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Studies in the Psychology of Sex, Volume 1 (of 6) (1927) Author: Havelock Ellis

Studies in the Psychology of Sex, Volume 1 (of 6) (1927) Author: Havelock Ellis

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The Project Gutenberg eBook, Studies in the Psychology of Sex, Volume 1(of 6), by Havelock EllisThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and withalmost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away orre-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License includedwith this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.netTitle: Studies in the Psychology of Sex, Volume 1 (of 6)Author: Havelock EllisRelease Date: October 8, 2004 [eBook #13610]Language: English***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK STUDIES IN THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SEX,VOLUME 1 (OF 6)***E-text prepared by Juliet Sutherland and the Project Gutenberg OnlineDistributed Proofreading Team (http://www.pgdp.net)Note: Project Gutenberg also has an HTML version of thisfile which includes the original illustrations.See 13610-h.htm or 13610-h.zip:(http://www.gutenberg.net/dirs/1/3/6/1/13610/13610-h/13610-h.htm)or(http://www.gutenberg.net/dirs/1/3/6/1/13610/13610-h.zip)STUDIES IN THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SEX, VOLUME IThe Evolution of ModestyThe Phenomena of Sexual PeriodicityAuto-ErotismbyHAVELOCK ELLIS1927
 
GENERAL PREFACE.The origin of these _Studies_ dates from many years back. As a youth I wasfaced, as others are, by the problem of sex. Living partly in anAustralian city where the ways of life were plainly seen, partly in thesolitude of the bush, I was free both to contemplate and to meditate manythings. A resolve slowly grew up within me: one main part of my life-workshould be to make clear the problems of sex.That was more than twenty years ago. Since then I can honestly say that inall that I have done that resolve has never been very far from mythoughts. I have always been slowly working up to this central problem;and in a book published some three years ago--_Man and Woman: a Study ofHuman Secondary Sexual Characters_--I put forward what was, in my owneyes, an introduction to the study of the primary questions of sexualpsychology.Now that I have at length reached the time for beginning to publish myresults, these results scarcely seem to me large. As a youth, I had hopedto settle problems for those who came after; now I am quietly content if Ido little more than state them. For even that, I now think, is much; it isat least the half of knowledge. In this particular field the evil ofignorance is magnified by our efforts to suppress that which never can besuppressed, though in the effort of suppression it may become perverted. Ihave at least tried to find out what are the facts, among normal people aswell as among abnormal people; for, while it seems to me that thephysician's training is necessary in order to ascertain the facts, thephysician for the most part only obtains the abnormal facts, which alonebring little light. I have tried to get at the facts, and, having got atthe facts, to look them simply and squarely in the face. If I cannotperhaps turn the lock myself, I bring the key which can alone in the endrightly open the door: the key of sincerity. That is my one panacea:sincerity.I know that many of my friends, people on whose side I, too, am to befound, retort with another word: reticence. It is a mistake, they say, totry to uncover these things; leave the sexual instincts alone, to grow upand develop in the shy solitude they love, and they will be sure to growup and develop wholesomely. But, as a matter of fact, that is preciselywhat we can not and will not ever allow them to do. There are very fewmiddle-aged men and women who can clearly recall the facts of their livesand tell you in all honesty that their sexual instincts have developedeasily and wholesomely throughout. And it should not be difficult to seewhy this is so. Let my friends try to transfer their feelings and theoriesfrom the reproductive region to, let us say, the nutritive region, theonly other which can be compared to it for importance. Suppose that eatingand drinking was never spoken of openly, save in veiled or poeticlanguage, and that no one ever ate food publicly, because it wasconsidered immoral and immodest to reveal the mysteries of this naturalfunction. We know what would occur. A considerable proportion of thecommunity, more especially the more youthful members, possessed by aninstinctive and legitimate curiosity, would concentrate their thoughts onthe subject. They would have so many problems to puzzle over: How oftenought I to eat? What ought I to eat? Is it wrong to eat fruit, which Ilike? Ought I to eat grass, which I don't like? Instinct notwithstanding,we may be quite sure that only a small minority would succeed in eatingreasonably and wholesomely. The sexual secrecy of life is even moredisastrous than such a nutritive secrecy would be; partly because weexpend such a wealth of moral energy in directing or misdirecting it,
 
partly because the sexual impulse normally develops at the same time asthe intellectual impulse, not in the early years of life, when wholesomeinstinctive habits might be formed. And there is always some ignorant andfoolish friend who is prepared still further to muddle things: Eat a mealevery other day! Eat twelve meals a day! Never eat fruit! Always eatgrass! The advice emphatically given in sexual matters is usually not lessabsurd than this. When, however, the matter is fully open, the problems offood are not indeed wholly solved, but everyone is enabled by theexperience of his fellows to reach some sort of situation suited to hisown case. And when the rigid secrecy is once swept away a sane and naturalreticence becomes for the first time possible.This secrecy has not always been maintained. When the Catholic Church wasat the summit of its power and influence it fully realized the magnitudeof sexual problems and took an active and inquiring interest in all thedetails of normal and abnormal sexuality. Even to the present time thereare certain phenomena of the sexual life which have scarcely beenaccurately described except in ancient theological treatises. As the typeof such treatises I will mention the great tome of Sanchez, _DeMatrimonio_. Here you will find the whole sexual life of men and womenanalyzed in its relationships to sin. Everything is set forth, as clearlyand as concisely as it can be--without morbid prudery on the one hand, ormorbid sentimentality on the other--in the coldest scientific language;the right course of action is pointed out for all the cases that mayoccur, and we are told what is lawful, what a venial sin, what a mortalsin. Now I do not consider that sexual matters concern the theologianalone, and I deny altogether that he is competent to deal with them. Inhis hands, also, undoubtedly, they sometimes become prurient, as they canscarcely fail to become on the non-natural and unwholesome basis ofasceticism, and as they with difficulty become in the open-air light ofscience. But we are bound to recognize the thoroughness with which theCatholic theologians dealt with these matters, and, from their own pointof view, indeed, the entire reasonableness; we are bound to recognize theadmirable spirit in which, successfully or not, they sought to approachthem. We need to-day the same spirit and temper applied from a differentstandpoint. These things concern everyone; the study of these thingsconcerns the physiologist, the psychologist, the moralist. We want to getinto possession of the actual facts, and from the investigation of thefacts we want to ascertain what is normal and what is abnormal, from thepoint of view of physiology and of psychology. We want to know what isnaturally lawful under the various sexual chances that may befall man, notas the born child of sin, but as a naturally social animal. What is avenial sin against nature, what a mortal sin against nature? The answersare less easy to reach than the theologians' answers generally were, butwe can at least put ourselves in the right attitude; we may succeed inasking that question which is sometimes even more than the half ofknowledge.It is perhaps a mistake to show so plainly at the outset that I approachwhat may seem only a psychological question not without moral fervour. ButI do not wish any mistake to be made. I regard sex as the central problemof life. And now that the problem of religion has practically beensettled, and that the problem of labor has at least been placed on apractical foundation, the question of sex--with the racial questions thatrest on it--stands before the coming generations as the chief problem forsolution. Sex lies at the root of life, and we can never learn toreverence life until we know how to understand sex.--So, at least, itseems to me.Having said so much, I will try to present such results as I have to

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