The Sexual Question - A Scientific, psychological, hygienic and sociological study
by August Forel
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The so-called historical times, that is the times of the Chinese, Egyptians and Assyrians, which appear to us extremely remote, are from the point of view of evolution very near to us. These ancient peoples, at any rate those who were our direct ancestors, or who were closely related to them, are thus, in the language of evolution, which takes no count of time or of the number of generations, our very near relations. The generations which separate them from us and the few hundred generations between them and those of their direct ancestors, who were at the same time ours, represent a limited period from the point of view of the ethnological history of mankind.

On the other hand, if we examine the savage peoples of America, Asia, Africa and Australia, which have been specially studied since the discovery of America and some of which are actually living, and compare them with ourselves and with our ancestors of four thousand years ago, we find that they differ infinitely more from us than we differ from our ancestors, as their ethnographical and historical remains are sufficient to prove.

Among the savage peoples we find races such as the pigmies of Stanley (Akkaas), the Weddas of Ceylon, even Australians and negroes, whose whole bodily structure differs profoundly from our European race and its varieties. The profoundness and constancy of these differences clearly show that the relationship of such races to ours must be very remote. We are concerned here with veritable races or sub-species, or at least with very constant and accentuated varieties. It is true that it is difficult to unravel the almost inextricable confusion of human races; but we may be certain that the savage races and varieties remote from ours, and even certain less-remote races such as the Mongols and Malays, are, phylogenetically speaking, infinitely less related to us than the ancient Assyrians. This indicates that the ancestors which were common to us and these races must probably be looked for several thousands of generations back, even when their descendants are still living on other continents at the present day.

It is easy to explain that human races so different could develop separately in continents and under climates with a very different mode of life and conditions of development, if we reflect that at these remote periods men only had very limited modes of transport and lived in a fashion very little different from that of the anthropoid apes, so that the ethnological forms were preserved separated from each other by small distances. This fact can still be observed among the small hostile Indian or Malay tribes, who live in tropical regions and often occupy only a few square leagues. The higher civilizations of former times could not develop beyond a comparatively limited circle, as their means of transport did not allow them to venture too far. The conquest of the whole earth by modern civilization by means of the mariner's compass, firearms, steam and electricity is thus an absolutely contemporaneous event, unique in the history of the world, the origin of which hardly goes back more than four hundred years. This event has completely upset the natural internal evolution of human races, by the fact that all the lower races attacked by civilized races armed with guns and alcohol, are destined to rapid and complete destruction.

Geology has discovered in the caves of the quaternary period, human remains which are much lower in the scale of evolution and much nearer the anthropoid apes than the lowest races still living. Their brain, as shown by the cranial cavity, was still smaller. Lastly, Dubois has discovered in Java the cranium of Pithecanthropus erectus which is intermediate between that of the orang-utan and man. If more such remains are discovered the chain of transition between the apes and man will be almost complete.

Hybridity. Consanguinity.—Before concluding this chapter we must study the question of hybrids. It is important to know to what point fecundity and descent are influenced by the degree of relationship between the two procreators. Conjugation probably arises from the general necessity of organisms to reenforce their race by variety. Consanguinity perpetuated is harmful to the species, in the same way as parthenogenesis, or indefinite reproduction by fission or budding. It produces enfeeblement and degeneration of the race, and leads to extinction by causing sterility.

By consanguinity is meant continued sexual union between near relatives. It is easy to understand that the conjugation of two germs derived from brothers and sisters or from a father and his daughter approaches parthenogenesis from the point of view of the mixing of hereditary energies. We shall see later on that nearly all peoples have a certain repugnance to consanguineous marriages. Among animals, natural selection eliminates too consanguineous products.

On the other hand, sexual union between different species, however little removed, gives no products. Near species may produce hybrids between themselves, but these hybrids are as a rule sterile or nearly so, and are incapable of perpetuating their type, which reverts rapidly to one of the primitive species.

It has been recently demonstrated that the incapacity of two species of animals to produce hybrids is intimately connected with the reciprocal toxicity of their blood. When the blood of one species is injected into the veins of another the production of hybrids is possible between them, at least as far as has been observed. It is curious to note that the blood of the anthropoid apes is not toxic for man, although these animals are very different from us, and hybrids have not yet been produced. This fact helps us to understand how it is that the differences which exist between the different human races do not prevent the production of hybrids between any two of them. In spite of this we may state, without risk of error, that the most dissimilar human races give a bad quality of hybrids, which have little chance of forming a viable mongrel race. We have not sufficient information on this point concerning the lowest human races, such as the pigmies and Weddas. On the other hand, mulattoes (hybrids between negroes and whites) constitute a race of very bad quality and hardly viable, while the hybrids between Indians and whites are much more resistant and of relatively better quality.

In this question, the middle course appears without any doubt the true one. Unions between near races and varieties, or at least between individuals of the same race or variety whose relationship is old, are certainly the best. We readily grant that the homogeneity of a race has the advantage of fixing its peculiarities in a more durable and characteristic fashion; but many inconveniences counterbalance this advantage. If we one day, by wise selection and by eliminating all sources of blastophthoria obtain a superior quality of human germs, it is possible that in the remote future, consanguinity, provided it is not exaggerated may lose its dangers.



It is impossible to comprehend the deep meaning and lofty aim of an act like that of sexual union without knowing the details of conjugation and the origin of man as we have explained them in the preceding chapters.

Conjugation requires the bringing together of two cells, and consequently the movement of at least one of them. This cellular movement suffices for the lower forms of union and is usually limited to the male cell. Owing to its movement it plays the active role, while the passive role is reserved for the female cell. Hence we see in the higher plants the male cells, or pollen, transported to the pistil by the wind or by insects, and thence reach the egg by mechanical endosmotic attraction which brings about conjugation.

This takes place in an analogous manner in lower animals, but the male cell is generally endowed with special movement. As soon as we deal with complicated animals, mobile in themselves and composed of cells differentiated to form complex organs, we see a second phenomena of reproductive movements appear in the animal phylogeny, namely the movement of the whole individual bearing male cells toward the individual bearing female cells. This simple fact gives rise to the formation of correlative sexual differences between the individuals bearing each kind of germinal cells. As the result of the evolution of these two phylogenetic systems of motor phenomena tending to establish conjugation, we obtain for each sex two categories of sexual formations:

(1). The germinal cells themselves, the female form of which becomes larger, more rich in protoplasm, and remains immobile, while the male form, or spermatozoid becomes extremely small and is provided with motor apparatus (Fig. 11).

(2). The individuals with their correlative sexual differences proper to the male and female, disposed in a way to give the male the active role and the female the passive role.

Normal hermaphrodism, complete or reciprocal (snails, etc.) constitutes an intermediate stage. Here each individual bears two kinds of germinal cells and possesses also male and female copulative organs, so that there only exists one form of individuals which copulate reciprocally; the male organ of one penetrating the female organ of the other and vice versa. It is obvious that this excludes the formation of correlative individual sexual characters.

In the second category, the male always differs from the female, at least in the sexual organs, and usually in other physical and mental characters. The difference in the sexual functions leads to the formation of differences in other parts of the body, and in instincts and sentiments, which find their material expression in the different development of the brain.

Certain specific functions in society may, in social animals like the ants, lead to the formation or differentiation of a third or fourth kind of individuals. This is what is called polymorphism. Here it is not the sexual function causes the correlative differences of the individuals, but division of social labor. The ecphoria of the hereditary mneme which produces the polymorphous, and more or less asexual individual forms (workers, warriors,) still proceeds through the energies of the reproducing germs. Here the action of selection is necessary to explain the phenomena.

In man, sexual differentiation has led to the formation of two kinds of individuals, differing little in their correlative attributes, but each bearing one kind of germinal cells. In sexual union man plays the active part, woman, the passive. When sexual activity, in the animal kingdom, is no longer limited to the movement of one of the cells but requires the displacement of the whole individual, we can quite understand that the organization of these individuals must become much more complex, and that it requires a central nervous system as a directing apparatus. Sexual individuality thus involves collaboration of the other organs of the body, and especially that of the central organs for reflex movements, the instincts and the higher mental faculties of man, in the accomplishment of the fecundating act those which are the consequences of it.

From this simple animal origin is evolved the complex sexual love of man. The duty of the active or male individual is to bring the spermatozoa to a point where they can easily reach the female cells or ovules. When this is done the duty of the male is accomplished. In the passive or female individual of the higher animals, pairing and conjugation are only the commencement of reproductive activity. However, this is not the case in the whole animal kingdom. For instance, fish have distinct sexes, but in them the female deposits her non-fecundated eggs in the water and is not concerned with them any further. The male then arrives and discharges his sperm on the eggs. In this case fecundation takes place without copulation. With such a system sexual love and maternal love lose their raison d'etre, for the young fish are capable of providing for themselves as soon as they are born. There are, however, a few exceptions, one of the most curious being that of certain fish of the Dead Sea, in which the male incubates the eggs by taking them into his buccal cavity.

Reproduction in Vertebrates.—We should never finish if we were to describe even the chief varieties of sexual union among the vertebrates. As a rule, the male possesses a copulating organ which projects externally, while the female presents an invaginated cavity, more or less cylindrical, into which the male organ can penetrate. A certain amount of sperm is deposited by the male in the neighborhood of the mature ovules (Fig. 18) discharged from the female germinal gland or ovary, which renders conjugation possible. By means of their mobile tails, the spermatozoa (Fig. 11) are able to reach the ovules and fecundate them. The manner in which the egg when fecundated, either in the mother's body or after being laid, continues its development, varies enormously in different species. The eggs are often deposited by the female and the embryo develops outside the mother's body. This occurs in insects, mollusks, fish, amphibia, reptiles, birds and the lowest mammals or monotremes (ornithorhynchus and echidna).

In the lower mammals is developed an organ called the womb which allows the embryo to remain longer in the maternal body. This organ is very incomplete in them, and a pocket or fold in the skin of the belly allows the mother to carry her young, which are extremely embryonic at birth, till they have developed sufficiently to live alone. This occurs in marsupials (kangaroos and opossums), in which the vagina and uterus are double.

In the higher mammals the womb becomes more and more developed, opening into a single vagina in the middle line of the abdomen, between the two ovaries, and constituting a highly specialized organ which allows the mother to preserve the young for a long time in her belly. In most mammals the uterus has two elongated diverticula, each of which may contain a successive series of embryos. In man it forms a single cavity and normally contains a single embryo, occasionally two or more. These facts show that the role of the female mammal in reproduction is more important than that of the male. But this is not all. Whether it still lays eggs, or whether it gives birth to young which are more or less developed its sexual role is far from ended. The higher oviparous vertebrates, especially the birds, take care of their progeniture for some time after laying. The young are still fed by the mother, either by milk from the teats, as in mammals, or by nourishment obtained from outside, as in birds, or by both methods combined or succeeding each other, as in cats.

In many animals the male contributes to the raising of the young; a point to which we shall return. Here, we indicate these complicated details simply to show that sexual union only contributes one link in the long chain of reproduction. Let us study its mechanism in man.

The Copulatory Organ of Man. The Testicles. The Seminal Vesicles.—Nature is often very sparing even in the highest organizations. It has thus combined in the male the urethra with the copulatory organ, and the sexual germinal glands, or testicles, with an accessory gland, the epididymis. Hundreds of thousands of spermatozoa are contained in the glandular tubes of these organs, which, when they are mature can always produce new ones by cell division. The spermatozoa accumulate at the extremity of the duct of the gland in a reservoir called the seminal vesicle, where they float in the mucus, thus constituting the seminal fluid or sperm. This liquid has a special odor. The two seminal vesicles are situated in the abdominal cavity underneath the urinary bladder, each having a duct which meets that of the other side and opens by the side of it in the deep part of the urethra. Here the secretion of several other glands, especially of the prostate, is added to the sperm and mixes with it. The point where the two seminal ducts open into the urethra forms a small elevation, the verumontanum. From this point the male urethra emerges from the abdominal cavity and is continued along the special prolongation which forms the penis, or virile member of copulation. In the ordinary way the penis only serves for the emission of urine. It hangs flaccid and terminates in a rounded swelling called the glans, at the end of which opens the urethra (Fig. 18). This opening serves also for the emission of the sperm.

Erection. The Corpus Cavernosum.—The most curious part of this apparatus is the mechanism of erection, or the power possessed by the penis of swelling under the influence of certain nervous irritations, increasing in length and diameter as well as becoming rigid. This phenomenon is produced by three organs called the cavernous bodies which form the principal bulk of the penis. One of them, situated in the middle and underneath and formed by two bodies united into one, surrounds the urethra and terminates in front in a dilatation which constitutes the glans already mentioned. The two others are situated symmetrically on the dorsal part of the penis. All three consist of caverns or diverticula formed by blood-vessels, which are empty when the penis is flaccid. By a complex nervous mechanism based on vascular paralysis due to nervous phenomena called inhibition and dynamogeny, the nervous irritations cause an accumulation of blood in the spaces of the cavernous bodies which become so gorged with blood as to form stiff and hard rods. The size of the penis is thereby increased considerably and its stiffness allows it to penetrate the vagina of the female. At the same time and by the same mechanism the verumontanum swells so as to close the ureter from the bladder, while the seminal ducts open toward the urethral orifice. In this way the copulatory organ is ready for its function.

Repeated irritations are however necessary to provoke the ejaculation of semen. This is finally produced by excitation of a special muscle which compresses the seminal vesicles in a spasmodic manner and ejaculates the semen by the urethra. After ejaculation, the accumulation of blood in the cavernous bodies gradually diminishes and the penis again becomes flaccid.

This apparatus is thus very complicated and is put in action by several nervous irritations which may be disturbed in many ways in affections of the nervous system. We may observe here that the nervous centers of erection and ejaculation may be put in action directly by the brain, or indirectly by peripheral irritation of the glans.

Those peripheral nerves which provoke sexual excitation are especially the nerves of the glans. This possesses a skin or mucous membrane which is extremely delicate and is protected against external irritation by a fold of skin called the prepuce, or foreskin. The prepuce is often too narrow so that it cannot be withdrawn behind the glans. It then forms a pocket in which sebaceous matter, semen, urine, etc., accumulate and decompose. This anomaly, called phimosis, does not exist among the Jews owing to circumcision, or the removal of the prepuce in the newly born, which forms part of their religious rites. Hygienic considerations sometimes oblige us to perform this operation in others. The bad habit of masturbation, so common in boys, is often provoked by phimosis, and shows that simple mechanical irritation of the glans, due here to secretions contained in the prepuce, may lead to ejaculation of semen as well as to erection.

We have seen above that the male and female germinal glands arise from the same primitive organ in the embryo. If the embryo becomes male, this organ is transformed into the two testicles which descend gradually in the canal of the groin and become placed in the scrotum. If it becomes female, the two sexual glands remain in the abdominal cavity and are transformed into ovaries.

The Genital Organs of Woman.—The organs described in Chapter II (Figs. 18 and 19), constitute the internal and more important part of the female sexual apparatus. In women, the urethra opens externally on its own account. It is much shorter and wider than in men. At its external extremity is a small cavernous body called the clitoris, which corresponds embryologically to the penis in man, and chiefly to the glans. Like the latter it is specialized for sexual irritation and possesses very sensitive nerves. The opening of the female urethra is situated in front of the vulva directly under the pubic bone, at the same place as the root of the male penis. From this point, on each side of the middle line, extend two longitudinal folds, one external covered with skin and called the larger lip of the vulva (Fig. 18, labia majora), the other internal, hidden under the first, called the lesser lip of the vulva (labia minora), and covered with thin mucous membrane. Between the two lesser lips is the sexual aperture, which, with the labia majora and minora is called the vulva. This opening is distinct from that of the urethra, and leads to the internal cavity or vagina (Fig. 18). The vagina is about ten to twelve centimeters long (2 to 2-1/2 inches) and terminates in a cul-de-sac which surrounds the vaginal portion of the womb, of which we have spoken above.

In virgins the entrance to the vagina is more or less closed by a delicate transverse membrane called the hymen, which is only perforated by a narrow opening. At the first coitus the hymen is torn, causing a certain amount of pain and bleeding. The walls of the vagina are thrown into transverse folds, which render them somewhat rough. The remains of the hymen torn by the first coitus afterward form behind the vulva small excrescences named carunculae myrtiformes.

In the first chapter we have spoken of the changes undergone by the fecundated ovule till it becomes the embryo and then the infant. It remains to speak of the mechanism of expulsion of the ovule and of its fecundation, as well as the changes in the womb which result from these phenomena.

Menstruation.—About every four weeks, one or two ovules (rarely more) mature and are discharged into the Fallopian tubes, down which they pass by the movement of the vibratile cilia of the mucous membrane, to the uterus, to the walls of which they become attached if they have been fecundated on the way (Fig. 18). Fecundation or conjugation takes place most often in the Fallopian tube, sometimes in the uterus. The maturation and expulsion of the ovule are generally accompanied in women by a nervous phenomenon closely related to erection in man. The mucous membrane of the cavity of the uterus is very rich in blood vessels which become dilated and gorged with blood under the inhibitory influence of certain nerve centers. As the mucous membrane is very thin, the result is otherwise than in man; the blood transudes through the mucous membrane and flows away. This is called menstruation ("courses" or monthly periods). The object of this is, no doubt, to prepare the mucous membrane of the womb for the fixation of the fecundated egg which will become grafted on its surface. The courses in women generally last three or four days, but are often very irregular. It is necessary to point out that they do not depend on ovulation (expulsion of the egg). The two phenomena may take place independently of each other, for menstruation in itself depends only on nervous irritation, which may be provoked or averted by hypnotic suggestion, for example.

Moreover, there are women who never menstruate and who, in spite of this, not only regularly discharge ovules but may be fecundated and become pregnant. Usually, however, the two phenomena are associated by nervous reflexes, so that menstruation takes place first and then the ovule commences its migration.

The Mechanism of Coitus.—Copulation, or coitus, takes place as follows: After a certain degree of excitation, both mental and sensory, the male introduces the erect and stiffened penis into the vagina. In the case of advanced pregnancy he should place himself behind, so as to avoid injuring the unborn child. Rhythmic movements of the two individuals, especially of the man, gradually increase the excitation of the mucous membrane or skin of the genital organs of each party, till voluptuous sensations, arising chiefly in the glans penis and clitoris, spread to the whole nervous system and the entire body, constituting what is called the venereal orgasm, and terminating in the man by the ejaculation of semen.

The localizations of irritability in woman are multiple, and to the clitoris must be added the nipples, the vulva, and even, it is said, the neck of the womb. In man the parts round the anus may also, besides the glans penis, form an excitable region. At the acme of erection the glans is turgid, and is applied directly against the neck of the womb (Fig. 18). In this way the sperm is ejaculated directly against the neck of the womb.

In the woman an analogous phenomenon takes place; the clitoris becomes turgid and the mild and repeated friction of the mucous membranes, together with contact on other sensitive parts, produces a voluptuous sensation as in the man. Through nervous association, the repeated excitation determines secretion from certain glands of the vagina which lubricate the vulva (glands of Bartholin). At the maximum point of voluptuous feeling the woman experiences something analogous to the venereal orgasm of the man. There is thus manifested in the two sexes an intense and reciprocal desire of penetration one by the other, a desire which powerfully favors fecundation. In the woman as in the man the end of the orgasm is followed by an agreeable relaxation which invites sleep.

The hereditary or instinctive nervous actions produce after coitus a profound effect of contrast. When the sexual appetite commences, the odors, especially those of the sexual organs, the contacts, the movements, and the sight of the individual of the opposite sex, all increase desire, producing a voluptuous excitation stronger than all contrary feeling. Hardly is the sexual act consummated than all vanishes like a dream. What was a moment before the object of the most violent desire becomes indifferent, and sometimes even excites a slight feeling of disgust, at least as regards certain odors, sometimes even regarding touch and sight. The name sexual appetite (libido sexualis) is given to the passionate and purely sexual desire of the two sexes for each other. It varies greatly in different individuals.

According to Ferdy and other authors, the neck of the womb, during the venereal orgasm of the woman, executes movements of suction in the glans penis. I do not know if this is a fact, but it is certain that the female orgasm is useless for conception. Absolutely cold women, incapable of the least voluptuous sensation are as fruitful as those who have pronounced venereal orgasms. It proves that the spermatozoa arrive at their goal even when the womb is entirely passive. The great variation of sexual desire in different individuals renders mutual adaptation often very difficult. The venereal orgasm is sometimes more rapid in man, sometimes in woman (more rarely in the latter). This inequality is rather to the detriment of the woman, for the man can still satisfy himself when the orgasm of the woman has terminated, while the contrary is not possible without artificial manipulation. Moreover, the frequence and intensity of the sexual appetite are often much greater in one than in the other, which is detrimental to both. Here again it is the woman who suffers the most, for the man can always satisfy himself without the woman having voluptuous sensations. What is commonly called good manners generally prevents the conjoints from speaking of their sexual desires before marriage. This very often results in grave deceptions, dissensions, and often even divorce. I shall return to this subject in Chapter XIV.

Voluptuous sensations only represent the means employed by nature to bring together the sexes with the object of reproducing the species. A woman can be fecundated and give birth to a child by the aid of semen injected into the uterus by a syringe. Moreover, it is rather exceptional for the venereal orgasm to occur in the two sexes at the same moment. It is essential for fecundation that the semen should enter the womb. When the spermatozoa have reached the neighborhood of the neck of the womb they swim by their own movements, not only along the whole uterine cavity, but also along the Fallopian tubes and even in the abdominal cavity, so that the force of ejaculation is of little importance.

Pregnancy.—The womb enlarges considerably during pregnancy. It exceeds the size of an adult head, and the muscles of its walls are greatly increased, so as to be capable of expelling the child later on.

The phenomena of pregnancy, birth and suckling are known to all, so that I shall be brief. The almost sudden activity of the breasts after childbirth is a very interesting correlative phenomenon. It suffices to glance at one who has just become a mother and to observe the complications which profoundly influence all her organism with regard to the life of the infant, to comprehend to what extent the role of sexual life is more important, more profound, even more vital, in woman than in man. The latter no doubt requires a more violent appetite to urge him to copulation because he plays the active part, short though it be. But fecundating coitus having been effected, his contribution to the reproduction of the species is ended.

While the activity of man is terminated at conception, that of woman only begins at this moment. In the first chapter we have indicated in a few words the transformations of the human embryo up to its birth. During nine months it grows from the size of a pin's head (the ovule) to that of the new-born child. Although a woman seldom bears more than one embryo at the same time, twins being rare on the whole, she has nevertheless more pain and fatigue to bear than any female animal. This is due not only to the fact that our artificial and alcoholized civilization, with its specialized labor which disturbs vital equilibrium, has made women indolent and degenerate, but also to the enormous development of the human brain. The head of the human embryo is disproportionately large because the brain, as I showed with Schiller in 1889, already contains at birth all the nerve elements which it will possess during the rest of its life (Comptes rendus de l'Academie des Sciences). No doubt these elements are small and embryonic but the nerve fibers are ready to be covered with myelin and to enter upon their functions, and all this requires a cranium of considerable size. But it is not everything for the mother to nourish with her blood the brain and the cranium of the child; it is also necessary for this relatively large head to pass through the pelvis at the time of childbirth, and we know that this moment is the most dangerous for the life of the pregnant woman. As boys have on the average a larger brain and cranium than those of girls, their birth is usually more difficult.

Accouchement.—The sexual organs of woman undergo great changes in order to render childbirth possible. These organs become larger and more vascular, especially the womb, the growth of which is astonishing. Originally the size of a small egg (a guinea fowl's) it exceeds the size of a human head, and there is an enormous increase of muscular tissue in its walls. Large blood vessels develop in the uterine wall, especially in the placenta (Figs. 22 and 23), where they enter into endosmotic relations with the circulation of the embryo.

From the abdomen of the embryo arises an organ, the allantois, which is destined to carry the blood-vessels of the embryo to the placenta, and at the same time to give rise to the formation of the latter. In the placenta the blood-vessels of the embryo are separated from those of the mother by walls so thin that the nutritive juices of the maternal blood transude into the venous blood of the embryo, as well as combined oxygen in the blood necessary for its respiration. Up to this point the vitellus of the egg, nourished by endosmosis through its membranes, had sufficed for the nutrition of the still very small embryo. While these phenomena are taking place, and while the substance of the two conjugated germs divides into an ever increasing number of cells, which become differentiated in layers to form the future organs (Fig. 21), while certain groups of cells are prepared some to form the intestinal canal, others the muscles and blood vessels, others the skin and organs of sense, others arising from the last to form the brain, the spinal cord and the nerves, the mother can still live her ordinary life. She suffers, however, from different disorders connected with what is passing on in her body.

It is a curious fact that these disorders are more accentuated at the commencement of pregnancy, when the womb is hardly enlarged, than at the end. They consist chiefly of nervous troubles—slight derangement of the cerebral functions and sensations, etc. Obstinate vomiting, peculiar desires, and changes of temper are some of the most frequent troubles of pregnant women, and probably arise more from local nervous irritation than from general transformations of the nutrition of the body. The mother's body is becoming adapted to the development of the infant in the womb. However embarrassed a woman may be in the last months of pregnancy by the great swelling of the belly (Fig. 22) the disorders are less accentuated than at the beginning of pregnancy.

During pregnancy menstruation ceases. The sexual appetite is very variable; in many pregnant women it is diminished, in others there is no change, and it is seldom increased. There are other troubles which are more or less frequent, such as varicose veins in the legs caused by pressure of the uterus on the veins.

But all the sufferings of pregnancy and childbirth are compensated for by the ardent desire of the normal woman to have a child, and by the happiness of hearing its first cry. Proud and happy to give life to a new human being, which she hopes soon to suckle and carry in her arms, she cheerfully bears all the inconveniences and pains of pregnancy and childbirth. The latter is actually painful, for in spite of all that nature does to relax the pelvis and render it elastic, to dilate the neck of the womb, the vagina and the vulva, the passage of the enormous head of a human infant through all these relatively narrow apertures is extremely difficult (Figs. 22 and 23). The passage is forced by the powerful contractions of the muscles of the womb. However, they do not always succeed by themselves, and in this case the accoucheur is obliged to apply the forceps to extract the head of the child. Very often the neck of the womb, the vagina or the perineum (the part situated between the anus and the vulva) become torn during labor, and this may lead later on to disorders such as prolapse of the womb, etc.; disorders which may last through life.

When the child is born, the umbilical cord (that is the transformed allantois, Fig. 23) cut, and the placenta extracted, the connecting nutrition and respiration between the child and its mother are suddenly interrupted. Nourished hitherto by its mother's blood through the placenta and the vessels of the umbilical cord which supplied the necessary oxygen, the infant is suddenly obliged to breathe and feed for itself. Its lungs, hitherto inactive, expand instantaneously under the nervous influence produced by the blood saturated with carbonic acid, and the first cry is produced. Thus commences individual respiration. Several hours later the cessation of maternal nutrition causes hunger, and this the reflex movements of suction, and the child takes the breast. During this time the empty womb contracts strongly and retracts enormously in a few days. The increase of blood produced by the maternal organism, by its adaptation to the nutrition of the embryo, is then employed in the production of milk in the breasts or lactiferous glands, which were already well developed during pregnancy.

Suckling. Maternity.—The mother is instinctively disposed to suckle her child as the infant is to suck. At the end of four to six weeks, the womb has almost completely regained its former size.

In savage races suckling at the breast lasts for two years or more. It is useless to mention here to what point the capacity for suckling and the production of milk have diminished among the modern women of civilized countries. This sad sign of degeneration is due to a large extent, as Bunge has shown by careful statistics, to the habit of taking alcoholic drinks, and is combined with other blastophthoric degenerations due to hereditary alcoholism. The future will show whether the artificial feeding of infants with cows' milk will benefit humanity. In any case it allows infants to survive who would die without it. On the other hand the development of a degeneration can hardly be an advantage for the species and we should hope for a return to the natural rule by abstinence from all alcoholic drinks.

The false modesty of women concerning their pregnancy and everything that concerns childbirth, the pleasantries often made with regard to pregnant women are a sad sign of the degeneration and even corruption of our refined civilization. Pregnant women ought not to hide themselves, or to be ashamed to carry a child in their womb; on the contrary they should be proud. Such pride would certainly be much more justified than that of the fine officers parading in their uniforms. The external signs of the formation of humanity are more honorable to their bearers than the symbols of destruction, and woman should become imbued more and more with this truth! They will then cease to hide their pregnancy and to be ashamed of it. Conscious of the grandeur of their sexual and social duty they will raise aloft the standard of our descent, which is that of the true future life of man, at the same time striving for the emancipation of their sex. Viewed in this way, the sexual role of woman becomes elevated and solemn. Man should less and less maintain his indifference towards the social miseries to which the slavery of woman has led, which has lasted thousands of years and which has dishonored the highest functions of her sex, by abuses without number.

The hygiene of pregnancy, labor and its sequels, is of the highest importance. It certainly should not consist in exaggerated care and precaution, for in spoiling and softening women by inaction more harm than good is done. On the other hand, the social cruelty which neglects poor women of the people in confinement, often even without giving them sufficient nourishment, is revolting, and it is here especially that the reform of social hygiene becomes an elementary necessity for humanity.

All that we have just spoken of binds the woman for months or years to each of her children, and we can understand that her whole soul is adapted in consequence to maternity. Even when birth has detached the child from the maternal body, it remains attached to its mother by a hundred bonds, not only during the period of suckling, but long afterward when the conventions do not violate natural laws. Little children are deeply attached to their mother, and while the father is impatient with their cries and the embarrassment which they cause, the mother takes a natural delight in them. When pregnancies succeed each other at reasonable intervals of one or two years, the normal woman lives with her children for many years in intimacy which never entirely ceases in a family animated by human and social sentiments.

In normal circumstances the special bonds which unite the mother to her children last for life, while the father, if all goes well, becomes simply the best friend of his growing children. It is time that fathers began to recognize these natural laws, instead of clinging so tenaciously to the historic and artificial prestige of a worm-eaten and unnatural patriarchal authority. No doubt there are many pathological and degenerate mothers, but such an anomaly only proves the rule that we have just laid down.

Correlative Sexual Characters.—The correlative sexual characters, which we have previously spoken of in animals, are well known in man. Man is in the average larger, broader in the shoulders and more robust; his skeleton is more solid but his pelvis narrower. At the age of puberty, from 16 to 20 years, the beard grows on the face, while in the pubic region hair develops in both sexes. At the same time the testicles and external genital organs enlarge. The sexual glands as well as the external genital organs have remained so far in an embryonic state although the mechanism of erection is already established in young boys. But this mechanism, in the normal boy, is not associated with any voluptuous sensation or any glandular secretion.

Man possesses the rudiments of the correlative sexual characters of woman, such as nipples without lactiferous glands, etc. In a general way each part of the external genital organs of one sex has its corresponding embryonic homologue in the other, which is explained by the different transformations which were originally the same in the embryo. The clitoris of woman corresponds to the penis of man, the labia majora to the scrotum, etc. In certain individuals these rudiments are more strongly developed, and may by exaggeration and transition lead to pathological hermaphrodism (Chapter I); such are bearded women, and those possessing a large clitoris, or beardless men with effeminate bodies and small sexual organs. Such cases are not examples of hermaphrodism, but of incomplete embryological differentiation. They consist in certain correlative sexual characters which show a tendency toward the other sex, a tendency which we find, from the mental point of view, in homosexuals.

There is also to be noticed the "breaking" of the voice which occurs in man at the age of puberty, and is connected with the nervous system.

In women the body is smaller and more delicate, the bones weaker, the pelvis wider and the chest narrower. The normal woman has no beard while the pubic hairs are the same as in man. The pubis, covered with a layer of fat, is slightly prominent in women and is called the mons Veneris. There is more fat under the skin in a woman's body, and the voice does not break. After puberty breasts develop with their lactiferous glands and nipples for suction. Puberty takes place a little earlier in women than in men, and corresponds to the growth of the internal and external sexual organs, at the same time that the ovules commence to mature and menstruation is established.

The mental correlative sexual characters are much more important than those of the body. The psychology of man is different from that of woman. Many books have been written on this subject, usually with more sentimentality than exactitude. Mysogynists, like the philosopher Schopenhauer, disparage woman from all points of view, while the friends of the female sex often exalt her in an exaggerated manner. In contemporary literature we see women authors judging man in quite different ways according as they are affected with "misandery" or "philandery"—that is enemies or friends of men. Quite recently Moebius has published a mysogynistic work on the "Physiological Imbecility of Woman." (Der physiologische Schwachsinn des Weibes). One must be a misogynist of very high degree to introduce the pathological notion of imbecility into the evolution of the normal mentality of woman. In reality, the individual differences are much greater in man and woman from the psychological than from the physical point of view, so that they render a definition of the average extremely difficult.

We are acquainted with bearded women, athletic women, as well as beardless men and puny men. From the mental point of view, there are also viragos and men with feminine instincts. Imbeciles are not wanting in both sexes, but no reasonable person will deny that an intelligent woman is superior to a narrow-minded man even from the purely intellectual point of view. In spite of these difficulties, I shall attempt to bring forward the principal points which distinguish, in a general way, the masculine mind from the feminine, relying on my own observations and especially on the mental phenomena of both sexes.

The Weight of the Brain.—According to statistics, the weight of the brain in men of our race is on the average 1350 grammes, while that of women averages 1200 grammes. The absolute weight is, however, not of much importance, because part of the cerebral substance in the larger animals is only for the supply of a greater number of cellular elements of the rest of the body, which necessitates a greater number of nervous elements.

To make the matter clear, it is necessary to separate the weight of the cerebral hemispheres from the other nervous centers, such as the cerebellum, corpora striata, the optic thalami, the mid-brain, the pons Varolii, the medulla oblongata and the spinal cord, for these centers constitute parts which are phylogenetically older, that is to say, inherited from lower animal ancestors. Compared with the cerebral hemispheres, these nerve centers are relatively more important in other vertebrates than in man, and are in more constant proportion to the size of the body, the muscular, glandular and sensory elements of which they supply. When the intelligence is about the same, they are, therefore, compared with the cerebral hemispheres, much more developed in the larger than in the smaller animals. For example, they are very large in the ox, but small in mice. I have weighed a considerable number of human brains separated in this way with the following results:

CEREBRAL HEMISPHERES OTHER CEREBRAL CENTERS Man 1060 grammes, 78.5% 290 grammes, 21.5% Woman 955 grammes, 77.9% 270 grammes, 22.1%

Thus the cerebellum and basal ganglia are a little smaller in men than in women, compared with the cerebral hemispheres.

These figures appear to show that the cerebral hemispheres in woman are on the average a little smaller than in man, even proportionately to the stature; for, according to a general law in the animal kingdom, woman being smaller, her cerebral hemispheres should be, with equal mentality, proportionately a little larger. There are, however, female brains larger than many male brains, and the absolute and relative size of the cerebral hemispheres does not give a complete measure of the productive faculties. Remarkable men have been known to possess rather small brains and imbeciles heavy ones. We must not forget the great importance of the hereditary or engraphic predispositions of the nerve element or neurone, to certain activities and especially to work in general, that is to say, their aptitude to produce energy, or if one prefers it, their disposition to "will."

It is also interesting to consider the relationship of the frontal lobe to the rest of the cerebral hemispheres, the frontal lobe being without doubt the principal seat of intellectual activity. According to Meynert, the weight of the frontal lobe in man exceeds that of woman, not only absolutely, but relatively to the rest of the brain. In his resume of the statistical data collected on this subject and from the results of my own material (autopsies at the asylum of Burgholzli in Zurich), Mercier has confirmed the opinion of Meynert. The average weight of the hemispheres separated from the rest of the brain is 1019 grammes in man (frontal lobe 428, the rest 591), and 930 in woman (frontal lobe 384, rest 546). Here, atrophied brains (except general paralytics) have been weighed with others, which lowers the average total weight without altering the proportion. Thus, the rest of the cerebral hemispheres exceeds the frontal lobe by 163 grammes in man and 162 grammes in woman, which means that in man the frontal lobe constitutes 42 per cent. of the cerebral hemispheres and in woman 41.3 per cent. The difference is not great, but it is definite, for it is based on a large number of observations.

Mental Capacity of the Two Sexes.—The fundamental difference between the psychology of woman and that of man is constituted by the irradiations of the sexual sphere in the cerebral hemispheres, which constitute what may be called sexual mentality. We shall discuss this in the following chapters, for it constitutes the foundation of our subject. We are only concerned here with the correlative differences.

Adhering in a general way to the main definitions of psychology, we assert that from the purely intellectual point of view, man considerably excels woman in his creative imagination, his faculty for combination and discovery, and by his critical mind. For a long time this was said to be explained by the statement that women had not the opportunity of measuring their intelligence against that of men; but, thanks to the modern movement of the emancipation of women, this assertion becomes more and more untenable. It is so with regard to artistic creations, for women have at all times taken part in works of art. When certain people maintain that a few generations of activity suffice to elevate the intellectual development of women, they confound the results of education with those of heredity and phylogeny (vide Chapter II). Education is a purely individual matter and only requires one generation to produce its results. But neither mnemic engraphia, nor even selection can modify hereditary energies in two or three generations. Tied down hitherto partly by servitude, the mental faculties of woman will doubtless rise and flourish in all their natural power as soon as they are absolutely free to develop in society equally with those of men, by the aid of equal rights. But what does not exist in the hereditary mneme, that is to say in the energies of germs, inherited through thousands or millions of years, cannot be created in a few generations. The specific characters and consequently the sexual characters have quite another constancy than is believed by the superficial prattlers, who deafen us with their jargon on a question of which they only grasp the surface. There is no excuse, at the present day, for confounding hereditary correlative sexual characters with the individual results of education. The latter are acquired by habit and can only be inherited as such by an infinitesimal engraphia, possibly after hundreds of generations.

On the other hand woman possesses, from the intellectual point of view, a faculty of reception and comprehension as well as a facility of reproduction which are almost equal to those of man. In higher education at the universities the women I have had the opportunity of observing at Zurich for many years, show a more equal level than that of the men. The most intelligent men reproduce best and the most stupid men reproduce worse than the corresponding female extremes. I do not think one can say much more concerning the purely intellectual domain.

Artistic production confirms this opinion. Woman is here on the average much inferior as regards creation or production, properly so called, and even her best results are wanting in originality and do not open up new paths. On the contrary, as virtuosos, women compare well with men in simply reproductive art. There are, however, exceptional women whose productions are original, creative and independent. The philosopher Stuart Mill points out the intuitive gift of woman who, led by her individual observations, rapidly and clearly discovers a general truth, and applies it in particular cases, without troubling with abstract theories. This may be called the intuitive or subconscious judgment of woman.

In the domain of sentiment the two sexes differ very much from each other, but we cannot say that one surpasses the other. Both are passionate, but in different ways. The passions of man are coarser and less durable, and are only more elevated when associated with more original and more complex intellectual aims. In woman sentiment is more delicate and more finely shaded esthetically and morally; it is also more durable, at least on the average, although its objects are often of a mean and banal nature.

When man compares himself with woman he usually identifies himself, more or less unconsciously, with the highest male intellects, with the men of genius in art and science, and complaisantly ignores the crowd of idiots of his own sex! In the life of sentiment the two sexes may complement each other admirably; while man raises the height of the ideal and of objects to be attained, woman has the necessary tact to soften and refine the tones, and to adapt their shades to each special situation, by the aid of her natural intuition, where man risks spoiling everything by the violence of his passions and his efforts. This reciprocal influence should conduce to the best and highest harmony of sentiments in a happy sexual combination.

As regards will power, woman is, in my opinion, on the average superior to man. It is in this psychological domain more than in any other, that she will always triumph. This is generally misunderstood, because men have so far apparently held the scepter of an unlimited omnipotence; because by the abuse of brute force, aided by superiority of inventive genius, humanity has been hitherto led by strong masculine wills, and because the strongest feminine wills have been dominated by the law of the right of the stronger. But the unprejudiced observer is soon obliged to recognize that the directive will of the family is only, in general, represented externally by the master. Man parades his authority much more often than he puts it into practice; he lacks the perseverance, tenacity and elasticity which constitute the true power of will, and which are peculiar to woman. It is needless to say that I am only speaking of the average and that there are many women whose will power is feeble. But these easily become the prey of prostitution, which causes their disappearance. This is perhaps one of the causes which have strengthened by selection the will power in women. Man is impulsive and violent as regards his will power, but often inconstant and irresolute, yielding as soon as he has to strive persistently for a certain object. From these facts it naturally results that, on the average, it is the man in the family who provides the ideas and impulses, but the woman who, with the finesse of her tact and perseverance, instinctively makes the distinction between the useful and the harmful, utilizing the former and constantly combating the latter; not because she is fundamentally superior, but because she is more capable of dominating herself, which proves the superiority of her will power.

Nothing is more unjust than to disparage one sex relatively to the other. The parthenogenesis of the lower animals having ceased in the vertebrates, each sex is indispensable, not only to the preservation of species, but also to each conception or reproduction of the individual. Both are thus equivalent and belong to each other as the two halves of a whole, one being incapable of resisting without the other. Everything which benefits one of the halves benefits the other. If by the magic wand of a fairy, the male half or the female half of our humanity, such as it is to-day, was rendered capable and obliged to reproduce alone, men would soon degenerate owing to the weakness of their will combined with their sensual passions, and women from their incapacity to raise their intellectual level by means of creative ideas.

We need not dwell here on the numerous psychological peculiarities of woman, inherent in her capacity as mother, nor on those of man adapted to his muscular strength and to his capacity as protector of the family. These are derived from sexual differences which are mentioned in Chapter V. Nor need we describe correlative differences of less importance which are well known and which arise from those of which we have spoken or from direct sexual differences. They can be observed, on the one hand, in purely male reunions in saloons, smoking rooms and other similar places; on the other hand, in feminine circles of all classes, among the common people, among the fashionable, or even in philanthropic associations. On the average, woman is more artful and more modest; man coarser and more cynical, etc. After much personal experience, gained in societies in which the two sexes possess the same rights and are admitted to the same titles, I am obliged to declare that I have never found any confirmation (at least in the German-Swiss country) of the popular saying that gossip and intrigue are the special appanage of woman. I have found these two vices quite as often in man.



If we sum up the three preceding chapters we arrive at the philosophical conclusion that reproduction depends on the general natural tendency of all living beings to multiply indefinitely. Fission and sexual reproduction arise from the simple fact that the growth of each individual is necessarily limited in space as well as time. Reproduction is thus destined to assure the continuation of life; the individual dies but is perpetuated in his progeny. We do not know why the crossing of individuals is rendered necessary by the phenomenon of conjugation. On this subject we can only build hypotheses, but the study of nature shows us that where conjugation ceases reproduction is etiolated and finally disappears, even when it is still possible for a certain time.

From the commencement of life there is thus a powerful law of attraction with the object of reproduction. At first there are unicellular organisms, in which one cell penetrates the other in the act of conjugation. Their substances combine intimately, while the molecules of each nucleus become so arranged as to give the new individual a more fresh and powerful energy of growth.

In the lower multicellular plants and animals which bud, fresh buds live at the expense of the old trunk to give life to new branches, and the male cells or pollen fecundate the female cells so as to disperse the germs capable of growth and of thus reproducing the species. It is also the same in the madrepores and other agglomerated animals (such as the solitary worms), composed of parameres or metameres, so long as a single central nervous system does not coordinate the metameres, or primary agglutinated animals, into a single organism.

In the higher animals, the complex polycellular individuals formed by the agglomeration of several primitive animals, are transformed into a higher and mobile unity by the aid of the great vital apparatus called the nervous system, which becomes the mental director of the living organism and invests it with its individual character. However, this higher unity of life, which always becomes more psychic, that is to say, at the same time intellectual, sentimental and voluntary, by its complication and its numerous relations with other individuals, this unity called the central nervous system cannot do without the necessity for reproduction. In animal phylogeny, as soon as hermaphrodism has ceased and each individual has become the sole bearer of one of the two kinds of sexual cells, the species will eventually disappear if the male cells cannot reach the female cells by the active movement of the whole individual. Thus is produced the marvelous phenomenon of the desire of increase and reproduction, originally peculiar to the male cell, penetrating the nervous system, that is to say life and soul in its entirety, the life of the higher unity of the individual. An ardent desire, a powerful impulse thus arises in the nervous system at the time of puberty and attracts the individual toward the opposite sex. The care and the pleasure of self preservation, which had hitherto fully occupied his attention, become effaced by this new impulse. The desire to procreate dominates everything. A single pleasure, a single desire, a single passion lays hold of the organism and urges it toward the individual of the opposite sex, and to become united with it in intimate contact and penetration. It is as if the nervous system or the whole organism felt as if it had for the moment become a germinal cell, so powerful is the desire to unite with the other sex.

In some beautiful verses the German poet-philosopher Goethe (West-Oestlicher Divan, book VIII, "Suleika") describes the desire to procreate (p. 63):

Und mit eiligem Bestreben Sucht sich, was sich angehoert, Und zu ungemessnem Leben Ist Gefuehl und Blick gekehrt. Sei's ergreifen, sei es raffen, Wenn es nur sich fasst und haelt! Allah braucht nicht mehr zu schaffen, Wir erschaffen seine Welt!

If we look at nature we see everywhere the same desire and the same attraction of the sexes for each other; the bird which warbles, the mammal which ruts, the insect which hums while pursuing the female with implacable tenacity, at the risk of their own life, employing sometimes cunning, sometimes dexterity, and sometimes force to attain their object. The ardor of the female is not always much less, but she uses coquetry, pretending to resist, and simulates repulsion. The more eager the male, the more coquettish is the female. If we observe the amorous sport of butterflies and birds, we see what efforts it costs the male to attain his object. On the other hand when the male is clumsy and slow the female often comes toward him or at any rate does not resist him, for instance in certain ants the males of which are wingless while the females have wings. The final act always consists in intimate union at the moment of copulation.

In some animals Nature is prodigal in the means she employs to pursue her great object, reproduction, by aid of the sexual appetite. The apiary raises hundreds of male bees. As soon as the single queen-bee takes wing for its nuptial flight all the males follow, but a single male only, the strongest and most nimble, succeeds in reaching her. In the intoxication of copulation he abandons all his genital organs to the body of the queen and dies. The other males, now useless, are all massacred in autumn by the working bees.

Sexual connection among butterflies of the Bombyx family is no less marvelous. They live for months as caterpillars and sometimes for two years as chrysalids, hibernating in a cocoon in some corner of the earth or in the bark of trees. Finally the butterfly, brilliantly colored, emerges from the cocoon and spreads its wings. It only possesses, however, a rudimentary intestinal canal for the short life which remains, for it does not require much nourishment and is only devoted to sexual connection. The female remains quiet and waits. The male, furnished with large antennae which perceive the odor of the female at a distance of several kilometers, commences an infatuated flight through the woods and fields, as soon as his wings are sufficiently strong. His sole object is to reach the female. Here again there are numerous competitors. The one who arrives first possesses the female, but expires shortly afterward. His competitors die also, exhausted by their long flight and by starvation, but without having attained their object. After copulation, the female searches for the green plants which will ensure a long caterpillar life for her offspring. There she deposits her fecundated eggs in considerable numbers and then expires in her turn, like a faded flower which has fulfilled the object of its existence and falls after leaving the fruit in its place.

The French naturalist Fabre has described these phenomena, relying on conclusive experiments, and my own observations and those of other naturalists confirm them fully. Among the ants, all the males die also, soon after an aerial nuptial flight, in which copulation is generally polyandrous, one male hardly waiting for the preceding one to discharge his semen before taking his place. Here the female possesses a receptacle for semen which often contains the sperm of many males, and which allows it to fecundate the eggs one after another for several years as she lays them, and thus to act as the mother of an ant's nest during a period which may extend to eleven or twelve years, or even more.

In the lower organisms, love consists only in sexual instinct or appetite. As soon as the function is accomplished love disappears. It is only in the higher animals that we see a more or less durable sympathy develop between the two sexes. However, here also and even in man the sexual passion intoxicates for the moment all the senses. In his sexual rut even man is dominated as by a magic influence, and for the time he sees the world only under the aspect inspired by this influence. The object loved appears to him under celestial colors, which veil all the defects and miseries of reality. Each moment of his amorous feeling inspires sentiments which it seems to him should last eternally. He swears impossible things and believes in immortal happiness. A reciprocal illusion transforms life momentarily into mirages of paradise. The most common things, and even certain things which usually disgust him, are then the object of the most violent desire. But, as soon as the orgasm is ended and the appetite satisfied the feeling of satiety appears. A curtain falls on the scene, and, at least for the moment, repose and reality reappear.

Such are, in a few words, the general phenomena of the normal sexual appetite among sexual organisms in the whole of living nature. I am not speaking here of degenerations, such as onanism and prostitution. Let us now analyze this appetite further.

The natural appetites are inherited instincts the roots of which lie far back in the phylogenetic history of our ancestors. Hunger forms the basis for the preservation of the individual, the sexual appetite that for the preservation of the species, as soon as reproduction takes place by separate sexes. All appetite belongs to the motor side of nervous activity; there is something internal which urges us to an act, but, on the other hand, one or more sensations may exist at the base of this something to put it in action. I have proved, for example, that the egg-laying instinct in the corpse fly (Lucilia caesar) is only produced by the odor of putrefaction. As soon as the antennae, which contain the organ of smell, are removed from these flies they cease to lay, while other more severe operations, or removal of one antenna only does not produce this result.

The mechanism of appetites is thus a lower mechanism and has its seat in the primitive nervous centers. As Yersin has proved, a cricket deprived of its brain may copulate so long as the sensory irritations can reach the sexual nervous centers.

We can thus say that the mechanism of appetites belongs to automatic actions deeply inherited by phylogeny. Although complicated and composed of coordinated reflex movements which follow one another in regular succession, it has no actual power of modifying the so-called voluntary acts, which depend entirely on the cerebral hemispheres, and of which we men only have a conscious feeling. The appetites are not capable of adapting themselves to new circumstances and cease to be produced when the chain is interrupted. We are obliged to admit that the instincts or appetites are accompanied by a sub-conscious introspection which, as such, can hardly enter into direct relation with our higher consciousness, that is, with our ordinary consciousness in the waking state.

In spite of this, when their intensity increases, the appetites overcoming the central nervous resistances, reach the cerebral hemispheres, and consequently our introspection or higher consciousness, under a synthetic or unified appearance, and influence in a high degree the cerebral activities, which are reflected in association with all the elements of what we call our mind in the proper sense of the term, that is to say, our intellect, sentiments and will. It is from this point of view that sexual appetite must be considered in order to make it comprehensible. Love, with all that appertains to it, belongs as such to our mind, that is, to the activity of our cerebral hemispheres, but it is produced there by a secondary irradiation from the sexual appetite, which alone concerns us at present. We may also remark that sexual ideas when once awakened in the cerebral hemispheres by sexual appetite, are worked up there by the attention, that is to say by concentrated cerebral activity, then associated with other ideas, which on their side react strongly on the sexual appetite, developing or paralyzing it, attracting or repelling it, or finally transforming its attributes and objects.

By sexual desire (libido sexualis) we mean the manner in which the sexual appetite manifests itself in man. Each term may be employed for the other.

The Sexual Appetite in Man.—Man represents the active element in sexual union, and in him the sexual appetite, or desire for coitus, is at first the stronger. This desire develops spontaneously, and the role of fecundator represents the principal male activity. This appetite powerfully affects the male mind, although sexual life plays a less important part in him than in the female.

In boys, the sexual appetite is often prematurely awakened, excited in unnatural ways by bad example. Moreover, it varies enormously in different individuals, a point to which we shall return when dealing with pathology. Leaving aside unnatural appetites and abnormal forms of sexual instinct we shall describe here its most spontaneous and normal form.

Puberty. Awakening of the Sexual Instinct in Boys.—Sooner or later in different individuals, the boy pays attention to his erections, which are at first produced in a reflex and involuntary manner. Mental development and reflection, so precocious in man, are causes which draw attention to the differences of the sexes before the sexual appetite is developed. It is, however, the first signs of this appetite which concentrate the attention on these differences, for in their absence, the boy is more indifferent to them than to the straight or crooked form of a nose. Man has the habit of passing by without notice anything which does not interest him, and this is why we find, in individuals whose sexual appetite is developed late or feebly, an indifference and ignorance in these matters which appear almost incredible to those whose sexual appetite is precocious and violent; while, on the contrary, the lively interest which the latter show in everything concerning the sexes appears foolish and absurd to the sexually indifferent.

The pairing of animals, even of insects, awakens a curious interest in those whose sexual dispositions are strong and precocious; they comprehend very quickly the reason and are led to draw analogies with their own sensations in the same domain. The aspect of the female sex has, however, a much stronger action still on the normal man. But here is produced a peculiar phenomenon. What especially excites the boy in the aspect of the female sex is anything unusual; the sight of certain parts of the skin which are normally covered, the clothes or ornaments, particular odors, women whom the boy is not accustomed to see, etc. It is for this reason that brothers and sisters do not excite, or excite very little, their reciprocal sexual appetite, at least if there are no anomalies or exceptional exhibitions. The sexual appetites of boys among savage peoples who live naked is hardly at all excited by naked girls; on the other hand, it is strongly excited by those who are clothed or ornamented in a peculiar manner. The sexual appetite of a Mahometan is strongly excited by the nudity of the feminine face, that of the European by that of a woman's legs, because women are accustomed to veil their faces in the first case and their legs in the second. These are naturally only relative differences. When the sexual appetite of man is violent and unsatisfied woman excites it in a general way, if she is not too old or repulsive.

A second important character of the normal sexual appetite is the special attraction that appearances of health and strength in woman produce in man. Healthy forms, normal odors, a normal voice, a skin healthy in appearance and to the touch, constitute attractions which charm and excite man, while all that is unhealthy or faded, every pathological odor, produce a repulsive effect and hinders or diminishes sexual desire.

Everything connected with the sexual organs, their appearance, touch and odor, tend to excite the sexual appetite, all the more when they are usually covered; it is the same with the breasts.

The first sexual sensations are of a quite indeterminate nature; something unconscious and obscure inclines the boy toward the female sex and makes it appear desirable. A boy may thus become enamored of the portrait of a woman with a swelling bosom and alluring eyes and be seized with desire, either at their sight or only on remembrance. This desire is not concentrated especially on the sexual act, as with an adult who is already experienced in these matters; it is more generalized and vague, although sensual.

For a long time, these repeated aspirations, impulses and desires, remain unsatisfied. In different individuals the imagination associates the most diverse images with such manifestations of the sexual appetite. The objects of the latter appear in dreams and provoke nocturnal erections. The boy soon remarks a sensory localization of his appetites in his sexual organs, especially in the glans penis, but also in the surrounding parts, and the known or only vaguely defined image of the female sexual organs, which is hardly present at the first appearance of his desires, begin to excite him more and more.

In natural or savage man, as well as in animals, the boy then makes attempts at coitus and soon attains his object, for, in the state of nature, man marries as soon as puberty is attained.

Nocturnal Emissions.—In civilized man such difficulties are opposed to marriage, that he replaces it by prostitution, or by more or less unnatural means, as soon as his sexual appetite becomes strong. In those who abstain, the images produced by sexual excitation, combined with erections, act more strongly during sleep than waking and produce ejaculations of semen called nocturnal emissions or pollutions. These generally occur during erotic dreams, and as the dreams produce the illusion of real perception, in quality as well as in intensity, it is not surprising that they are followed by an orgasm and ejaculation of semen.

Masturbation.—In the waking state the unsatisfied sexual appetite may produce such excitation that the boy applies friction to the glans penis, which cause voluptuous sensations. As soon as he has made this discovery he repeats the act and provokes ejaculation of semen artificially. Thus arises the bad habit of masturbation or onanism, a habit which is both depressing and exhausting, which takes an increasing hold on those who practice it. Although from the purely mechanical point of view masturbation causes a more normal ejaculation than nocturnal emissions, which are often interrupted by awakening and the vanishing of the dream which produced them, it has a much more harmful effect, by its frequency and especially by its depressing action on sentiment and will. We shall return to this subject in Chapter VIII.

The accumulation of semen in the seminal vesicles strongly excites the sexual appetite of man, and he is momentarily satisfied by their evacuation. But we shall soon see that this purely organic or mechanical excitation, which seems at first to be only adapted for natural wants, does not in man play the principal role. We can easily understand that it cannot be the principal moving power of the sexual act. In fact, for any of the animals in which copulation occurs, the possibility of accomplishing this is not connected solely with the accumulation of semen, for it depends on obtaining a female. It is necessary, therefore, for the accumulated semen to wait, and for the perception of the female by the aid of the senses to excite the male to coitus.

External Signs of the Sexual Appetite.—Like every other desire the sexual appetite betrays itself by the physionomy. This consists in the play of cerebral activity, that is the thoughts, sentiments and resolutions, on the muscles by means of motor nerves and nerve centers. It is not limited to the face but extends to the whole body. The abdomen, the hands and even the feet have their physionomy; that of the muscles of the face and eyes is, however, the most active and most expressive. Sexual desire betrays itself in looks, by the expression of the face and by certain movements in the presence of the female sex. Men differ greatly in the way in which they betray or hide their sentiments and thoughts by the play of their muscles, so that the inner self is not always reflected without. Moreover, the expression of sexual desire by the play of the physionomy may be confounded with that of other sentiments, so that one who appears libidinous is not always so in reality, and inversely.

Continence in Man.—Abstinence or sexual continence is by no means impracticable for a normal young man of average constitution, assiduous in intellectual and physical work, abstaining from all artificial excitations, especially from all narcotics and alcohol in particular, for these substances paralyze the judgment and will. When sexual maturity is complete, that is after about twenty years, continence is usually facilitated by nocturnal emissions accompanied by corresponding dreams. The health does not suffer from these in any way. However, in the long run this state cannot be considered as normal, especially when there is no hope of it coming to an end in a reasonable time. What is much more abnormal are the numerous artificial sexual excitations that civilization brings with it.

Sexual Power.—The individual variations in the sexual instinct are enormous, and may be said to vary from zero to an intense and perpetual excitation called Satyriasis. By sexual power is understood the faculty of accomplishing coitus. This power in the first place requires strong and complete erections, as well as the faculty of following them by frequent seminal ejaculations, without being precipitate. Impotence or incapacity for coitus belongs to pathology and consists usually in the absence or defectiveness of erections. Sexual power and appetite generally go together, but not always, for it is possible to be powerful with feeble sexual appetite, and intense appetite sometimes goes with impotence; the latter condition, it is true, is pathological. Sexual power also varies so much in individuals that it is hardly possible to fix a limit between the normal and the pathological.

The sexual power and appetite in man are strongest on the average between 20 and 40 years, especially between 25 and 35. But, while young men of 18 to 20 years or more may be still tranquil, without having had seminal ejaculations, one often finds, among races who mature earlier, boys of 12 or 16 who are fully developed both in sexual power and appetite. In our Aryan races, however, when this occurs before the age of 14, it is a case of pathological precocity. The late appearance of sexual power and appetite is rather a sign of strength and health.

After the age of 40, the sexual power slowly diminishes, and after the seventieth year, or even before this, becomes extinct. Exceptionally one finds old men of 80 who are still capable. Normally the sexual appetite diminishes with age; often, however, especially when it is artificially excited, it lasts longer than sexual power.

As regards sexual power we must distinguish between that of copulation and that of fecundation. The power may exist without the latter, when the testicles have ceased to functionate, while the other glands, in particular the prostate, second the venereal orgasm by their secretion, when the power of erection is still preserved. Inversely, the testicles may contain healthy spermatozoa in the impotent. In this case artificial fecundation by the syringe is practicable.

Individual Variations in Sexual Power.—The fact that there are men who for several years can copulate several times a day proves to what extent sexual power varies in man. Sexual excitation and desire may sometimes attain such a degree that they are repeated a few minutes after ejaculation. It is not rare for a man to perform coitus ten or fifteen times in a single night, in brothels and elsewhere, although such excess borders on the domain of pathology. I know a case in which coitus was performed thirty times. I was once consulted by an old woman of 65 who complained of the insatiable sexual appetite of her husband, aged 73! He awakened her every morning at three o'clock to have connection, before going to work. Not content with this, he repeated the performance every evening and often also after the mid-day meal. Inversely, I have seen healthy looking husbands, at the age of greatest sexual power, accuse themselves of excess for having cohabited with their wives once a month or less. The reformer, Luther, who was a practical man, laid down the average rule of two or three connections a week in marriage, at the time of highest sexual power. I may say that my numerous observations as a physician have generally confirmed this rule, which seems to me to conform very well to the normal state to which man has become gradually adapted during thousands of years.

Husbands who would consider this average as an imprescriptible right would, however, make wrong pretensions, for it is quite possible for a normal man to contain himself much longer, and it is his duty to do so, not only when his wife is ill, but also during menstruation and pregnancy.

The question of sexual relations during pregnancy is more difficult, on account of its long duration. In this case caution is necessary, but total abstinence from sexual connection is, in my opinion, superfluous.

The Desire of Change in Man.—A peculiarity of the sexual appetite in man, which is fatal for society, is his desire for change. This desire is not only one of the principal causes of polygamy, but also of prostitution and other analogous organizations. It arises from the want of sexual attraction in what one is accustomed to and from the stronger excitation produced by all that is new; a phenomenon of which we have spoken above. On the average, woman has a hereditary disposition which is much more monogamous than man. The sexual appetite thus loses its intensity from the prolonged habit of connection with the same woman, but, becomes much more intense with other women, if not in all men at any rate in most. Such desires may generally be overcome by the aid of a true and noble love, and by sentiments of duty and fidelity toward the family and toward a respected wife. We cannot, however, deny that they exist, nor that they are the cause of the worst excesses, and the most violent scenes, often with a tragic result. We shall return to this subject later.

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