John Harvey Kellogg, yes, the same man who brought us Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, was so anti masturbation that he wrote a lengthy chapter about it in his best selling health book ‘Plain Facts for Old & Young.’
If ever you should cause to wonder from where the mythology concerning masturbation arose, look no further than to these writings, and appreciate that these thoughts and beliefs were not revolutionary – they were the commonly held views of well educated people of the era. Note the frequent use of the words ‘evil’ and disease’.
Then consider this; these beliefs, in whole or in part, would have been passed on to your grandparents, and from them to your parents. There are 40 signs in all, we have listed but 20 of them. The good Dr. Kellogg even believed he could tell a monkey spanker simply by the way he walked.
We can laugh now as we read these pages, but many a poor lad or innocent girl had to suffer cruelly under this misguided mentality. Indeed, many parents sent their children to Dr. Kellogg for ‘correction’. According to the Doctor, here are some of the signs to look out for.
In considering the subject it will be found that there are two classes of signs, as follows:
- Those which may arouse suspicion, but any one of which, taken singly, would not be an evidence of the practice.
- Those which may be regarded as positive. Several suspicious signs together may constitute a positive sign. Under these two heads, we will consider the signs of this vile habit.
It is well to bear in mind the fact that one or two suspicious signs are not evidence of the disease. It is likewise well to remember that the habit may be found where least looked for, and where one would have a right to expect perfect purity. Prejudice must be allowed no voice upon either side. A writer has said that every young person under puberty ought to be suspected of the disease. We can hardly endorse this remark, in full, but it would be at least wise for every guardian of children to criticize most carefully their habits and to quickly detect the first indications of sinful practices. Parents must not think that their children, at least, are too good to engage in such sinful abuses. It is most probable that their children are very like those of their neighbors; and any amount of natural goodness is not a protection against this insidious vice when it presents itself as a harmless pleasure to the unwarned and ignorant child.
Suspicious Signs.—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, when it cannot be traced to any other legitimate cause, as internal disease, worms, grief, overwork, poor air or poor food, and when it is not speedily removed by change of air or appropriate remedial measures, may safely be attributed to solitary vice, no matter how far above natural suspicion the individual may be. Mistakes will be rare indeed when such a judgment is pronounced under the circumstances named.
- Early symptoms of consumption — or what are supposed to be such—as cough, and decrease in flesh, with short breathing and soreness of the lungs—or muscles of the chest—are not infrequently, solely the result of this vice. That such is the case may be considered pretty surely determined if physical examination of the lungs reveals no organic disease of those organs. But it should be remembered that solitary vice is one of the most frequent causes of early consumption. Several cases which strikingly prove this have fallen under our own observation.
- Premature and defective development is a symptom closely allied to the two preceding. When it cannot be traced to such natural causes as overstudy, overwork, lack of exercise, and other influences of a similar nature, it should be charged to self-abuse. The early exercise of the genital organs hastens the attainment of puberty, in many cases, especially when the habit is acquired early, but at the same time saps the vital energies so that the system is unable to manifest that increased energy in growth and development which usually occurs at this period. In consequence, the body remains small, or does not attain that development which it otherwise would. The mind is dwarfed as well as the body. Sometimes the mind suffers more than the body in lack of development, and sometimes the reverse is true. This defective development is shown, in the physical organization of males, in the failure of the voice to increase in volume and depth of tone as it should; in deficient growth of the beard; in failure of the chest to become full and the shoulders broad. The mind and character show the dwarfing influence by failure to develop those qualities which especially distinguish a noble manhood. In the female, defective development is shown by menstrual derangements, by defective growth either in stature, or as shown in unnatural slimness, and in a failure to develop the graces and pleasing character which should distinguish early womanhood. Such signs deserve careful investigation, for they can only result from some powerfully blighting influence.
- Sudden change in disposition is a sign which may well arouse suspicion. If a boy who has previously been cheerful, pleasant, dutiful, and gentle, suddenly becomes morose, cross, peevish, irritable, and disobedient, be sure that some foul influence is at work with him. When a girl, naturally joyous, happy, confiding, and amiable, becomes unaccountably gloomy, sad, fretful, dissatisfied, and unconfiding, be certain that a blight of no insignificant character is resting upon her. Make a careful study of the habits of such children; and if there is no sudden illness to account for the change in their character, it need not require long deliberation to arrive at the true cause, for it will rarely be found to be anything other than solitary vice.
- Lassitude is as unnatural for a child as for a young kitten. A healthy child will be active, playful, full of life and animal spirits. If a young child manifests indisposition to activity, a dislike for play, lifelessness and languor, suspect his habits, if there is no other reasonable cause to which to attribute his unnatural want of childish sprightliness.
- Dullness: Instead of that natural brilliance of expression in the eyes and countenance, you may observe an unnatural dullness and vacant-ness altogether foreign to childhood.
- Sleeplessness is another symptom of significance. Sound sleep is natural for childhood; and if sleeplessness be not occasioned by dietetic errors, as eating indigestible food, eating between meals, or eating late suppers, it may justly be a cause for suspicion of evil habits.
- Failure of mental capacity without apparent cause should occasion suspicion of evil practices. When a child who has previously learned readily, mastered his lessons easily, and possessed a retentive memory, shows a manifest decline in these directions, fails to get his lessons, becomes stupid, forgetful, and inattentive, he has probably become the victim of a terrible vice, and is on the road to speedy mental as well as physical ruin. Watch him.
- Fickleness is another evidence of the working of some deteriorating influence, for only a weak mind is fickle.
- Untrustworthiness appearing in a child should attract attention to his habits. If he has suddenly become heedless, listless, and forgetful, so that he cannot be depended upon, though previously not so, lay the blame upon solitary indulgence. This vice has a wonderful influence in developing untruthfulness. A child previously honest, under its baneful influence will soon become an inveterate liar.
- Love of solitude is a very suspicious sign. Children are naturally sociable, almost without exception. They have a natural dread of being alone. When a child habitually seeks seclusion without a sufficient cause, there are good grounds for suspecting him of sinful habits. The barn, the garret, the water-closet, and sometimes secluded places in the woods, are the favorite resorts of masturbators. They should be carefully followed and watched, unobserved.
- Bashfulness is not infrequently dependent upon this cause. It would be far from right to say that every person who is excessively modest or timid is a masturbator; but there is a certain timorousness which seems to arise from a sense of shame or fear of discovery that many victims of this vice exhibit, and which may be distinguished from natural modesty by a little experience. One very common mode of manifestation of this timidity is the inability to look a superior, or any person who is esteemed pure, in the eye. If spoken to, instead of looking directly at the person to whom he addresses an answer, the masturbator looks to one side, or lets his eyes fall upon the ground, seemingly conscious that the eye is a wonderful tell-tale of the secrets of the mind.
- Unnatural boldness, in marked contrast with the preceding sign, is manifested by a certain class of victims. It can be as easily distinguished, however, as unnatural timidity. The individual seems to have not the slightest appreciation of propriety. He commits openly the most uncouth acts, if he does not manifest the most indecent unchastity of manner. When spoken to, he stares rudely at the person addressing him, often with a very unpleasant leer upon his countenance. In some few cases there seems to be a curious combination of conditions. While mentally fearful, timid, and hesitating, the individual finds himself, upon addressing a person, staring at him in the most ungainly manner. He is conscious of his ill manners, but is powerless to control himself. This sign is one which could hardly be of use to any except a very close observer, however, as few can read upon the countenance the operations of the mind.
- Mock piety — or perhaps we should more properly designate it as mistaken piety—is another peculiar manifestation of the effects of this vicious practice. The victim is observed to become transformed, by degrees, from a romping, laughing child, full of hilarity and frolic, to a sober and very sedate little—Christian, the friends think, and they are highly gratified with the piety of the child. Little do they suspect the real cause of the solemn face; not the slightest suspicion have they of the foul orgies practiced by the little sinner. By the aid of friends he may soon add hypocrisy to his other crimes, and find in assumed devotion a ready pretence for seeking solitude. Parents will do well to investigate the origin of this kind of religion in their children.
- Easily frightened children are abundant among young masturbators, though all easily frightened persons are not vicious. It is certain, however, that the vice greatly exaggerates natural fear, and creates an unnatural apprehensiveness. The victim’s mind is constantly filled with vague forebodings of evil. He often looks behind him, looks into all the closets, peeps under the bed, and is constantly expressing fears of impending evil. Such movements are the result of a diseased imagination, and they may justly give rise to suspicion.
- Confusion of ideas is another characteristic of the devotee of this artful vice. If he attempts to argue, his points are not clearly made. He may be superficially quick and cute, but is incapable of deep thought, or abstruse reasoning; is often very dull of apprehension. Ideas are not presented in logical order, but seem to fall out promiscuously, and fairly represent the condition of a disordered brain. Attempts at joking are generally failures, as the jest is sure to be inappropriate or vulgar, and no one but himself sees any occasion for laughter except at his stupidity. Such individuals are not scarce.
- Aversion to girls – Boys in whom the habit has become well developed sometimes manifest a decided aversion to the society of girls; but this is not nearly so often the case as some authors seem to indicate. It would rather appear that the opposite is more often true. Girls usually show an increasing fondness for the society of boys, and are very prone to exhibit marked evidences of real wantonness.
- Round shoulders and a stooping posture in sitting are characteristics of young masturbators of both sexes. Whenever a child seats himself, the head and shoulders droop forward, giving to the spine a curved appearance.
- Weak backs, pains in the limbs, and stiffness of the joints, in children, are familiar signs of the habit. To the first of these conditions is due the habitual stooping posture assumed by these children. The habit referred to is not the only cause of these conditions, but its causative occurrence is sufficiently frequent to give it no small importance as a suspicious indication.
- Paralysis of the lower extremities, coming on without apparent cause, is not infrequently the result of solitary indulgence, even in very small children. We have seen several cases in which this condition was traced to the habit of masturbation, in children under six years of age.