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Psychopathia Sexualis, Philadelphia, F.A. Davis, 1892

Psychopathia Sexualis, Philadelphia, F.A. Davis, 1892

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Published by James_Quinn_ABQ_NM
THIS BOOK AND THE FOLLOWING DESCRIPTION ARE INTENDED FOR MATURE READERS ONLY

This book is phenomenal. It's Victorian era medical treatise on sexual deviance, the substance of which consists of hundreds of case studies, numbered for reference, such as this typical example:

========

Case 2. Mr. X., aged 80, of high social position, from a family having hereditary taint. He was always very sensual and a cynic, of uncontrollable temper, and, according to his own confession, as a young man, preferred masturbation to coitus. However, he never showed signs of contrary sexual instinct, and kept mistresses, raising a child by one. At the age of forty-eight he married, out of inclination, and begat six children, and never gave his wife cause for complaint. I could obtain but an incomplete history of his family. It was certain that his brother was suspected of love for men, and that a nephew became insane as a result of excessive masturbation.

The patient, always peculiar and quick-tempered, for years has been growing more extreme in character. ... For fourteen months it has been noticed that he manifests affection for certain male servants, especially for a gardener's boy. Otherwise rude and overbearing to servants, he surfeits his favorite with favors and presents, and commands his family and his house officials to treat the boy with the greatest respect. The aged patient awaits the hour of rendezvous in true sexual excitement. He sends his family away, that he may be with his favorite undisturbed, and remains shut up with him for hours ; and when the doors are opened again, he is found lying on the bed exhausted. Besides this object of his passion, the patient had intercourse episodically with other servants. It is certain that he enticed them, asked them for kisses, exhibited himself, allowed manipulation , and practiced mutual masturbation. By these practices absolute demoralization was brought about. The family was powerless ; for any opposition caused violent outbreaks of anger and even threats against his relatives. The patient was completely without appreciation of his perverse sexual acts; and therefore the only course left to the afflicted family was to remove all authority from his hands and place him in an asylum. ...

========

This is Case 2, right off the bat. It is mild compared to some of the Jack-the-Ripper stuff covered later in the book. But it reflects a theme running throughout. It seems to me that many of the supposed "diseases," such as masturbation, essentially for which poor Mr. X (not to mention his poor nephew) ended up in an asylum, were only problematic because of the social mores condemning them. Surely today Mr. X would not have ended up "insane" simply for kissing and fondling a couple of guys. (Although he does sound like a pretty big jerk.)

There is one case of a man with an overwhelming, all-encompassing foot fetish, which began when he was 13, when the nanny used her toes to masturbate him in the bathtub. I had a distinct impression that he probably would not not have developed such an intense fixation from that if not for the fact that it was shrouded in so much shame: in other words, many of the "diseases" these people suffered from were caused by the very society of which these doctors were themselves pillars!

It can be titillating, amusingly repulsive, and at times horrific, and at the same time it opens a fascinating window on Victorian society. A window to the basement, facing the alley, to be sure, but fascinating all the more for being so. I truly love this book.

-- James Quinn
THIS BOOK AND THE FOLLOWING DESCRIPTION ARE INTENDED FOR MATURE READERS ONLY

This book is phenomenal. It's Victorian era medical treatise on sexual deviance, the substance of which consists of hundreds of case studies, numbered for reference, such as this typical example:

========

Case 2. Mr. X., aged 80, of high social position, from a family having hereditary taint. He was always very sensual and a cynic, of uncontrollable temper, and, according to his own confession, as a young man, preferred masturbation to coitus. However, he never showed signs of contrary sexual instinct, and kept mistresses, raising a child by one. At the age of forty-eight he married, out of inclination, and begat six children, and never gave his wife cause for complaint. I could obtain but an incomplete history of his family. It was certain that his brother was suspected of love for men, and that a nephew became insane as a result of excessive masturbation.

The patient, always peculiar and quick-tempered, for years has been growing more extreme in character. ... For fourteen months it has been noticed that he manifests affection for certain male servants, especially for a gardener's boy. Otherwise rude and overbearing to servants, he surfeits his favorite with favors and presents, and commands his family and his house officials to treat the boy with the greatest respect. The aged patient awaits the hour of rendezvous in true sexual excitement. He sends his family away, that he may be with his favorite undisturbed, and remains shut up with him for hours ; and when the doors are opened again, he is found lying on the bed exhausted. Besides this object of his passion, the patient had intercourse episodically with other servants. It is certain that he enticed them, asked them for kisses, exhibited himself, allowed manipulation , and practiced mutual masturbation. By these practices absolute demoralization was brought about. The family was powerless ; for any opposition caused violent outbreaks of anger and even threats against his relatives. The patient was completely without appreciation of his perverse sexual acts; and therefore the only course left to the afflicted family was to remove all authority from his hands and place him in an asylum. ...

========

This is Case 2, right off the bat. It is mild compared to some of the Jack-the-Ripper stuff covered later in the book. But it reflects a theme running throughout. It seems to me that many of the supposed "diseases," such as masturbation, essentially for which poor Mr. X (not to mention his poor nephew) ended up in an asylum, were only problematic because of the social mores condemning them. Surely today Mr. X would not have ended up "insane" simply for kissing and fondling a couple of guys. (Although he does sound like a pretty big jerk.)

There is one case of a man with an overwhelming, all-encompassing foot fetish, which began when he was 13, when the nanny used her toes to masturbate him in the bathtub. I had a distinct impression that he probably would not not have developed such an intense fixation from that if not for the fact that it was shrouded in so much shame: in other words, many of the "diseases" these people suffered from were caused by the very society of which these doctors were themselves pillars!

It can be titillating, amusingly repulsive, and at times horrific, and at the same time it opens a fascinating window on Victorian society. A window to the basement, facing the alley, to be sure, but fascinating all the more for being so. I truly love this book.

-- James Quinn

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Published by: James_Quinn_ABQ_NM on Apr 02, 2011
Copyright:Public Domain

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09/17/2013

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