Thursday, November 8, 2012

The solitary vice

The Jugum Penis 
 The Jugum Penis
The Jugum Penis was intended to cure "spermatorrhoea", a Victorian-era name for nocturnal emissions. The device was fashioned out of a metal ring, which would fit at the base of the penis and was attached with a clip.

Sylvester Graham was a Victorian philosophy that was the antithesis of the 20th century's “Playboy philosophy”: if it feels good, Graham might have said, don't do it! Those who did do it, who ate meat, drank whisky, or chewed tobacco, were condemned to suffer stimulation-induced inflammation in the immediately affected organ that could pass through the nervous system to all other parts of the body. Because sex was the most stimulating activity of all (even Graham knew that), it was considered the most dangerous. Some forms of sex, nevertheless, were more dangerous than others. Least risky was the marital variety, the form established by the Creator for replenishing the earth. If enjoyed no more than once a month, connubial commerce was free of threat—so long as the partners were young and in robust health. There was such a thing as “marital excess,” and it led to injury. Even so, it entailed less danger than the “social vice” of premarital or extramarital sex. Lest his readers foolishly suppose that 1 orgasm was much like another, Graham reminded them that adultery involved additional excitements. Both in the violation of a social taboo and the prolonged anticipation and final realization of coupling with a new body, one experienced stimulation far beyond anything to be found in the marital bed; to Graham's mind, the great virtue of marital sex was that it so soon became boring.
Far more treacherous was the “solitary vice,” masturbation, which had been thought of as somewhat less rousing than the real thing. Graham, however, pointed out that as a solitary activity, the practice of masturbation was likely to start at an earlier age and to occur more often than partnered sex. Most important, the lack of a partner meant resorting to fantasy and the conjuring of erotic scenes and lewd images that surely stirred the brain to a fever pitch. (By this analysis, lusting in the heart was physiologically equivalent to lusting in the flesh.) Because the brain's inflamed state could be transmitted to any organ or tissue of the body through the nervous system, all manner of disease could follow. But with sexual solitaire, the climax—rather the culmination—was insanity:
 “This general mental decay,” Graham warned, “continues with the continued abuses, till the wretched transgressor sinks into a miserable fatuity, and finally becomes a confirmed and degraded idiot, whose deeply sunken and vacant glassy eye, and livid, shriveled countenance, and ulcerous, toothless gums, and fetid breath, and feeble broken voice, and emaciated and dwarfish and crooked body, and almost hairless head—covered, perhaps, with suppurating blisters and running sores—denote a premature old age—a blighted body—and a ruined soul!” Graham S. A Lecture to Young Men on Chastity. Providence, RI: Weeden and Cory; 1834. (pp.25-26)
Yes, Dr. Sylvester Graham created Graham crackers to help stop masturbation.

Onania: Or the Heinous Sin of Self-Pollution, and all its Frightful Consequences.

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