Practical Questions Answered, excerpted from Self Knowledge, T.W. Shannon, 1913.
FOR A CHILD
If this advice were universally followed by teachers, ministers and parents among all children over ten, youths and adults, it would immediately reform and purify society.
When a child asks about his origin he is old enough to be told the first story. Some children will ask about this by the time they are three or four years old, others not until they are five or six. A normally developing child will certainly become interested in this matter by the sixth year. If a child has not asked about his origin by the time he is six, it would be wise for the parents to ascertain by questioning him whether he has received this information elsewhere.
I would suggest that they wisely, tactfully and kindly ask him to tell them all he has heard, promising him that they will tell him the real truth in a number of very interesting stories. If he has received only very limited information, I would tell him at once the story of the plants and promise him another story in a few days or weeks about the oysters. If he has received considerable information in half-truth and learned several vulgar expressions, I would tell him these stories of life, one at the time and one each day until I had covered all the half-truths he had learned. I would endeavor skillfully to impress him with the sacredness of the laws of life. I would try to induce him to discard every false name he has learned by giving him the chaste pure names. I would teach him that we should be modest and discreet regarding these organs, and when and how to speak of them; that we should carefully avoid entertaining the idea they are in themselves sinful or that they are our shame and humiliation; that these organs and their functions are sacred, delicate and pure; and that they are our pride and our glory.
If this advice were universally followed by teachers, ministers and parents among all children over ten, youths and adults, it would immediately reform and purify society.
‘If a child, especially a boy, is not fully satisfied with the information contained in these stories, and should ask for a more detailed explanation of the child’s origin, how would you answer him?’
I would first try to decide whether the child is prompted by natural or morbid curiosity. If the child is sincere, very bright and inquisitive, you will have a very pleasant task and one that should result in only good to the child. I would start with the plant and show just how the two natures reach each other in the seed. Then I would pass in my detailed explanation to the oyster and fish. I would call his attention to the real visible examples of mating among the insects, birds, and domestic animals. I would call his attention to the father and mother of insects and birds as they build their cells and nests to receive their eggs when laid. I would call attention to the fact that food is stored up in the egg or cell for the young before and after it is hatched. I would call his attention to the fact that among the animals where the young is born alive, that the mother furnishes the young with food before it is born. If the child has witnessed the mating of the birds and domestic animals and this is explained to him in detail, the necessity for a detailed discussion of human mating will be avoided. The child could be informed that human mating is practically the same.
If the child is prompted by morbid curiosity, the task is a more difficult one, the ideal results are not so certain, but the above method is the only one that can be safely followed.
To be able to give sex and social purity truths effectively to children and youths, what qualifications should parents and teachers have?
(1) They should have tact or skill. It is possible to approach them in such a way as to do great harm. This qualification comes to one as a result of careful study of these subjects, the consciousness of personal responsibility and a realization of the child’s need of being safeguarded by a clear knowledge of the truth.
(2) They should be able to discard all words and phrases they learned from the ignorant on the street and playground. They should be able to use a chaste, simple, scientific sex vocabulary.
(3) They should be free from all mental and moral taint. No one can tell or willingly listen to a lascivious joke and then be able to tell effectively a child of his origin, the functions of his sexual system and his temptations and dangers in connection with them.
FOR THE YOUNG WOMAN, MARRIED OR SINGLE
The young man who would offer to present a young woman with a suggestive post card or book is stupidly ignorant or viciously immoral.
By reading Mother’s First Talk you will be able to fix in your mind the location of the womb and ovaries. You will find that they are near the center of the abdomen, just behind the bladder and are supported from above by long, broad and round ligaments. These ligaments are stretched across the abdominal cavity and are attached to the abdominal walls. The small end of the womb rests upon the vagina. This tube being flexible affords but little support for the womb. If a woman wears a corset, or tight waist band above her hips, the organs of the abdomen will be pressed downward. This is the principal cause of the womb’s being forced down into the vagina, bent upon itself, tipped forward or backward. The displacement of the womb interferes with the functions of the bladder and rectum. Leucorrhœa and inflamed conditions of the womb often follow. The fault is not in God’s arrangement of these organs, but in woman’s slavish devotion to fashion. Were all girls taught by means of charts the location of these organs, and their relation to the other organs of the abdomen, fewer girls would try to be like fashion plates.
Is there some natural method by which a woman can replace her own womb and avoid exposure, operation and expense?
Yes; if the following advice is followed early enough: Having removed your outer clothing, so as to give you perfect freedom, assume a position on the bed that will throw your hips above the rest of the body. This is easily accomplished by kneeling and then bending forward until the head and shoulders rest upon a pillow. Now contract the muscles of the abdomen in such a way as to appear to be trying to draw air into the body through the vagina. In this way all the abdominal organs are drawn toward the chest. When the womb falls into place, a gurgling sound will be heard caused by the air rushing into the vagina and the womb. This is the evidence that the womb has dropped back into its proper place. Now assume an easy position and be perfectly quiet for one or two hours. Then arise, dress and go about your duties. Don’t strain yourself or over-work. Very likely the womb will continue to drop out of place for several days. Keep up this method and soon the womb will remain in place.
Very likely you will not succeed in replacing the womb, the first effort. It may be several days before you succeed.
Only in the most extreme cases, and, even then, only upon the united opinion of several capable and honest physicians. In recent years operations for these troubles have been too frequent. A woman is never quite herself after one of these operations. If women were taught plainly and scientifically how to obey the laws of sex they would in almost all cases recover without an operation. It is generally estimated by hospital authorities that from sixty-five to eighty per cent. of married women who are operated upon in their sexual organs have been infected by gonorrhœa. In almost every case they were infected by their husbands who thought they were cured. In the initial stage this is usually treated by the wife as leucorrhœa; later she is treated by the doctor, or operated upon and the real cause is kept secret from her. In most cases an operation might be avoided, by going with her trouble at once to a doctor.
What effect upon the morals of men has the wearing of low-necked dresses by girls and married women?
It is through the influence of the sex life upon the social nature that the opposite sexes are attracted to each other and their association is made sacred, beautiful, enjoyable and mutually uplifting.
God’s greatest blessings to man may be abused by misuse. This is preëminently true of our God-given sexual nature. Improper thinking about the opposite sex leads to special excitement of the sexual organs and results in conscious sexual desire. In the normal man such thoughts and wishes are awakened by suggestive and inviting environment. A dress that only partially conceals the breasts of a woman, that reveals the delicate curves of hips and limbs, has this influence upon the mind of the normal man. The normal man usually fights off these temptations. Sometimes they overcome him.
Few men are normal. Licentiousness is transmissible. Most men have inherited very strong tendencies toward lust. Most men have received an unfortunate training from childhood. This has led to mental sex perversion. Improperly dressed women are a special temptation to these weak men.
The time has come for a reform in woman’s dress. She should not dress in a way that makes her a source of temptation to men.
It is natural for a woman to desire the attention, courtesy, gallantry, respect, reverence and love of men. The normal sex nature in woman will develop those indefinable feminine physical, mental and moral charms. If she dresses modestly and becomingly, if she is discreet, versatile and entertaining, she will have her admirers.
The suggestive sentences and pictures on post cards, bill boards, the novel and serial story all tainted with immorality; and in the moving pictures found in most five and ten cent shows, are positively pernicious. They lead young people to believe that hugging, kissing, lying or sitting on each other’s lap, and all other forms of ‘spooning,’ are natural, harmless and a necessary part of the entertainment among young people. The young man who would offer to present a young woman with a suggestive post card or book is stupidly ignorant or viciously immoral. If young ladies value their virtue and have the proper regard for young men, they will not accept such cards and book, nor allow them in their parlors. All women and girls and all virtuous men should protest against the production, sale and distribution of all books, cards, and pictures encouraging ‘spooning’ and the improper dress of the female as an insult to virtuous girlhood and womanhood and dangerous to the virtue of boyhood and manhood.
FOR THE YOUNG MAN, MARRIED OR SINGLE
Is there a safe method by which small organs, due to the secret sin, may be enlarged?
Some authorities claim that twenty per cent. of childless homes are due to men having had certain chronic forms of gonorrhea. Excessive use of tobacco and alcoholic drinks produces temporary sterility. The secret sin, when continued for many years, often results in temporary sterility. The inability to become a father, due to one of the last causes, may be regained on one or more years of abstinence from the cause. Loss of reproductive powers due to gonorrhea, in most cases cannot be restored.
Eighty per cent. of sterility among married women is due to gonorrheal infection. In nearly every case they were infected by their husbands who thought themselves cured. From these facts we see that men, not women, are largely responsible for sterile homes.
This depends upon the sexual development and the habits of the youth. In some it occurs much earlier than in others. If a young man has lived a continent life, he may expect an occasional emission when he is eighteen or twenty. If he has used narcotics, entertained impure thoughts, or practiced the secret sin, he may expect them sooner. All young men who practice the secret vice would have frequent emissions if they were not disposing of their surplus energy in this way. The young man who thus voluntarily gratifies his sexual desires is losing more energy than he would be doing if he were to discontinue the habit.
Among many letters received recently are letters from two young men living nearly a thousand miles apart. Their cases are very similar. Each began the secret sin when he was only six or seven years old; both were taught the vice by companions older than they; neither ever received a word of warning from a parent or teacher. One got to practicing the vice as often as seven times a day before he was thirteen. He is now eighteen and having emissions as often as four times a night. He has varicocele on both sides. The other one is now twenty-two, has practiced the secret sin as often as four times a day, and now has varicocele on the left side. Of course these are extreme cases, but they are more common than most people think.
The natural emission is a discharge from the seminal vessels; the unnatural emission is a discharge from the testes. The natural one contains no sperm cells; the unnatural one does. The first is wholly involuntary; the second one is due to sexual excitement caused usually by impure thinking. If a young man keeps his mind pure and avoids all habits that excite the sexual organs, practically all the sexual life formed by the testes will be absorbed. Whenever he maintains a high state of passion for several minutes, several hundred of the latent sperm cells in the epididymis will take on active life and be sent over to the ampullæ, and emissions under this condition would contain many sperm cells. This is why the unnatural emission is injurious. Owing largely to our artificial methods of living, when a boy is eighteen, the seminal vessels secrete more than can be absorbed. The surplus is thrown off from one to four times a month. This is nature’s plan of relieving the gorged condition.
There are so many things to be considered in each individual case that this question cannot be answered in other than general terms. The age when the habit was commenced, the age when the habit was quit, the frequency and the number of years of indulgence, the inherited constitution, the extent of lascivious thinking and the use or non-use of coffee, tea, tobacco and alcoholic drinks, all play a part in the correct answer to the question. I recall one young man of a frail constitution and a nervous temperament, who had practiced the vice two to four times a week for four years. He had nearly all the complications resulting from a greater excess and a much longer period of indulgence. He used coffee, tobacco, and had been addicted to much impure thinking. His will-power was weak. He had a long, hard struggle in breaking the habit. It required four years for him to recover. Here is a remarkable example. One of my correspondents, twenty-eight years old, began the habit at the age of eight and practiced the habit two and three times a day for twenty years. He had very few of the troubles following the habit of masturbation. Satisfactory recovery took place in a year’s time. He had everything to his advantage. He had inherited an ideal constitution and moral tendencies. He had never used coffee, tea, tobacco or alcoholic drinks. He had never allowed himself to indulge in obscene language, to read immoral books, to associate with bad company or to have improper thought about women. He had cultivated studious and industrious habits, and tried hard to live a Christian life. These ideal conditions had largely counteracted the injurious effects of the secret sin and made recovery possible in the brief period of one year. I regard this as the most remarkable case that I have ever had under my advisement.
Where one has practiced the secret sin from four to ten or more years and had the symptoms of greatly injured or lost manhood, it will require from one to four years for nature to restore his manly powers. Nature cannot counteract the loss of vitality and restore years of waste in a few days or weeks of time. Where one has been a victim of this habit for years he must be patient with nature. Years of practice have established a stream of waste from his body. In most cases it will require six months to one year for nature to check this waste. Until this is done, the patient cannot hope to be conscious of the delightful thrill of manhood being restored. Just here, I find many of my correspondents become discouraged. Failing to realize results in a few weeks, they are tempted to feel that the advice found in this book will not bring relief when followed, or that their case is a helpless one. They need to be patient with nature in her slow but sure method of producing real results.
In this matter most parents neglect their boys. When the prepuce is not passed back every few days and the secretion removed, an adhesion takes place between the prepuce and the head of the penis. A large number of boys labor for years, from the age of six to twelve trying to pass the prepuce back. They have not the right motive in doing this. It is impossible for them to handle this organ in this way, several times a day for months or years, without discovering the secret sin. In this way they dilate the prepuce and break up the adhesions. It is strange that this experience among boys has not suggested to parents the following natural and practical method of solving this problem.
Where the prepuce passes back naturally in babyhood, the mother should occasionally take a damp cloth and remove the secretion. When the boy is two years old the mother should have the boy trained to do this every two or three days.
Where the prepuce is long and the opening small, if the mother, every time she cares for the little fellow’s body, would endeavor to pull the prepuce back, by the time the boy is one year old, nine times out of ten, the problem would be solved. This should be done so gradually and carefully as not to produce soreness. If this is done before the boy is three years old sex consciousness and passion need not be awakened. I would not advise the mother to begin this after the boy is two or three years old.
Buy two silken suspensories, so they can be kept clean. The suspensory holds the testes up close to the body and prevents much of the uneasy dragging feeling. If this advice is followed for several months a surgical operation need never be necessary. Not one of several hundred young men who have carefully followed this advice have had to be operated on. If the patient fails to get relief and cure after several months of following this advice, he should consult a home physician.
When a young man has become infected with venereal disease, should he treat himself with a patent remedy purchased in a drug store or send away for a remedy?
Few questions are more important and few more difficult to answer. The right of being a husband and father may be annulled by inherited defects or acquired conditions. The wife and child have incontrovertible rights. The specific disease germs producing gonorrhea have been found in the genital vessels and ducts ten years after the victim considered himself cured, and the germs producing syphilis have been found in a man’s brain twenty-two years after he considered himself cured. Sixty-five per cent. of married women who are operated on in their pelvic and abdominal cavities, a very large per cent. of imbecile children, and eighty per cent. of blind infants are traceable to uncured infection in their husbands and fathers. Where the diseases have been properly treated and a cure has been effected in the first stage, no serious after effects will be experienced. Where the seeming cure has been effected several months or years after taking the disease, quite a large per cent. are never free from the effects. If such men marry at all, marriage should be delayed a few years after they consider themselves cured. At intervals of once or twice a year they should be carefully examined by the State Health Board. If no disease germs are found after two, four or more years, the individual may marry with some measure of assurance that he will not infect his wife or child. Even when these necessary precautions have been taken, children to the third and fourth generations may have to suffer for life for the sins of their fathers.
In recent years many prominent physicians have changed their views regarding venereal diseases, as they are now known to be more insidious and persistent than was formerly thought. Some physicians claim that syphilis may sometimes be cured; but many eminent physicians claim that it is quite probable that when one has once been infected with syphilis that his body is never entirely free from the disease germs. Some authorities claim that the syphilitic germ has been found in the brain twenty years after the disease was contracted. Many leading physicians now consider gonorrhea worse than syphilis.
Would it be wise for a young man to test the virtue of his best girl by using the methods of the seducer?
If the arm is not exercised it becomes helpless, withered and weak. If a young man should remain single for five to ten years and live a continent life, will not his sexual organs lose their function, wither and atrophy?
The solution of this problem lies in the fact that the male and female organs of reproduction have two functions. One is a continuous and regular function, taking place day and night, asleep and awake. The other is a periodic and special function. To illustrate: The breasts of a woman are a part of her reproductive system. A married woman becomes a mother for the first time at the age of twenty. She nurses her babe at her breasts. This function is called lactation. But, it would have been possible for her to become a mother at fifteen and to nurse her child. Then, there were five years during which she did not perform the function of lactation, and yet, she did not lose this function. Suppose she does not become a mother the second time until she is forty. Again her breasts perform this special function as perfectly as they did the first time. But, remember, there were nineteen years during which she did not perform this function, and yet, she did not lose this function. The other sexual organs of a woman have special and periodic functions, such as, menstruation and ovulation. The normal performance of these special functions is determined by their general and continuous function.
If the female sexual glands, ovaries and breasts, were removed from a girl in her infancy, she would never develop the indescribable physical, mental and social charms of ideal womanhood. If these glands were removed at any other age under forty, she would lose in physical, mental and moral tone. This illustrates the nature of the general and continuous function of these organs. This function consists in these organs generating an internal secretion which, if not interfered with, will build and maintain a perfect womanhood. This continuous function gives constant activity to these organs; keeps them healthy and strong and prevents the loss of their special function, that of motherhood.
Day and night, asleep and awake, the male sexual glands are generating an internal secretion which, if retained in the body, will build and maintain perfect manhood. It is this continuous function that gives constant activity to these organs, keeps them healthy and strong and prevents the loss of their special function of reproduction.
If a young man would develop an ideal social nature, he should to a reasonable extent, associate with modest, discreet and chaste young women. This is natural and in every way helpful. If a young man who has sexual weakness, due to youthful indiscretions, purposes reform and desires to regain his manhood, he will find association with young women of the above type to be very helpful. The normal young man, as well as the sexually weak, should studiously avoid association with girls whose actions, conversation or dress suggests impure thought.
A single example of ‘spooning’ will answer this question. January 19, 1912, a college young man, in a personal interview, explained that since April 14th he had been completely impotent and wanted to know of me, if there was any hope for him to have his manhood restored. I assured him that there was. He then asked me what he must do. My reply was, ‘That depends upon what you have been doing.’ I found that he had been guilty of the secret vice and prostitution to only a limited degree. Convinced that these habits would not explain his condition, I said to him, ‘The trouble is in your mind. You have in some way aroused and maintained a high state of sexual excitement for hours at a time and over a period of months or years. Can you explain?’ He confessed that for nearly two years he had spent two or three hours, two or three times a week, in company with a girl friend who permitted him to hold her hands, play with her hair, pat her cheeks and chin, kiss, caress and even fondle her breasts, but absolutely refused to permit further advances. Then I explained to him how this intense sexual excitement had brought on varicocele, loss of sexual power and spermatorrhea.
Spooning is a growing evil. It is more injurious than the secret sin. Our suggestive post cards, pictures on billboards, novels and serial stories, and the moving pictures in five and ten cent shows are all giving young people the idea that spooning is natural and expected as a part of the entertainment, when a young man calls to see his ‘best girl.’
The girl who permits spooning will lose many of her personal physical charms. The eyes that once sparkled with intelligence and glowed with luster become lusterless, stupid and sunken; the cheeks once rosy and plump become pale and poor; the handshake that was once warm and full of life, is now cold and lifeless. Health is gone. She ends her days in heart trouble, wrecked nerves or consumption.
If cohabitation is not a physical and sexual necessity, or conducive to health, why do married people live longer and have better health than those who remain single?
All nature teaches that the normal expression of sex is the unselfish act of embodying life in a new being and that means sacrifice. The story of the cross is typical of all nature. Christ sacrificed his life that humanity might have redemptive life through a process of spiritual reproduction, regeneration.
Through centuries of bad heredity, a misunderstanding of the nature and true function of sex and years of violation of sex laws have combined to give men an abnormal sex nature. It has remained for the people of this country to discover and apply the laws of heredity, to learn the true nature and function of sex and to restore to humanity a normal sex nature. The results of centuries cannot be corrected in one generation. Few men will be able to reach the ideal life, but it is the privilege of every man to struggle toward the ideal.
For young people to regard sexual gratification as the one reason for marriage is positively degrading and shows that our ideas of marriage should be corrected. There are many reasons why the married life is the ideal life. Man is a social being. He needs a companion. He is not complete in himself. He represents only one-half of a complete being. He is never quite satisfied until he finds the other half, the complement of himself. A demand for companionship is found in the very physical, mental and moral natures of man and woman. Their constant association, their mutual home interests and sacrifice for their children are very conducive to health, happiness and a long life.
My subject is before you. While we may differ as to some minor particulars, we are agreed that the violation of the laws of sex is the most prolific source of wrecked manhood, and that a pure life is the only possible road to perfect manhood. I have tried to lead you to loathe and abhor all forms of sexual impurity and to form a purpose as lasting as life and as strong as death, that you will never again violate the laws of sexual purity. The attainment and maintenance of perfect manhood, the recovery of wrecked manhood, the transmission of potential perfect manhood to your offspring, all absolutely depend upon your faithfulness to the principles of sexual purity enunciated in this book. If the truths presented in this book keep one boy out of the pit of sensuality, or if they lead one poor faltering man to form an undying purpose to become pure, or if just one man finds help, strength and life through faith in Christ, the author is repaid a thousand-fold. It is a higher honor to wear a crown of perfect manhood than to wear the crown of an angel.
FOR MARRIED OR UNMARRIED, OF MIDDLE LIFE AND OLD AGE
Most normal women seek sexual gratification to please their husbands or out of a desire for motherhood.
There are three kinds of race suicide, all of which are very prevalent among American born people, (1) The various methods of preventing conception. This is perhaps the most common. (2) Willful abortion, or prenatal murder. It is estimated that 250,000 cases come to medical attention annually. If this is true, perhaps 100,000 succeed in destroying prenatal life without medical attention. This would mean 1,000 prenatal murders daily in the United States. If these figures are true, then it is reasonable to suppose that 100,000 attempts are made that fail. Many of these unwelcome children inherit a tendency toward homicide or suicide. This is evidently one of the main causes of the appalling increase of crime. As a rule, men who have not learned self-control are more responsible for this crime than are their wives. This is a national sin, found in all grades of society. This sin cannot be checked until people learn self-control and all youths are safeguarded in their sexual development by being given a correct knowledge of sex. (3) The third form of ‘race suicide’ is the ever-increasing production of degenerates. The chief causes of this form of ‘race suicide’ are strong drink and lust.
There are some difficulties connected with this theory. This self-control is not possessed by the mass of mankind. Where one companion tries to force this view the other may be driven to marital infidelity, or family discord which may lead to the divorce court.
(2) Some consider marital congress to be an act of love. Where this is confined to once, twice or thrice a month and to a few days midway between the menses, except when a child is desired, no wrong will be done; the sacred fire of love will be kept aglow in their hearts, health will reign in their lives, the initial of each child can be intelligently planned for, his prenatal rights be respected, his nativity be warmly welcomed and he be given the best possible environment.
(3) The other theory is that of physical necessity, especially for man. Among the unmarried this theory leads to prostitution or the secret sin. Among the married it means legal prostitution, leads to marital excess, poor health of parents, loss of vitality, puny, scrawny, short-lived children and to ‘race suicide.’