustrative case history especially written for his younger reader, under the title "Two Young Wrecks": "Charles and Oscar B_______ were the sons of a farmer in a Western state, aged respectively ten and 12 years. They possessed well-informed heads, and once had beautiful faces, and were as bright and sprightly as any little boys of their age to be found anywhere. Their father was proud of them, and their fond mother took great pleasure in building bright prospects for her darling sons when they should attain maturity and become competent to fill useful and honorable positions in the world....
"But suddenly certain manifestations appeared which gave rise to grave apprehensions on the part of the parents. It was observed that the elder of the little boys no longer played about with that nimbleness which he had formerly shown, but seemed slow and stiff in his movements. Sometimes, indeed, he would stagger a little when he walked. Soon, also, his speech became in some degree; he mumbled his words and could not speak distinctly. In spite of all that could be done, the disease continued, increasing in all its symptoms from week to week. Soon the hands, also, became affected, so that the little boy could not feed himself. The mind now began to fail. The bright eyes became vacant and expressionless. Instead of the merry light which used to shine in them, there was a blank, idiotic stare.