The Sexual Question - A Scientific, psychological, hygienic and sociological study
by August Forel
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It is quite another thing when the invert pays his attentions to minors, or when his appetites are complicated with dangerous sexual paraesthesias, such as sadism. Not long ago the terrible case of a sadist invert, Dippold, startled civilized Europe. By the aid of cruelty and intimidation this wretch martyrized two young boys confided to him for their education to such a degree that one of them died. Legal protection of the two sexes against sexual abuses of all kinds should be extended at least to the age of seventeen or eighteen.

Sexual inversion has two curious results which have not received sufficient attention. Human society regards it as quite natural and without danger for individuals of the same sex to bathe, sleep and live together. In lunatic asylums, prisons, reformatories, etc., men are attended to by men, and women by women. The vow of chastity of Catholic priests and nuns leads in the same way to separation of the sexes. In all these customs sexual inversion has not been taken into consideration. It is not surprising, therefore, that homosexuals take advantage of this state of affairs and seek these situations which give them the opportunity for satisfying their perverted passions without running much danger. They willingly choose a career suitable for their degenerate purposes, and especially that of attendant in lunatic asylums. In the latter case they take advantage of the mental condition of the patients and their incapacity to make complaints. In public baths inverts can freely enjoy the sight of naked men.

So far we have only spoken of complete inversion; but there are transitional stages. Many individuals are neutral, animated by sensations floating between the two sexes. Krafft-Ebing even speaks of psycho-sexual hermaphrodites, who are equally attracted by either sex, and cohabit sometimes with one, sometimes with the other. I knew a married man who was very capable with his wife but in spite of this was unfaithful to her, both with men and with other women. He was convicted several times for pederasty with men and young boys, and confessed to me that he had more pleasure from homosexual intercourse than from normal connection with women, but could satisfy himself either way. An incomplete invert declared to me that his ideal would be a man.

Along with these cases there is a series of homosexuals in whom it is assumed that inversion has been acquired, because they commenced with a normal sexual desire for women. After being seduced by homosexuals, who initiate them in mutual onanism or pederasty, they are suddenly or gradually disgusted with women and become inverts (vide Suggestion). In reality, these are only relatively cases of acquired inversion. If we except the cases which depend on pure suggestion of which we shall speak later, there is a latent hereditary disposition to inversion, which is awakened on the first occasion and then develops strongly. It is easy to prove that men with normal sexual instincts immediately abandon the habits of onanism or pederasty which they have contracted through bad example or seduction, or by compensation for the want of the normal object, as soon as they can obtain normal sexual intercourse with one or more women. It is, therefore, false to regard homosexual sensations as depending on vice and depravity: they are a pathological product of abnormal hereditary sexual dispositions. At any rate, this is a general rule which has few exceptions.

Sexual inversion is so widespread that in certain countries, for instance Brazil, and even in some European towns, there are brothels with men instead of women.

I will mention here a very curious case of purely psychical but complete inversion of the sexual personality, combined with complete sexual anaesthesia:

A man, aged 22, the son of an inebriate, with one imbecile sister. Of delicate constitution, but very intelligent, he was possessed since infancy with the idea that he was a girl, although his genital organs were properly formed and were normally developed at puberty. He had a horror of the society of boys, and of all masculine work, while he was quite happy in performing all the household duties of a woman. An irresistible obsession urged him to dress himself as a woman, and neither contempt, ridicule, nor punishment could cure him of it. Attempts to give him employment as a boy in a small town failed completely. His girlish manners made him suspected by the police, who took him for a girl dressed in boy's clothes, and threatened to arrest him. When he was compelled to put on male attire he consoled himself with wearing a woman's chemise and corset underneath.

I carefully examined this individual and found him affected with complete sexual anaesthesia. He had a horror of everything connected with the sexual appetite, but the idea of sexual intercourse with men was still more repugnant than that of normal coitus with women. Although the testicles and penis appeared absolutely normal, he never had erections. His voice was high pitched and his whole manner suggested that of a eunuch.

This case is very instructive, for it clearly shows how the psycho-sexual personality may be predetermined by heredity in the brain alone, independently of the sexual organs, and even act without a trace of sexual sensation or appetite. This was undoubtedly a case of alcoholic blastophthoria and not ordinary heredity.

Krafft-Ebing describes the following scene, taken from a Berlin journal, dated February, 1894, which gives a good idea of the manners and customs of the homosexual fraternity:

"The misogynist's ball. Almost all the social elements of Berlin have their club or meeting place—the fat, the bald, the bachelors, the widowers—why not the misogynists? This variety of the human species, whose society is hardly edifying, but whose psychology is peculiar, held a fancy dress ball a few days ago. The sale, or rather the distribution of tickets was kept very private. Their meeting place is a well-known dancing hall. We enter the hall about midnight. Dancing is going on to the music of a good orchestra. A thick cloud of smoke obscures the lamps and prevents us at first from distinguishing the details of the scene. It is only during an interval that we can make a closer examination. Most of the people are masked, dress coats and ball dresses are exceptional.

"But what do I see? This lady in rose tarlatan, who has just pirouetted before us has a cigar in her mouth and smokes like a trooper. She has also a small beard, half hidden by paint. And she is now talking to an "angel" in tights, very decollete, with bare arms crossed behind her, also smoking. They have men's voices and the conversation is also masculine, for it turns on 'this cursed tobacco will not draw.' Two men dressed as women!

"A clown in conventional costume leaning against a pillar is speaking tender words to a ballet dancer, with his arm round her waist. She has a Titian head, a fine profile and good figure. Her brilliant earrings, her necklace, her shapely shoulders and arms seem to proclaim her sex, when suddenly disengaging herself from the embracing arm she turns away with a yawn, saying in a bass voice, 'Emile, why are you so tiresome to-day?' The novice hardly believes his eyes: the ballet dancer is also a man.

"Becoming suspicious, we continue our investigations, beginning to think that the world is here upside down. Here is a man who comes tripping along; but no, it cannot be a man, in spite of the small and carefully curled mustache. The dressing of the hair, the powder and paint on the face, the blackened eyebrows, the gold earrings, the bouquet of flowers on the breast and shoulder, the elegant black gown, the gold bracelets, the fan held in a white-gloved hand—none of these things suggest a man. And with what coquetry he fans himself; how he dances and skips about! Nevertheless, Nature has created this doll in the form of a man. He is a salesman in one of the large sweet shops, and the ballet dancer is his colleague!

"At the table in the corner there is a convivial meeting; several elderly gentlemen are gathered round a group of very decollete 'ladies' sitting over a glass of wine and cracking jokes which are anything but delicate. 'Who are these three ladies?' 'Ladies! laughs my better-informed companion; well, the one on the right with the brown hair and short fancy dress is a hair-dresser; the second, the blonde with the pearl necklace is known here by the name of Miss Ella, and he is a ladies' tailor; the third is the celebrated Lottie.'

"But this cannot be a man? The waist, the bust, the delicate arms, the whole appearance is feminine! I am told that Lottie was formerly an accountant. To-day she, or rather he, is simply 'Lottie,' and takes pleasure in deceiving men as to his sex as long as possible. At this moment Lottie is singing a song in a contralto voice acquired by prolonged practice, which a female singer might envy. Lottie has also taken female parts on the stage. Nowadays the former accountant is so imbued with his female role that he seldom appears in the street except in woman's attire, and even wears an embroidered nightdress.

"On closer examination of the persons present, I discovered to my astonishment several acquaintances. My bootmaker, whom I should never have taken for a misogynist, appears to-night as a troubador with sword and plumed cap; and his 'Leonora,' in the costume of a bride, generally serves me with Havanas in a cigar store. When Leonora removed her gloves I recognized her at once by her large chilblained hands. Here is my haberdasher promenading in an indelicate costume as Bacchus; also a Diana, dressed up atrociously, who is really a waiter at a cafe.

"It is impossible to describe the real 'ladies' who are at this ball. They only associate with each other and avoid the women-hating men; while the latter also keep to themselves and absolutely ignore the fair sex."

B. Feminine Sexual Inversion and Homosexual Love.—Sexual inversion is not rare in women, but manifests itself less publicly than the corresponding masculine inversion. It is called Lesbian love or saphism; and the women inverts are known as tribades. They are described in history, but may also be observed in modern towns. They satisfy their pathological appetite by degenerate practices heretofore mentioned in harmony with their inverted mentality. The feminine invert likes to dress as a man and feels like a man toward other women. She goes in for manly games, wears her hair short, and takes to men's occupations in general. Her sexual appetite is often much exalted and then she becomes a veritable feminine Don Juan. I have known several women of this kind, who held veritable orgies and induced a whole series of young girls to become their lovers, in the way we have just indicated.

Here again, as in masculine inversion, there is a true irradiated love. Inverts want to marry and swear eternal fidelity; they celebrate their betrothals, even openly, the invert in male attire representing the bridegroom; or sometimes they have secret symbols, such as exchanging rings, etc. These sexual orgies are often seasoned with alcohol.

The excesses of female inverts exceed those of the male. This is their one thought, night and day, almost without interruption. Jealousy is also as strong as among male inverts. However, these nymphomaniac inverts are not very common.

A characteristic peculiarity of feminine inversion depends on the irradiation of the sexual appetite in woman (vide Chapters IV and V). We have seen that there is much less distinction in woman between love and local sensations of pleasure, and between friendship and love, than in man. When a woman invert wishes to seduce a normal girl, it is easy for her to do so. She first wins her affection by the aid of the caresses of an exalted platonic love, which is not uncommon among women; kisses, embraces, and sleeping in the same bed are much more common among girls than boys, and little by little the invert succeeds in causing voluptuous sensations in her victim. Very often the object of these caresses does not recognize that there is anything abnormal in all this, or gives way to her sensations without reflection, and then becomes amorous in her turn. I will give an example:

A female invert, dressed as a young man, succeeded in winning the love of a normal girl, and was formally betrothed to her. Soon afterwards the woman was unmasked, arrested and sent to an asylum, where she was made to put on woman's clothes. But the young girl who had been deceived continued to be amorous and visited her "lover," who embraced her before every one, in a state of voluptuous ecstasy, which I witnessed myself. When this scene was over, I took the young girl aside and expressed my astonishment at seeing her continue to have any regard for the sham "young man" who had deceived her. Her reply was characteristic of a woman: "Ah! you see, doctor, I love him, and I cannot help it!"

What can one reply to such logic? A psychic love of this kind is hardly possible in man; but if we go to the bottom of the matter and study the nature of woman, we can understand how certain feminine exaltations may be unconsciously transformed into love, platonic at first, afterwards sexual. At first, "they understand each other so well," and have so much mutual sympathy; they give each other pet names, they kiss and embrace, and perform all kinds of tender actions. Finally, a graduated scale of caresses leads almost unconsciously to sexual excitation.

This is how it happens that a normal woman, systematically seduced by an invert, may become madly in love with her and commit sexual excesses with her for years, becoming herself essentially pathological. The case only becomes really pathological when it is definitely fixed by long habit; a thing which easily occurs in woman, owing to the constant and monogamous nature of her love.

Krafft-Ebing's cases show the same phenomena, (for instance the invert called "Count Sandor" and her victims). In these cases also young girls, seduced by inverts, fell into despair and even threatened to commit suicide when their seducers abandoned them. On the other hand, when a normal man, seduced by an invert, practices mutual masturbation the affair remains localized and limited to purely animal sensations of pleasure which do not irradiate to his psychic life; such irradiations only occur in the invert, so that his victims are always ready to abandon him without the least regret. If we except children, it therefore follows that the so-called male victims are nearly always blackmailers, or simply offer themselves for money.

In fact, the normal man entirely separates the sympathy, or even the exalted affection, which he feels for another man, from all sexual sensations, and has not the least desire to kiss or caress his best friend, still less to have sexual intercourse with him. All sensual caresses between men are, therefore, suggestive of inversion even in places where women are absent.

In the normal woman, on the contrary, as we have already mentioned, sentiments of exalted sympathy easily provoke the desire for kisses and caresses, and these caresses often cause in women a certain amount of vague sensual pleasure. When this pleasure leads to progressive tenderness and ends in mutual onanism, etc., it nevertheless remains intimately connected with psychic exaltations and sentiments of sympathy, from which it cannot be separated as in man.

In a former chapter we have described the difference between the two sexes, but nowhere is it more distinctly shown than in the relations between a female invert and her victims.

It is therefore much more difficult in woman than in man to distinguish in particular cases between the hereditary disposition to inversion, and saphism acquired by seduction or habit. The latter is common in prostitutes and libidinous women.

As we have already said, the pure female invert feels like a man. The idea of coitus with men is repugnant to her. She apes the habits, manners and clothes of men. Female inverts have been known to wear men's uniforms and perform military service for years, and even behave as heroes; their sex sometimes only being discovered after their death.

Sexual Appetite for Children. (Pederosis.)—It may be questioned whether this is a special category, for many sexual assaults committed on children are simply the effect of senile dementia, or abuse of children to satisfy an otherwise normal sexual appetite. I have, however, observed cases where children were so specially, or even exclusively, the object of the sexual appetite, that I cannot doubt the existence of a special hereditary perversion in this direction.

No doubt, most of those who abuse children are also capable of coitus with women, or else they are inverts, sadists, etc.; but with many of them sexual passion for children is so marked from their youth upward, that it shows a special hereditary disposition. For this pathological disposition, thus defined, I propose the term pederosis; that of pederasty applying to degeneracy between man and man, whatever causes lead to it. Krafft-Ebing, who does not believe in the existence of a hereditary pederosis, gives the name erotic pedophilia to the abuse of children by depraved persons.

The following are cases of exclusive and hereditary pederosis: A talented artist, possessing high moral sentiments, was affected from his youth with a sexual appetite exclusively directed toward little girls of five or six years. At the age of twelve they ceased to attract him. He was quite indifferent to adults of both sexes, and never accomplished coitus. Having recognized in good time the anomaly of his appetite, he succeeded in mastering it all his life, and through education on the subject as well as a general physical development, he neutralized these morbid desires, particularly through the training of his mind to cleaner and more wholesome topics. A great help in this type of condition is work therapy. His moral sentiments and principles were always strong enough to prevent him going any further, and he eventually obtained relief. But this condition gave rise to increasing nervous irritation and melancholic depression.

In another man, the sexual appetite, also perverted since its origin, was directed only toward boys of twelve or sixteen. At one time girls of the same age excited him, while he was quite indifferent toward adult women and men.

In rare cases the sexual appetite of certain women is directed toward little boys.

Sexual Appetite for Animals. (Sodomy or Bestiality.)[6]—A human sexual appetite exclusively directed toward animals is certainly not common. Coitus between man and animals usually takes place for want of the opportunity for normal satisfaction, or else as the result of satyriasis, nymphomania or desire for change. I have observed it especially in idiots and imbeciles who are ridiculed by girls. To console themselves, they give vent to their feelings with a patient cow or goat in the silence of the stable: for this act they get several years imprisonment, for the law on this point is severe. Certain degraded libertines satisfy their hyperaesthetic and perverted appetites with goats or even with large birds or rabbits.

There are, however, cases where a pathological sexual appetite is specially directed toward animals, and it is curious to observe the frequent preference of certain individuals for small animals which they skin (fowls, geese, rabbits), and thus put to death.

Bestiality is not rare in women who are also subject to this filthy, obnoxious and degenerative practice. Even if we put aside cases of torture inflicted on small animals and if we avoid all prejudices, we can still, in all normality, consider bestiality as a crime, manifested by the depraved mind. In fact, considered from the point of view of law and humanity, bestiality is one of the most indecent of all the pathological aberrations of the sexual appetite. Human imagination only has marked it with the stigma of moral depravement and has made it a crime. But it is recognized scientifically that it is a state of mental inferiority and often a sign of idiotic tendency, usually accompanied by a case history, tainted heredity and highly neurotic constitution. AEstheticism has reason for complaint, and more than one painter or sculptor has represented the union of Leda with the Swan. It is certainly much better for society, for an idiot or an imbecile to be castrated than for him to make a girl pregnant and breed more idiots.

In cases of this kind which I have known and which were brought to justice, I consider that the real sinner, the sodomite, should be confined to an insane asylum under medical attention, and not, as at present, to be condemned to imprisonment, thus making a martyr of him for no reason, and putting the ban of society upon him. It is needless to say that cases of sodomy complicated by cruelty or sadism, should be judged differently.

There are also other hereditary or constitutional perversions, more or less characteristic, of the sexual appetite, but we cannot enumerate all of them. We may mention, however, the erotic excitement which some men feel at the sight of statues of women, which urges them to masturbate against these statues.


When one is familiar with the population of a lunatic asylum, one is struck by a singular phenomenon, from the sexual point of view. A great number of insane women give evidence of intense sexual desire. This desire is manifested in some by incessant masturbation; in others by obscene conversation; in many others, by imaginary love, sometimes sensual, sometimes platonic; often by direct provocation to coitus addressed to the medical officers; but especially by perpetual scenes of jealousy, and often by reciprocal suspicions regarding their sexual life. In fact, a lunatic asylum reveals to us, in the form of repulsive caricatures, all gradations and variations of a more or less degenerate feminine sexual life, coquetry, wearing all kinds of ornaments, jealous anger, erotic excitement, etc.

The sexual excitation of the insane often makes them soil themselves with urine and excrements, and heap insults on persons whom their diseased imagination suspects of sexual assaults or immodest acts toward themselves or others. They have a tendency to believe themselves betrothed or married to kings, emperors, Jesus Christ or God. Pregnancy and childbirth play a large part in their delirium. Some patients imagine themselves pregnant and pretend that they were fecundated secretly. Afterwards they believe that some one has taken away their child while they were asleep.

One of my former patients once accused me of going to her bed at night and fecundating her every week. She also accused me of having hidden the hundreds of children which I was supposed to have procreated with her, and martyred them. Owing to these hallucinations she heard their cries day and night.

Another patient, affected with curable acute mania, was so erotic during her attacks that she made advances toward all the doctors who visited her. Her mind was full of such erotic images that after her cure she was frightened of being pregnant, although she had passed the whole of her time of detention under supervision by female attendants. Women who in their normal state are most modest or sexually cold may be most erotic when they become insane, and may even behave as prostitutes. This is especially observed in periodic hypomania. It is a well-known fact in the female divisions of lunatic asylums, that the doctors are always surrounded by erotic patients, who catch hold of their clothes and pinch them, and try and embrace or scratch them according as they are amorous or jealous, so that they often have trouble in escaping from these signs of violent love or furious jealousy.

On the other hand, in the male divisions of asylums, one is astonished at the indifference and profound sexual apathy of nearly all insane men. Some practice masturbation and others attempt pederasty, but all with a philosophical calmness due to their dementia. Young women may even go among them without any fear of assaults or indecent language. It is only a few of the most violent who are exceptions to this rule.

A young lady doctor, assistant medical officer to the asylum at Zurich, made her visits alone among all the males, even the most violent, without any inconvenience; while, in the female divisions, she was approached by the erotic patients as much as were the male assistants. I mention this fact because some people wrongly imagine that the sexual excitation of insane women is due to the visits of male doctors. These facts are very striking and furnish perhaps the best proof that the feminine sexual appetite is especially situated in the higher brain, while the masculine appetite is situated more in the lower cerebral centers, as we have shown above. Mental alienation is due to irritations of the higher brain, and this explains why in women it lets loose such violent sexual passions and images, and why there is so little of this in men.

The sexual pathological symptoms of the insane are as follows:

(1). Erotomania (satyriasis and nymphomania), or abnormal exaltation of the sexual appetite. This is especially seen in acute mania, in the early stages of general paralysis and senile dementia, also temporarily or permanently in other psychoses. It is manifested by sexual excesses, obscene language or excessive masturbation. All these symptoms disappear after the attack of insanity.

(2). Sexual anaesthesia or hypoaesthesia or even impotence may occur in the later stages of general paralysis and senile dementia. At the commencement of general paralysis there is often violent sexual desire combined with more or less complete impotence. The same thing occurs, as we shall see, in alcoholism.

(3). Subjects affected with systematic delirium of persecution and grandeur (paranoia) sometimes commit atrocious sexual excesses, and often tyrannize and torment in a terrible way the women who are their victims. It is especially in the religious forms of this delirium, combined with fanatic ecstasy, that the most repulsive sexual orgies occur. I have treated a patient with paranoia who, full of pious sayings, regarded himself as a kind of prophet. He made a poor girl and her mother sleep in his room and had connection with them alternately. Finally, he mixed his semen in coffee with the girl's menstrual blood and made her drink the mixture, pretending that this was a religious ceremony intended to produce a strong race. In the end he set fire to the house of these poor women.

Subjects affected with partial paranoia often turn the heads of susceptible women by the aid of ascetic religious phraseology, to gratify afterwards their sexual passions. The worst cases are those who are able to hide from the public their delirious ideas, and pass for normal individuals, misunderstood victims, or even saints. I have examined a very orthodox clergyman, highly esteemed by his congregation on account of his ascetic and enthusiastic preaching. In his own home he illtreated his wife, half strangled her, and exacted all kinds of sexual depravity. Unfortunately, the nature of his delirium was not very evident, and he dissimulated so well that the jurists would not admit his irresponsibility, in spite of my medical certificate. His wife was obliged to run away to escape from her martyrdom. The community of property in force in this family completely ruined this unfortunate woman. The husband was not a hypocrite, but simply insane. Volumes could be written on sexual atrocities committed by such people.

I will mention briefly the systematic delirium directed toward pathological love. This is a very common symptom in insane women who combine their amorous sentiments for man with the maddest ideas and hallucinations. An insane woman suddenly discovers that the object of her love is a king or Jesus Christ, and that she is betrothed to him. In her delirium she imagines herself to be queen of the world. In her dreams and hallucinations her king or Christ is in bed with her and she imagines she has connection with him. Still under the influence of hallucinations, she believes herself pregnant and carries an imaginary child for nine months in her womb. She may even imagine that she has given birth to a child, and that the child has been taken away from her by the aid of narcotics, as we have seen above. Although there is an infinite variety in the gradations, the pathological images of the cerebral sexual sphere of insane women always revolve round this eternal theme.

These pathological irradiations of the sexual sphere are associated voluntarily with jealous obsessions and ideas of persecution, which make the subjects furious, and which are confirmed by their paraesthesias and hallucinations. Illusions of memory play a great part in these cases, for the subjects have often never felt what they complain of, and it is then a question of veritable hallucinational memory. We may here observe by the way that, even among healthy people, the sexual passions, like the others, always tend to falsify memory, making things appear in the exclusive sense of the affective state. Once fixed in the memory, such conceptions, the false tendency of which was originally based on passion, gradually assume the subjective character of certainty. Cool-headed people, or those whose affective state directs them to contrary conceptions, then see in such individuals a deliberate intention to misrepresent the facts. This is the reason why people so often hurl mutual insults at each others heads, calling each other liars and calumniators, owing to the affective illusion of memory.

(4). One of the worst of the sexual anomalies in the insane is pathological jealousy, especially in men. Their wives then become martyrs, especially in cases of alcoholism and paranoia. It is not uncommon for assassination to put an end to their torments. Among insane women, jealousy is certainly not less, but they have less legal power and less muscular strength. The most violent jealousy is found in alcoholics.

Jealous delirium renders the subject furious; a word, a look, or some trivial circumstance are enough for him to prove the infidelity of his wife. The latter has to avoid the slightest thing which might arouse jealousy, but all in vain; reserve and even prudery are regarded by the jealous husband as hypocrisy. The unfortunate man watches his wife, night and day, like a watchdog: he threatens and insults her with no reason, and calumniates her in all ways, even in the presence of a third party. He even lays elaborate traps for her. Cases of this kind are legion.

(5). It is necessary to say that the sexual paraesthesias, of which we have spoken, sadism, masochism, fetichism, inversion, etc., often occur in the insane.

(6). The most atrocious sexual crimes are very often the work of idiots or imbeciles, but especially moral idiots, i.e., persons whose idiocy is limited to the moral sense, who are also called simply amoral. This is due to hereditary taint, an innate absence of all sentiments of sympathy, pity and duty. Rape, violation of children, sexual assassination, etc., are usually due to the concomitant action of moral idiocy and violent or perverted sexual passions.

(7). Hypochondria also causes singular results in the sexual sphere. We have already dealt with the masturbation of certain hypochondriacs, which is often wholly or partly imaginary. Others believe they have committed terrible sexual excesses, when nothing of the kind has occurred. I have seen a hypochondriac married and strongly built, who believed his health was ruined because he cohabited with his wife once every two or three months. Other hypochondriacs become impotent simply because they think they are. Others again imagine they are affected with venereal disease, which they have never contracted.

(8). Hysterical men and women have a very peculiar sexuality. Hysteria depends on auto-suggestion or on an exalted and morbid dissociability of psychic activity. A single idea is sufficient in a hysterical subject, to produce the realization of what it represents. The passionate imagination may lead to opinions and actions which are absolutely contradictory. Love and hatred often alternate by transformation. According to the influences to which she is exposed, the same hysterical woman may become a good or evil genius.

In the sexual domain the same extremes are produced in a very striking manner. Inflamed by love, a hysterical woman may exhibit phenomenal eroticism and the most violent sexual excesses, while indifference, disgust, or simply distraction by other ideas will render her absolutely frigid. Cold as ice toward other men, she may have insatiable sexual desire for the man she loves.

The question is often raised whether a woman can love more than once in her life. There is no doubt that many women are so monogamous by instinct that they cannot love more than once; but it is also certain that a hysterical woman is capable of loving several times, and very different persons at different periods of her life. The personality of certain erotic hysterical women is even so dissociable that they can love with all their strength several men at the same time. But the hysterical woman is also capable of hating a man with as much ardor as she formerly loved him; or, on the contrary, of loving the one she formerly hated, according to the suggestion of the moment. The same phenomena occur in hysterical men.

For the same reasons the quality of the sexual sensations and sentiments may vary in a hysterical subject according to the influences it is subjected to, and pass from the normal to the perverted state, or inversely. I have observed a case where a highly cultured hysterical subject, in her early youth, fell in love with another young girl. At this period her sentiments were purely homosexual; her love for the young girl was clearly inverted and accompanied by intense sexual desire, while she was absolutely indifferent to men. Later on, a man fell in love with her, and she yielded to him rather from pity and feminine passiveness than from love. Still later she fell passionately in love with another man, quite as much as she had been with the young girl of her early youth. Her latest love was both exalted and libidinous. Her sexual appetite had thus taken the normal direction under the influence of a hetero-sexual affection.

In hysterical men analogous changes occur less easily, on account of the nature of masculine sexuality which distinguishes more clearly between the mind and the appetite; but these changes are observed sometimes. In woman, the hysterical imagination and dissociation facilitate a polyandrous irradiation of the sexual appetite, which is otherwise rare in the female sex. In this respect the sexuality of hysterical women resembles that of men and differs from that of normal women. Hysterical men, on the other hand, become more feminine, not by their appetite being less polygamous, but by the more dissociated form of their thoughts and sentiments.

(9). A variety of the pathological love of abnormal individuals is imaginary love, not founded on delirious ideas. Certain psychopaths of both sexes are convinced that they love some one, but they suddenly perceive during their betrothal, or even only after marriage, that they are mistaken and that they have never loved the person in question. Such illusions are the cause of numerous broken engagements, divorce and conjugal bitterness.

(10). Amorous tyranny constitutes another variety in the pathology of love. Lovers of this kind constantly tyrannize and torment the object of their passion, by their desires, their observations, their sensitive temper, their contradictions, their exigencies and their jealousy. This atrocious manner of loving is common in both sexes; perhaps more so in women than men.

(11). The love of psychopaths is a subject which has no end. If human society was better acquainted with psychopathology a great deal of conjugal misunderstanding and misery would be avoided.

I have known a woman who would not allow her husband to shut himself in the water-closet, for fear he would take the servant with him! Another became madly jealous if a woman sat opposite her husband and cast the least glance at him; the unfortunate husband not knowing where to look, in the street or in hotels, so as to escape his wife's jealousy. It is still worse when the husband is jealous.

Other psychopaths torment the object of their love by the perpetual care they take over imaginary dangers or the slightest indispositions. Others again are affected with hyperaesthesia, and the least noise, the slightest touch, or any sudden sensation, is enough to throw them into excitement and make them a nuisance both to themselves and to their surroundings.

The pathological exaltation of sentiments, which causes the most trifling things to appear as deliberate offenses, and malicious intentions, is still more to be feared. The disproportion between love and sexual appetite also torments many psychopaths, either when a deep love is combined with sexual indifference or disgust at coitus, or even pain (vaginismus, in women, for example); or when an intense sexual appetite is combined with want of love or ferocious egoism (especially in men).

Certain psychopaths appear profoundly amorous but behave like brutes to the object of their love. These are the individuals who are always ready to strangle their sweetheart, to stab or shoot her, if she does not immediately yield to their desires; or else the feeble creatures who threaten to commit suicide if their love is not returned.

Others, tormented by a pathological eroticism are continually annoying young and virtuous girls with their obsessions and their pathological grossness. I have seen a psychopath of this kind write letters and even post cards to a young girl, on which he had drawn pictures of the female genitals, by way of gallantry. In women, hatred and vengeance, aroused by jealousy, are especially blind and tenacious when the chronic passions of psychopathia intervene; this being due to the perseverance natural to the sex. By the aid of their refined intrigues; by their misrepresented statements due to the illusions of a memory distorted by passion, but uttered with a consummate dramatic art, some women may play a truly diabolical role, and even deceive a whole tribunal. When we get to the bottom of the matter, we often find that the primary cause of the evil is a sexual passion embellished and idealized afterwards by all kinds of noble motives, but in reality more or less unconsciously hypocritical. While deceiving others, these psychopathic women also deceive themselves. There are also a number of male psychopaths quite analogous to the above and generally hysterical.

Other morbid symptoms, such as obsessions and pathological impulses, have a certain importance as regards sexual appetite and love. Love or rejection, as well as other sexual images, may become the objects of obsessions, and then cause the subjects much torment, but without harming their surroundings; for the obsessed generally remain passive. Pathological impulse to actions may, on the contrary, become dangerous and lead to violation, whether combined with perversion or not.

(12). We have seen that senile paradoxy often shows itself, as a symptom of senile dementia, by a sexual appetite for children. This is the initial symptom of the complaint, and may lead to the commission of assault. The holy indignation of the public, and often of ignorant judges, against these depraved old men often result in the public contempt or even the imprisonment of poor patients who have hitherto led a blameless life, and who have simply become victims of senile degeneration of the arteries of the brain.

(13). I will mention another case which I have observed, which shows how complex hereditary cerebral pathology may become, and lead in turn to crime, madness and sexual perversion; giving rise to the most tragic scenes of human life, and to the degeneration of families.

A very charming and intelligent, but deceitful man, an amoral person whose heredity was strongly tainted with mental disease, had strong sexual instincts partly inverted. He was attracted rather more by men than by women, but committed excesses with both sexes. He married a virtuous and intelligent midwife. At long intervals he had three attacks of acute mania, but was cured after each attack and procreated two boys and a girl. When he was sane he spent his time in deceitful occupations and speculation and never worked honestly to earn his living. He behaved well toward his wife, but this did not prevent him committing pederasty with men. He was often convicted for pederasty and swindling, and I treated him several times in an asylum. His poor wife complained bitterly, but found consolation in her husband's apparent love, but especially in the careful education of her children. But when the children grew up, her illusions disappeared one after another. The daughter became feeble-minded, and one of the sons became a bad character. The mother consoled herself with the second son who appeared honest and hard-working. The father was then in an asylum, his relapses having led the tribunal to institute an inquiry into his mental condition. One day the mother came to me in despair and showed me a letter written by the son of the father, which she had opened; the contents were as follows: "Miserable father, when you receive this letter I shall be no longer in this world; but before dying I wish to curse you. You have been the disgrace of the family. You have caused misery to our mother and her children by your crimes. Why did you bring me into this world? For a long time I have felt evil instincts developing in me like a cursed heritage. I struggle in vain against them; but the more I struggle the more I feel I must succumb. I am incapable of resisting much longer; but I will not become a criminal like you, so I shall hang myself to-night, and I curse you again before doing it."

The unfortunate son did in fact commit suicide, and drove his mother to despair. I showed the father his son's letter, but he only smiled and shrugged his shoulders.

The following is another example:

A man of 50, married, and the father of six children, ranging from 6 to 24 years of age, violated them all, both girls and boys. The whole family were abnormal and perverse. A son of 18 had sexual intercourse with his mother and sister. The father also had intercourse with dogs and cats. The jury before whom I brought the case regarded the man as mad, but he was condemned to ten years' imprisonment. An asylum for dangerous and perverted lunatics is urgently required for such cases.


The functional cerebral paralyses produced by narcotics closely resemble in their psychopathological physiognomy the organic paralyses which result from slow atrophy of the cerebral cortex, as in general paralysis—exaltation of sentiment, tremor and slowness of movement up to total paralysis, disorders of orientation in time and space, profound mental dissociation affecting the subconscious automatic actions.

At the same time the individual loses the exact appreciation of his own personality and of the external world; he regards himself as very capable in body and mind while he is becoming more and more powerless; and everything appears rose-colored at the time when he is in a most critical state. He believes himself possessed of great muscular strength when paralysis makes him stagger, and so on.

At the commencement of narcosis the phenomena are somewhat different from what they become later; a certain amount of excitement predominates, as well as the spirit of enterprise and exaltation of the appetites; while later on paralysis, relaxation and somnolence play the principal part.

Narcosis acts in a similar way on the genetic sense. It begins by exciting sexual desire, but diminishes the power. As Shakespere says: "Lechery it provokes and unprovokes; it provokes the desire but it takes away the performance." (Macbeth, Act II, Scene iii.) No doubt the narcotics are not all equal in action, and each has its specific peculiarities; but the words of Shakespere express the essential effect of all narcotics on the sexual appetite: First of all excitation of the appetite with the disappearance of moral and intellectual inhibitory representations, and reenforcement of the spirit of enterprise; afterwards, progressive paralysis of sexual power, and finally extinction of the initial appetite itself.

These phenomena are of capital importance in alcoholic narcosis, which plays the principal part in civilized countries. The initial excitation is here very accentuated. If we make a closer examination, however, we find from the first a relaxation of sexual activity and a weakening of all sensory irritations. In coitus, erections are produced more slowly; the voluptuous sensations, it is true, are of great subjective intensity, but they are developed more slowly and there is more difficulty in producing ejaculation. The subsequent relaxation is very great, and a man who is even only slightly intoxicated cannot perform coitus as rapidly, nor repeat it so often, as when he has taken no alcoholic liquor. When the narcosis increases the impotence becomes complete. Owing to the illusion produced by the narcosis, however, a drunken man generally imagines himself to be very capable.

The gross and clumsy form which flirtation assumes under the action of alcohol is only too well known. The gross and persistent obscenity of drunken persons in railway carriages and other places toward women is an example of alcoholic flirtation. (Vide Chapter IV.)

Another peculiarity of the sexual appetite in alcoholic narcosis is its bestiality. The higher irradiations of love are completely paralyzed and sensuality becomes unrestrained, even in men who, when sober, are full of refined sentiments.

The depraving effect of alcohol on the sexual appetite is therefore unlimited. Alcohol does not limit itself to giving free play to a bestial appetite, by paralyzing reason and sentiments of sympathy and duty; it also has a strong tendency to pervert the appetite itself. In a considerable proportion of cases of exhibitionism, inversion, pederosis, sodomy, etc., the development of the perversion is greatly favored, or even directly produced, by the action of alcohol, especially when there is a latent predisposition. I have observed a whole series of perversions in persons whose sexual appetite was normal when they were sober, but became perverted on the slightest intoxication. I am convinced that if more attention was paid to the subject the number of cases in which alcohol increases the perversion, or is even necessary for its development, would be increased.

But what is of much greater importance is the fact that acute and chronic alcoholic intoxication deteriorates the germinal protoplasm of the procreators. I refer the reader to what I have said at the end of Chapter I on blastophthoria. The recent researches of Bezzola seem to prove that the old belief in the bad quality of children conceived during drunkenness is not without foundation. Relying on the Swiss census of 1900, in which there figure nine thousand idiots, and after careful examination of the bulletins concerning them, this author has proved that there are two acute annual maximum periods for the conception of idiots (calculated from nine months before birth): the periods of carnival and vintage, when the people drink most. In the wine-growing districts the maximum conception of idiots at the time of vintage is enormous, while it is almost nil at other periods. Moreover, these two maximum periods come at the time of year when conception is at a minimum among the rest of the population; the maximum of normal conceptions occurring at the beginning of summer.

If these facts are confirmed by further research, we may conclude that even acute alcoholism has a blastophthoric action. We may, therefore, assume that when a germinal cell leaves its gland at the moment when it is impregnated with alcohol, and achieves conjugation, it is unable to return to its normal condition, for want of opportunity to be completely and promptly cleansed by nutrition and the circulation. This explains how it may transmit to the individual which develops from it all kinds of taints and defects.

After what we have said, we can tabulate the destructive effects of the narcotic poisons and alcohol in particular, in the sexual domain, both from the individual and social points of view, as follows:

(1). Irreflective sexual unions, resulting from exaltation of the sexual appetite and temporary paralysis of the sentiments which inhibit such unions in persons who are not under the influence of alcohol. These include the seduction of girls, orgies with prostitutes in brothels, and the procreation of children with low-class women, or under unfavorable conditions.

(2). Increase of venereal disease. I have made statistics which show that about 75 per cent. of venereal disease is contracted by men under the influence of alcohol, chiefly by persons who are slightly intoxicated and rendered enterprising thereby.

(3). All kinds of misfortunes and catastrophes, such as illegitimate pregnancies, despair, suicide, etc., resulting from irreflective sexual unions and venereal disease.

(4). The production of the majority of sexual crimes also resulting from the exasperation of eroticism combined with irreflection and general motor impulsiveness. Jealousy here plays a great part. The most important statistics (for example, those of Baer, in Germany), prove that from 50 to 75 per cent. of criminal assaults are committed under the influence of alcohol. Indecent exposure, etc., is due to alcohol in 75 or 80 per cent.

(5). Exaltation and sometimes development of sexual perversion.

(6). Creation of hereditary alcoholic blastophthoria, either as the result of a single drinking bout, or from habitual drunkenness. The offspring tainted with alcoholic blastophthoria suffer from various bodily and physical anomalies, among which are dwarfism, rickets, a predisposition to tuberculosis and epilepsy, moral idiocy and idiocy in general, a disposition to crime and mental diseases, sexual perversions, loss of suckling in women, and many other misfortunes.

(7). The delirium of jealousy is a specific symptom of chronic alcoholism. Its effects are terrible and lead to all kinds of sorts of infamies, assaults and even assassination.

(8). Alcohol is also the almost indispensable vehicle of prostitution and proxenetism, which could not be maintained without it, at any rate in their present disgusting and brutal form.

(9). The coarseness and vulgarity of alcoholic eroticism produce in public places, as well as in private, an importunate and obscene form of flirtation, which is brutally and cynically opposed to all sentiments of propriety and modesty.

The above statements refer chiefly to men. Among women, alcoholism is less common, at least in continental Europe; in England, however, drunken women are often seen in the streets. Among prostitutes, however, alcoholism is almost universal. Proxenetism makes use of alcohol to compromise and seduce girls and thus lead them to prostitution. When they have once fallen they often drink to forget the horror of their situation.

The action of alcohol on the feminine sexual appetite is very peculiar. The appetite is generally exalted, while the power is not affected, owing to the passive role of woman in coitus. At first, paralysis of the psychic inhibitions and their higher irradiations (love, duty, modesty, etc.) by alcohol deprives the woman of nearly all power of resistance against the sexual desire of the man. It results from this that an intoxicated woman becomes the easy prey of a man whose sexual appetite is excited. The following case is instructive from this point of view:

A young girl of good position married a man of weak and vulgar character. Both were rather fond of drink. When she became pregnant the wife took large quantities of wine, by the doctor's orders, and this led her to inebriety. The friends and acquaintances of the husband found this amusing, and began to flirt with her to such an extent that she fell a victim to their sexual appetites, in her continual state of semi-intoxication. The husband at first had not the courage to put an end to this and did not wish to divorce her, for pecuniary reasons; for the wife had the money. He finally decided to send her to an asylum which I superintended, to cure her alcoholism.

From the antecedents of the patient, I expected to see a cynical and erotic woman; but she was nothing of the kind. Although hardly sober, this woman was modest and well-behaved. What struck me most was her extreme of modesty, which at first made it difficult for me to investigate her psychological state. Her conduct was exemplary the whole time, and she eventually confided to me that it was not so much sexual desire as the profound indifference and feebleness developed by inebriety which had caused her to give way. Before leaving the asylum she joined a total abstinence society, returned to her husband and succeeded in converting him also to total abstinence. She kept to her pledge and lived afterwards in conjugal peace and happiness, without ever relapsing into her old infidelity. I saw her several years afterwards with her husband, happy and flourishing.

I have mentioned this case to show that, even in women, sexual excess does not necessarily destroy the character, the sentiments of modesty, nor the will. It all depends on their cause. If there is congenital weakness of character, the evil is irreparable; but if it is only due to external forces which can be eliminated in time, its effect may often be permanently suppressed. Some female inebriates are sexually cold and repulse men; but others are erotic and even nymphomaniacs.

Whosoever has the welfare of humanity at heart, and takes the trouble to reflect on the ravages caused by alcohol in human society, should have the courage to make a slight effort and renounce all alcoholic drink—say for six months at first, as an experiment—in order to combat the social alcoholic misery by force of example, instead of empty phrases. He will then discover, like all abstainers, that the usage of alcohol (including wine, cider and beer) however small the quantity consumed, only serves to maintain a habit which is vicious and disastrous to society, by giving the contagious example of so-called moderation, to which a great number of persons cannot restrict themselves. He will then abstain for the rest of his days, and it will become more and more incomprehensible to him how humanity has been led, first by the spirit of imitation, later by the conservation of prejudices, to develop, maintain and defend such a social abuse by the aid of a legion of sophisms.


The role of the phenomena of suggestion in sexual life is much greater than is generally supposed. I shall return to this subject in a special chapter, but I may state here that there is a category of sexual perversions and anomalies of all kinds which are not hereditary but acquired, and which Krafft-Ebing, although he cites striking examples, wrongly attributes to the effect of sexual excess and depravity, or which he compares to ordinary psychopathia, while in reality they are only the direct effect of strong suggestion or auto-suggestion.

I place in this category the cases where a man, whose sexuality has hitherto been normal, suddenly becomes pathological as the result of some circumstance which produces on him a profound impression. For instance, the sexual appetite of an individual may be strongly excited, in a brothel or elsewhere, by an erotic woman whose feet or shoes are especially elegant. The sight of this well-fitted foot exalts his sexual desire to a high degree. From this moment feminine shoes, by subjective association, exercise on him an irresistible erotic power, which dominates everything else and transforms him into a fetichist; the female body no longer elicits his appetite, the latter having become the slave of the image of shoes only. (Shoe fetichism.)

Sexual inversion may also be acquired by suggestion, when a normal man becomes excited by acts of masturbation or pederasty, or simply by some psychic image with a strongly suggestive action. He may thus lose his normal sexual appetite for women and become homosexual.

These phenomena occur especially in individuals whose suggestibility is pathological or hysterical, or even simply exaggerated. But these individuals are numerous, and this fact gives us the explanation of a large proportion of acquired sexual anomalies, at the same time indicating the means of curing them. In such cases, it is not a question of moral depravity, nor necessarily of a latent hereditary predisposition, but simply of a single sudden suggestive action, sometimes repeated.

Among other cases, I may mention that of a well-educated man of very refined sentiments, deeply in love with his wife, but very suggestible, who became suddenly impotent and homosexual as the result of a simple idea-image which became fixed in his mind and subjected it by suggestion. His strong character enabled him to resist intercourse with males, but he fell into despair and became very unhappy. I am convinced that a careful study would reveal an increasing number of cases of psychopathia acquired by suggestion or auto-suggestion.

Cases of this kind may be spontaneously cured. Treatment by suggestion is indicated and may act directly or indirectly. Everything which is of a functional psychic nature may occur by suggestion, or be, on the contrary, eradicated by suggestion. The important point is to emphasize the fact that whenever a man, hitherto normal, is affected, without apparent cause, with a more or less sudden sexual anomaly, and which is consequently not the effect of long habit, suggestion or auto-suggestion should be borne in mind.

These two conceptions can, moreover, be hardly distinguished, for the things which cause suggestion are usually the sensory perceptions of sight, smell, touch and hearing, associated with certain situations, or with an intense affective state which fixes them in the brain. Sometimes it is a question of simple imaginative ideas. The cases where a hypnotizer intentionally suggests sexual perversion probably exist only in theory. We are, therefore, concerned with fortuitous suggestions, acting through persons, situations, objects or ideas, which excite the mind by the impression they produce on the sentiments and the sexual appetite.


Without being congenital and without depending on a special predisposition, all the perversions of the sexual appetite that we have just described may be acquired, by means of the artificial and continued excitation of a sexual appetite which seeks satisfaction in change and unusual situations: Moreover, perverse satisfaction of the sexual appetite is often resorted to—onanism, pederasty or oral coitus—either to avoid conception, or with the idea of escaping venereal disease, or in the case of onanism, to avoid publicity, trouble or expense. As we have seen above alcohol favors the development of sexual perversions.

It is evident that a commerce in women systematically tolerated by the state, as is the proxenetism of regulated prostitution, employs all means imaginable to attract and excite its clients. In this way prostitution becomes the high-school for all the refinements of sexual perversion. It not only offers special objects required by individuals tainted by heredity with various perversions, but it artificially develops perverse habits in the normal man. The manipulations of sadism or masochism are even utilized to revive a sexual appetite weakened by abuse. Individuals who have become impotent often try to excite themselves by observing the coitus of others. In fact a leaven of corruption and ignominy ferments on the dunghill of venal and artificial excitation of the sexual appetite.

The apostles of Mammon and Bacchus, the former by interest, the latter by the aid of a narcosis which paralyzes the higher sentiments and reflection, work in concert to maintain this foul swamp. The same individuals very commonly combine the two apostleships and become themselves the victims of their false gods, after sacrificing hundreds of their fellows.

To make matters more clear I will recapitulate as follows:

(1). We often meet with pederasty without a trace of inversion of the sexual appetite. It is also practiced on women by the psychopathic male. But the normal man hardly ever prefers it to normal coitus.

(2). Compensatory masturbation is very common and ceases with the opportunity for normal coitus.

(3). Sodomy is also often compensatory.

(4). It is the same with assaults on children, which seldom depend on a hereditary disposition.

(5). Lesbian love, a form of degeneracy, artificial excitation of the clitoris by the tongue or otherwise, may have quite a different origin than from sexual inversion or other perversions.

All these things take place chiefly in brothels or with prostitutes, in barracks, boarding-schools, convents, and other isolated places where men and women live alone and separated from the other sex.

Sadism, masochism, fetichism and exhibitionism are much more rarely the result of habits, because their object and the images with which they are associated do not offer compensation for the normal excitation of the sexual appetite, or only do so insufficiently.

I am here obliged to contradict Krafft-Ebing, who regards exhibitionism as the effect of the impotence of certain individuals depraved by excesses, or as the unconscious act of certain epileptics. No doubt the two conditions which he mentions may present themselves, but the exhibitionists I have observed have all been psychopaths whose perversion was primordial and hereditary, with the exception of some females in whom perversion originated in suggestion or alcoholism, which had at any rate aroused the disposition.

Lesbian love merits special mention. Owing to the clitoris being more or less concealed, women are often not satisfied by coitus, especially when the ejaculation of the male takes place too quickly. Consequently a number of normal women prefer to procure an orgasm by means of lesbian love (cunnilingus.) There are clubs of female perverts, many of whom are not homosexual by heredity.

Although they differ from hereditary perversions, acquired perversions are connected with the former by a series of latent hereditary dispositions, more or less marked, and often difficult to distinguish in particular cases, especially when suggestion is blended with them.

Among the entirely hereditary and congenital sexual perversions, many occur in individuals who are well conducted and often possessed of delicate and altruistic sentiments. This point is not sufficiently recognized. Such persons are nearly always more or less neurotic in other respects. They are disheartened by their perversion and are so much ashamed of it that they often prefer to carry their secret to the grave rather than confide it to their doctor.

Others sometimes confess to a doctor, and the life of a martyr, who is always contemplating suicide, is revealed to him. Individuals of feeble, cynical, egoistic or abnormal natures, whose number is legion in the corrupt centers of modern civilization, yield to their perversion and often come before the tribunals, or else become objects of public contempt. As it is this class which generally become known, it is assumed by too hasty generalization that sexual perverts are necessarily cynical, vicious or weak-minded individuals; but this induction is false. It is unfortunately impossible to estimate the number of sexual perversions dissimulated by a large number of pessimists of both sexes, generally celibate and usually males.

I do not pretend that, when sexual perversion is neither hereditary nor favored by a latent hereditary predisposition, nor developed or fixed by alcoholism, it is usually possible to cure it by suggestion. This often acts even in cases where alcohol has aroused a hereditary taint. The incorrigible recidivists among the sexual perverts are, I am convinced, either hereditary or strongly predisposed, or degenerated by alcoholism. The original will power of the pervert is also of great importance. Weak-willed perverts always tend to relapse.

The social sanitation of sexual intercourse would certainly reduce to a minimum the compensatory perversions of normal persons who abstain from alcohol. The prohibition of alcoholic drink would definitely eliminate not only the perversions directly due to alcohol, but gradually also those due to alcoholic blastophthoria in the descendants. Other hereditary perversions, not of alcoholic origin, can only be definitely eliminated by healthy selection.

Perversions acquired by suggestion or auto-suggestion should be combated by suppression of the depraved examples which cause them, as well as by treatment by suggestion. It is needless to say that sexual perverts should always abstain from alcoholic drinks.


[4] English translation by F.J. Rebman: Rebman Co., New York.

[5] For further information on this subject see Marshall's "Syphilology and Venereal Disease," (London, Balliere, Tindall & Co.); also Marshall's translation of Fournier's "Treatment and Prophylaxis of Syphilis," (New York: Rebman Co.)

[6] Krafft-Ebing describes bestiality (connection with animals) and pederasty under the general term of sodomy, but points out that the original meaning of sodomy used in Genesis (Chapter XIX) signified pederasty, i.e., anal coitus between men.



Suggestion. Cerebral Activity. Consciousness. Subconsciousness and Amnesia. Auto-suggestion.—The explanation of the phenomena of hypnotism and suggestion by Liebeault and Bernheim has been a veritable scientific revelation for human psychology. Unfortunately it has remained to a great extent unknown to the public and the majority of medical men and jurists. Even at the present day, this subject is regarded either in the light of magic and occult phenomena, or as being connected with imposture and charlatanism. This results from the incapacity of most men to think in a psychological and philosophical manner, to observe for themselves and to take into account the connection which exists between the mind and cerebral activity.

I must point out the common error of many physicians, who do not understand the psychological nature of hypnotism, and who place it, like Dubois, in antinomy with psychotherapy. Hypnotism and suggestion in the waking state are one and the same thing; but what the physicians I have mentioned understand by suggestion in the waking state—psychotherapy, action by will power, etc.—is only a chaos of misapplied terms and psychological phenomena, only half understood by them. Sleep by suggestion is only one of the phenomena of suggestion.

I must refer the reader to Bernheim's book on "La Suggestion et ses Applications a la Therapeutique," and to my book on hypnotism ("Der Hypnotismus und die Suggestive Psychotherapie." Stuttgart, 1902), for I cannot enter into the details here. I will, however, attempt to make clear the action of suggestion in order to explain its connection with the sexual sensations and sentiments.

Suggestion consists in the action of ideas or representations on the activity of the brain in general, and on some of its activities in particular. The terms idea-force and ideoplasty have been employed; but all ideas are at the same time forces and are more or less ideoplastic according to the nature and intensity of the cerebral activity which corresponds to them. Every representation which appears in our consciousness is at the same time a cerebral activity. I will explain by the aid of an example the relation which exists between the play of our conscious ideas and what is incorrectly called our unconscious cerebral activity.

For reasons which are too long to explain here, I call subconscious all which is usually called unconscious, because I maintain that there is probably nothing unconscious in our nervous activity, and that what appears to be so is in reality accompanied by an introspection, subordinated like its corresponding activity to the great and clear introspection of the higher brain, which accompanies the concentrated and mobile activity of what we call our attention in the waking state. No doubt, we do not as a rule perceive our subconscious activities, for want of sufficient intensity in their association with the series of aperceptions (states subsequent to attentional activity). But we possess a number of observations, due especially to hypnotism, which allow us to infer by analogy the existence of subordinated introspections corresponding to the cerebral activities which appear to us unconscious.

For example, I think of my wife. This idea immediately calls to mind that of a journey that I intend to take with her, and in its turn the idea of the journey recalls that of the trunk I shall use to pack my effects. Almost as rapidly as lightning, the three ideas: (1) my wife; (2) the journey; (3) the trunk, apparently succeed each other in my consciousness. But, according to the old scholasticism, the idea of the journey is awakened by that of my wife, and that of my trunk by that of the journey, which would, therefore, be its "cause." But a little observation soon shows that the succession of our conscious ideas is not so easily explained, for at every moment representations appear which have no logical relation to those which precede them, and cannot be caused by them, nor by immediate sensory perceptions coming from without.

At a time when the activity of the brain was not understood, the existence of an essential mind and a free will were assumed, independent of the law of the conservation of energy and of the law of causality, independent therefore of the brain, the activity of which they commanded more or less at their pleasure. This conception is based on ignorance of the facts.

Let us return to our example: why does the idea of my wife call to mind that of the journey? It might quite as well suggest others. In reality, a number of ideas, or subconscious cerebral activities, act at the same time as that of my wife to give rise to the idea of the journey. This journey had already been decided on before thinking of it at the moment in question, and the resolution that I had taken to make it had left in my brain latent impressions (engrams) which slumbered there; such as those of the date of departure, the duration of the journey, its termination, precautions to be taken for the house during our absence, things to take with us, expenses, etc., etc. During the infinitely short time when the idea of journey appears in my consciousness, between that of my wife and that of my trunk, I have no consciousness of all these things. They are, however, closely associated with the idea of journey, and in connection with it by the thousand threads of a subconscious and latent cerebral force which takes place in my cerebral nerve-elements (neurones); and it is their hidden action which awakens the idea of journey and directs my attention to it, at the same time weakening by their divers interferences the intensity of other associated engrams; in particular that of the sentiment of traveling, and thereby preventing a series of ideo-motor sensations relating to departure from becoming predominant.

What suddenly appears in my consciousness is the verbal representation symbolized by the word journey; a general representation of synthetic nature, and consequently nebulous. It is the words of language only which allow me to synthetize a general idea in a short and definite form. Thus, the cerebral flash journey which follows the idea of my wife is not caused by the latter idea alone; it has been mainly drawn from its obscurity and brought before the mobile conscious attention, by the action of the thousand subconscious threads, some of which we have just mentioned, and which have at the same time determined its quality.

Without my being aware of it, these dynamic threads, or latent engrams, have to a great extent determined the kind of idea which will follow that of journey, and which will seem to me to be caused by this last alone, namely the idea of trunk. The idea of journey might equally well have awakened other images, such as those of the acquaintances whom I should meet, or of the town I intended to visit. Why that of the trunk? This is simply because the care of the effects to be taken, the place they should occupy, etc., revolved unconsciously but strongly in my brain, and for the moment predominated over other subconscious associations.

This simple example shows us that in reality the three successive ideas, wife, journey, trunk, are more under the influence of sentiments, representations and former volitions in a latent and subconscious state, than dependent on each other. But these latter activities are themselves the product of other antecedent activities of my brain, extraordinarily diverse and complex. I will attempt to make things a little more complete and comprehensible by the aid of a comparison.

A man finds himself in the middle of a compact and moving crowd. He cries out to attract the attention of the crowd. His voice is heard by those immediately around him, but is lost on the moving mass. Against his will he is carried away by the crowd in the direction of the strongest movement. But if the crowd is immobile and tranquil the same man may make himself heard, and may even force his way through the crowd and impel it in his turn by the impression that his words have made on it.

Something analogous to this occurs in the action of an idea according as it is produced in a brain which is awake, active and strongly associated, or on the contrary in a brain which rests and sleeps. The brain which is active and strongly associated resembles the agitated crowd which carries away everything by its activity. In this case a single idea, like a single man, cries out in vain, i.e., is produced strongly; it will not impel, but will be carried away or stifled, unless it already possesses, by the former remembrances (engrams) which it may revive, a particular power over the brain. It is the same with the agitated crowd; if the man who cries out is already known and has influence and power, he may arrest it and even bring it toward the center of his agitation. The brain which is at rest or sleeping, i.e., feebly associated and not active, resembles the immobile crowd. Even when it is new and has not yet become fixed in the memory, an idea may produce a deep impression, and awaken activities in its own direction. I repeat, if this idea has already acted more or less powerfully on the cerebral activity that it has often carried with it, it has accustomed this to follow it (i.e., fortified the engrams and facilitated their ecphoria), and then the powerful associated engrams which it has left in the organ of thought, will often be capable of carrying everything with them, even to the center of the agitation.

In this way I succeeded in suddenly calming by hypnotism a woman who was mad with despair over the tragic death of half her family in a fire, by the simple fact that I had often hypnotized her previously. Immediately after the hypnosis she went away quietly to the place of the disaster and was the only one to keep her presence of mind and put things in order.

I refer the reader to what has been said concerning the mneme (Chapter I). Semon's theory throws light on these questions.

The first thing necessary for suggestion or hypnotism is to put the brain of the subject in a state of relative repose, so as to prepare a soil ready to receive suggestions. These are then made so as to always increase the cerebral repose, in order to weaken the action of the threads of subconscious association of which we have spoken above. Lastly, the suggestion (or idea which symbolizes the effect it is desired to obtain) is accentuated as much as possible, and in a form which at once excludes all contradiction. For this purpose everything should be utilized—sentiments and associations which are easily introduced, agreeable or repulsive sensations, volitions, etc. Nothing paralyzes a suggestive effect so much as emotions, violent sentiments in general, inclinations, or repulsions which act in the opposite direction, whether they arise from fear, despair, hatred, sadness, joy, love or any kind of affective conditions. The same brain, accessible to all kinds of suggestions, will repress some of them as soon as it feels a deep sympathy for their contrary. We may suggest in vain to an amorous woman, the hatred or disgust of her lover, for the sentiment of love is stronger than the effect of a strange suggestion, and every suggestion which opposes the strongest aspirations of sentiment provokes mistrust and repulsion, which in their turn destroy all suggestive power.

As we have indicated in our comparison, every suggestion which has succeeded leaves a strong trace, or engram, in the brain. It has opened a way by breaking down a barrier or a chasm, and its effect, which appeared hitherto difficult or impossible to realize, will henceforth be much more easy to obtain. This is why considerable cerebral repose is often necessary at first to open a way for a suggestion, while later on its effect can often be obtained even during the agitation of cerebral activity strongly associated with or even led by violent momentary sentiments.

The chief characteristic of suggestive action, is that it traverses the paths of subconscious activity, so that its effect occurs unexpectedly in our consciousness.

For example, I suggest to a man that his forehead itches. As soon as he feels it he is surprised, being unable to understand how my prophecy has been transformed into real itching. He then believes in my power over his nervous system, i.e., that his brain becomes more receptive to my words, and offers less resistance after having proved the value of my predictions. It matters little whether these are directed toward sensations or movements, or vaso-motor actions causing blushing and blanching, or suppression or bringing on of menstruation (in the case of a woman), etc. My influence over him by suggestion will increase; i.e., his brain will accustom itself to the suggestions which I give it by letting them dissociate its activity. This tendency to be influenced by suggestion is very contagious by example. When A influences B successfully, and C, D, E, F and G are witnesses of the fact, they will be much more easily influenced by A in the same direction; and so on. This explains suggestion affecting the masses.

It is quite indifferent whether the subjective sentiment of sleep occurs more or less in the state of hypnosis or suggestion. This sentiment depends chiefly on the presence or absence of a variable degree of amnesia (want of memory to awaken). But amnesia only depends on the rupture, often fortuitous and unimportant, of the chain of remembrances in the series of super-conscious or attentional states of cerebral activity.

In somnambulists, who are the most suggestible people, we can produce or suppress amnesia at will by a single word, and make them forget or remember what has passed. I must dwell on this point, because of the current dogma which assumes an essential difference between hypnotism and suggestion in the waking state. Such an assumption is based on false conception of the psychology of suggestion. The only difference consists in the suggestion of amnesia, or the subjective sentiment of sleep; or, if one prefers it, the subjective remembrance of sleep opposed to the remembrance of having been awakened. But these two remembrances may be voluntarily connected with the same past state of the brain.

By auto-suggestion is meant the suggestive action of spontaneous ideas—that is to say, ideas which are not suggested to the subject by any other person, but the effect of which is identical to that of external suggestions. An idea, a sentiment, dominates the mind, overcomes all its antagonists and produces a strong suggestive effect on the whole nervous system in the direction which it symbolizes. The idea of being unable to sleep often produces insomnia; the idea of sexual impotence may at once inhibit erection and render coitus impossible. The idea of yawning makes one yawn; that of coitus provokes erections; the idea of shame causes blushing; that of fear blanching; that of pity weeping.

But it often happens unconsciously, in yawning for example, that one man suggests it to another who begins to yawn; or the sight of certain objects, the hearing of certain sounds, provokes suggestions. Thus the sight of an object belonging to a certain woman may cause an erection; the odor of some article of diet which has caused indigestion is sufficient to cause nausea, etc. We thus see that there is a series of transitions between external intentional suggestion and auto-suggestion, in the form of suggestion of objects and unconscious or involuntary suggestion of persons. The conception of true or intentional suggestion infers the determined will of one man influencing another by suggestion; there is no other criterion.

It is quite another question whether the one who suggests wishes to benefit his subject, or wishes on the contrary to abuse him or make him ridiculous.

Sympathy. Love and Suggestion.—It is of great importance for us to know that sympathy and confidence are the fundamental elements of success in suggestive action. Even when deceived by the one who hypnotizes him, the subject may yield to him while he is not aware of it. But there is here a point to be noted. A man may very well see clearly with his reason and his logic, he may understand that harm is done to him, he may even curse a thing or a person when he reflects, and in spite of this be instinctively and subconsciously attracted toward this thing or this person, like a moth to a candle, when certain sentiments of sympathy or attraction urge him to it. The two following examples will make this more clear:

(1). An actor fell in love with a hysterical married woman. This woman was very polyandrous, and deceived not only her husband but the actor and many others. The actor tried with all the power of his reason to be delivered from the tyrannical charm of this siren; but the power of attraction of the woman was so strong that he could not succeed in resisting her. He came to me in despair and begged me to rid him of his passion by hypnotism. I realized the difficulty of the situation but did my best to help him. Although aided by his reason, all my suggestions were overcome by the violence of the passion that his hysterical seducer had inspired in him, and I obtained absolutely no result.

(2). A well-educated, unmarried woman became so enamored of a young man, that she was consumed with passion, grew thin, and lost her appetite and sleep. Having exchanged ideas with the young man for some time, she became convinced that their two characters were not suited to each other, and that incompatibility of temper and quarrels would necessarily follow marriage. She therefore resisted with all her power and came to me to be cured of her passion by suggestion. My failure in the preceding case increased my skepticism, but I did my best to succeed; the result, however, was no better than with the actor in the preceding case. Time and separation alone gradually restored equilibrium in this lady's nervous system.

These two cases are very instructive. Suggestion can only successfully combat powerful sentiments by arousing other sentiments of sympathy which increase little by little and finally become substituted for the preceding ones. This brings us to a very difficult question.

In order to influence other persons by suggestion, it is above all things necessary to try and associate the ideas which we suggest to them with sentiments of sympathy, so as to arouse in them the impression that the object to be attained is desirable and agreeable, or at any rate that it constitutes a necessity. The woman who surrenders to the mercy of her conqueror often experiences a kind of pleasure which is associated with the passiveness of her sexual sentiments. It is the same in the male masochist.

The physician who hypnotizes is obliged to awaken sentiments of sympathy in his subject to combat with their assistance the sentiments associated with the morbid state which it is desired to suppress. This is usually free from danger when there is no natural sexual attraction between the hypnotizer and the hypnotized; when, for example, a normal man hypnotizes another man, a normal woman another woman, or an invert another invert. Otherwise there is a risk of exciting sexual sympathies difficult to eliminate afterwards, when necessary precautions have not been taken at first. These attractive sexual sensations or sentiments may affect both the hypnotizer and the hypnotized and provoke love scenes, which are fatal to success.

For example, a hysterical baroness, whose sexual desire had been excited by hypnotism, fell in love with a person named Czinsky, whose case was studied and published by Schrenck-Notzing. This baroness experienced a kind of suggested love against which her reason resisted to a certain extent, while her hypnotizer, himself amorous, lost his head. One might say in such a case that suggestion only reenforced the very human sentiments which occur in all love stories of everyday life. Between normal love and suggested love there is such an infinite number of gradations that it is impossible to fix exactly the limits which separate them.

A hypnotizer may abuse his suggestive power to exploit the love of the hypnotized. I have been consulted in a case where an old woman had hypnotized a rich young man and had so powerfully influenced him that he abandoned his family and married her. As in the case of Czinsky, the abuse was obvious. The case was even more grave, for this old woman acted only from mercenary motives; in fact, she procured young girls for her husband, so as not to lose her suggestive influence after marriage: Czinsky, on the contrary, was truly amorous.

As a general rule we may say that, when amorous intoxication is the result of intentional suggestion, the subject obeys a certain sentiment of constraint, which he may describe later on when he has succeeded in recovering himself. He feels a kind of duplication of his personality, and perceives that the excitation of his sexual desire, as well as his love, have a somewhat forced nature, against which his reason attempts to defend him. This reaction often only appears afterwards, when the sympathetic action of suggestion begins to fade.

Here again the gradations are infinite, and no absolute rules can be formulated, for if the hypnotizer is very skillful and does not let his intentions appear, the subjective sentiment of constraint may be absolutely wanting; i.e., never become conscious. If, however, the hypnotizer is clumsy and the subject a hysterical woman, love is often transformed into hatred in the latter soon afterwards, as is so often the case in these subjects, and she may afterwards be convinced by auto-suggestion that she was the object of artificial constraint or even violence, and describe imaginary or unnatural events as if they were real; while she was simply amorous after the fashion of hysterical subjects.

It is quite otherwise with cases where a hypnotizer produces in a hypnotized woman a state of deep somnambulism and does harm to her without her knowledge. Here the victim is absolutely without will, and incapable of resisting. These last cases are much more easy to decide, especially from the legal point of view; but, as far as we are now concerned, the first cases are the most important.

The amorous irradiations produced by the sexual appetite react on the latter and increase it. They awaken sentiments of reciprocal sympathy, from which results a mutual attraction similar to that of animals. Suggestive action depends on the mastery we obtain over the associated constellations of subconscious engrams, and we have already become acquainted with the phylogenetic and actual relationship which exists between sexual sensations and sensations of sympathy. The simple juxtaposition of these facts clearly shows that powerful affinities exist between suggestion and love. I use the word "affinity" advisedly, for we must not go further and regard the two things as identical. Fortunately, the majority of curable patients may be cured by the prudent awakening of a slight degree of sympathy, and by the common efforts made by the hypnotizer and the hypnotized to subdue the morbid symptoms, without anything but a certain sentiment of reciprocal friendship resulting. On the other hand two human beings may be united by sexual love, without either being able to hypnotize the other. This is especially the case when, for example, two conjoints have known each other for many years, or when two persons of higher intelligence, who are not too dependent on their sexual intercourse, meet each other.

I am obliged to dwell on these facts, so that my ideas may not be falsely interpreted, by premature generalization. On the other hand, when a strongly associated brain suggests to a weak brain of the opposite sex sentiments of sympathy and makes use of them to arouse the sexual appetite, it may produce a suggested love which closely resembles natural amorous intoxication. If the discovery of an imposture or abuse of power on the part of the hypnotizer weakens or destroys the effect of suggestion, the hypnotized subject recovers herself. Despite and repentance may then transform her love into hatred.

In other cases there is a struggle between sexual desire and the disillusion of a deceived love, which often serves as the tragic motive in romance and the drama. The following is a typical case of suggested love without formal hypnotic proceedings:

An old roue aged sixty, married and the father of a family, persecuted a very suggestible young girl with his attentions, and systematically seduced her by means of erotic readings. He produced such an impression on this young girl that she became hypnotized and fell in love with the old roue She lost all conscience, became deceitful and untruthful by suggestion, and compromised herself and her family. Her seducer was poor, so that it was not his fortune that attracted her. She knew very well that this union could lead to nothing, but could not resist, and eloped with him. Later on she came to her senses and left him.

According to an old proverb, young girls laugh at old men and only marry them reluctantly or for their money; but in reality this is by no means always true.

Amorous Intoxication.—Let us now compare these phenomena with those of ordinary life called amorous intoxication. The affinities are at once apparent. A man and a woman meet and take a fancy for each other. The reciprocal action of looks, speech and touch, in fact all the apparatus of the senses and the mind, awakens in both of them sentiments of sympathy and sexual desire which mutually strengthens each other. Sexual desire invests every action and appearance of the loved object with an ever-increasing halo of charm and splendor, and this halo of sexual origin increases in its turn the sentiments of sympathy; and the sentiments of sympathy increase the sexual desire. In this way mutual suggestions grow like a snowball, and rapidly attain the culminating point of amorous intoxication, or what is called being madly in love.

All this depends only on reciprocal illusion. The more violent and foolish the amorous intoxication, without preparation or reflexion, and the less the individuals know each other, the more rapidly these illusions collapse, like a castle of cards, as soon as some douche of cold water sobers the two lovers. Thus indifference, disgust, and even hatred, follow "love."

The suggestive element in love is here apparent. Just as a hypnotized person will eagerly swallow a raw potato which he takes for an orange; so will a person madly in love regard an ugly or wicked girl as a goddess, or an amorous girl find her ideal of chivalry and manliness in an egoistic Don Juan.

The affinity is still more evident when the amorous intoxication is only on one side, while the other plays the part of seducer. When motives of pecuniary interest are not the only cause of seduction, and even often when they are, the seducer generally brings into play his sexual appetite, but only as a collaborator in his work of seduction without allowing himself to be dominated by it. In this case one is the seducer and the other the seduced. The seducer plays the part of the hypnotizer who suggests, while the seduced plays the part of the hypnotized, unless the seduction is due to fear, weakness of mind or good nature. The seducer is no doubt more or less under erotic influence, but never completely. The seduced, on the contrary, falls completely under the power of the seducer. The thoughts, sentiments and will are all directed by the impulses of the seducer. The latter acquires his ascendancy by means of a kind of suggestive power, often assisted by the sexual appetite.

In many cases the seduced gives way by pure suggestion of love without sexual desire. These are precisely the cases that the law does not foresee, and jurists cannot usually understand. In ordinary life, the man most often plays the part of seducer or hypnotizer; but this is not always the case. Antony, who threw himself at the feet of Cleopatra and obeyed her least gesture, was evidently hypnotized. Antonys are not rare even at the present day; but they do not constitute the rule, nor the normal state.

As we have just described it, suggestion plays a great role in love, and explains to a great extent the phenomena of illusion produced by amorous intoxication. In spite of the act which deifies it and the ecstatic happiness that accompanies it, we must admit that amorous intoxication, with its illusory suggestions uncontrolled by reason, brings more poison than true happiness into human life. I will attempt to explain the matter more clearly. When two human beings with loyal instincts have learned to know each other sufficiently, honestly avowing their reciprocal feelings and their past life, at the same time subduing their sensual appetites and judging the latter with calmness, so as to be convinced that they may reasonably hope to form a durable and happy union, then only may they abandon themselves to amorous intoxication, but not before. The fact that the latter makes each lover appear to the other in the most ideal light only serves to strengthen the feelings of sympathy and make them last for life.

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