A Problem in Modern Ethics/Chapter V
Medical writers upon this subject are comparatively numerous in French and German literature, and they have been multiplying rapidly of late years. The phenomenon of sexual inversion is usually regarded in these books from the point of view of psychopathic or neuropathic derangement, inherited from morbid ancestors, and developed in the patient by early habits of self-abuse.
What is the exact distinction between "psychopathic" and "neuropathic" I do not know. The former term seems intelligible in the theologian's mouth, the latter in a physician's. But I cannot understand both being used together to indicate different kinds of pathological diathesis. What is the soul, what are the nerves? We have probably to take the two terms as indicating two ways of considering the same phenomenon; the one subjective, the other objective; "psychopathic" pointing to the derangement as observed in the mind emotions of its subject; "neuropathic" to the derangement as observed in anomalies of the nervous system.
It would be impossible, in an essay of this kind, to review the whole mass of medical observation, inference and speculation which we have at our command. Nor is a layman, perhaps, well qualified for the task of criticism and comparison in a matter of delicacy where doctors differ as to details. I shall therefore content myself with giving an account of four of the most recent, most authoritative, and, as it seems to me, upon the whole most sensible studies. Moreau, Tarnowsky, Krafft-Ebing and Lombroso take very nearly similar views of the phenomenon; and between them they are gradually forming a theory which is likely to become widely accepted.
Des Aberrations du Sens Génésique, par le Dr. Paul Moreau, 4th edition, 1887.
Moreau starts with the proposition that there is a sixth sense, "le sens génital," which, like other senses, can be injured psychically and physically without the mental functions, whether affective or intellectual, suffering thereby. His book is therefore a treatise on the diseases of the sexual sense. These diseases are by no means of recent origin, he says. They have always and everywhere existed.
He begins with a historical survey, which, so far as antiquity is concerned, is very defective. Having quoted with approval the following passage about Greek society:—
"La sodomie se répand dans toute la Grèce; les écoles des philosophes deviennent des maisons de débauche, et les grands exemples d'amitié légués par le paganisme ne sont, pour la plupart, qu'une infâme turpitude voilée par une sainte apparence": having quoted these words of Dr. Descuret, Moreau leaves Greece alone, and goes on to Rome. The state of morals in Rome under the empire he describes as "une dépravation maladive, devenue par la force des choses héréditaire, endémique, épidémique." Then follows a short account of the emperors and their female relatives. "Cet éréthisme génésique qui, pendant près de deux siècles, régna a l'état épidémique dans Rome" he ascribes mainly to heredity. Of Julia, the daughter of Augustus, he says, "Peut-on lutter contre un état morbide héréditaire?" The union of unrestrained debauchery and ferocity with great mental gifts strikes him as a note of disease; and he winds up with this sentence: "Parmi les causes les plus fréquentes des aberrations du sens génital, l'hérédité tient la première place."
Then he passes to the middle ages, and dwells upon the popular belief in incubi and succubi. It is curious to find him placing Leo X., François I., Henri IV., Louis XIV., among the neuropathics. When it comes to this, everybody with strong sexual instincts, and the opportunity of indulging them, is a nervous invalid. Modern times are illustrated by the debaucheries of the Regency, the reign of Louis XV., Russian ladies, the Marquis de Sade. The House of Orleans seems in truth to have been tainted with hereditary impudicity of a morbid kind. But if it was so at the end of the last century, it has since the Revolution remarkably recovered health—by what miracle?
Moreau now formulates the thesis he wishes to prove: "L'aberration pathologique des sentiments génésiques doit être assimilée complètement à une névrose, et, comme telle, son existence est compatible avec les plus hautes intelligences." He discovers hereditary taint universally present in these cases. "Hérédité directe, hérédité indirecte, hérédité transformée, se trouve chez les génésiaques."
Passing to etiology, he rests mainly upon an organism predisposed by ancestry, and placed in a milieu favourable to its morbid development. Provocative causes are not sufficient to awake the aberration in healthy organisms, but the least thing will set a predisposed organism on the track. This, I may observe, seems to preclude simple imitation, upon which Moreau afterwards lays considerable stress; for if none but the already tainted can be influenced by their milieu, none but the tainted will imitate.
What he calls "General Physical Causes" are (1) Extreme Poverty, (2) Age, (3) Constitution, (4) Temperament, (5) Seasons of the Year, (6) Climate, (7) Food.
Extreme poverty leads to indiscriminate vice, incest, sodomy, &c. That is true, and we know that our city poor and the peasants of some countries are habitually immoral. Yet Moreau proves too much here. For, according to his principles, hereditary neurosis ought by this time to have become chronic, epidemic, endemic, in all the city poor and in all the peasants of all countries; which is notably not the fact. Puberty and the approach of senility are pointed out as times when genesiac symptoms manifest themselves. His observations upon the other points are commonplace enough; and he repeats the current notion that inhabitants of hot climates are more lascivious than those of the North.
Among "Individual Physical Causes," Moreau treats of malformation of the sexual organs, diseases of those organs, injuries to the organism by wounds, blows, poisons, masturbation, excessive indulgence in venery, and exaggerated continence.
When we come to "General Moral Causes," heredity plays the first part. This may be direct, i.e., the son of a genesiac will have the same tastes as his father, or transformed; what is phthisis in one generation assuming the form of sexual aberration in another. Bad education and exposure to bad examples, together with imitation, are insisted on more vaguely.
The "Individual Moral Causes" include impressions received in early youth, on which I think perhaps Moreau does not lay sufficient stress, and certain tendencies to subjective preoccupations with ideal ideas, certain abnormal physical conditions which disturb the whole moral sensibility.
Passing to Pathological Anatomy, Moreau declares that it is as yet impossible to localise the sexual sense. The brain, the cerebellum, the spinal marrow? We do not know. He seems to incline toward the cerebellum.
It is not necessary to follow Moreau in his otherwise interesting account of the various manifestations of sexual disease. The greater part of these have no relation to the subject of my work. But what he says in passing about "pæderasts, sodomites, saphists," has to be resumed. He reckons them among "A class of individuals who cannot and ought not to be confounded either with men enjoying the fulness of their intellectual faculties, or yet with madmen properly so called. They form an intermediate class, a mixed class, constituting a real link of union between reason and madness, the nature and existence of which can most frequently be explained only by one word: Heredity" (p. 159). It is surprising, after this announcement, to discover that what he has to say about sexual inversion is limited to Europe and its moral system, "having nothing to do with the morals of other countries where pæderasty is accepted and admitted" (p. 172, note). Literally, then, he regards sexual inversion in modern Christian Europe as a form of hereditary neuropathy, a link between reason and madness; but in ancient Greece, in modern Persia and Turkey, he regards the same psychological anomaly from the point of view, not of disease, but of custom. In other words, an Englishman or a Frenchman who loves the male sex must be diagnosed as tainted with disease; while Sophocles, Pindar, Pheidias, Epaminondas, Plato, are credited with yielding to an instinct which was healthy in their times because society accepted it. The inefficiency of this distinction in a treatise of analytical science ought to be indicated. The bare fact that ancient Greece tolerated, and that modern Europe refuses to tolerate sexual inversion, can have nothing to do with the etiology, the pathology, the psychological definition of the phenomenon in its essence. What has to be faced is that a certain type of passion flourished under the light of day and bore good fruits for society in Hellas; that the same type of passion flourishes in the shade and is the source of misery and shame in Europe. The passion has not altered; but the way of regarding it morally and legally is changed. A scientific investigator ought not to take changes of public opinion into account when he is analysing a psychological peculiarity.
This point on which I am insisting—namely, that it is illogical to treat sexual inversion among the modern European races as a malady, when you refer its prevalence among Oriental peoples and the ancient Hellenes to custom—is so important that I shall illustrate it by a passage from one of Dr. W. R. Huggard's Essays. "It may be said that the difference between the delusion of the overpowering impulse in the Fijian and in the insane Englishman is that, in the savage, the mental characters are due to education and surroundings; while, in the lunatic they are due to disease. In a twofold manner, however, would this explanation fail. On the one hand, even if in the Fijian there were disease, the question of insanity could not arise in regard to a matter considered by his society to be one of indifference. It would be absurd to talk of homicidal mania, of nymphomania, and of kleptomania, as forms of insanity, where murder, promiscuous intercourse, and stealing are not condemned. On the other hand, the assumption that insanity is always due to disease is not merely an unproved, but an improbable supposition. There must, of course, be some defect of organism; but there is every reason to think that, in many cases, the defect is of the nature of a congenital lack of balance between structures themselves healthy; and that many cases of insanity might properly be regarded as a kind of 'throwback' to a type of organisation now common among the lower races of mankind." Substitute any term to indicate sexual inversion for "nymphomania" in this paragraph, and the reasoning precisely suits my argument. It is interesting, by the way, to find this writer agreeing with Ulrichs in his suggestion of a "congenital lack of balance between structures themselves healthy," and with Lombroso in his supposition of atavistic reversion to savagery. Lombroso, we shall see, ultimately identifies congenital criminality (one form of which is sexual aberration in this theory) with moral insanity; and here Dr. Huggard is, unconsciously perhaps, in agreement with him; for he defines insanity to be "any mental defect that renders a person unable (and not capable of being made able by punishment) to conform to the requirements of society"—a definition which is no less applicable to the born criminal than to the madman.
How little Dr. Moreau has weighed the importance of ancient Greece in his discussion of this topic, appears from the omission of all facts supplied by Greek literature and history in the introduction to his Essay. He dilates upon the legends recorded by the Roman Emperors, because these seem to support his theory of hereditary malady. He uses Juvenal, Tacitus, Suetonius, and the Augustan Histories to support his position, although they form part of the annals of a people among whom "pæderasty was accepted and admitted." He ignores the biographies of the Spartan kings, the institutions of Crete, the Theban Sacred Band, the dialogues of Plato, the anecdotes related about Pheidias, Sophocles, Pindar, Demosthenes, Alcibiades, and so forth. Does he perhaps do so because they cannot in any way be made to square with his theory of morbidity? The truth is that ancient Greece offers insuperable difficulties to theorists who treat sexual inversion exclusively from the points of view of neuropathy, tainted heredity, and masturbation. And how incompetent Dr. Moreau is to deal with Greek matters may be seen in the grotesque synonym he has invented for pæderasty—philopodie (p. 173). Properly the word is compounded of φιλεἱν andπους; but I suppose it is meant to suggest φιλεἱν and podex.
In a chapter on Legal Medicine, Moreau starts by observing that "The facts are so monstrous, so tainted with aberration, and yet their agents offer so strong an appearance of sound reason, occupy such respectable positions in the world, are reputed to enjoy such probity, such honourable sentiments, &c., that one hesitates to utter an opinion." Proceeding further, he considers it sufficiently established that: "Not unfrequently, under the influence of some vice of organism, generally of heredity, the moral faculties may undergo alterations, which, if they do not actually destroy the social relations of the individual, as happens in cases of declared insanity, yet modify them to a remarkable degree, and certainly demand to be taken into account, when we have to estimate the morality of these acts" (p. 301). His conclusion, therefore, is that the aberrations of the sexual sense, including its inversion, are matters for the physician rather than the judge, for therapeutics rather than punishment, and that representatives of the medical faculty ought to sit upon the bench as advisers or assessors when persons accused of outrages against decency come to trial. "While we blame and stigmatise these crimes with reason, the horrified intellect seeks an explanation and a moral excuse (nothing more) for such odious acts. It insists on asking what can have brought a man honourably known in society, enjoying (apparently at least) the fulness of his mental faculties, to these base and shameful self-indulgences. We answer: Such men for the most part are abnormal intelligences, veritable candidates for lunacy, and, what is more, they are the subjects of hereditary maladies. But let us cast a veil over a subject so humiliating to the honour of humanity!" (p. 177).
As the final result of this analysis, Moreau classifies sexual inversion with erotomania, nymphomania, satyriasis, bestiality, rape, profanation of corpses, &c., as the symptom of a grave lesion of the procreative sense. He seeks to save its victims from the prison by delivering them over to the asylum. His moral sentiments are so revolted that he does not even entertain the question whether their instincts are natural and healthy though abnormal. Lastly, he refuses to face the aspects of this psychological anomaly which are forced upon the student of ancient Hellas. He does not even take into account the fact, patent to experienced observers, that simple folk not unfrequently display no greater disgust for the abnormalities of sexual appetite than they do for its normal manifestations.
Die krankhaften Erscheinungen des Geschlechtssinnes. B. Tarnowsky. Berlin, Hirschwald, 1886.
This is avowedly an attempt to distinguish the morbid kinds of sexual perversion from the merely vicious, and to enforce the necessity of treating the former not as criminal but as pathological. "The forensic physician discerns corruption, oversatiated sensuality, deep-rooted vice, perverse will, &c., where the clinical observer recognises with certainty a morbid condition of the patient marked by typical steps of development and termination. Where the one wishes to punish immorality, the other pleads for the necessity of methodical therapeutic treatment."
The author is a Russian, whose practice in St. Petersburg has brought him into close professional relations with the male prostitutes and habitual pæderasts of that capital.
He is able therefore to speak with authority, on the ground of a quite exceptional knowledge of the moral and physical disturbances connected with sodomy. I cannot but think that the very peculiarities of his experience have led him to form incomplete theories. He is too familiar with venal pathics, pædicators, and effeminates who prostitute their bodies in the grossest way, to be able to appreciate the subtler bearings of the problem.
Tarnowsky makes two broad divisions of sexual inversion. The first kind is inborn, dependent upon hereditary taint and neuropathic diathesis. He distinguishes three sorts of inborn perversity. In the most marked of its forms it is chronic and persistent, appearing with the earliest dawn of puberty, unmodified by education, attaining to its maximum of intensity in manhood, manifesting, in fact, all the signs of ordinary sexual inclination. In a second form it is not chronic and persistent, but periodical. The patient is subject to occasional disturbances of the nervous centres, which express themselves in violent and irresistible attacks of the perverted instinct. The third form is epileptical.
With regard to acquired sexual inversion, he dwells upon the influence of bad example, the power of imitation, fashion, corrupt literature, curiosity in persons jaded with normal excesses. Extraordinary details are given concerning the state of schools in Russia (pp. 63-65); and a particular case is mentioned, in which Tarnowsky himself identified twenty-nine passive pæderasts, between the ages of nine and fifteen, in a single school. He had been called in to pronounce upon the causes of an outbreak of syphilis among the pupils. Interesting information is also communicated regarding the prevalence of abnormal vice in St. Petersburg, where it appears that bath-men, cab-drivers, care-takers of houses, and artisans are particularly in request (pp. 98-101). The Russian people show no repugnance for what they call "gentlemen's tricks." Tarnowsky calls attention to ships, garrisons, prisons, as milieux well calculated for the development of this vice, when it had once been introduced by some one tainted with it. His view about nations like the Greeks, the Persians, and the Afghans is that, through imitation, fashion, and social toleration, it has become endemic. But all the sorts of abnormality included under the title of acquired Tarnowsky regards as criminal. The individual ought, he thinks, to be punished by the law. He naturally includes under this category of acquired perversion the vices of old debauchees. At this point, however, his classification becomes confused; for he shows how senile tendencies to sodomitic passion are frequently the symptom of approaching brain disease, to which the reason and the constitution of the patient will succumb. French physicians call this "la pédérastie des ramollis."
Returning to what Tarnowsky says about the inborn species of sexual inversion, I may call attention to an admirable description of the type in general (pp. 11-15) I think, however, that he lays too great stress upon the passivity of the emotions in these persons, their effeminacy of press, habits, inclinations. He is clearly speaking from large experience. So it must be supposed that he has not come across frequent instances of men who feel, look, and act like men, the only difference between them and normal males being that they love their own sex. In describing a second degree of the aberration (pp. 16, 17), he still accentuates effeminacy in dress and habits beyond the point which general observation would justify. Careful study of the cases adduced in Krafft-Ebing's "Psychopathia" supplies a just measure for the criticism of Tarnowsky upon this head. From them we learn that effeminacy of physique and habit is by no means a distinctive mark of the born pæderast. Next it may be noticed that Tarnowsky believes even innate and hereditary tendencies can be modified and overcome by proper moral, and physique discipline in youth, and that the subjects of them will even be brought to marry in some cases (pp. 17, 18).
It would not serve any purpose of utility here to follow Tarnowsky into further details regarding the particular forms assumed by perverted appetite. But attention must be directed to his definition of hereditary predisposition (pp. 33-35). This is extraordinarily wide. He regards every disturbance of the nervous system in an ancestor as sufficient; epilepsy, brain disease, hysteria, insanity. He includes alcoholism, syphilitic affections, pneumonia, typhus, physical exhaustion, excessive anæmia, debauchery, "anything in short which is sufficient to enfeeble the nervous system and the sexual potency of the parent." At this point he remarks that long residence at high altitudes tends to weaken the sexual activity and to develop perversity, adducing an old belief of the Persians that pæderastia originated in the high plateau of Armenia (p. 35). It need hardly, I think, be said that these theories are contradicted to the fullest extent by the experience of those who have lived with the mountaineers of Central Europe. They are indeed capable of continence to a remarkable degree, but they are also vigorously procreative and remarkably free from sexual inversion.
Finally, it must be observed that Tarnowsky discusses the physical signs of active and passive sodomy at some length (108-135). His opportunities of physical observation in medical practice as the trusted physician of the St. Petersburg pæderasts gives him the right to speak with authority. The most decisive thing he says is that Casper, through want of familiarity with the phenomena, is too contemptuous toward one point in Tardieu's theory. In short, Tarnowsky feels sure that a habitual passive pæderast will show something like the sign in question, if examined by an expert in the proper position. But that is the only deformation of the body on which he relies.
Psychopathia Sexualis, mit besonderer Berücksichtigung der Conträren Sexualempfindung. Von Dr. R. v. Krafft-Ebing. Stuttgart, Enke, 1889.
Krafft-Ebing took the problem of sexual inversion up when it had been already investigated by a number of pioneers and predecessors. They mapped the ground out, and established a kind of psychical chart. We have seen the medical system growing in the works of Moreau and Tarnowsky. If anything, Krafft-Ebing's treatment suffers from too much subdivision and parade of classification. It is only, however, by following the author in his differentiation of the several species that we can form a conception of his general theory, and of the extent of the observations upon which this is based. He starts with (A) Sexual Inversion as an acquired morbid phenomenon. Then he reviews (B) Sexual Inversion as an inborn morbid phenomenon.
(A) "Sexual feeling and sexual instinct," he begins, "remain latent, except in obscure foreshadowings and impulses, until the time when the organs of procreation come to be developed. During the period of latency, when sex has not arrived at consciousness, is only potentially existent, and has no powerful organic bias, influences may operate, injurious to its normal and natural evolution. In that case the germinating sexual sensibility runs a risk of being both qualitatively and quantitatively impaired, and under certain circumstances may even be perverted into a false channel. Tarnowsky has already published this experience. I can thoroughly confirm it, and am prepared to define the conditions of this acquired, or, in other words, this cultivated perversion of the sexual instinct in the following terms. The fundamental or ground predisposition is a neuropathic hereditary bias. The exciting or efficient cause is sexual abuse, and more particularly onanism. The etiological centre of gravity has to be sought in hereditary disease; and I think it is questionable whether an untainted individual is capable of homosexual feelings at all."
Krafft-Ebing's theory seems then to be that all cases of acquired sexual inversion may be ascribed in the first place to morbid predispositions inherited by the patient (Belastung), and in the second place to onanism as the exciting cause of the latent neuropathic ailment.
He excludes the hypothesis of a physiological and healthy deflection from the normal rule of sex. "I think it questionable," he says, "whether the untainted individual (das unbelastete Individuum) is capable of homosexual feelings at all." The importance of this sentence will be apparent when we come to deal with Krafft-Ebing's account of congenital sexual inversion, which he establishes upon a large induction of cases observed in his own practice.
For the present we have the right to assume that Krafft-Ebing regards sexual inversion, whether "acquired" or "congenital," as a form of inherited neuropathy (Belastung). In cases where it seems to be "acquired," he lays stress upon the habit of self-pollution.
This is how he states his theory of onanism as an exciting cause of inherited neuropathy, resulting in sexual inversion. The habit of self-abuse prepares the patient for abnormal appetites by weakening his nervous force, degrading his sexual imagination, and inducing hyper-sensibility in his sexual apparatus. Partial impotence is not unfrequently exhibited. In consequence of this sophistication of his nature, the victim of inherited neuropathy and onanism feels shy with women, and finds it convenient to frequent persons of his own sex. In other words, it is supposed to be easier for an individual thus broken down at the centres of his life to defy the law and to demand sexual gratification from men than to consort with venal women in a brothel.
Krafft-Ebing assumes that males who have been born with neuropathic ailments of an indefinite kind will masturbate, destroy their virility, and then embark upon a course of vice which offers incalculable dangers, inconceivable difficulties, and inexpressible repugnances. That is the theory. But whence, if not from some overwhelming appetite, do the demoralised victims of self-abuse derive courage for facing the obstacles which a career of sexual inversion carries with it in our civilisation? One would have thought that such people, if they could not approach a prostitute in a brothel, would have been unable to solicit a healthy man upon the streets. The theory seems to be constructed in order to elude the fact that the persons designated are driven by a natural impulse into paths far more beset with difficulties than those of normal libertines.
Krafft-Ebing gives the details of five cases of "acquired" sexual inversion. Three of these were the children of afflicted parents. One had no morbid strain in his ancestry, except pulmonary consumption. The fifth sprang from a strong father and a healthy mother. Masturbation entered into the history of all.
It must be observed, in criticising Krafft-Ebing's theory, that it is so constructed as to render controversy almost impossible. If we point out that a large percentage of males who practise onanism in their adolescence do not acquire sexual inversion, he will answer that these were not tainted with hereditary disease. The autobiographies of onanists and passionate woman-lovers (J. J. Rousseau, for example, who evinced a perfect horror of homosexual indulgence, and J. J. Bouchard, whose disgusting excentricities were directed toward females even in the period of his total impotence) will be dismissed with the remark that the ancestors of these writers must have shown a clean record.
It is difficult to square Krafft-Ebing's theory with the phenomena presented by schools, both public and private, in all parts of Europe. In these institutions not only is masturbation practised to a formidable extent, but it is also everywhere connected with some form of sexual inversion, either passionately Platonic or grossly sensual. Nevertheless, we know that few of the boys addicted to these practices remain abnormal after they have begun to frequent women. The same may be said about convict establishments, military prisons, and the like. With such a body of facts staring us in the face, it cannot be contended that "only tainted individuals are capable of homosexual feelings." Where females are absent or forbidden, males turn for sexual gratification to males. And in certain conditions of society sexual inversion may become permanently established, recognised, all but universal. It would be absurd to maintain that all the boy-lovers of ancient Greece owed their instincts to hereditary neuropathy complicated with onanism.
The invocation of heredity in problems of this kind is always hazardous. We only throw the difficulty of explanation further back. At what point of the world's history was the morbid taste acquired? If none but tainted individuals are capable of homosexual feelings, how did these feelings first come into existence? On the supposition that neuropathy forms a necessary condition of abnormal instinct, is it generic neuropathy or a specific type of that disorder? If generic, can valid reasons be adduced for regarding nervous malady in any of its aspects (hysteria is the mother, insanity is the father) as the cause of so peculiarly differentiated an affection of the sexual appetite? If specific, that is, if the ancestors of the patient must have been afflicted with sexual inversion, in what way did they acquire it, supposing all untainted individuals to be incapable of the feeling?
At this moment of history there is probably no
individual in Europe who has not inherited some portion of a neuropathic stain. If that be granted, everybody is liable to sexual inversion, and the principle of heredity becomes purely theoretical.
That sexual inversion may be and actually is transmitted, like any other quality, appears to be proved by the history of well-known families both in England and in Germany. That it is not unfrequently exhibited by persons who have a bad ancestral record, may be taken for demonstrated. In certain cases we are justified, then, in regarding it as the sign or concomitant of nervous maladies. But the evidence of ancient Greece or Rome, of what Burton calls the "sotadic races" at the present time, of European schools and prisons, ought to make us hesitate before we commit ourselves to Krafft-Ebing's theory that hereditary affliction is a necessary predisposing cause.
In like manner, masturbation may be credited with certain cases of acquired homosexual feeling. Undoubtedly the instinct is occasionally evoked in some obscure way by the depraved habit of inordinate self-abuse. Yet the autobiographies of avowed Urnings do not corroborate the view that they were originally more addicted to onanism than normal males. Ulrichs has successfully combated the theory advanced by Tarnowsky, Prager, and Krafft-Ebing, if considered as a complete explanation of the problem. On the other hand, common experience shows beyond all doubt, that young men between 16 and 20 give themselves up to daily self-abuse without weakening their appetite for women. They love boys and practice mutual self-abuse with persons of their own sex; yet they crave all the while for women. Of the many who live thus during the years of adolescence, some have undoubtedly as bad a family record as the worst of Krafft-Ebing's cases show. Finally, as regards the onanism which is a marked characteristic of some adult Urnings, this must be ascribed in most cases to the repression of their abnormal instincts. They adopt the habit, as Krafft-Ebing himself says, faute de mieux.
In justice to the theory I am criticising, it ought to be remarked that Krafft-Ebing does not contend that wherever hereditary taint and onanism concur, the result will be sexual inversion; but rather that wherever we have diagnosed an acquired form of sexual inversion, we shall discover hereditary taint and onanism. Considering the frequency of both hereditary taint and onanism in our civilisation, this is not risking much. Those factors are discoverable in a large percentage of male persons. What seems unwarranted by facts is the suggestion that inherited neuropathy is an indispensable condition and the fundamental cause of homosexual instincts. The evidence of ancient Greece, schools, prisons, and sotadic races, compels us to believe that normally healthy people are often born with these instincts or else acquire them by the way of custom. Again, his insinuation that onanism, regarded as the main exciting cause, is more frequent among young people of abnormal inclinations than among their normal brethren, will not bear the test of common observation and of facts communicated in the autobiographies of professed onanists and confessed Urnings.
The problem is too delicate, too complicated, also too natural and simple, to be solved by hereditary disease and self-abuse. When we shift the ground of argument from acquired to inborn sexual inversion, its puzzling
character will become still more apparent. We shall hardly be able to resist the conclusion that theories of disease are incompetent to explain the phenomenon in modern Europe. Medical writers abandon the phenomenon in savage races, in classical antiquity, and in the sotadic zone. They strive to isolate it as an abnormal and specifically morbid exception in our civilisation. But facts tend to show that it is a recurring impulse of humanity, natural to some people, adopted by others, and in the majority of cases compatible with an otherwise normal and healthy temperament.
Krafft-Ebing calls attention to the phenomenon of permanent effeminatio, in males unsexed by constant riding and the exhaustion of their virility by friction of the genitals—a phenomenon observed by Herodotus among Scythians, and prevalent among some nomadic races of the Caucasus at the present day. He claims this in support of his theory of masturbation; and within due limits, he has the right to do so. The destruction of the male apparatus for reproduction, whether it be by castration after puberty, or by an accident to the parts, or by a lesion of the spine, or by excessive equitation, as appears proved from the history of nomad tribes, causes men to approximate physically to the female type, and to affect feminine occupations and habits. In proportion as the masculine functions are interfered with, masculine characteristics tend to disappear; and it is curious to notice that the same result is reached upon so many divers ways.
Next he discusses a few cases in which it seems that sexual inversion displays itself episodically under the conditions of a psychopathical disturbance. That is to say, three persons, two women and one man, have been observed by him, under conditions approaching mental alienation, to exchange their normal sexual inclination for abnormal appetite. In the analysis of the problem these cases cannot be regarded as wholly insignificant. The details show that the subjects were clearly morbid. Therefore they have their value for the building up of a theory of sexual inversion upon the basis of inherited and active disease.
(B) Ultimately, Krafft-Ebing attacks the problem of what he calls "the innate morbid phenomenon" of sexual inversion. While giving a general description of the subjects of this class, he remarks that the males display a pronounced sexual antipathy for women, and a strongly accentuated sympathy for men. Their reproductive organs are perfectly differentiated on the masculine type; but they desire men instinctively, and are inclined to express their bias by assuming characters of femininity. Women infected by a like inversion, exhibit corresponding anomalies.
Casper, continues Krafft-Ebing, thoroughly diagnosed the phenomenon. Griesinger referred it to hereditary affliction. Westphal defined it as "a congenital inversion of the sexual feeling, together with a consciousness of its morbidity." Ulrichs explained it by the presence of a feminine soul in a male body, and gave the name Urning to its subjects. Gley suggested that a female brain was combined with masculine glands of sex. Magnan hypothesised a woman's brain in a man's body.
Krafft-Ebing asserts that hardly any of these Urnings are conscious of morbidity. They look upon themselves as unfortunate mainly because law and social prejudices stand in the way of their natural indulgence. He also takes for proved, together with all the authorities he cites, that the abnormal sexual appetite is constitutional and inborn.
Krafft-Ebing, as might have been expected, refers the phenomenon to functional degeneration, dependent upon neuropathical conditions in the patient, which are mainly derived from hereditary affliction.
He confirms the account reported above from Casper as to the platonic or semi-platonic relations of the Urning with the men he likes, his abhorrence of coition, and his sexual gratification through acts of mutual embracement. The number of Urnings in the world, he says, is far greater than we can form the least conception of from present means of calculation.
At this point he begins to subdivide the subjects of congenital inversion. The first class he constitutes are
called by him "Psychical Hermaphrodites." Born with a predominant inclination towards persons of their own sex, they possess rudimentary feelings of a semi-sexual nature for the opposite. These people not unfrequently marry; and Krafft-Ebing supposes that many cases of frigidity in matrimony, unhappy unions, and so forth, are attributable to the peculiar diathesis of the male—or it may be, of the female—in these marriages. They are distinguished from his previous class of "acquired" inversion by the fact that the latter start with instincts for the other sex, which are gradually obliterated; whereas the psychical hermaphrodites commence life with an attraction towards their own sex, which they attempt to overcome by making demands upon their rudimentary normal instincts. Five cases are given of such persons.
In the next place he comes to true homosexual individuals, or Urnings in the strict sense of that phrase. With them there is no rudimentary appetite for the other sex apparent. They present a "grotesque" parallel to normal men and women, inverting or caricaturing natural appetites. The male of this class shrinks from the female, and the female from the male. Each is vehemently attracted from earliest childhood to persons of the same sex. But they, in their turn, have to be subdivided into two sub-species. In the first of these, the sexual life alone is implicate; the persons who compose it do not differ in any marked or external characteristics from the type of their own sex; their habits and outward appearance remain unchanged. With the second sub-species the case is different. Here the character, the mental constitution, the habits, and the occupations of the subject have been altered by his or her predominant sexual inversion; so that a male addicts himself to a woman's work, assumes female clothes, acquires a shriller key of voice, and expresses the inversion of his sexual instinct in every act and gesture of his daily life.
It appears from Krafft-Ebing's recorded cases that the first of these sub-species yields nearly the largest
number of individuals. He presents eleven detailed autobiographies of male Urnings, in whom the vita sexualis alone is abnormal, and who are differentiated to common observation from normal men by nothing but the nature of their amorous proclivities. The class includes powerfully developed masculine beings, who are unsexed in no particular except that they possess an inordinate appetite for males, and will not look at females.
As regards the family history of the eleven selected cases, five could show a clear bill of health, some were decidedly bad, a small minority were uncertain.
One of these Urnings, a physician, informed Krafft-Ebing that he had consorted with at least six hundred men of his own stamp; many of them in high positions of respectability. In none had he observed an abnormal formation of the sexual organs; but frequently some approximation to the feminine type of body—hair sparingly distributed, tender complexion, and high tone of voice. About ten per cent. eventually adopted love for women. Not ten per cent. exhibited any sign of the habitus muliebris in their occupations, dress, and so forth. A large majority felt like men in their relations to men, and were even inclined toward active pæderasty. From the unmentionable act they were deterred by æsthetical repulsion and fear of the law.
The second of these sub-species embraces the individuals with whom the reader of Carlier is familiar, and whom Ulrichs calls Weiblinge. In their boyhood they exhibited a marked disinclination for the games of their school-fellows, and preferred to consort with girls. They helped their mothers in the household, learned to sew and knit, caught at every opportunity of dressing up in female clothes. Later on, they began to call themselves by names of women, avoided the society of normal comrades, hated sport and physical exercise, were averse to smoking and drinking, could not whistle. Whether they refrained from swearing is not recorded. Many of them developed a taste for music, and prided themselves upon their culture. Eventually, when they became unclassed, they occupied themselves with toilette, scandal, tea, and talk about their lovers—dressed as far as possible in female clothes, painted, perfumed and curled their hair—addressed each other in the feminine gender, adopted pseudonyms of Countess or of Princess, and lived the life of women of a dubious demi-monde.
Yet they remained in their physical configuration males. Unlike the preceding sub-species, they did not feel as men feel towards their sweethearts, but on the contrary like women. They had no impulse toward active pæderasty, no inclination for blooming adolescents. What they wanted was a robust adult; and to him they submitted themselves with self-abandonment. Like all Urnings, they shrank from the act of coition for the most part, and preferred embracements which produced a brief and pleasurable orgasm. But some developed a peculiar liking for the passive act of sodomy or the anomalous act of fellatio.
In this characterisation I have overpassed the limits of the fifteen cases presented by Krafft-Ebing. In order to constitute the type, I have drawn upon one reliable, because sympathetic, source in Ulrichs, and on another reliable, because antipathetic, source in Carlier.
Sexual inversion, in persons of the third main species, has reached its final development. Descending, if we follow Krafft-Ebing's categories, from acquired to innate inversion, dividing the latter into psychopathic hermaphrodites and Urnings, subdividing Urnings into those who retain their masculine habit and those who develop a habit analogous to that of females, we come in this last class to the most striking phenomenon of inverted sex. Here the soul which is doomed to love a man, and is nevertheless imprisoned in a male body, strives to convert that body to feminine uses so entirely that the marks of sex, except in the determined organs of sex, shall be obliterated. And sometimes it appears that the singular operation of nature, with which we are occupied in this Essay, goes even further. The inverted bias given to the sexual appetite, as part of the spiritual nature of the man, can never quite transmute male organs into female organs of procreation. But it modifies the bony structure of the body, the form of the face, the fleshly and muscular integuments to such an obvious extent that Krafft-Ebing thinks himself justified in placing a separate class of androgynous beings (with their gynandrous correspondents) at the end of the extraordinary process.
At this point it will be well to present a scheme of his analysis under the form of a table.
What is the rational explanation of the facts presented to us by the analysis which I have formulated in this table cannot as yet be thoroughly determined. We do not know enough about the law of sex in human beings to advance a theory. Krafft-Ebing and writers of his school are at present inclined to refer them all to diseases of the nervous centres, inherited, congenital, excited by early habits of self-abuse. The inadequacy of this method I have already attempted to set forth; and I have also called attention to the fact that it does not sufficiently account for phenomena known to us through history and through every-day experience.
Presently we shall be introduced to a theory (that of Ulrichs) which is based upon a somewhat grotesque and metaphysical conception of nature, and which dispenses with the hypothesis of hereditary disease. I am not sure whether this theory, unsound as it may seem to medical specialists, does not square better with ascertained facts than that of inherited disorder in the nervous centres.
However that may be, the physicians, as represented by Krafft-Ebing, absolve all subjects of inverted sexuality from crime. They represent them to us as the subjects of ancestral malady. And this alters their position face to face with vulgar error, theological rancour, and the stringent indifference of legislators. A strong claim has been advanced for their treatment henceforth, not as delinquents, but as subjects of congenital depravity in the brain centres, over which they have no adequate control.
The fourth medical author, with whom we are about to be occupied, includes sexual inversion in his general survey of human crime, and connects it less with anomalies of the nervous centres than with atavistic reversion to the state of nature and savagery. In the end, it will be seen, he accepts a concordat with the hypothesis of "moral insanity."
Cesare Lombroso. "Der Verbrecher in Anthropologischer, Aerztlicher und Juristischer Beziehung."
This famous book, which has contributed no little to a revolution of opinion regarding crime and its punishment in Italy, contains a searching inquiry into the psychological nature, physical peculiarities, habits, and previous history of criminals. It is, in fact, a study of the criminal temperament. Lombroso deals in the main, as is natural, with murder, theft, rape, cruelty, and their allied species. But he includes sexual inversion in the category of crimes, and regards the abnormal appetites as signs of that morbid condition into which he eventually revolves the criminal impulse.
Wishing to base his doctrine on a sound foundation, Lombroso begins with what may be termed the embryology of crime. He finds unnatural vices frequent among horses, donkeys, cattle, insects, fowls, dogs, ants. The phenomenon, he says, is usually observable in cases where the male animal has been excluded from intercourse with females. Having established his general position that what we call crimes of violence, robbery, murder, cruelty, blood-thirst, cannibalism, unnatural lust, and so forth, exist among the brutes—in fact, that most of these crimes form the rule and not the exception in their lives—he passes on to the consideration of the savage man. In following his analysis, I shall confine myself to what he says about abnormal sexual passion.
He points out that in New Caledonia the male savages meet together at night in huts for the purpose of promiscuous intercourse (p. 42). The same occurs in Tahiti, where the practice is placed under the protection of a god. Next he alludes to the ancient Mexicans; and then proceeds to Hellas and Rome, where this phase of savage immorality survived and became a recognised factor in social life (p. 43). At Rome, he says, the Venus of the sodomites received the title of Castina (p. 38).
Lombroso's treatment of sexual inversion regarded as a survival from prehistoric times is by no means exhaustive. It might be supplemented and confirmed by what we know about the manners of the Kelts, as reported by Aristotle (Pol. ii. 6. 5.)—Tartars, Persians, Afghans, North American Indians, &c. Diodorus Siculus, writing upon the morals of the Gauls, deserves attention in this respect. It is also singular to find that the Norman marauders of the tenth century carried unnatural vices wherever they appeared in Europe. The Abbot of Clairvaux, as quoted by Lombroso (p. 43), accused them of spreading their brutal habits through society. People accustomed to look upon these vices as a form of corruption in great cities will perhaps be surprised to find them prevalent among nomadic and warlike tribes. But, in addition to survival from half-savage periods of social life, the necessities of warriors thrown together with an insufficiency of women must be considered. I have already suggested that Greek love grew into a custom during the Dorian migration and the conquest of Crete and Peloponnesus by bands of soldiers.
Cannibalism, Lombroso points out (p. 68), originated in necessity, became consecrated by religion, and finally remained as custom and a form of gluttony. The same process of reasoning, when applied to sexual aberrations, helps us to understand how a non-ethical habit, based on scarcity of women, survived as a social and chivalrous institution among the civilised Hellenes.
Lombroso traces the growth of justice in criminal affairs, and the establishment of pains and penalties, up to the instinct of revenge and the despotic selfishness of chiefs in whom the whole property of savage tribes, including women, was vested. This section of his work concludes with the following remarkable sentence (p. 96): "The universal diffusion of crime which we have demonstrated at a certain remote epoch, and its gradual disappearance as a consequence of new crimes springing up, traces of which are still discoverable in our penal codes [he means revenge, the egotism of princes, and ecclesiastical rapacity], are calculated even more than the criminality of brutes to make us doubt of what metaphysicians call eternal justice, and indicate the real cause of the perpetual reappearance of crime among civilised races, namely atavism."
Having established this principle, Lombroso proceeds to trace the atavism of criminality in children. He shows that just as the human embryo passes through all forms of lower lives, so men and women in their infancy exactly reproduce the moral type of savages. Ungovernable rage, revengeful instincts, jealousy, envy, lying, stealing, cruelty, laziness, vanity, sexual proclivities, imperfect family affections, a general bluntness of the ethical sense, are common qualities of children, which the parent and the teacher strive to control or to eradicate by training. "The child, considered as a human being devoid of moral sense, presents a perfect picture of what doctors call moral insanity, and I prefer to classify as inborn crime" (p. 97). "All species of anomalous sexual appetite, with the exception of those dependent upon senile decadence, make their appearance in childhood, together with the other criminal tendencies" (p. 117).
Lombroso arrives, then, at the conclusion that what civilised humanity calls crime and punishes, is the law of nature in brutes, persists as a normal condition among savages, and displays itself in the habits and instincts of children. The moral instinct is therefore slowly elaborated out of crime in the course of generations by whole races, and in the course of infancy and adolescence in the individual. The habitual criminal, who remains a criminal in his maturity, in whom crime is inborn and ineradicable, who cannot develop a moral sense, he explains at first by atavism. A large section of his volume (pp. 124-136, 137-253) is devoted to anthropometrical observations upon the physical structure, the cranial and cerebral development, and the physiognomy of such criminals. Into this part of his work we need not enter. Nor is it necessary to follow his interesting researches in the biology and psychology of "born criminals"—chapters on tattooing, ways of thinking and feeling, passions, tendencies to suicide, religious sentiment, intelligence and culture, capacity of self-control, liability to relapse, and so forth. Many curious facts relating to sexual inversion are treated in the course of these enquiries; and one passage describing the general characteristics of pæderasts (p. 376) ought to be alluded to. Considering this subject solely as a phase of crime, Lombroso reveals a superficial conception of its perplexity.
It is more important to reflect upon his theory of crime in general. Having started with the hypothesis of atavism, and adopted the term "born criminal," he later on identifies "innate crime" with "moral insanity," and illustrates both by the phenomena of epilepsy. This introduces a certain confusion and incoherence into his speculative system; for he frankly admits that he has only gradually and tardily been led to recognise the identity of what is called crime and what is called moral insanity. Criminal atavism might be defined as the sporadic reversion to savagery in certain individuals. It has nothing logically to connect it with distortion or disease—unless we assume that all our savage ancestors were malformed or diseased, and that the Greeks, in whom one form of Lombroso's criminal atavism became established, were as a nation morally insane. The appearance of structural defects in habitual criminals points less to atavistic reversion than to radical divergence from the normal type of humanity. In like manner the invocation of heredity as a principle (p. 135) involves a similar confusion. Hereditary taint is a thing different not in degree but in kind from savage atavism prolonged from childhood into manhood.
Be this as it may, whether we regard offenders against law and ethic as "born criminals," or as "morally insane," or whether we transcend the distinction implied in these two terms, Lombroso maintains that there is no good in trying to deal with them by punishment. They ought to be treated with life-long sequestration in asylums (p. 135), and rigidly forbidden to perpetuate the species. That is the conclusion to which the whole of his long argument is carried. He contends that the prevalent juristic conception of crime rests upon ignorance of nature, brute-life, savagery, and the gradual emergence of morality. So radical a revolution in ideas, which gives new meaning to the words sin and conscience, which removes moral responsibility, and which substitutes the anthropologist and the physician for the judge and jury, cannot be carried out, even by its fervent apostle, without some want of severe logic. Thus we find Lombroso frequently drawing distinctions between "habitual" or "born" criminals and what he calls "occasional" criminals, without explaining the phenomenon of "occasional crime," and saying how he thinks this ought to be regarded by society. Moreover, he almost wholly ignores the possibility of correcting criminal tendencies by appeal to reason, by establishing habits of self-restraint, and by the employment of such means as hypnotic suggestion. Yet experience and the common practice of the world prove that these remedies are not wholly inefficacious; and indeed the passage from childish savagery to moralised manhood, on which he lays so great a stress, is daily effected by the employment of such measures in combination with the fear of punishment and the desire to win esteem.
The final word upon Lombroso's book is this: Having started with the natural history of crime, as a prime constituent in nature and humanity, which only becomes crime through the development of social morality, and which survives atavistically in persons ill adapted to their civilised environment, he suddenly turns round and identifies the crime thus analysed with morbid nerve-conditions, malformations and moral insanity. Logically, it is impossible to effect this coalition of two radically different conceptions. If crime was not crime but nature in the earlier stages, and only appeared as crime under the conditions of advancing culture, its manifestation as a survival in certain individuals ought to be referred to nature, and cannot be relegated to the category of physical or mental disease. Savages are savages, but not lunatics or epileptics.
NOTE TO THE FOREGOING SECTION.
At the close of this enquiry into medical theories of sexual inversion, all of which assume that the phenomenon is morbid, it may not be superfluous to append the protest of an Urning against that solution of the problem. I translate it from the original document published by Krafft-Ebing (pp. 216-219). He says that the writer is "a man of high position in London"; but whether the communication was made in German or in English, does not appear.
"You have no conception what sustained and difficult struggles we all of us (the thoughtful and refined among us most of all) have to carry on, and how terribly we are forced to suffer under the false opinions which still prevail regarding us and our so-called immorality.
"Your view that, in most cases, the phenomenon in question has to be ascribed to congenital morbidity, offers perhaps the easiest way of overcoming popular prejudices, and awakening sympathy instead of horror and contempt for us poor 'afflicted' creatures.
"Still, while I believe that this view is the most favourable for us in the present state of things, I am unable in the interest of science to accept the term morbid without qualification, and venture to suggest some further distinctions bearing on the central difficulties of the problem.
"The phenomenon is certainly anomalous; but the term morbid carries a meaning which seems to me inapplicable to the subject, or at all events to very many cases which have come under my cognisance. I will concede à priori that a far larger proportion of mental disturbance, nervous hyper-sensibility, &c., can be proved in Urnings than in normal men. But ought this excess of nervous erethism to be referred necessarily to the peculiar nature of the Urning? Is not this the true explanation, in a vast majority of cases, that the Urning, owing to present laws and social prejudices, cannot like other men obtain a simple and easy satisfaction of his inborn sexual desires?
"To begin with the years of boyhood: an Urning, when he first becomes aware of sexual stirrings in his nature, and innocently speaks about them to his comrades, soon finds that he is unintelligible. So he wraps himself within his own thoughts. Or should he attempt to tell a teacher or his parents about these feelings, the inclination, which for him is as natural as swimming to a fish, will be treated by them as corrupt and sinful; he is exhorted at any cost to overcome and trample on it. Then there begins in him a hidden conflict, a forcible suppression of the sexual impulse; and in proportion as the natural satisfaction of his craving is denied, fancy works with still more lively efforts, conjuring up those seductive pictures which he would fain expel from his imagination. The more energetic is the youth who has to fight this inner battle, the more seriously must his whole nervous system suffer from it. It is this forcible suppression of an instinct so deeply rooted in our nature, it is this, in my humble opinion, which first originates the morbid symptoms, that may often be observed in Urnings. But such consequences have nothing in themselves to do with the sexual inversion proper to the Urning.
"Well then; some persons prolong this never-ending inner conflict, and ruin their constitutions in course of time; others arrive eventually at the conviction that an inborn impulse, which exists in them so powerfully, cannot possibly be sinful—so they abandon the impossible task of suppressing it. But just at this point begins in real earnest the Iliad of their sufferings and constant nervous excitations. The normal man, if he looks for means to satisfy his sexual inclinations, knows always where to find that without trouble. Not so the Urning. He sees the men who attract him; he dares not utter, nay, dares not even let it be perceived, what stirs him. He imagines that he alone of all the people in the world is the subject of emotions so eccentric. Naturally, he cultivates the society of young men, but does not venture to confide in them. So at last he is driven to seek some relief in himself, some makeshift for the satisfaction he cannot obtain. This results in masturbation, probably excessive, with its usual pernicious consequences to health. When, after the lapse of a certain time, his nervous system is gravely compromised, this morbid phenomenon ought not to be ascribed to sexual inversion in itself; far rather we have to regard it as the logical issue of the Urning's position, driven as he is by dominant opinion to forego the gratification which for him is natural and normal, and to betake himself to onanism.
"But let us now suppose that the Urning has enjoyed the exceptional good-fortune of finding upon his path in life a soul who feels the same as he does, or else that he has been early introduced by some initiated friend into the circles of the Urning-world. In this case, it is possible that he will have escaped many painful conflicts; yet a long series of exciting cares and anxieties attend on every step he takes. He knows indeed now that he is by no means the only individual in the world who harbours these abnormal emotions; he opens his eyes, and marvels to discover how numerous are his comrades in all social spheres and every class of industry; he also soon perceives that Urnings, no less than normal men and women, have developed prostitution, and that male strumpets can be bought for money just as easily as females. Accordingly, there is no longer any difficulty for him in gratifying his sexual impulse. But how differently do things develop themselves in his case! How far less fortunate is he than normal man!
"Let us assume the luckiest case that can befall him. The sympathetic friend, for whom he has been sighing all his life, is found. Yet he cannot openly give himself up to this connection, as a young fellow does with the girl he loves. Both of the comrades are continually forced to hide their liaison; their anxiety on this point is incessant; anything like an excessive intimacy, which could arouse suspicion (especially when they are not of the same age, or do not belong to the same class in society), has to be concealed from the external world. In this way, the very commencement of the relation sets a whole chain of exciting incidents in motion: and the dread lest the secret should be betrayed or divined, prevents the unfortunate lover from ever arriving at a simple happiness. Trifling circumstances, which would have no importance for another sort of man, make him tremble: lest suspicion should awake, his secret be discovered, and he become a social outcast, lose his official appointment, be excluded from his profession. Is it conceivable that this incessant anxiety and care should pass over him without a trace, and not react upon his nervous system?
"Another individual, less lucky, has not found a sympathetic comrade, but has fallen into the hands of some pretty fellow, who at the outset readily responded to his wishes, till he drew the very deepest secret of his nature forth. At that point the subtlest methods of blackmailing begin to be employed. The miserable persecuted wretch, placed between the alternative of paying money down or of becoming socially impossible, losing a valued position, seeing dishonour bursting upon himself and family, pays, and still the more he pays, the greedier becomes the vampire who sucks his life-blood, until at last there lies nothing else before him except total financial ruin or disgrace. Who will be astonished if the nerves of an individual in this position are not equal to the horrid strain?
"In some cases the nerves give way altogether: mental alienation sets in; at last the wretch finds in a madhouse that repose which life would not afford him. Others terminate their unendurable situation by the desperate act of suicide. How many unexplained cases of suicide in young men ought to be ascribed to this cause!
"I do not think I am far wrong when I maintain that at least half of the suicides of young men are due to this one circumstance. Even in cases where no merciless blackmailer persecutes the Urning, but a connection has existed which lasted satisfactorily on both sides, still in these cases even discovery, or the dread of discovery, leads only too often to suicide. How many officers, who have had connection with their subordinates, how many soldiers, who have lived in such relation with a comrade, when they thought they were about to be discovered, have put a bullet through their brains to avoid the coming disgrace! And the same thing might be said about all the other callings in life.
"In consequence of all this, it seems clear that if, as a matter of fact, mental abnormalities and real disturbances of the intellect are commoner with Urnings than in the case of other men, this does not establish an inevitable connection between the mental eccentricity and the Urning's specific temperament, or prove that the latter causes the former. According to my firm conviction, mental disturbances and morbid symptoms which may be observed in Urnings ought in the large majority of instances not to be referred to their sexual anomaly; the real fact is that they are educed in them by the prevalent false theory of sexual inversion, together with the legislation in force against Urnings and the reigning tone of public opinion. It is only one who has some approximate notion of the mental and moral sufferings, of the anxieties and perturbations, to which an Urning is exposed, who knows the never-ending hypocrisies and concealments he must practise in order to cloak his indwelling inclination, who comprehends the infinite difficulties which oppose the natural satisfaction of his sexual desire—it is only such a one, I say, who is able properly to wonder at the comparative rarity of mental aberrations and nervous ailments in the class of Urnings. The larger proportion of these morbid circumstances would certainly not be developed if the Urning, like the normal man, could obtain a simple and facile gratification of his sexual appetite, and if he were not everlastingly exposed to the torturing anxieties I have attempted to describe."
This is powerfully and temperately written. It confirms what I have attempted to establish while criticising the medical hypothesis; and raises the further question whether the phenomenon of sexual inversion ought not to be approached from the point of view of embryology rather than of psychical pathology. In other words, is not the true Urning to be regarded as a person born with sexual instincts improperly correlated to his sexual organs? This he can be without any inherited or latent morbidity; and the nervous anomalies discovered in him when he falls at last beneath the observation of physicians, may be not the evidence of an originally tainted constitution, but the consequence of unnatural conditions to which he has been exposed from the age of puberty.
- The Standard of Sanity, Br. Med. Journal, Nov. 28, 1885.
- See Tarnowsky about the opinion of the lower classes in St. Petersburg, op. cit., p. 99. "Ueberhaupt verhalten sich die gemeinen ungebildeten Leute, dem Ausspruch aller mir bekannten Päderasten gemäss, äusserat nachsichtig gegen unzüchtige Anträge—'herrschaft-liche Spielerei,' wie sie es nennen." This is true not only of Russia, but of countries where we should least expect to find the compliance in question.
- P. 73. The italics are the translator's. The adjective homosexual, though ill-compounded of a Greek and a Latin word, is useful, and has been adopted by medical writers on this topic. Unisexual would perhaps be better.
- A note upon this subject has to be written; and it may be introduced here as well as elsewhere. Balzac, in Une dernière incarnation de Vautrin, describes the morals of the French bagnes. Dostoieffsky, in Prison Life in Siberia, touches on the same topic. See his portrait of Sirotkin, p. 52, et seq., p. 120 (edn. J. & R. Maxwell, London). We may compare Carlier, op. cit., pp. 300, 301, for an account of the violence of homosexual passions in French prisons. The initiated are familiar with the facts in English prisons. There is a military prison on the Lido at Venice, where incorrigible lovers of their own sex, amongst other culprits, are confined. A man here said: "All our loves in this place are breech-loaders." Bouchard, in his Confessions (Paris, Liseux, 1881), describes the convict station at Marseilles in 1630. The men used to be allowed to bring women on board the galleys. At that epoch they "les besognoient avant tout le monde, les couchant sous le banc sur leur 'capot. Mais depuis quelques années en ca, le general a defendu entrée aux femmes. De sorte qu'il ne se pêche plus maintenant là-dedans qu'en sodomie, mollesse, irrumation, et autres pareilles tendresses" (p. 151). The same Frenchman, speaking of the Duc d'Orléans' pages at Paris, says that this was a "cour extrèmemen impie et débauchée, surtout pour les garçons, M. d'Orléans deffendoit à ses pages de se besogner ni branler la pique; leur donnant au reste congé de voir les femmes tant qu'ils voudroient, et quelquefois venant de nuict heurter à la porte de leur chambre, avec cinq ou six garses, qu'il enfermoit avec eux une heure à deux" (p. 88). This prince was of the same mind as Campanella, who, in the Città del Sole, laid it down that young men ought to be freely admitted to women, for the avoidance of sexual aberrations. Aretino and Berni enable us to comprehend the sexual immorality of males congregated together in the courts of Roman prelates. As regards military service, the facts related by Ulrichs about the French Foreign Legion in Algeria, on the testimony of a credible witness, who had been a pathic in his regiment, deserve attention (Ara Spei, p. 20; Memnon, p. 27). This man, who was a German, told Ulrichs that the Spanish, French, and Italian soldiers were the lovers, the Swiss and German their beloved. See General Brossier, cited above, p. 19. Ulrichs reports that in the Austrian army lectures on homosexual vices are regularly given to cadets and conscripts (Memnon, p. 20).
- See above, p. 33, my criticism of Moreau upon this point, with special reference to Greece.
- Prometheus, pp. 20-26, et seq.
- Without having recourse to Ulrichs, it may be demonstrated from Krafft-Ebing's own cases of genuine Urnings that early onanism is by no means more frequent among them than among normal males. Five marked specimens showed no inclination for self-abuse. The first (p. 128) says: "As I never masturbated and felt no inclination for it, I sometimes had a nocturnal pollution." The second (p. 155): "You will be surprised to hear that before my twenty-eighth year I never had any ejaculation of semen, either by nocturnal emissions, or by masturbation, or by contact with a man." The third (p. 172): "Onanism is a miserable makeshift, and pernicious, whereas homosexual love elevates the moral and strengthens the physical nature." The fourth (p. 163): "I had an internal horror of onanism, although from the very first appearance of puberty I was sensually very excitable and troubled with persistent erections." The fifth (p. 142) is not so clear; but it is obvious from his remarks that the first ejaculation of semen which happened to him did so at the sight of a handsome soldier: "feeling my parts moistened, I was horribly frightened and thought it was a hæmorrhage." Some of the cases do not mention the subject at all. A good many seem to have begun to masturbate early; but the proportion is not excessive to the whole number. One Urning explains the faute de mieux system (p. 115): "If we have no friend, whose sexual company has become needful to the preservation of our health, and if we abandon ourselves at last to masturbation alone with our imagination, then indeed do we become ill." Another speaks as follows (p. 151): "Homosexual indulgence with a man gave me enjoyment and a consequent feeling of well-being, whereas onanism faute de mieuxproduced an opposite result."
- P. 82. Herodotus called it "the female disease."
- P. 86, et seq.
- P. 88, et seq.
- Henceforward we may use the word Urning without apology; for however the jurists and men of science repudiate Ulrichs' doctrine, they have adopted his designation for a puzzling and still unclassified member of the human race. A Dr. Kaserer, of Vienna, is said to have invented the term Urning.
- This is a hit at Westphal, Krafft-Ebing's predecessor, who laid down the doctrine that Urnings are conscious of their own morbidity. Of course, both authorities are equally right. Approach an Urning with terrors of social opinion and law; and he will confess his dreadful apprehensions. Approach him from the point of view of science; and he will declare that, within four closed walls, he has no thought of guilt.
- Pp. 97-106.
- The physical repugnance of true Urnings for women may be illustrated by passages from three of Krafft-Ebing's cases (pp. 117, 123, 163), which I will translate. (1) "I had observed that a girl was madly in love with me, and longed intensely to yield herself up to me. I gave her an assignation in my house, hoping that I should succeed better with a girl who sought me out of love than I had with public women. After her first fiery caresses, I did indeed feel a little less frigid; but when it came to thinking about copulation, all was over—the same stark frost set in, and my part was played out. I sent her away, deeply excited, with some moral remarks; and I have never tried the like experiments again. On all these occasions the specific odour of the female added to my horror." (2) "The proximity of wenches aroused in me qualms and nausea; in particular I could not bear to smell them." (3) "It seems to me absurd to set up the female form as the prototype of human beauty. I regard a woman's person as displeasing, the formation of her hips as ugly and unæsthetic. Dancing is therefore an abomination to me. I loathe the odour which the so-called fair sex exhales when heated by the dance." The disgust inspired in these three Urnings by the smell of the female is highly significant; since we know that the sense of smell acts powerfully upon the sexual appetite of normal individuals. It may be remarked that in all the instances of pronounced Urnings, sexual congress with women seems to have been followed with disgust, nervous exhaustion, and the sense of an unnatural act performed without pleasure. This is true even of those who have brought themselves to marriage.
- A sign, by the way, which may be observed in the most masculine of athletes. This is very noticeable in the nude photographs of Sandow.
- Englishmen know the type as Mariannes, and had occasion to study their habits in the Boulton and Park trial. For the type in Paris, consult Carlier, op. cit., pp. 323-326, 339-351, 463.
- I have used the German version of Lombroso's work, because of the translator's preface and occasional annotations.
- See Dufour, "Histoire de la Prostitution," vol. iii. (France, ch. i.) p. 193.
- See Dufour, "Histoire de la Prostitution," (France, chs. 6 and 7).
- See above, p. 35, for an ingenious definition by Dr. Huggard, which covers both classes as born criminals and moral madmen.
- His German translator calls attention to this omission; p. 153 footnote.