The Sexual Question - A Scientific, psychological, hygienic and sociological study
by August Forel
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Money makes sexual intercourse unnatural; in place of letting coitus take its natural course, it makes it an object of amusement and pleasure, and also of speculation, and it debases the bodies of wretched girls by making them objects of commerce.

Unfortunately, the increasing facility of obtaining money without working for it, due to civilization, not only corrupts the sexual life of the wealthy and the poverty stricken, but has the same effect on the middle classes. A healthy and normal sexual life must be associated with honest and arduous work. We have already remarked that the solution of the sexual question depends partly on the suppression of alcoholic drink. We may add that another side of the question depends on the extirpation of the greed for money. If human beings could work for the social welfare without private interest, sexual relations would soon take their natural course. But it must be admitted that it is difficult to find a practical solution for the problem of social economy.

Rank and Social Position.—Class distinction and social position have always played a part in sexual life. This is especially the case where certain class customs and prejudices prescribe a special code for marriage. The consanguinity of the nobility and of royal families, who can only marry among themselves, has resulted in obvious degeneration. Originally there was the desire to preserve the purity of noble blood, and rules formulated with this object at first had some success; but in the long run the exclusiveness of such selection produces degeneration of the group which puts it into practice.

On the other hand, the severe rules which govern marriages among the nobility have resulted in driving the latter to extra-nuptial sexual intercourse. In their sexual excesses, the nobility, and even crowned heads, seldom amuse themselves with honest and virtuous girls of the working classes, but more generally with actresses of loose morals, dancing girls, and hysterical sirens and adventuresses of all kinds, so long as they are pretty. Since the time of the feudal system, the nobility, having lost its real reason for existence, only lives on its traditions. It remains in general in a state of idle depravity, faithful to its old traditions, except when it has succeeded in adapting itself to the work of modern life. It has, in fact, preserved the vices of its ancestors rather than their virtues.

The more than doubtful offspring of extra-nuptial intercourse among the nobility have often been adopted or raised to the nobility. Moreover, kings and princes have often ennobled unworthy persons who had succeeded in pandering to their follies or exciting their sexual passions. It is, therefore, not to be wondered at if in the offspring of such unions, the blood of the highest nobility is tainted with that of the worst kinds of heredity.

Another sign or effect of the degeneration of the nobility is found in the marriages they so often contract with wealthy heiresses, often of mediocre quality, in order to repair their escutcheon. In the Middle Ages, the nobility regarded it as degrading to work for their living, and this prejudice accelerated their degeneration; for nowadays the heroic and chivalrous deeds of the Middle Ages have little opportunity for their performance.

Other social classes present certain sexual peculiarities; for example the disastrous consequences of celibacy among the Catholic priests. This excludes an important and intelligent portion of the species from reproduction, and also favors clandestine debauchery.

The army and navy also exert a detrimental action on sexual life. First of all they foster one of the lowest forms of prostitution; soldiers' women are proverbial, and one of them alone may infect a whole regiment. In the second place, the absence of normal sexual intercourse favors all kinds of perversion, such as pederasty, masturbation, etc. The abominable sexual life of soldiers and sailors corrupts them to such an extent that when they marry later on they come to their wives with filthy habits, to say nothing of syphilis and gonorrhea. The result is the procreation of offspring who are more or less tainted in body and mind by the effects of venereal disease combined with alcohol. We have already mentioned the rules which forbid German officers to marry a woman unless she possesses a certain fortune.

In the Norwegian mercantile marine the customs contrast happily with those we have just mentioned, and permit officers to live on board with their wives. In all respects the Norwegian serves as a model in the sexual question; does he not favor conjugal life by only charging half-price on the boats for women who travel with their husbands!

Other classes have a less obvious influence on sexual life. On the whole, however, all sexual isolation of castes has an unfavorable influence. Wherever the prejudices of a caste compel its members to intermarry, certain special degenerations are produced. Good quality in man is not derived from class or position, but from true innate or hereditary nobility of character, and this alone should be the object of positive selection, without any distinction of classes.

Individual Life.—There is no doubt that the mode of life of the individual exerts an influence on his sexual life. High living combined with little bodily exercise generally increases the sexual appetite, while insufficient food combined with severe muscular work diminishes it.

Intellectual work acts in a variable manner. A distinguished psychologist assured me that intense intellectual work excited his sexual appetite; others have said the opposite. As a rule, a sedentary life increases the sexual appetite; a life full of occupation and muscular activity diminishes it. But the question is complicated by other influences.

Alcohol diminishes sexual power, while exalting desire or even perverting it. The artificial excitants of the sexual appetite, cultivated by modern civilization by interested speculation, act in rather a different way. Erotic pictures, obscene novels and dramas, etc., constitute an unhealthy medium in our centers of civilization, which overexcites and corrupts the sexual appetite. The more delicate and poisonous the perfume of this atmosphere and the more aesthetic the refinement by which it titillates the senses, the greater is its destructive action.

The question of the reunion or separation of the sexes plays an important part. Life in common among girls and boys from infancy usually diminishes sexual excitation, in the same way as among brothers and sisters. We find something analogous in different branches of human activity where the two sexes live together; for instance, at college, in the fields, and in general where work and play is common to both sexes.

There are, however, certain exceptions to this rule, which must not be taken too generally. Under certain circumstances, life in common of the two sexes leads to unfavorable and even perverted sexual excitation. This is especially the case when alcohol adds its influence; also among nervous or ill-balanced individuals. In my opinion it is absolutely unreasonable for the superintendent of a lunatic asylum to organize balls at which the insane of both sexes are provided with beer or wine. I have only seen bad results from this, while I have obtained excellent effects from a temporary reunion of the insane of both sexes, by avoiding all alcoholic drinks as well as everything which could excite the sexual appetite, such as dancing, or the bringing together of erotic or perverted individuals. A young female onanist who suffered from sexual excitement complicated with a nervous condition, complained to me of being obliged to work as a telegraphist among young men, as this continually excited her eroticism without the possibility of satisfying it.

This situation, which is a common one in both sexes, gives us a valuable indication. No doubt life in common for the two sexes is normal and natural, but only on the condition that it leads eventually to normal sexual intercourse as the result of love. It is neither healthy nor normal to excite an appetite continually without satisfying it. Any one who wishes to live a continent life, for religious or other reasons, ought not to expose himself to continual excitement by too great intimacy with the opposite sex; he should, on the contrary, avoid everything which tends to excite his sexual appetite and seek everything which tends to pacify it. I am not referring here to individuals of a naturally cold and indifferent nature, who run little or no risk under such circumstances.

Certain occupations, such as those of employees in stores, telegraph offices, etc., in which the two sexes are closely associated in their work, constitute from this point of view a double-edged sword. Other unhealthy and monotonous occupations, combined with bad conditions of food and lodging, and with all kinds of seduction—factory hands for example—have a positively deleterious effect on sexual life, which becomes absolutely depraved when the two sexes work together. The situation is hardly any better when they are only separated during working hours.

Internats.—All internats, i.e., all establishments where individuals of the same sex live in the same dwelling for a long time, exert a peculiar influence on sexual life—schools and convents, for example.

The great inconvenience of all these establishments lies in the danger of contamination from habits of onanism or pederasty. Inverts are strongly attracted towards internats, where they find their heart's desire where they can easily indulge their perverted passions; the dormitory of such an institution having the same effect on them as that of a girl's school would have on a young man. (Vide Chapter VIII.)

This is a matter which has not received sufficient attention in organizing boarding-schools for boys and girls, because it was not known that homosexual instincts are hereditary and innate. Such cases were regarded only as acquired bad habits.

Lunatic asylums are especially attractive to sexual inverts, who apply for the positions of attendants or nurse so as to be able to indulge their passions on the insane patients, who are incapable of betraying them.

Without being homosexual, nor even seduced by inverts, many normal but erotic individuals try to satisfy their sexual appetite on their companions—boys by pederasty, girls by lesbian love, and both sexes by mutual onanism.

The chief danger is that of some sexually perverted individual gaining entry to a boarding-school and contaminating numbers of normal individuals, without anything being discovered; because it is much more difficult to supervise a school than a family. This could be remedied better by confidence between masters and pupils than by supervision.

Varia.—I should never finish if I attempted to describe all the influences of environment. The examples mentioned will suffice to show that, in a natural appetite such as the sexual, the two extremes of asceticism and excess lead to evil and unnatural aberrations, and that the important point is to find or create a healthy environment for a healthy sexual life.

We hear a good deal about good or bad luck or chance in the matter of love. I do not deny that fortuitous circumstances often determine the happiness of an individual in his love affairs. But it is all the more deplorable that what is called the good manners of society make it so difficult to correct Cupid's blunders. There is room for improvement in this direction, and many spoilt lives and much unhappiness might be avoided. The unfavorable influence of environment might often be corrected by separation or change, if this could be done in time.


[7] Vide "Alkoholvergiftung und Degeneration" by Bunge: Leipzig 1904; and "Hygiene of the Nerves and Mind" by Forel: Stuttgart 1905.



Transformation of Profane Customs into Religious Dogmas.—Ethnography has taught us that in the course of time human tribes often unconsciously transform profane customs into integral parts of their religion, either by attributing them to a divine origin, or by elevating them to the rank of commandments of the gods, or by connecting them with other dogmas, combining them with worship, etc.

Sexual connection plays an important part in this matter. A great number of religious rites and customs are nothing else than the customs of sexual life (taken in its widest sense) which have been symbolized; inversely, a number of dogmas have for their only motive the application of a religious basis to sexual customs, which gives them more authority.

The religious rites react powerfully on the sexual life and on the way in which the members of the tribe or people understand it. We will give a few striking examples.

We have seen in Chapter VI that polygamy depends first on the idea of ownership, and secondly on marriage by purchase, to which it owes its historic origin. But the fact that Islamism and Mormonism, for example, have made polygamy an integral part of their religious dogmas, has given to the whole organization of the Mahometans and Mormons, as well as to their point of view of existence, a particular direction which cannot be ignored. In reality, we are just as polygamous as they are, but our theoretical and religious sexual morality is monogamous while theirs is polygamous, each based on contradictory "divine commandments."

Among certain Buddhists, the wife is compelled to follow her husband to the grave, which naturally influences sexual life profoundly.

Among many savage races there exists matriarchism, which gives the woman a high social position. This has even been made a religious dogma, while it simply originates from the natural and just idea that the mother is much more intimately connected with the children than the father.

The duty imposed on men to marry the widow of their brother originated from a profane command intended to regulate unions; eventually this was made a religious dogma. In the same way circumcision among the Jews had its origin in a hygienic custom having no relation to religious faith. This did not prevent it becoming later on as important a custom as baptism in Christianity. For the Jewish people it has the advantage of protecting them to a great extent from venereal infection, and against one of the chief causes of masturbation.

Catholicism.—We have already spoken of the celibacy of the Catholic priests and of its lay origin. The Catholic religion also contains a series of detailed precepts concerning sexual connection in general and marriage in particular; precepts which were only gradually transformed into religious dogmas. As they determine to a great extent opinions and manners in the sexual domain, they exert a considerable social influence.

The absolute interdiction of divorce among the Catholics (man has not the right to separate those whom God has joined together) seals forever the most unfortunate unions and leads to misfortunes of all kinds, separation of the married couple, liaisons apart from marriage, etc. According to Liguori, the Catholic Church prescribes a number of details concerning sexual relations in marriage. The woman who, during coitus places herself upon the man instead of under him, commits a sin. The position and manner of performing coitus are prescribed in the most minute details, and the holy fathers make the woman play a part unworthy of her position as wife, while according the man the widest liberty.

In truly Catholic marriage it is prescribed to procreate as many children as possible, and all preventive measures in coitus are severely condemned. Hence, if the woman is very fruitful, the husband has only the choice between complete abstention from coitus (when both conjoints are in agreement) and pregnancies following without interruption. The woman never has the right to refuse coitus to her husband, nor the latter to refuse it to his wife, so long as he is capable of accomplishing it.

It is easy to understand what powerful effects such precepts have had and still have on the conjugal life of the Catholics, particularly on the quantity and quality of their descendants.

Aural Confession.—Confession requires special mention. In his book, "Fifty Years in the Roman Church" (Jeheber, Geneva), on page 151, Father Chiniqui, the celebrated Canadian reformer, who later on became a Protestant, and for many years played an important part in the Canadian Catholic clergy, mentions the points on which the confessor interrogates the penitents of both sexes. One cannot reproach him with being incompetent.

No doubt the Church of to-day would reply that the confessor is not obliged to put all these questions and that the details are left to his tact. We will agree that there is a difference between the Canada of the last century, a new and primitive country, and the Europe of the present day. But I maintain: First, that the confessor does not content himself with listening to what the penitents of both sexes tell him, but that it is his duty to interrogate them; secondly, that a celibate Catholic person, extremely serious and virtuous, to whom I put the question unawares, informed me that not only are sexual matters dealt with at the confessional, but that they play the principal role. And, as it is a question of warning the penitents against so-called sins, mortal or not, or of absolving them, I fail to see how the priest can avoid speaking of them, when the detailed precepts of which we have spoken exist.

I reproduce here the original Latin text. It deals with questions which have been treated in Chapter VIII, so that I shall dispense with giving a translation.

The confessor puts the following questions to his penitents:

1. Peccant uxores, quae susceptum viri semen ejiciunt, vel ejicere conantur (Dens, vol. VII, p. 147).

2. Peccant conjuges mortaliter, si, copula incepta, prohibeant seminationem.

3. Si vir jam seminaverit, dubium fit an femina lethaliter peccat, si se retrahat a seminando; aut peccat lethaliter vir non expectando seminationem uxoris (p. 153).

4. Peccant conjuges inter se circa actum conjugalem. Debet servari modus, sive situs; uno ut non servetur debitum vas, sed copula habeatur in vase praepostero, aliquoque non naturali. Si fiat accedendo a postero, a latere, stando, sedendo, vel si vir sit succumbus (p. 166).

5. Impotentia. Est incapacitas perficiendi copulam carnalem perfectam cum seminatione viri in vase se debito, seu, de se, aptam generationi. Vel, ut si mulier sit nimis arcta respectu unius non respectu alterius (p. 273).

6. Notatur quod pollutio, in mulieribus possit perfici, ita ut semen earum non effluat extra membrum genitale. Indicium istius allegat Billuart, si scilicet mulier sensiat seminis resolutionem cum magno voluptatis sensu, qua completa, passio satiatur (vol. IV, p. 168).

7. Uxor se accusans, in confessione, quod negaverit debitum, interrogatur an ex pleno rigore juris sui id petiverit (vol. VII, p. 168).

8. Confessarius poenitentem, qui confitetur se peccasse cum sacerdote, vel solicitatem ab eo ad turpia, potest interrogare utrum ille sacerdos sit ejus confessarius, an in confessione sollicitaverit (vol. VI, p. 297).

In volumes V and VII of Dens may be found many such precepts, impossible to reproduce, on which the pious casuist desires his penitents to be examined.

Let us now pass on to the celebrated Liguori. Among numerous other obscene questions of a refined erotic nature, every confessor is bound to put the two following to his penitents:

1. Quaerat an sit semper mortale, si vir immitat pudenda in os uxoris...?

Verius affirmo, quia in hoc actu, ob calorem oris, adest proximum periculum pollutionis, et videtur nova species luxuriae contra naturam, dicta irruminatio.

2. Eodem modo, Sanchez damnat virum de mortali qui, in actu copulae, immite ret digitum in vas praeposterum uxoris; quia, ut ait, in hoc actu, adest affectus ad-Sodomiam (Liguori, t. VI, p. 935).

Let us now leave the celebrated Liguori and pass on to Burchard, the bishop of Worms. He has written a book on the questions which the priest should put at the confessional. Although this book no longer exists it has been for ages the guide of the Roman Catholic priests at the confessional. Dens, Liguori, Debreyne, etc., have taken from it their most savory passages, to recommend them as a study for our present confessors. We will give a few examples:

(a) To young men:

1. Fecisti solus tecum fornicationem ut quidam facere solent; ita dico ut ipse tuum membrum virile in manum tuam acciperes, et sic duceres praeputium tuum, et manu propria commoveres, ut sic per illam delectationem semen projiceres?

2. Fornicationem fecisti cum masculo intra coxas; ita dico ut tuum virile membrum intra coxas alterius mitteres, et sic agitando semen funderes?

3. Fecisti fornicationem, ut quidam facere solent, ut tuum virile membrum in lignum perforatum aut in aliquod hujus modi mitteres et sic per illam commotionem et delectationem semen projiceres?

4. Fecisti fornicationem contra naturam, id est, cum masculis vel animalibus coire, id est, cum equo, cum vacca vel asina, vel aliquo animali? (vol. I, p. 136).

(b) To young girls or women (same collection, p. 115):

1. Fecisti quod quaedam mulieres solent, quoddam molimen, aut machinamentum in modum virilis membri ad mensuram tuae voluptatis, et illud loco verendorum tuorum aut alterius cum aliquibus ligaturis ut fornicationem faceres cum aliis mulieribus, vel alio eodem instrumento, sive alio tecum?

2. Fecisti quod quaedam mulieres facere solent, ut jam supra dicto molimine vel alio aliquo machinamento, tu ipsa in te solam faceres fornicationem?

3. Fecisti quod quaedam mulieres facere solent, quando libidinem se vexantem extinguere volunt, quae se conjugunt quasi coire debeant et possint, et conjungunt invicem puerperio sua, et si fricando pruritum illarum extinguere desiderant?

4. Fecisti quod quaedam mulieres facere solent, ut cum filio tuo parvulo fornicationem faceres, ita dico ut filium tuum supra turpidinem tuam poneres ut sic imitaberis fornicationem?

5. Fecisti quod quaedam mulieres facere solent, ut succumberes aliquo jumento et illud jumentum ad coitum qualicumque posses ingenio ut sic coiret tecum?

The celebrated Debreyne has written a whole book on the same subject for the instruction of young confessors, and in it he has enumerated all kinds of debauchery and sexual perversion which he could imagine, "Maechiology," or Treatise on all the Sins against the Sixth (seventh in the Decalogue) and the Ninth (tenth) Commandments, as well as on all questions of married life connected with them.

This book is very celebrated and is widely studied in the Roman Church. We only quote from it the two following questions:

To men:

Ad cognoscendum an usque ad pollutionem se tetigerint, quando tempore et quo fine se tetigerint; an tunc quoddam motus in corpore experti fuerint, et per quantum temporis spatium; an cessantibus tactibus nihil insolitum et turpe acciderit; ad non longe majorem in corpore voluptatem perciperint in fine inactum quam in eorum principio; an tum in fine quando magnam delectationem carnalem senserunt, omnes motus corporis cessaverint; an non malefacti fuerint? etc., etc.

To girls:

Quae sese tetigisse fatentur, an non aliquem pruritum extinguere tentaverit, et utrum pruritus ille cessaverit cum magnam senserint voluptatem; an tunc ipsimet tactus cessaverint?

Among a thousand other analogous precepts the reverend Kenrick, bishop of Boston, in the United States, gives the following to his confessors:

Uxor quae, in usu matrimonii, se vertit, ut non recipiat semen, vel statim post illud acceptum surgit, ut expellatur, lethaliter peccat; sed opus non est ut diu resuspina jaceat, quum matrix, brevi semen attrahat, et mox, arctissime claudatur.

Puellae patienti licet se vertere et conari ut non recipiat semen, quod injuria et emittitur; sed, acceptum non licet expellere, quia jam possessionem pacificam habet et haud absque injuria naturae ejiceretur.

Conjuges senes plerumque coeunt absque culpa, licet contingat semen extra vas effundi; id enim per accidens fit ex infirmitati naturae.

Quod si vires adeo sint fractae ut nulla sit seminandi intra vas spes, jam nequeunt jure conjugi uti (vol. III, p. 317).

Such is the teaching of Chiniqui, the man whose courage and powerful individuality succeeded in introducing abstinence from alcohol in Canada. His long life was that of a pioneer and an inflexible champion of social and moral reform in that country, based on Christianity. He died at the age of ninety.

I have quoted the erotic precepts of the confessional from him, as I was anxious to quote from an absolutely reliable source. It was not with a light heart that Chiniqui abandoned the Catholic Church, but only after violent and bitter struggles with conscience, struggles of which he relates the tragic episodes, and which lasted for many years.

He commences the chapter from which we have quoted with the following words: "Let legislators, fathers and husbands read this chapter and ask themselves the question whether the respect which they owe to their mothers, their wives and their daughters does not impose upon them the duty of forbidding auricular confession. How is it possible for a young girl to remain pure in mind after such conversations with an unmarried man? Is she not more prepared for the depths of vice than for conjugal life?" The author of these lines is a man who was obliged for many years to be a confessor himself, and who understood to what extent confession corrupted the sexual life of women and priests. It is true that persons, priests or women, of strong character, and especially those with a cold nature from the sexual point of view, may resist such sexual excitation. But has confession been specially instituted for this type of character? Every one who is not a hypocrite will own that it is exactly the contrary.

Religious Prudery.—The results of such a combination of sexual life with religious prescriptions are a mixture of ridiculous prudery and continual eroticism. In certain convents (those of the nuns of Galicia, for example) the nuns forbid their pupils to wash the sexual organs, because it is improper! In Austria the nuns often cover the crucifix in their bedroom with a handkerchief, "so that Christ cannot see their nakedness"! But the convents of nuns, in the Middle Ages, were often transformed into brothels; and it is not uncommon to see hypocrites or the subjects of erotic hysteria (both men and women) perform sexual orgies of the worst kind under the cloak of religious ecstasy.

Hottentots. Eunuchs.—Among the Hottentots, the lips of the vulva (labia minora) in women are artificially elongated, and among the Orientals eunuchs are made. In themselves these two operations have certainly nothing to do with religion and only originated in profane customs. In the course of time they were made religious precepts, which has deeply rooted them in the customs of the people.

Religious Eroticism.—The examples which we have cited show to what extent man is disposed to clothe his eroticism with the cloak of religion. He then attributes a divine origin to his desires and lays the precepts which he attaches to them on the commandments of his God or gods, so as to sanctify them. Hence, the unnatural influence of a mysticism, which is nothing else than the crystallized product of the fantastic imagination of men, raised to a dogma, imposes itself indirectly on natural sexual life, by entering at the back door under the cloak of religion. It is obvious that grave abuses or even vices often acquire the seal and power of religious precepts; while in the same domain a number of other customs or precepts are based on good hygienic or moral principles, for example, circumcision and conjugal fidelity.

It is perhaps in the domain of pathology that the relations of religion to sexual life are the most striking (see Chapter VIII). We must not forget that the facts of reproduction seem to ignorant people and especially to barbarians, to be of a very mysterious nature. These people have no idea of germinal cells or their conjugation. They see in conception, embryogeny, pregnancy and birth, the miraculous effects of a divine and occult higher power—of the divinity, often even of the devil.

The violent excitement which is associated with the sexual appetite and with love urges man to ecstasy; hence it is not to be wondered at that eroticism is so often complicated by ecstatic religious sentiments.

In his book on Psychopathia sexualis, Krafft-Ebing remarks how easily religion, poetry and eroticism are combined and mingled in the obscure feelings and presentiments of maturing youth. In the life of saints there is always the question of sexual temptations, in which the most elevated and ideal sentiments are mixed with the most repugnant erotic images. On the same basis are developed the sexual orgies of different religious fetes in the ancient world, as well as in certain modern sects.

Mysticism, religious ecstasy and sexual voluptuousness are often combined in a real trinity, and one often sees unsatisfied sensuality seek compensation in religious exaltation. Krafft-Ebing cites the following cases from Friedreich's "Legal Psychology" (p. 389):

In this way the nun Blaubekin was perpetually tormented by the thought of what happened to the part of Jesus' body removed by circumcision.

In order to make his devotions to the lamb of God, Veronique Juliani, who was canonized by Pope Pius II, took into his chamber a terrestrial lamb, embraced it and sucked its breasts.

Saint Catherine of Genes often suffered from such internal heat, that, to cool herself, she laid on the ground, crying: "Love, love, I can do no more!" In doing this she felt a peculiar inclination for her confessor. One day, putting his hand to her nose, she perceived an odor which penetrated her heart, "a celestial odor the voluptuousness of which could wake the dead."

The Role of Mental Pathology in Religious Eroticism.—Among the insane, and especially in women, but also in men afflicted with paranoia (a mental disease) we often find a strange and repugnant mixture of eroticism and religious images. Such are the everlasting betrothals with Christ, the Virgin Mary, with God or with the Holy Spirit, betrothals in which the venereal orgasm is combined with imaginary coitus and masturbation, followed by imaginary pregnancy and childbirth. These symptoms give us a clear indication of the relation which exists between eroticism and religious exaltation. The French alienists have even designated them by the characteristic term of "erotico-religious delirium." A single visit to the female division of a lunatic asylum is often sufficient to satisfy the visitor.

A point which has received less attention is the immense historical influence which certain psychopathological personalities, chiefly hysterical subjects, but also some crazy persons or hereditary visionaries, have exercised at all times on human destiny, usually by the aid of the suggestive effects of sexual and religious ideas (erotico-religious), the connections of which have not always been clear.

Every psychiatrist knows the insane whose delirium is combined with religious or mystic exaltation, and who by the mysticism of their delirium have exercised and continue to exercise a profound influence on the mass of humanity which surround them—"Panurge's Sheep," if I may use the expression. These people are themselves so dominated by the pathological influence of their auto-suggestions or their delirium that they behave with the fanaticism of fakirs, and exhibit an extraordinary energy and perseverance in the pursuit of the object of their morbid ideas. By their assurance, the sentiment of infallibility, and the fire of faith which is manifested in their prophetical manner, they fascinate the feeble brains of the people who surround them and attract them by their suggestive action.

A very human and often powerful eroticism is usually associated with their delirium; but it is covered by a cloak of religious ecstasy, which imposes on natures disposed to exaltation, and renders them blind to the ignominy which often lies under this ecstasy.

What makes these patients so persuasive is the fact that they are themselves persuaded. Even the normal man, we must admit, is guided less by reason than by sentiment, and the persons we have just described exert a powerful action on sentiment, and this more by their piercing glance, their prophetic and dominating tone, their manner and appearance, than by the extremely confused text of their discourses and doctrines.

In this way there are always arising small epidemics of attraction in which a group of individuals allows itself to be infatuated by so-called prophets, messiahs, holy virgins and other visionaries, who are only lunatics or crazy persons. Under their influence are produced certain forms of insanity by contagion, which have been called double, triple or quadruple madness, and which may sometimes take the form of an epidemic.

When the "prophet" is more consistent in his words and actions, or when his environment is still very ignorant and superstitious, the crowd of believers increases still more rapidly, and thus one sees even at the present day in less-civilized countries new sects or religious guilds, more or less ephemeral, in which the spirit of the prophet sometimes stirs up grave sexual orgies.

Among more cultured people the prophet is generally exposed or sent to a lunatic asylum, much to the indignation of his disciples, who often consist of his wife and children and a few feeble-minded acquaintances.

Thanks to the cheapness of printing, these prophets often publish their new religious system and sell it among their dupes. I possess a small library of works of this kind which have been sent me by their authors; probably with the idea that they might one day be taken for fools, and to prove to me in advance that they were not.

According to them, God has personally revealed to them the new truth in which they believe, and has appointed them as prophets. Erotic images are generally associated with their system. One of them, whose system is astronomical, divides the planets into males and females. Another, a lunatic, describes the pathological sexual sensations by the term of "psycho-sexual contact by action at a distance." These are phenomena which we meet with at each step in psychiatry, and which give the clue to what follows.

The Historical Role of Mental Anomalies which are Not Very Apparent and Border on Genius. Their Influence on Religious Eroticism.—These persons are not always afflicted with paranoia or other grave psychoses, but often hereditary and constitutional psychopaths who are only half-crazy or simply hysterical, and who may, in spite of this defect, possess a certain degree of intellectual power, an energetic will and the fire of enthusiasm. Things then take an essentially different course, even when they rest on an analogous basis.

The prophet combines with his exaltation a logic which is often very concise in its details, although applied on a morbid basis. Moreover, he clothes his utterances in fine and poetical language, and in this way succeeds in rallying round him, not a flock of Panurge's ignorant sheep, but more elevated people and even a considerable proportion of the surrounding society. In this case pathological exaltation may be united to a high moral and intellectual ideal, which is very apt to veil the bizarre fancies of the prophet. We thus meet with the astonishing but undeniable fact that certain great historical personalities who have exercised a powerful influence on humanity were of more or less pathological nature. We discover among them erotico-religious traits, more or less marked, often even as the leading threads of their arguments.

This important category of individuals constitutes a whole series of transitions between the insane prophets of whom we have spoken and well-balanced men of genius. It is often very difficult to understand and interpret the series of intermediate forms, so graduating and so variable, which exist between insanity and genius. It is necessary to guard against any exclusive generalization in one way or the other.

In any case, the fact that many men of genius are of pathological nature does not authorize us to regard every person of genius or originality as insane, whether he attacks the routine and prejudices of his contemporaries, or whether he opens up new horizons and goes out of the beaten track. Let me cite a few examples.

Joan of Arc was, in my opinion, a hysterical genius whose hallucinations were auto-suggestive. The distress of France had profoundly agitated her, and, fired with the desire to save her country, her brain was affected by auto-suggestion with hallucinations of the voices of saints and visions, which pointed out her mission and which she regarded as coming from real saints in heaven. At that period such things were common enough and need not surprise us. In spite of her good sense and modesty, Joan of Arc was urged by an exaltation unconscious of self. By a destiny as astonishing as providential, this young girl of genius, and at the same time pathological, exalted by ecstatic hallucinations, led France to a victorious war of freedom. The most conscientious historical sources show that the morality of Joan of Arc was pure and above reproach. Her replies to the invidious questions of the Inquisition are admirable and bear witness both to her high intelligence and the moral elevation of her sentiments. It is evident that the sentiments of love were transformed in her into religious ecstasy and enthusiasm for the ideal of her mission, a frequent occurrence among women.

Another remarkable example is that of Thomas a Becket. The sudden transformation of this man of the world into an ascetic priest (it is true, on the occasion of his nomination as archbishop), from this devoted friend and servitor of the king of England into his most violent adversary, and into a champion of the Church against the State, evidently represents the auto-suggestive transformation of a hysterical subject, for this is the only way of explaining such a sudden and complete contradiction which caused him to change suddenly from one fanaticism to a contrary one.

The religious exaltation of the Mormon prophet, Smith, was no doubt combined with eroticism, which made him organize his sect on the basis of polygamy.

Mahomet also had visions, and sexual connection plays an important part in his teaching and prophesies. The apostle St. Paul was also a visionary who passed suddenly from one extreme to another as the result of hallucination. Pascal, Napoleon, and Rousseau presented very marked pathological traits.

Although some of these cases have no direct connection with the sexual question, I have mentioned them to show how such personalities exert their influence on the masses, and through them on history. As soon as they acquire authority, their peculiar ideas and sexual conceptions, however exclusive or even absurd they may be, react strongly on their contemporaries, as we see to-day the ascetic ideas of Tolstoi influence his numerous disciples.

Sudden conversions, whatever may be their nature, especially when the convert goes from one extreme to another, are not the fruit of reason, but depend on suggestion or auto-suggestion and especially on pathological suggestibility. (Vide Chapter IX).

In other respects sexual anomalies often govern the acts of hysterical persons and other psychopaths. The Roman emperors, Nero, Tiberius and Caligula were almost certainly sadists and enjoyed sexual pleasure at the sight of the sufferings of their victims. Valerie, Messalina and Catherine de Medici were also female sadists. Under the hypocritical veil of religion, Catherine de Medici was the principal instigator of the Massacre of St. Bartholomew at Paris, and wallowed in pleasure at the sight of the massacre of the Huguenots.

On the other hand, masochism may give tone to the thoughts and sexual feelings of certain persons of great influence, such as Rousseau, and to sects of ascetics, such as the fakirs, etc.

Involuntarily, therefore, the sexual feelings of every prophet and founder of religion, even during a short period of his life only, influence more or less his religious system and consequently the laws of morality based on it, which remain after his death.

Hence it is that sentiments, as variable in different individuals as sexual sentiments, are obliged to submit to the constraint of fixed and tyrannical dogmas which martyrize for centuries, or even thousands of years, men who have other opinions than the founder of the religion or its interpreters who succeed him.

In religion we see everywhere idealized eroticism, and often idealism perfumed with eroticism. The Songs of Solomon, the original sense of which was very lay, like that of most religious matters, has been made allegorical and applied to the Christian Church, but it was and will always remain an erotic poem.

It is hardly necessary to add that natural eroticism very often leads the severe and ascetic preachers of morality to the grossest hypocrisy. Priests and other pious persons often preach an idealized asceticism, while in secret they commit the most disgusting sexual excesses.

We must not, however, judge such crying inconsistencies too severely; they are to a great extent unconscious and are the result of the shock of passion against the tyranny of dogma, prejudice, and public opinion. They are often also the result of mental anomalies. When science is allowed to enlighten sexual life freely and openly, the hypocrisy of normal people will cease, and that of the abnormal will be recognized in time and prevented from doing harm.

Transformation of Eroticism into Religious Sentiment.—In ordinary life we find everywhere traces of the mixture of religion with sexual sensations and images. The religious ceremonies of marriage among all peoples constitute a significant remnant thereof.

When we look for the causes of sudden and progressive religious exaltation we often discover that it is nothing else than compensation for disappointed love. I refer here to true and fervid exaltation, identified with the whole inner consciousness, and not to the religion of habit which the average man scarcely remembers in his daily life, and only observes on Sunday in the form of a conventional promenade, or a contribution to the church. This religion of habit is only an empty form, which awakes no sentiment, and consequently is associated with no sensation, even erotic, in its followers.

In other individuals it may be otherwise, and certainly was so formerly. Everything goes to prove that the exalted sentiments of sympathy from which our religion is to a great extent derived, such as the holy fervor, the devotional ardor and the delights of ecstasy which it has so often procured for its followers and still procures for some of them, whether their object be God, Allah, Jehovah, Jesus Christ, Buddha, Vishnu, the Virgin Mary, or the Saints, that these sentiments have to a great extent their roots in primary erotic sensations and sentiments, or represent the direct transformation of them.

It is needless to say that all this may take place quite unconsciously and with the purest intentions. I hasten to add that the majority of true religious sentiments come from quite a different source.

When we study the religious sentiment profoundly, especially in the Christian religion, and Catholicism in particular, we find at each step its astonishing connection with eroticism. We find it in the exalted adoration of holy women, such as Mary Magdalene, Marie de Bethany, for Jesus, in the holy legends, in the worship of the Virgin Mary in the Middle Ages, and especially in art. The ecstatic Madonnas in our art galleries cast their fervent regards on Jesus or on the heavens. The expression in Murillo's "Immaculate Conception" may be interpreted by the highest voluptuous exaltation of love as well as by holy transfiguration. The "Saints" of Correggio regard the Holy Virgin with an amorous ardor which may be celestial, but appears in reality extremely terrestrial and human.

Numerous sects, both ancient and modern, have entered on the scene in a hardly less libidinous manner; for example, the sexual excesses of the anabaptists in former times and the sexual ecstasies of certain modern sects in America.

If the objection is raised that these sects are the pathological excrescences of religion, I reply with their disciples as follows: "We have come into the world because your State religions are sunk in indifference, hypocrisy and hollow formality, offering nothing to the human heart but empty phrases. It behooves us to awaken from this sleep. We want enthusiasm and fervor to transform the inner life of man and convert him." These words, which we can see and hear everywhere by opening our eyes and ears, constitute a formal avowal of the suggestive factor in religion. (See Chapter IX.)

In the Canton of Zurich I have myself often had occasion to observe, especially among women, the followers of the singular sect of the Pastor Zeller, of Maennedorf. He is a kind of visionary prophet who heals people after the manner of Christ and John the Baptist, by placing his hands on them and anointing them with oil. The cures which he obtains are due naturally to suggestion, like those of Lourdes, but he attributes them to divine miracles. He even told me naively that he heard a grinding (crepitation) in a broken bone, which he regarded as a miraculous cure! A crowd of women, mostly hysterical, collected around this man with an ardor which was unconsciously directed much more to his person than to that of God or Christ whom he was supposed to symbolize. I have treated patients who had been to him, and who associated with his person both the mildest and the most carnal erotic images—of course, in the innocence of their hearts.

It is far from me to reproach this sincere man and many others of the same kind, especially the priests who are surrounded by a halo of sanctity pushed to ecstasy. I only maintain that when a human being exalts himself in the search for pure-mindedness and sanctity, thus denying his true nature, he is always in danger of falling unconsciously into the most gross sensuality, and at the same time of sanctifying this sensuality.

Description of Religious Eroticism by the Poets.—The Swiss poet, Gottfried Keller, with his peculiar genius has described religious eroticism in an admirable way, especially in his seven legends. Read, for example, Dorothea's Blumenkoerbchen (Dorothea's little flower-basket), in which the terrestial lover of Dorothea ends by becoming jealous of her celestial lover, of whom she always speaks in the most exalted sentiments. Wherever she went she spoke in the most tender terms and expressed the most ardent desire for a celestial lover that she had found, who waited in immortal beauty to press her against his shining breast. When the wicked prefect had bound Dorothea on the gridiron under which was placed a slow fire, this hurt her delicate body, and she uttered smothered cries. Then her terrestrial lover, Theophilus, forcing his way through the crowd, burst her bonds and said with a sad smile, "Does it hurt you, Dorothea?" But when suddenly freed from all pain she immediately replied: "How could it hurt me, Theophilus? I lay on the roses of the lover I adore! This is my wedding day!" Keller shows us here, along with eroticism, the suggestive effect of ecstasy, which among martyrs, may reach the most complete anaesthesia.

Goethe has also described erotico-religious ecstasy; for example, at the end of the second part of Faust, in the prayers addressed by certain anchorites to the queen of heaven.

Distinction Between Religion and the Ecstasy Derived from Eroticism.—It would be quite false to maintain that religion in itself arises from sexual sensations. The terror of death and the enigmas of existence, the sentiments of human weakness and insufficiency of life, the want of consolation for all miseries, the hope of a future life, all play an important part in the origin of religions. On the other hand, it is necessary to recognize the considerable role of the erotic sexual factor in religious sentiments and dogmas, where on the one hand it leads to ardent fervor, while on the other hand it tyrannizes, especially by the exclusiveness of its residues transformed into dogmas, the natural expansion of the erotic sentiments which are so variable in individuals.

One of the most difficult and important future tasks of social science toward humanity is, therefore, to set free sexual relations from the tyranny of religious dogmas, by placing them in harmony with the true and purely human laws of natural ethics.

Compensations.—In the animal series we have seen that sentiments of sympathy are derived, in a general way, by phylogeny, from the sentiments of sexual attraction, and we often see in man a sexual love, deceived, despised or transfigured, seek compensation or idealization in the fervor or religious exaltation. The question naturally presents itself whether this compensation or this ideal is indispensable, and if other objects of a human and not mystical nature cannot take its place.

There are, in my opinion, purely human ideals, which are capable of transfiguring erotic love "religiously" quite as well as the mysticism of so-called divine revelations. Christianity is called the religion of love, and the apostle Paul even places charity higher than faith. But what is charity but the synthesis of the social sentiments of sympathy, devotion and self-denial, for the benefit of humanity? Cannot it, therefore, be established on another basis than that of cheques to be drawn on paradise? Cannot exaltation and fervor apply their powerful faith, the beauty of their form and the elevation of their sentiments to the social ideal and the future welfare of our children? Cannot we replace the cult of religious legends, the adoration of the works of Jehovah and Christ, as they are given in the Bible, by the religion of our descendants and their welfare?

In my opinion, the suggestion of religious ecstasy and love might well be directed toward the benefit of society. Its fanaticism is admirably adapted to shake the indifference and indolence of men; but this source of energy should not be wasted in the adoration of legendary mirages, but used for the efficacious culture of a true human religion of love on earth.



Rights and Liberty.—Human ideas of right are very curious. Every one appeals to right and liberty, and naturally thinks of himself first, without perceiving that in continually claiming his proper rights, he tramples under foot those of others. How beautiful are these words Rights and Liberty! But in everyday life in what an uncompromising way they oppose each other! To give satisfaction to my rights and liberty, the right of complete development, according to my natural sentiments, is a thing which is perfectly impossible; or, is only practicable by constantly infringing the right and liberty of my fellow beings.

Nevertheless people keep harping on this theme; with the exalted tone of intimate conviction they inveigh against our social organization, cursing the malice of others, but show themselves perfectly incapable of resolving the contradictions which gave rise to their thirst for liberty and justice.

The cry of despair addressed to right and liberty by modern society is nothing else than the expression of the instinctive sentiment of anger and revolt produced by the natural evolution of our phylogeny. The savage instincts, still considerable in the hereditary foundation of human nature (the mneme), revolt against the straight-jacket placed on them by social life, and against the want of liberty on the earth, which is already too small for humanity.

The natural man is eager for expansion and liberty, and accustoms himself with difficulty to the severe restrictions which social necessities impose upon him. His nature is still that of a semi-nomadic animal, living as an autocrat with his family, possessed of a number of egoistic wants, and, wherever he goes, opposing the rights, liberties and desires of other men, who generally compel him to subordinate his desires to theirs. This is the true reason of this impotent cry of vexation and anger against the malice of others and the defectiveness of social organization. And yet this cry is absolutely necessary, in order that we may find and put in practice a social formula as tolerable as possible for the future. But, if we except the question of capital and labor, there is no domain in which social hindrance is so cruelly felt as in the sexual.

What is human right? Apart from formally admitted distinctions we shall divide what is called right from the psychological and human point of view into two categories of ideas; natural rights and conventional rights.

Natural Rights. Right of the Stronger.—Natural right is quite a relative idea: the right to life and its conditions. But, as in this world, which is said to be created by a personal and perfect God, things are so amicably arranged that living creatures can only exist by devouring one another, the oldest effective natural right of every living being is precisely that of devouring others weaker than itself. This is the right of the stronger. Therefore, the absolute natural right is the right of the stronger.

Rights of Groups. Ants.—These notions become altered, however, if we regard them from the point of view of relative natural right. This does not concern all living beings, but only certain groups. The rights of groups are relative from a double point of view. On the one hand they give the group of individuals concerned the right of interfering with the right to life of other groups, even to extinction. On the other hand—and this is the better aspect of the rights of groups—they are completed by what are called the duties of each individual toward others of the same group, that is to say, the obligation to have regard for and even protect their rights equally as his own. The rights of a group include the social rights and duties in the limits of that group.

It is among animals, especially the ants, that we find the most ideal organization of the rights of a group. Each individual of the ant colony acts in the interests of the community, which are the same as its own. It has the right to be nourished and housed and to satisfy all its immediate wants, but at the same time it is its duty to labor unceasingly in building and repairing the common dwelling, to nourish its fellows, to aid in the reproduction and bringing-up of the brood, to defend the community and even to take the offensive against every living being who does not belong to the community, in order to increase its resources.

The rights and duties have here become completely instinctive by adaptation, that is to say, they are performed without commands or instruction. They result spontaneously from the natural organization of ants without the least external obligation intervening. Here, the cry of distress of the ferocious human beast, of whom we have just spoken, is completely absent, for duty is replaced by instinct or by appetite, and its accomplishment is accompanied by a natural sentiment of pleasure. Every ant could be idle without being punished by its comrades, if it were capable of wishing to be so, but this is impossible. Communities of ants can only exist on the basis of the social instinct of labor and mutual support, without which they would immediately disappear.

Egoism and the Rights of Groups in Man. Human Rights.—The notions of the rights of groups in man are infinitely more complicated and more difficult to understand. As we have already seen, the most primordial instinctive sentiment in man is limited to his family and his immediate surroundings. But here even it leaves much to be desired. Family disputes, quarrels between brothers and sisters are frequent enough; parricide, fratricide and infanticide are not rare. In addition to this, beyond the narrow circle of the family, disputes, hatred between individuals, deception, robbery and many worse things are always the order of the day. In struggles between parties and classes, in the abuse of privileges of caste and fortune, in war, in commerce, in a word in everything, private interests of egoism take precedence of the general interests of humanity.

These facts, and a thousand other pitiable phenomena of the same kind in human society, bear witness to the egoistic and rapacious nature of man, which proves how little the social instinct is developed in his brain. Human society is founded much more on custom and tradition, imposed by the force of circumstances, than on nature. Human infants resemble kittens at first much more than young social beings. In primitive times, when the earth appeared large to man, the rights of groups were limited to small communities which looked upon other men, the same as animals and plants, as legitimate prey. Cannibalism and even the chase show clearly that man began by becoming more rapacious and more carnivorous than his pithecanthropoid ancestor, and his cousin the ape of the present day.

It is only later, after the progressive enlargement of stronger communities at the expense of weaker; still later, when man commenced to comprehend the sufferings for the community which result from the autocracy and passion for unlimited pleasure of a few persons; finally, when he discovered the narrow limits of the earth, that notions of humanity and humanitarianism, that is to say the sentiment of human solidarity, were able to develop in the general conscience. It was, however, one of the ancients who said "I am a man and nothing human can be strange to me." But in his time, as in that of Jesus Christ, civilization was already far advanced and influenced by the wide humanitarian ideas, more ancient still, of the Assyrians and the Buddhists.

Every one who reflects will understand that the relativity of the rights of groups in man and that of the duties which correspond to them, must in time expand and be applied, little by little, to all the human inhabitants of the earth. What is more difficult is the definition of what should be understood under the term of humanity, capable of being socialized and cultivated.

No doubt, the gap which exists between the lowest living human race and the highest ape is considerable and without direct transition. However, we gradually begin to recognize, on the one hand, that we have certain duties toward animals, at least toward those which serve us, and, on the other hand, we know that certain of the lower human races, such as the pigmies, the Veddas and even the Negroes, are inaccessible to a higher civilization, and especially incapable by themselves of maintaining what a number of their individuals learn by training when they live among us. We shall, therefore, have to choose finally between the gradual extinction of these races or that of our own.

It is not my business to deal with this question here, to trace the limits of civilizable humanity, or to examine the rights and duties of civilized men to each other relatively to the rest of the living world; or, in other words, to what extent civilized man should have the relative right of subjecting other living beings, exploiting them in his own interests, nourishing them, or eventually exterminating them for the safety of his own existence.

As regards the animal and vegetable kingdoms, from the amoeba to the orang-utan, the question is simple enough and settled. It is much more difficult to decide for men and for peoples separated from us by great racial differences. I must emphasize the profoundness of this difference. It is evident that the higher cultivated races, or rather blends of races, which live to-day will do better to live in peace than to mutually exterminate each other.

It is necessary to discuss these questions at the risk of hurting the feelings of sentimental persons. But what is the use of being blind to such patent facts? It is not too soon to look closely into the future, and it is only thus that we can arrive at any useful result. The natural rights of man should evolve more and more from a complex of social rights and duties toward a single great group, which we may call civilized humanity, the relative limits of which can only be traced by repeated trials and by practical experience. The instincts of the wild beast are still so deeply rooted, even in civilized men, that they can only be adapted gradually and even painfully to a natural right thus understood and limited. We must honestly admit that such a right only merits very relatively the denomination of natural rights. In fact, social rights are necessarily artificial in man. A few elementary rights and duties only are quite natural, especially in the sexual domain. We are concerned here with adaptations in the form of instincts which serve for the support and development of the family, as well as for the protection of the individual. Among these we may mention the right to life, the duty of labor and the right to labor, the right of the infant to be nourished by its mother and to be cared for and protected by its parents, the duty of parents to nourish their children, the duty of the husband to protect his wife, the right to obtain nourishment from the animal and vegetable kingdoms, the right to satisfy the sexual appetite, etc.

There exists, however, a series of other rights and duties, which are so necessary that they may be termed natural. Such are the right to possess a dwelling place; to defend one's life against attack; to think and believe what one wishes so long as one does not impose one's ideas and faith on others; the duty to respect the life and property of one's neighbor; the duty to give a healthy and sufficient education to youth, both in body and mind, etc.

If we regard the matter without prejudice, certain rights and duties which have been hitherto considered as natural and self-evident, become very doubtful. Such are ecclesiastical and religious rights and duties, patriotic and national duties, the rights and duties of war, the rights of privileged classes, the rights of property, etc. It is clear, from an unprejudiced examination of the development of humanity, that these so-called rights and duties are only the historic legacies of mysticism or of limited human groupings, and in great part artificial. The rights and duties of members of the groups in question consisted in mutually protecting their opinions and their national and religious interests, etc., and in subjecting or even trampling under foot those of other human groups. These lead us quite naturally to the second category of general notions of rights.

Conventional Rights.—To speak correctly, conventional rights are not rights. They are simply a dogmatic sanction applied to all kinds of customs and abuses that men have appropriated, according to local circumstances and their fortuitous conquests or acquisitions. Here, the consequences of the natural rights of the stronger, religious mysticisms and all sorts of human passions, the sexual appetite especially, play a very varied and complex role.

The absurdity and injustice of conventional rights is shown by the difference, often even the absolute contrast, of the corresponding conception of rights among different peoples. In one, polygamy is a right and even a divine institution; in another, it is a crime. Individual murder is generally considered as criminal, but in warfare the slaughter of masses becomes a duty and even a virtue. Theft and rapine are regarded in times of peace as crimes, but in time of war, under the form of annexation and plunder they are the uncontested rights of the victor. In a kingdom, the monarch is looked upon as a holy person and offense to his majesty as a crime; in a democracy, it is individual domination which is regarded as criminal.

Falsehood and mental restriction are, in certain cases at least, the rights or even the duty of the Catholic, who is only forbidden to swear falsely in the name of God and religion, while others consider all falsehood more or less unjustifiable; others again regard every oath as sinful.

The contradictions, inconsistencies, unnatural prescripts and tyrannies of what is called conventional rights in different peoples are innumerable, and the notions of our rights which we have inherited from the Romans are not much better.

Retaliation.—In historical epochs, we see the rights of the stronger succeeded by certain notions of rights which may still be considered as primordial; such is the law of retaliation or lynch law, based on the natural sentiment of vengeance, which is itself derived from anger, jealousy and pride, and says "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." The law of retaliation is very natural and very human. Although of savage origin, it has at least the merit of recognizing in men an equal right in retaliation for injury caused in a brutal fashion, without considering inner motives.

Expiation.—We also find in the old law another notion derived partly from the preceding, but chiefly from religious mysticism—the notion of expiation. After constructing in his own image a divinity blinded by human passions, man attributed to him, from fear of vengeance, sentiments of anger and indignation regarding his baseness and malice toward his neighbor. He then conciliated the divinity and appeased his wrath by making sacrifices, human or otherwise.

At first, sacrifices were not made of criminals or guilty persons, but of innocent lambs, men or beasts, sometimes with all kinds of torture, to appease the supposed wrath of the gods. Gradually, however, these customs became more humane and were changed to the notions of expiation which we still have. Whosoever has committed a crime should expiate it by some kind of pain, eventually by death. In our modern penal law, notions of expiation and retaliation are blended, and when we study its roots in ethnology we are not surprised to see the expiation and punishment of so-called crimes against God or religion. We find in this fact a singular mixture of religious and judicial notions. A curious way of appeasing the divinity is the sacrifice of animals and other offerings which ancient and savage peoples made and still make, in returning thanks for victory or some other good fortune, or to appease supposed wrath.

Themis.—In spite of all these errors, ancient civilization represented as the ideal of right a goddess of justice, Themis, with eyes blindfolded and holding scales in her hands. The scales signified that right and wrong should be carefully weighed against each other; the bandage, that the judge should pronounce his verdict without regard to persons, and be inaccessible to all outside influence. For the limited ideas of that period, little removed from retaliation and expiation, this blind woman with her scales was a sufficient representation of justice. She had no need to trouble about the psychology of human nature, mental disorders, diminished responsibility or ideal social improvement.

Themis Unblindfolded. Fallacy of Free-will.—Nowadays the task of our goddess is not so simple, for the progress of humanity and science, especially of psychology and psychiatry, oblige her whether she wishes or not, to completely remove her bandage, so as to see clearly into the human brain.

It is not simply a question of knowing whether an accused person has or has not committed the act which he is accused of, but also whether he knew what he was doing, what were the motives which urged him, and who is the real instigator of the misdeed. Alcohol, mental anomalies and diseases, suggestions, passions, etc., concur in influencing the human brain so that it is hardly responsible for its acts.

Again, on further examination, we find that the accepted and historical notion of free-will, that is to say the absolute liberty of man's will, which constitutes the very existence of our old penal law, becomes not only more problematical, but may even be considered as a purely human illusion, resting on the fact that the indirect and remote motives of our actions are mainly subconscious.

The great philosopher, Spinoza, has already demonstrated this truth in a masterly manner, and modern science confirms it in all respects. Every effect has its cause, and all our resolutions are the result of the activities of our brain, in their turn determined or influenced by hereditary engrams (instincts and dispositions) or acquired (memories), which are their internal causes, and combine with causes acting from without. Let us admit freely the fallacy of the old axiom of human free-will and endeavor to understand that what we consider as free will is nothing else than the very variable faculty of our brain, more or less developed in different individuals, of adapting its activity to that of its environment, and especially to that of other men. Also let us endeavor to take into account that our will and all our actions are, consciously or unconsciously, determined by a complex of energies or hereditary engrams (character), combined with those which have acted upon us from without during our life, as well as with emotional or intellectual sensory impressions.

Our whole conception of rights, and especially of penal law, should then change. We should entirely do away with retaliation, a barbarous relic of a more or less animal sentiment of our ancestors, and expiation, the relic of a superannuated and superstitious mysticism. Modern and truly scientific reformers of penal law have already taken account of this necessity. But, in spite of the complete inefficacy of the old penal system as regards the diminution of crime, they have so far only put into practice few of their ideas.

Justification of Rights and Laws.—After what we have just said, there only remain, two reasons to justify the existence of rights and laws:

(1). To protect human society against criminals, and in general to institute ideas and laws with a view to regulate the mutual interests of men, in such a way as to result in natural conditions of existence as advantageous as possible, both for the individual and for society:

(2). To study the causes of crimes, social conflicts, imperfections and inequalities, so as to obtain, by contending against these causes, an improvement in men and their social condition. It is true that what we demand here means a complete transformation of the notions of conventional right, not only in our old penal law, but also to a great extent in civil law; but this transformation is inevitable and has even already commenced. Its object is to liberate right from the grasp of an old metaphysico-religious dogmatism, and from crystalized doctrines derived from superannuated custom and abuse, and to found itself on the applied and social natural history of man, who then only will merit the name of homo sapiens which was given to him by Linnaeus, the great nomenclator of living beings.

Jurists have already too long based metaphysics on old barbarous customs and superstitious mysticism, transformed into dogmas. It is time that Themis removed her bandage, studied psychology, psychopathology and science, and submitted the impartial handling of her scales to the influence of truer and juster human factors, even if her work thereby becomes more difficult and more complicated.

Sexual Rights.—While sexual sentiments form part of the most sacred and intimate conditions of individual happiness, they are also closely and indissolubly connected with the social welfare of humanity. In no domain is it more difficult to combine harmoniously the welfare of the community with that of the individual, and this is why questions of right in sexual matters are among the most difficult to solve.

The satisfaction of the sexual appetite in man is part of his natural rights. Natural science compels us to formulate this principle; yet it is a dogma the consequences of which may become very grave and even fatal; for the satisfaction of a man's sexual appetite implies, not only the direct participation of one or more human beings in a common act, but also that of a much greater number in its indirect effects; and it may occasion, according to circumstances, more harm than good.

If the question of reproduction did not exist, it would be more easy to put individualism in more or less harmonious accord with socialism. It is thus the sexual relations which present the greatest difficulties in the social domain.

In spite of the considerable progress which has been accomplished, our modern law is still based to a great extent on the barbarous principle of the legal inequality of the sexes. The mind of man and that of woman are no doubt of different quality; nevertheless, in a society which does not possess asexual individuals like that of the ants and bees, and in which the two sexes are compelled to work together harmoniously for the social welfare, there is no reason to subordinate one sex to the other. Man may have 130 or 150 grammes more brain tissue than woman and be superior to her in his faculty of combination and invention, but this is no reason why we should only accord his wife and mother inferior social rights to his own. His bodily strength will always protect him against the possible encroachments of woman.

A first postulate is, therefore, the equality of the two sexes before the law. A second postulate consists in the emancipation of infancy, in the sense that it should never be considered as an object of possession or of exploitation, as was and is still so often the case.

These are the fundamental principles of a normal sexual law. In no animal do we find the abuses which man is permitted to practice toward his wife and children. Let us now pass on to special questions.


The object of civil law is to regulate the relations of men to each ether. Properly speaking it does not punish, that is to say, it requires no expiation and is not concerned with crime. It seeks to improve the social basis for mutual obligations and contracts. Nevertheless, it borders on penal law as regards the question of damages which one individual must pay another whom he has injured even involuntarily, as well as by the coercive measures, both administrative and operative, which it employs.

Although resting on a natural basis better adapted to the social welfare than penal law, civil law still contains the traditions of religious mysticism and the abuse of conventional right.

I shall here analyze in a few words what concerns our subject in actual civil law, and shall point out the modifications which appear to me desirable. It is, however, impossible for me to enter into the details of codes, owing to absence of special knowledge. Moreover, this would lead us too far from our subject.

Marriage and Sexual Relations in General.—The coitus of two individuals, performed with mutual deliberation and causing no harm to a third person, should be considered as a private affair, and should have no connection with either civil or penal law.

However great may be the necessary restrictions of this general axiom, it must be recognized as valid in principle. Society has no right to restrict the liberty of individuals so long as it, or one of its members, is not injured by these individuals. So long as coitus is freely performed by adult and responsible persons, has no indirect consequences, and does not cause fecundation, neither society nor any one is injured.

In the practice of law this axiom is not yet generally accepted. Many laws, especially among the Germanic peoples, punish concubinage, or extra-nuptial coitus. Even when concubinage is tolerated, it is considered illegitimate, so that the woman who gives herself to it and the children who result from it, have much to suffer. Although they constitute simple religious precepts, the ordinances of Liguori and others concerning coitus influence in a high degree sexual relations in Catholic countries.

As a rule, coitus is only legally recognized as licit in marriage. But we have seen in Chapter VI how elastic is the term marriage, which varies from polygamy and monogamy to polyandry, and from marriage for short periods to indissoluble marriage, to say nothing of the cases where women are sacrificed on their husbands' tombs. We have seen that religious traditions, arising themselves from barbarous customs, play a great part in conjugal law. It is only by infinite trouble that the principle of civil marriage has made its way in modern civilized states. Even to-day, religious marriage is in some countries only form of union which is legally recognized. These simple facts show to what extent we are still hidebound by tradition.

The idea that marriage is a divine institution and that man has the right to contract, but not to dissolve it, is still a widespread belief, however bizarre it may be. We shall not enter here into the detail of the religious forms of marriage, which is referred to in Chapters VI and XII.

It is evident, from our modern and scientific point of view, which is purely human and social, that civil law only can be recognized as valid. Religious forms and ceremonies must be considered as belonging to a private domain. For this reason they concern neither the State nor society, and should be refused all legal character; for it is our duty to strive and liberate humanity from the tyranny of all imposed creeds, as we should combat all so-called State religion.

Civil Marriage.—What then is civil marriage, and what ought it to be? Our actual civil marriage is the result of trials and compromises which require improvement. It is a contract between two persons of opposite sex whose mutual object is the reproduction of the human species. In this contract the law is unfortunately too much concerned with the personal relations of the two contracting parties, and too little with the interests of their eventual posterity, which necessitates care and attention on the part of the social legislator. Moreover, the traditional conception of the dependence of woman disturbs the purity and justice of civil marriage.

In my opinion, the first fundamental principles of civil marriage should be absolute legal equality of the two conjoints and complete separation of property. The momentary amorous intoxication of a woman should not allow a man to appropriate her property in whole or in part; only truly barbarous laws could permit such iniquity, and they should be banished from all the codes of civilized countries. Moreover, in countries where woman enjoys important rights, the community of property furnishes those who are unscrupulous with the means of completely despoiling their husbands.

Further, in common conjugal life, the domestic work of the wife should not be considered as obligatory and requiring no special remuneration. Her work has as much right to be considered as that of the husband, and should be entered to the wife as an asset.

Community of property is so immoral that it should be considered invalid in case of ulterior dispute, when it has been instituted by private contract. It is the business of the conjoints to put it in practice if they wish, so long as they are of one mind. But when dissensions or divorce take place, it only injures the one who has remained honest, and at the same time the children.

This is why such contracts ought never be definitely binding to the conjoints. Even if the marriage is not unhappy, the extravagances or blunders of one of the conjoints may ruin the whole family, in the case of common property.

The duration of marriage is very important. If a marriage contract exacts sexual fidelity till death, divorce is nonsense. Yet, in practice, it is obvious cruelty to keep two individuals legally bound together who can no longer live with each other. Thus, the provision and license of divorce are necessities of civil law which are certainly not ideal, but which cannot be passed over without favoring family disturbance and without sanctioning illegality and evil.

Among the most frequent causes of divorce are desire for change in the husband, venereal diseases, disputes, incompatibility of temper, mental disorders, immorality, ill-treatment and crime. The sterility of one of the conjoints and incapacity for coitus may also be mentioned as reasons for divorce, although in certain circumstances, as we shall see, limited polyandry or polygyny may be much more humane than divorce.

As soon as divorce is admitted, important and complicated questions of law arise when there are children. We shall refer to these later. The legal license of complete divorce thus transforms marriage into a temporary contract, which is not so far removed as one would think from the ideal relations of free love.

We will examine the circumstances which, apart from the procreation of children, may attribute legal importance to the sexual relations of two persons. I must first of all observe that, if it wishes, civil legislation can very well create a state of things which gives to children born outside marriage the same rights and the same social position as legitimate children, and I will even add that such social equality would respond to the most elementary sentiments of human rights, if these were not already influenced in advance by prejudice and mysticism.

Minors.—Civil law should stipulate that minors have not the right to marry. This may appear cruel in certain cases, but society has the right and the duty to intervene. Minors should be protected against all sexual abuse. A young girl under the age of seventeen and a boy under eighteen or twenty should be prevented from all sexual relations. This is a postulate of individual and social hygiene and consequently of all healthy matrimonial law.

Lunatics.—The same applies to lunatics, who are legally comparable to minors. Have we the right to forcibly separate a married couple, or a couple living in concubinage, because one of the conjoints has become insane, when the other does not wish for separation? In Germany the procedure of nullity of marriage has been invented for these cases, but without gaining much. I shall return to this point in connection with another subject, but I may remark here that it is not the continuation of marriage nor that of sexual connection which injures society, but only the procreation of children. Therefore it is only the procreation of children, which should be legally prohibited, and sexual connection only when the healthy conjoint agrees to its suppression, or when the interests of the afflicted one necessitate it.

In the future these particular cases may be regulated in the most convenient and humane way possible.

Certain bodily infirmities which one of the conjoints has concealed from the other, or of which he was not himself aware, should also impair the validity of the marriage contract. Such are chronic infectious diseases, especially venereal, impotence in the man and sterility in the woman, when the cause was previously known. But here again, the law should only intervene at the request of the person injured, and to take certain measures to prevent the procreation of abortions, without interfering with sexual connection.

Adultery.—An important question is that of adultery. Here again, we are of opinion that the law has not performed its duty. Proved adultery, when fidelity has been promised by contract should give the injured party the right of immediate and absolute divorce.

Certain forms of adultery, which take place with the assent of the two conjoints, have in reality the character of bigamy and should neither be recognized by civil nor penal law. I will cite as an example, the case where two conjoints wish to live together for various reasons, while the impotence, disease or sterility of one of them induces him to concede to the other liberty of sexual connection with a third person, apart from marriage. In such a case neither society nor any one else is injured and all motive for legal intervention is wanting (vide Andre Couvreur: La Graine).

Divorce.—The question of divorce becomes extremely difficult when one of the conjoints wishes for it and the other does not, and when no other reason exists for determining the marriage. We are here concerned with the malicious caprices of the god of love, from which the world will never be free.

In my opinion, the law in such cases can only do one thing, and that is to protect the rights of the children, if there are any, and to compel the inconstant conjoint to provide for their nourishment.

The law should also protect the pecuniary and other civil rights of the conjoint who wishes to continue life in common. Here especially we can recognize the necessity for the separation of property. On the other hand, I am convinced that it is useless to maintain at any price a union which one party does not wish for. In practice no good results from it; it is rather a moral question than a question of law.

In such cases we may observe the despair of the conjoint who has remained faithful, both in the marital and legal relations of marriage. The law cannot do everything, and here it is powerless; all that it can do is to exact delay and attempt at reconciliation, which sometimes succeeds.

The Right to Satisfaction of the Sexual Appetite.—We now come to a delicate question. The right to satisfy the sexual appetite must necessarily be restricted in more than one respect if injury to third parties is to be avoided. If we except certain pathological cases, the chief difficulty lies in the fact that the normal sexual appetite can only be satisfied by the cohabitation of two persons, and that what satisfies the one may often injure or deeply wound the other, and even the children. The matter may go so far as to concern penal law, and we shall refer to it again in this connection. But, even from the point of view of civil law, permission to satisfy the sexual appetite must necessarily depend on the consent of both parties. In my opinion no exception to this rule can be tolerated.

It is not enough to protect minors; it is also necessary to prevent the abuse of the persons of adults against their will. The institution of so-called Christian marriage still contains barbarous dispositions in this respect, the wife being generally obliged to surrender herself to her lord and master as often as he pleases. This is the dark side of the picture which exacts sexual fidelity in man.

Inversely, for physiological reasons, a very erotic and sexually exacting woman cannot obtain satisfaction, man being incapable of commanding erections voluntarily. She can only bring an action for divorce if she can prove that her husband is completely impotent.

It is sufficient to reflect on these facts to see how difficult is the regulation of sexual connection by law. The legislation of details in this domain becomes of necessity an injustice.

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