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• Sin and Death in Mormon Country - A Latter-day Tragedy
• Self-Pollution: Its Evil Effects
• The History of the Masturbation Taboo
• Instruction and Advice For the Young Bride
Author: Mark A. Taylor
On March 2, 1982, Kip Eliason, age 16, distraught and filled with self-hate over his inability to stop masturbating, committed suicide. Before asphyxiating himself, Kip left his father a note:
I love you more than what words can say. If it were possible, I would stay alive for only you, for I really only have you. But it isn't possible. I must first love myself, and I do not. The strange feeling of darkness and self-hate overpowers all my defenses. I must unfortunately yield to it. This turbulent feeling is only for a few to truly understand. I feel that you do not comprehend the immense feeling of serf-hatred I have. This is the only way I feel that I can relieve myself of these feelings now. Carry on with your life and be happy. I love you more than words can say.
--Your son, Kip
Kip Eliason's five-year struggle to overcome masturbation started at age 11 when his grandmother persuaded him to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), whose members are better known as Mormons. Kip was an intelligent and sensitive young man, perhaps too sensitive. The death of his mother when the boy was six had profoundly affected him. At times he was quiet and reflective, spending hours alone in his room, and yet he was outgoing by nature. He was a born leader. His classmates and teachers admired him for his friendly way and all-American good looks. Kip was truthful and possessed a farm-community naïveté.
He loved the Mormon Church---which has 5.5 million members worldwide---and was devoted to its teachings. His father, Eugene Eliason, a non-Mormon, believes that in some ways the church may have played a substitute-mother role for the boy. (For clarity, Eugene Eliason will be referred to as Eliason throughout this report; his son will always be called Kip.)
Kip was not the kind of youngster you'd think would commit suicide, but when his church told him that he'd find guilt, depression and self-hate if he masturbated, he believed so. When it said he'd go to hell if he didn't stop, he believed that too. And when he was told that masturbation was a "building block of suicide," he took the church at its word.
Kip's death rocked the predominantly Mormon agribusiness community of Boise, Idaho, where he was a high-school senior at Capital High School. Of course, there were the stories that occasionally filtered through the congregation about young people who, like Kip, committed suicide because they couldn't live up to the church's stringent anti-sex doctrines. But they were just stories and, if they were true, they didn't happen in Boise; they happened some 300 miles southeast, in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Salt Lake City is the headquarters of the Mormon Church and the power base from which it wields enormous financial and political influence. (Mormons comprise 70% of Utah's population.) There Kip's death was indeed viewed by church leaders as an unfortunate tragedy, but it wasn't the isolated incident the church would like its brethren in Boise to believe.
Today Kip's story is one told more and more often in Mormon wardhouses. Behind the scenes the church and community mental-health agencies in Utah are quietly fighting a sex-related mental-health epidemic among Mormon men and women. Mental-health fallout in Utah communities has been substantial and pervasive. Utah has the highest birthrate and the largest families in America. More than 50% of all births are by teenage mothers, with seven of ten out of wedlock, and it has one of the highest divorce rates in the nation.
While the number of teen suicides in America has tripled in the past decade, Utah has consistently been 3.5% higher than the national average. According to that state's Department of Vital Statistics, it ranks 13th nationally in child abuse, but comparing Utah statistics with those compiled by the National Association for the Protection of Children, the incidence of reported child abuse is six times higher in Utah. The incidence of sexual abuse---including rape, incest and intercourse---is 33% more than the national average, and the child-murder rate is five times higher.
Besides having a powerhouse football team, the Mormons' very own Brigham Young University---alma mater of Donny and Marie Osmond and 1984 Miss America Sharlene Wells---has one of the highest coed-pregnancy rates in America.
Kip and countless others have fallen victim to guilt, self-hate, mental illness and suicide created by their inability to control healthy sexual desires as mandated by the Mormon Church. Making things worse is its amateurish attempts to provide counseling that utilizes powerful behavioral-modification techniques with inadequate training.
Mormon anti-sex indoctrinations start early. Children are taught that sex is dirty and disgusting, that it is the tool of Satan. The church uses guilt and the threat of eternal damnation to drive its message home. When a child reaches adolescence, the conflict between what he or she has learned and sexual feelings experienced can create devastating consequences.
After Kip's death, Eliason moved to Salt Lake City. He was angry and hurt. There he met parents who had stories like his---youngsters ending up in mental institutions or worse, committing suicide. Eliason worked through his grief and anger by talking to anyone willing to listen and by going to the library and researching teen suicide and the Mormons. In October 1983 he filed a $26-million wrongful-death suit against the Mormon Church, alleging that the Latter-day Saints went a step further than just providing his son with spiritual, moral and personal guidance when they subjected him to sex- and masturbation-counseling. The suit accuses the church of negligence for providing counseling that fell outside the realm of religious teaching and for not requiring or providing training for its counselors.
The suit charges that this counseling, combined with the church's harsh anti-masturbation indoctrinations, were the direct cause of Kip's depression, self-hate, suicide attempts and eventual death.
Moreover, it alleges that the church knew or should have known that its attempts to indoctrinate and provide sexual counseling for Kip were having a severe and adverse reaction on him; yet they continued. The suit charges that this failure to exercise a proper standard of care was negligent.
The suit also contends that the Mormon Church subjected Kip to what amounted to an intentional attempt at mind control by using brainwashing techniques under the guise of spiritual teaching.
A pretrial affidavit was filed by noted sex-behavior expert Dr. Jack Annon, clinical and forensic psychologist, author of three books on sexual dysfunctions and disorders, and a member of the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists and of other professional societies. Annon stated: "Based upon my review of even a limited amount of literature and on documentation specifically pertaining to Kip Eliason, it appears clear that the LDS Church promoted and engaged in behavior-modification counseling in the specific areas of masturbation."
In letters to his father and in his remarkably well-written journal, Kip chronicled his fight to overcome masturbation. He wrote: "I know immorality is a very serious sin. I really want to repent and be free of this terrible and degrading burden of masturbation. I am willing to do anything I have to do, even excommunication, to be able to repent and be free of this sin. I would rather go to hell and suffer there than be unworthy."
Eliason recalls that before Kip became involved with the church, he was happy as a lark: "He got along with everyone just beautifully. We water-skied, boated, fished, snow-skied and did everything together. We laughed and had a ball."
Mormons are taught that only by achieving perfection on earth will they reach "godhood" and find eternal life in heaven. To reach "perfection" one must first be found "worthy." Bestowing "worthiness" is a shared responsibility between God and the church's elders.
For most Latter-day Saints, including Kip, the constant battle to become "worthy" is a hopeless struggle. Becoming "worthy" and ultimately reaching "perfection" means living up to the church's 4,300 commandments---including those condemning natural sex acts.
To his classmates at Capital High School and fellow Mormons, Kip seemed jovial, outgoing and, well, almost perfect. In many ways he was a model child---highly motivated, voted most inspirational member of the track team, a straight-A student, a seemingly well-adjusted individual immersed in his church beliefs and in striving for perfection. Mormon elders often used him as an example of what a fine young man should be, someone others could aspire to be like. Kip often talked about going to college and earning a degree in a humanitarian field.
Kip's aunt Janice Ballatore, an active Mormon with whom he lived for two summers, remembers him telling her of his masturbation problem one day while running errands: "I told him not to worry, that all young boys probably do it. He seemed very relieved. Kip was a smart, good-looking kid who took the church perfection business seriously. He really thought he could be perfect. He said, 'The church told me I could if I really wanted to try.'"
MORMON SEX "EDUCATION"
In a devotional speech to young adults in 1974 the late Spencer W. Kimball, Prophet, Seer and Revelator of the Mormon Church, admonished teenagers: "Immorality [petting, premarital sex, adultery, homosexuality and masturbation] brings generally a guilt deep and lasting. These guilt complexes are the stuff of which mental breakdowns come; they are the building blocks of suicide, the fabric of distorted personalities and the wounds that scar and decapitate individuals or families."
In Love vs. Lust, a pamphlet written for teenagers, Kimball told young men that premarital sex is a serious sin, one just short of murder. He wrote: "The young man is untrue to his manhood who promises popularity, good times, security, fun and even love, when all he can give is passion and its diabolical fruits---guilt complexes, disgust, hatred, abhorrence, eventual loathing, and possible pregnancy without legitimacy and honor."
Insisting on anonymity, a young, attractive woman sums up 20 years of Mormon sex indoctrinations: "They tell you it's filthy and ugly. They say you'll be shamed and damned. By the time you're 21, you've got more sexual hang-ups than you can deal with. It's crazy."
Even married people are told that sex for pleasure is out, that the only legitimate purpose of sex is to be the tool of "procreating new spirits." In a confidential letter responding to an inquiry from a married couple asking if oral sex was permitted, the late Mormon Prophet Harold B. Lee stated: "I was shocked to have you raise the question about `oral lovemaking in the genital area among married couples.' Heaven forbid any such degrading activities which would be abhorrent in the sight of the Lord. For any Latter-day Saint... to engage in any kind of perversions of this sacred God-given gift of procreation would be sure to bring down the condemnation of the Lord whom we would offend were we to engage in any such practice."
Once known for their practice of polygamy (multiple marriages), today's Latter-day Saints are ultraconservative, tight-knit, industrious and secretive. The church demands absolute faith in and conformity to all its teachings and doctrines, and it attempts to govern all aspects of its congregation's lives, including their sex lives.
In a letter to his father, Kip wrote: "I think since you're my father who I love very much, I can tell you something about me that I have a problem with. It started when I was around nine or ten years of age. I had my first wet dream and was experiencing new feelings. I really don't know how I got started, but it doesn't matter. I did it for about a year, then out of fright that I would go to Satan if I did things like that, I stopped doing it. Then about a year and a half later I was starting with it again. It was the first week of junior high in the 7th grade. I really don't know what it was that got me doing it again. For about a year I rationalized that it was right; it really wasn't a big problem then. But I did feel guilty. Then through my guilt and what I was learning [from the church] I knew it was wrong for me."
Eliason remembers: "Initially, Kip came to me and said he'd begun to have nocturnal emissions. He asked if I thought it would affect his church priesthood. I told him, `No way! It's normal, and every man goes through it.'"
Kip desperately wanted to be a good man and prove himself worthy. At first he even tried lying, but he couldn't lie to himself. He wrote: "I had lied about it to everyone, even the bishop and myself. I would go in for [bishop] interviews, and when the `golden question' was asked, `Are you morally clean?' I looked in his eyes and lied. My life was downhill all the time. I felt horrible inside, and it showed. I didn't have many friends. I felt too humiliated to see the bishop. I tried a million times to stop on my own. But it was an obsession. A hideous habit that I thought to be totally impossible to quit. I knew Satan had me twisted on his little finger. I thought I would never be able to lose the chains that held me fast."
When Kip finally told his bishop the truth, the bishop scheduled regular counseling sessions to assist the youth to stop masturbating and to monitor his progress. The church would supply the information he needed to overcome his sin, but he alone would have to stop---that is, if he really wanted to.
Unlike churches that require clergymen to have training and even college degrees before providing counseling, Mormon bishops and elders have little or no training in psychology or sexology. The only instruction they receive comes from either The Bishop's General Handbook or the litany of pamphlets and instructional manuals pumped out by the LDS publishing arm.
One pamphlet written for teenage boys is titled Steps to Overcoming Masturbation [reprinted on this website--see link below]. It recommends avoiding being alone whenever possible, but "if you have a friend who masturbates, end the friendship immediately---don't fool yourself by thinking you can stop together; it will only lead to even greater perversions."
As a reminder of their particular sin, Mormon masturbators are instructed to carry a pocket calendar with them wherever they go. They are told to paint the days they masturbated black. Masturbators are also told not to read about or talk to anyone about their problem.
In the bathroom, Mormons are advised to always leave the door slightly ajar to avoid being alone, and to never admire themselves in the mirror. "Never stay in the bathroom for longer than five minutes, even to bathe-then GET OUT FAST." The author recommends never touching the "intimate parts" of the body except during normal toileting.
In the bedroom they are instructed to dress for security. The more layers of clothing, the better. If the urge to masturbate becomes unbearable, yell "STOP!" as a way of changing the subject. Another option is to grasp a Book of Mormon and hold it tightly. In severe cases the masturbator is told to tie his hand to the bedframe so that semi-sleep masturbation doesn't occur.
In the pamphlet Love vs. Lust, Kimball warned masturbators that if they don't stop, they will end up homosexual: "Masturbation is the introduction of the more serious sin of exhibitionism and the gross sin of homosexuality." And in Tools for Missionaries the church states that medical doctors believe masturbation "dulls the mind and has adverse effect on the memory."
Dr. Vern Bullough of State University College at Buffalo, New York, is the author of many books on homosexuality and masturbation, including Sexual Variance in Society and History. Bullough, who also heads the Society for the Scientific Study of Sex, takes issue with Mormon claims of medical backing: "Obviously, members of the society would take exception to the attempts of the LDS Church to claim scientific backing for their stand on masturbation; their science is about 80 years out of date, and it was questionable even 80 years ago."
If the church's stand on masturbation is based on turn-of-the-century science, its controversial treatment for homosexuals might be right out of the futureshock novel and cult-film classic A Clockwork Orange.
The so-called electroshock conditioning starts in the downtown Salt Lake City office of psychologist and active Mormon Robert Card. First, electrodes are strapped to the homosexual's arms or fingers, biofeedback monitors are attached to his head, and a circular electronic sensor is placed around his penis. Next, the patient sits in a darkened room where he views videotapes of heterosexual and homosexual sex acts.
If the patient gets an erection while watching the heterosexual tapes, a biofeedback digital-display monitor registers a positive numerical reading. But if the patient begins to have an erection while viewing the homosexual tapes, the electrodes strapped to his arms or fingers deliver an electrical shock.
Don Artridge, an ex-Mormon homosexual who was also a member of the famed Mormon Tabernacle Choir, underwent five months of shock treatments conducted by Dr. Card, whom he refers to as Dr. Frankenstein. "Every time I left his office, I was hornier than ever. Many times my arms were red and cut up from the shocks---they looked like hamburger."
Another ex-Mormon gay, Les (who wanted only his first name identified), is very angry. "It's horrible having the hell shocked out of you when you get sexually excited. The entire thing was disgusting." Les even considered suicide. "After a while suicide looked like the most honorable thing to do. Many Mormon gays do it. I had it all planned, an automobile accident on a certain curve in the mountains; it was a way my children and family would be spared."
In February 1984 the Australian television version of 60 Minutes aired a segment about the treatments, titled "Saints and Sinners." Utah native and ex-Mormon Gary L. Stone told producer Warren McStoker that be didn't just leave the church after being treated by Dr. Card. He kidnapped his four-year-old daughter from his ex-wife to get her away from the church and then moved to Australia.
"Getting myself and my daughter away from the Mormon Church was the best decision I've made in my entire 32-year life." About Dr. Card's treatment he says, "It's destructive. They are purposely trying to destroy you. If you are a homosexual in the church, you have only three options---you can lie, you can die or you can disappear."
While publicly abhorring any form of pornography, the church uses porn to treat homosexuality. And although it doesn't openly embrace Dr. Card's treatment, many higher-ups endorse the therapy and even refer church members for treatment.
The Mormon instructional pamphlet Homosexuality outlines and suggests specific therapeutic methods to be used in sex counseling. They include establishing rapport and confidentiality, assessment counseling, fantasy-changing, goal-setting, thought-stopping, chain-breaking and aversion therapy. The church believes that all homosexuals started out as masturbators; so counselors are instructed to identify the masturbator, gain his confidence, assess his needs and then design and implement a plan to help him stop before it leads to "more perverse and repugnant sins."
Although the church encourages the use of these potentially dangerous therapies, it fails to offer implementation guidelines. Bishops have no way of recognizing emotional and psychological problems or even mental illness. Also, they have no way of knowing whether the therapy is helpful or harmful.
Again, Dr. Jack Annon: "It is my professional opinion that the LDS Church has gone a step beyond propounding a certain viewpoint that masturbation is a sin, and has actually instructed its leaders, teachers and bishops to provide counseling and to utilize behavior-'modification skills that can have very dangerous and adverse effects."
After Kip admitted his "sin," he felt relieved. "It has been exactly 11 weeks ago that I was called in by my new bishop to have an interview with him for the On My Honor Award. I knew that the question would be asked, `Are you worthy?' I prayed for strength to tell the truth before I went for the interview. I felt a little nervous at first, but then I was relaxed. The question was asked. And I told him the truth. I felt as clean as I felt at my baptism. I feel `new' again! I have not masturbated for 11 weeks now. This is after I tried and tried to stop. After I saw the bishop, I knew I would never be immoral ever again. The chains are loose, and I am free... New doors to truth and happiness have opened up to me."
Unfortunately, Kip's hopes were dashed when he eventually masturbated again. He wrote: "It seems I have tried to stop a billion times, but it's the same old feelings. It affects every part of my life. If I could only get rid of this one sin, I know I could be a better person. I know I will run into a lot more problems in my life, but I think having a good self-image will help a lot through those times. Being rid of this ugly immoral sin will save my life and make it worth living."
By the time Kip was 15, he and his dad discussed the problem regularly. Eliason continued to try to convince Kip that masturbation was a normal and even healthy part of growing up and discovering one's own sexuality. He supplied Kip with books by medical experts refuting the information supplied by the Mormon Church. Even though Kip loved him, Eliason's influence couldn't match the well-oiled anti-masturbation campaign of the Mormons.
In a letter to his father, Kip regurgitated his indoctrination. "Now I know you are going to say it's good, it's natural, and 99.9% of the human population does it. Dad, I have read the statistics; I have read the sex books: I know the authors are professionals with all the `facts.' But for me, it is wrong! For others it may be right, but not for me."
At school, friends noticed a difference in his behavior. He clammed up and seemed lost in thought. The church was demanding an ever greater commitment from him. If he wasn't in school or doing homework, then he was at the Mormon wardhouse.
Nearly five years had passed since Kip's first wet dream and feelings of sexual awakening. For most, adolescence is a time of personal exploration, discovery and excitement, but for Kip it was a time of torment and self-disgust.
Eliason noticed a change in Kip's personality. "He seemed down in the dumps for no apparent reason. He began spending a lot of time in his room. I found out later he was praying and reading the Scriptures for hours on end." After Kip's death he found an extensive library on sex, human reproduction and scores of pamphlets and books that the church had supplied the boy.
In a letter to an unnamed church eider, Kip pleaded for help: "How can I have the confidence that I won't let myself fall into this temptation ever again? I really want to fulfill my priesthood calling, and I can't if I am not morally clean. I don't even deserve it! I am willing to do anything I have to do to be able to repent and be free of this sin."
By the fall of 1981 the once-active, outgoing and well-liked teenager was withdrawn and profoundly depressed. On December 10, 1981, Kip tried to kill himself by drinking a bottle of iodine mixed with alcohol. He had come to hate himself so completely, he believed that death and damnation were all he deserved.
If there had been any doubt concerning the severity of his emotional conflict or state of mind, Kip's attempted suicide should have silenced it. The Eliason suit alleges that the Mormon Church was aware of the suicide attempt, but continued to counsel him in complete disregard for his deteriorating mental state.
Dr. Annon believes, "It is my firm professional opinion, based upon information that I have at hand, that the LDS Church attempted to teach very stringent and difficult standards to a boy who was vulnerable to emotional conflicts, and that the counseling was inadequate and appears to have contributed to the boy's suicidal ideations."
On January 10, 1982, just a month after his first suicide attempt, Kip was ordained into the Aaronic priesthood. One in a series of Mormon priesthoods, the Aaronic demands greater responsibility, commitment and perfection.
On Valentine's Day, February 14, Kip made another attempt to end his life by again drinking a mixture of iodine and alcohol. He was taken to the psychiatric unit of the St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, where he was diagnosed as suicidal. (The medical facility is a codefendant in the Eliason suit.) Eight days later Kip was released to his father.
Eliason recalls picking his son up at the hospital. "He seemed happy to be going home. Before we left, he introduced me to a 16-year-old girl he had met there. She had told him she was there for the same reason he was. Kip seemed very taken by his new friend and, when they said goodbye, he took her into his arms and kissed her. I'll never forget it."
On March 2, 1982, Kip was home alone while his father made an overnight business trip, About 9 p.m. Eliason called him from his hotel. "Kip seemed all right. I asked him if he'd taken his medicine, and he said he had. I told him I'd be home soon, and that was about it."
Sometime after the call, Kip wrote a suicide note. He went to the closed garage, started the family car and went to sleep.
Dead at 16, Kip Eliason had but two "vices," masturbation and telling the truth. He was unable to stop masturbating and too honorable to lie---something tens of thousands of other Mormons must be doing right now.
Every time Eugene Eliason returns to Boise, he visits Kip's grave. Sometimes he drives through their old neighborhood. He feels closest to Kip there. If a Mormon neighbor recognizes him, they pretend not to notice. Now labeled an anti-Mormon, he worries about all those young people who, like Kip, are giving their all to the Mormon Church.
Today Eliason shows his anger less frequently than he did two years ago, even though his precedent-setting clergy-malpractice suit has cost him everything. (After several lengthy delays and setbacks it is slated to go to court this spring .) It's not that his anger has subsided the way it might have had his son been killed in an auto accident, say. That kind of natural dissipation of anger doesn't apply to him. Until he can find justice and reconcile the fact that Kip died not only believing himself a failure at age 16, but also believing that he deserved to die as punishment for his "despicable sin," Eliason's anger and grieving will continue.
[Journalist Mark A. Taylor, a native of Salt Lake City, has written feature articles for a number of Far West publications. This article is electronically reproduced by permission from the April 1986 issue of Hustler magazine. Copyright 1986 by Hustler Magazine, Inc.]
Readers having information about the outcome of the lawsuit mentioned in this article---or any other information relating to the topic of masturbation and religion---are encouraged to e-mail us.
For a personal account of an ex-Mormon dealing with the dogma and the anti-sex attitudes of this religion, read the wonderful autobiography by Deborah Laake, Secret Ceremonies: A Mormon Woman's Intimate Diary of Marriage and Beyond (New York: Morrow, 1993). She tells about her own discovery of masturbation and how it helped her break away from Mormonism.
[The following is an excerpt from EUGENICS - Scientific Knowledge of the Laws of Sex Life and Heredity, by T. W.Shannon, A.M. (Publisher: S.A. Mullikin, 1904). The information contained in this excerpt is not true. It is an example of the hysteria about masturbation which was common 100 years ago.]
Chapter XV - Self Pollution
By far the worst form of venereal indulgence is self-pollution, or, as it is called by medical writers, onanism or masturbation. And it is incomparably the worst for several important reasons.
ITS EVIL EFFECTS - It is wholly unnatural, and, in every respect, does violence to nature. The mental action, and the power of the imagination on the genital organs, forcing a vital stimulation of the parts, which is reflected over the whole nervous system, are exceedingly intense and injurious; and consequently the reciprocal influences between the brain and the genital organs become extremely powerful, irresistible and destructive. The general, prolonged and rigid tension of the muscular and nervous tissues is excessively severe and violent. In short, the consentaneous effort and concentrated energy of all the powers of the human system to this single forced effect cause the most ruinous irritation, violence, exhaustion and debility of the system.
YOUTH SUFFERS MOST - All who are acquainted with the science of human life are well aware that all excesses and injuries of every kind are far more pernicious and permanent in their effects on the youthful and growing body than when all the organs and parts are completely developed, and the constitution and general economy fully and firmly established. This is the great reason why many men who fall into ruinous habits, after they are twenty-five or thirty years of age, will live on, in spite of those habits, by the virtues of a well-established and vigorous constitution, till they arrive at what we commonly call old age; while the children of the same men, following their fathers' evil example and forming ruinous habits when very young, become early victims and fall prematurely into the grave.
WHERE BOYS FREQUENTLY LEARN - The common notion that boys are generally ignorant in relation to this matter and that we ought not to remove that ignorance is wholly incorrect. Most boys do know about this, even if they do not practice it.
Servants and people of loose morals often become the secret teachers of children in this debasing sin. But it is more frequently communicated from boy to boy. One corrupt boy will corrupt many others.
NO SECOND PERSON TO RESTRAIN - It is a secret and solitary vice, which requires the consent of no second person, and therefore the practice has little restraint as to its frequency. The general conditions are such that the practice becomes more and more frequent.
DESTROYS BOTH BODY AND MIND - It impairs the intellectual and moral faculties and debases the mind in the greatest degree, and causes the most deep and lasting regret, which sometimes rises to the most pungent remorse and despair. It would seem that God, as an instinct law in the innate moral sense, remonstrates against this filthy vice; for, however ignorant the boy may be of the moral character of the act or of the physical and mental evils which result from it; though he may never have been told that it is wrong; yet every one who is guilty of it feels an intinctive shame and deep self-loathing even in his secret solitude, after the unclean deed is done! - and that youth has made no small progress in the depravity of his moral feelings who has so silenced the dictates of natural modesty that he can, without the blush of shame, pollute himself in the presence of another, even his most intimate companion! Hence all who give themselves up to the excesses of this debasing indulgence carry about with them, continually, a consciousness of their defilement, and cherish a secret suspicion that others look upon them as debased beings. They can not meet the look of others, and especially of the female sex, with the modest boldness of conscious innocence and purity; but their eyes fall, suddenly abashed, and the glow of mingled shame and confusion comes upon thier cheeks, when they meet the glance of those with whom they are conversing, or in whose company they are.
A WANT OF SELF-RESPECT - They feel none of that manly confidence and gallant spirit and chaste delight in the presence of virtuous females which stimulate young men to pursue the course of ennobling refinement and mature them for the social relations and enjoyment of life; and hence, they are often inclined, either to shun the society of females entirely or to seek such as is by no means calculated to elevate their views, or to improve their taste or morals. And if, by the kind offices of friends, they are put forward into good society, they are continually oppressed with shrinking embarrassment, which makes them feel as if they were out of their own element, and look forward to the time of retirement as the time of their release from as unpleasant situation. A want of self-respect disqualifies them for the easy and elegant courtesies which render young men interesting to the other sex; and often prevents their forming those honorable relations in life, so desirable to every virtuous heart; and frequently dooms them either to a gloomy celibacy or an early grave. This shamefacedness or unhappy quailing of the countenance, on meeting the look of others, often follows them through life; in some instances, even after they have entirely abandoned the habit, and become married men, and respectable members of society.
DESIRE DEVELOPED - One of the first effects of the abuse of the genital organs is the development in them of an unhealthy degree of their peculiar sensibility - rendering them far more susceptible of excitement and establishing something like an habitual desire for indulgence. Of course, this state of things can not be carried very far without considerably affecting the whole nervous system and disturbing the functions of the several organs, more or less, according to their relative importance to the immediate welfare of the whole body.
SEXUAL EXCESS ON THE NERVOUS SYSTEM - The nervous system is the grand medium of injury to all the other tissues and substances of the body. Not only are the nerves generally debilitated and the nerves of organic life tortured into a diseased irritability and sensibility, but there is also a great deterioration and wasting of the nervous substance. The special nervous properties suffer in due proportion - varying in different persons with different peculiarities. The sense of touch becomes obtuse and less discriminating, and in some instances a numbness of the extremities and limbs, and even of the whole body, is experienced, sometimes actually reaching that state which is called numb palsy.
EFFECT ON THE SENSES - The sense of taste is equally blunted, and loses that delicate perception of agreeable qualities on which the delightful relish of proper and healthful food depends; and hence the unnatural demand for vicious culinary preparations and stimulating condiments, and the utter distaste for simple diet. The sense of smell becomes impaired, and loses its nice, discriminating power, and but faintly perceives the rich fragrance which the vegetable kingdom breathes forth for man's enjoyment. The ear grows dull and hard of hearing, and oftentimes a continual and distressing ringing, like the knell of ruined health, and the prognostic of evils yet more fearful, is the only music which occupies it.
EFFECT ON THE SIGHT - But, of all the special senses, the eyes, more generally, are the greatest sufferers from venereal abuses. They become languid and dull, and lose their brightness and liveliness of expression, and assume a glassy and vacant appearance; and fall back into their sockets, and perhaps become red and inflamed, and weak and excessively sensitive, so that wind, light, etc., irritate and distress them. The sight becomes feeble, obscure, cloudy, confused, and often is entirely lost, so that utter blindness fills the rest of life with darkness and unavailing regret.
EFFECT ON THE BRAIN - The brain is neither last nor least in these terrible sufferings. Associated as it is with the genital organs, it participates largely in all their direct excitements. Its extreme irritability, and its morbid sympathy with the alimentary canal, heart and lungs, as a mere animal organ, cause it not only to suffer excessively from all their irritations, but to reflect those irritations back upon the same organs, and throughout the whole system, mental and physical.
DOCTORS DIFFER - There have been, unfortunately, many wretched books put forth upon this topic filled with overdrawn pictures of its result, and written merely for the purpose of drawing the unwary into the nets of unscrupulous charlatans. There is also a wide diversity of opinion among skilful physicians themselves as to its consequences. Some treat the whole matter lightly, saying that a large proportion of boys and young men abuse themselves thus without serious or lasting injury, and hold, therefore, that any special warning is uncalled for. On the other hand, the large majority of practitioners are convinced that not only occasionally, but frequently, the results are disastrous in the extreme.
QUOTATIONS FROM NOTED PHYSICIANS - "I could speak of the many wreaks of high intellectual attainments, and the foul blot which has been made on the virgin page of youth, of shocks from which the youth's system will never, in my opinion, be able to rally, of maladies engendered which no after course of treatment can altogether cure, as the consequences of this habit."
"I would not exaggerate this matter or imply that those who have occasionally gone astray are necessarily incurably diseased, or their souls irretrievably lost. But I do consider that the effect upon the constitution is detrimental in the extreme. Enfeebling to the body, enfeebling to the mind, the incarnation of selfishness, hardly the person exists who does not know from experience or from observation its blighting effects."
"The deleterious, the sometimes appalling, consequences of this vice upon health, the constitution, the mind itself, are some of the common matters of medical observation. The victims of it should know what these consequences are; for to be acquainted with the tremendous evils it entails may assist them in the work of resistance."
"Nothing is more certain than that continued self-abuse will produce an enervation of nervous element, which, if the exhausting vice be continued, passes into degradation and actual destruction thereof."
"I myself have seen many young men drop into premature graves from this cause alone."
"I consider this one of the most certain means which shorten and derange life."
These are well-considered views of the ablest men in the profession of medicine.
THE OTHER SIDE - That there are physicians who treat lightly this censurable indulgence is not surprising. We could readily quote equally high authorities who see no great dangers in the use of alcohol, of opium and of illicit amours. There are many, sat they, who yield to all these temptations, and yet do not obviously suffer, and ultimately reform. Is the counselor wise who therefore pooh-poohs their peril? Certainly not; for our part, we shall not, can not, follow their example.
ITS PREVENTION - It is in childhod, and in early boyhood, that in most cases it is commenced. But it is frequent about the age of puberty, when the passions become stronger, and local irritations of various kinds lead the thoughts and suggest the act. In childhood, degraded companions and vicious domestics instruct in bad practices; at puberty the natural passions often prompt, without the need of bad examples. In both cases an utter ignorance of danger is present, and this is the first point that the parent and teacher must make up their minds to face.
CHILDREN MUST BE TAUGHT - Children must be taught purity. There is no doubt that in many of them an improper tone of thought is established even before the period of puberty. For a boy to reach his teens without learning from his associates something of these matters is simply impossible.
We urge, therefore, parents and teachers not to permit a natural, and under other circumstances very proper delicacy, to restrain them from their bounden duty to warn their charges of these dangers. If wisely done, there is no risk whatever of exciting impure thoughts; and if there "is" any risk, it is infinitely less than that of leaving children in ignorance.
READING AND DANCING - The regimen should be plain, and the imagination allowed to remain in abeyance. Sensational love stories, and even such warmly colored pictures as are presented in the Arabian Nights and the amorous poets, had better be tabooed.
The growing custom of allowing very young people of both sexes to associate at parties, balls, dances and similar amusements can not be approved on the score of health. It is nearly certain to favor precocity.
ITS CURE - Many a victim with flagging body and enfeebled will is ready to cry out: Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? Let them know for their consolation that very many men, now hale and happy, have met and conquered the tempter; that so long as the mind itself is not actually weakened, there is good hope for them; that the habit once stopped short of this point, the system recovers from its prostration with surprising rapidity; and that we come provided with many aids to strengthen their wavering purpose.
PURITY OF MIND - First and most essential, is the advice that they must resolutely strive for "purity of mind." All exciting literature, all indecent conversations, all lascivious exhibitions must be totally renounced. Next, all stimulating food and drink, and especially coffee and alcoholic beverages, must be dropped. The mind and body must both be constantly and arduously employed, the diet plain and limited, the sleep never prolonged, the bed hard, the room ventilated, the covering light, and the habits as much broken into as practicable. Generally the temptation comes at some particular hour, or under some especial and well-known circumstances. At such times extra precautions must be taken to occupy the thoughts with serious subjects, and to destroy the old associations and opportunities.
MEDICAL AID - There are also medical means which can be employed in some cases with good success, such as the administration of substances which destroy desire, and local applications, and even surgical operations which render the action physically impossible, but these means we do not propose to enter into, as they can only be properly applied by the educated physician, and do not form part of a work on hygiene. HOPEFUL CASES - When the habit is not deeply rooted, an earnest endeavor, backed by rigid observance of the rules we have laid down, will enable a youth to conquer himself and his unnatural desires.
WILL MARRIAGE HELP? - Certainly marriage need not be recommended to the confirmed masturbator in the hope or expectation of curing him of his vice. He will most likely continue it afterwards, and the circumstances in which he is placed will aggravate the misery and the mischief of it. For natural intercourse he has little power or no desire, and finds no pleasure in it; the indulgence of a depraved appetite has destoryed the natural appetite. Besides, if he be not entirely impotent, what an outlook for any child begotten of such a degenerate stock! Has a being so degraded any right to curse a child with the inheritance of such a wretched descent? Far better that the vice and its consequences should die with him.
MAN MAY RECOVER - We wish most clearly to be understood that even after great excesses of this nature, a young man "may" recover perfect health, and that where the habit has been but moderately fostered, in nearly every case, by simply ceasing from it, and ceasing thinking about it, he "will" do so. Therefore there is no cause for despair or melancholy.
BAD ADVICE - It is hardly credible, and yet it is true, that there are medical men of respectability who do not hesitate to advise illicit intercourse as a remedy for masturbation. In other words, they destroy two souls and bodies, under pretence of saving one! No man with Christian principle, or even with a due respect for the statutes of the commonwealth, can approve for a moment such a course as this.
Careful regulation of life according to sound hygenic rules, aided perhaps with appropriate medication which the physician can suggest, will generally effect good results.
WHEN EVERYTHING ELSE FAILS, THEN WHAT? - When everything else fails we have no hesitation in recommending surgical treatment. This is of various kinds, from repeated blistering to that ancient operation which Latin writers tell us was practiced upon the singers of the Roman stage, called infibulation. This is of such a character as to render the act impossible or nearly so. Castration, which some have suggested, need never be resorted to. By one means or another we can say that there are exceedingly few cases, except the actually insane, who can not be broken of their habit, and considerably or wholly relieved of its after effects.
A GREAT STUMBLING BLOCK - A serious obstacle in the way of such reform is the unwillingness of sufferers to ask advice for fear of disclosing their weakness. They are ashamed to tell the truth about themselves, and, when they do apply to a physician, conceal the real cause of their debility, and deny it when it is asked. To such we may say that if they can not have implicit faith in the honor as well as the skill of a medical adviser, they had better not consult him, for on their frankness his success will often depend.
So many people masturbate it's practically the national pastime, yet all too few of us are willing to admit to enjoying this simple pleasure. The masturbation taboo has its roots in historical misconceptions that have survived to the present day.
Concerns about masturbation tend to fall into two general categories: that masturbation is dangerously wasteful or that it's immature. The notion that masturbation is wasteful has its roots in the widespread misconception that men have a finite allotment of sperm and that every ejaculation depletes precious semen, resulting in exhaustion and weakness.
Although women don't produce semen, it was once believed that masturbation was similarly destructive and debilitating to them. The belief that masturbation is such a dangerous drain on energy that it can lead to enfeeblement, illness and ultimately insanity was so prevalent in 18th, 19th and even 20th century Europe and America that treatments for preventing masturbation became something of an obsession.
Turn-of-the-century magazines featured advertisements for penile rings which were spiked on the inside so that if the wearer experienced an erection during the course of the night, he'd wake from the pain. Bondage belts, restraints, straitjackets, cauterizing irons and even clitoridectomy (the surgical excision of the clitoris) were all methods used to prevent young women from masturbating. American health reformers of the 19th century preached, as in these words from John Kellogg, that masturbation was "the vilest, the basest and the most degrading act that a human being can commit."
Although most men and women today are aware that masturbation isn't a "degrading act," many are still constrained by the notion that it's a selfish, immature activity or a second-rate substitute for partner sex. We live in a society in which sexual expression has always been legislated and restricted and the pursuit of pure pleasure is frequently condemned as selfish and childish. A lot of people who consider themselves free of sexual hang-ups have simply rewritten the equation: "Sex is only good if it involves procreation," to "Sex is only good if it involves two loving people."
The fact that masturbation is a pleasurable end in itself gets short shrift in main-stream sex manuals, which focus on masturbation as a useful tool in the building of a better sex life with one's partner. While it's certainly true that masturbation provides valuable information about your own and your partners' sexual responses, masturbation is much more than a means to the exalted end of better partner sex. Masturbation is our first sexual activity, a natural source of pleasure that's available to us throughout our lives, and a unique form of creative self- expression. Each time you masturbate, you're celebrating your sexuality and your innate capacity for pleasure, so give yourself a hand!
[This information was supplied by Open Enterprises, Inc.]
Author Comments: on the Conduct and Procedure of the Intimate and Personal Relationships of the Marriage State for the Greater Spiritual Sanctity of this Blessed Sacrament and the Glory of God
[Webmaster's Note: I was given this in the early 1980s by a sex therapist in Seattle who affirmed that what follows is a reprint from an old marriage manual---written by a Christian minister's wife. Recently, I've received a lot of email claiming it is spurious. I have no way of knowing if it is a genuine, sincere writing or not. While reading it, the reader will be both amused and dismayed. A hundred years later the piece seems humorous. But, tragically, the seeds sown by generations of people who had similar negative sexual beliefs are with us today in the form of guilt, bad self-esteem, revulsion with sex, and so on. So, whether it's genuine or not, here it is. I can only add that in reviewing many of the old jaded medical and advice books printed in the same era, the sections on masturbation made what follows appear nice and proper. Despite current problems, we've come a long way, baby!]
By Ruth Smythers, beloved wife of The Reverend L.D. Smythers, Pastor of the Arcadian Methodist Church of the Eastern Regional Conference
Published in the year of our Lord 1894, Spiritual Guidance Press, New York City
To the sensitive young woman who has had the benefits of proper upbringing, the wedding day is, ironically, both the happiest and the most terrifying day of her life. On the positive side, there is the wedding itself, in which the bride is the central attraction in a beautiful and inspiring ceremony, symbolizing her triumph in securing a male to provide for all her needs for the rest of her life. On the negative side, there is the wedding night, during which the bride must pay the piper, so to speak, by facing for the first time the terrible experience of sex.
At this point, dear reader, let me concede one shocking truth. Some young women actually anticipate the wedding night ordeal with curiosity and pleasure! Beware such an attitude! A selfish and sensual husband can easily take advantage of such a bride.
One cardinal rule of marriage should never be forgotten: GIVE LITTLE, GIVE SELDOM, AND ABOVE ALL, GIVE GRUDGINGLY. Otherwise what could have been a proper marriage could become an orgy of sexual lust.
On the other hand, the bride's terror need not be extreme. While sex is at best revolting and at worse rather painful, it has to be endured, and has been by women since the beginning of time, and is compensated for by the monogamous home and by the children produced through it.
It is useless, in most cases, for the bride to prevail upon the groom to forego the sexual initiation. While the ideal husband would be one who would approach his bride only at her request and only for the purpose of begetting offspring, such nobility and unselfishness cannot be expected from the average man.
Most men, if not denied, would demand sex almost every day. The wise bride will permit a maximum of two brief sexual experiences weekly during the first months of marriage. As time goes by she should make every effort to reduce this frequency.
Feigned illness, sleepiness, and headaches are among the wife's best friends in this matter. Arguments, nagging, scolding, and bickering also prove very effective, if used in the late evening about an hour before the husband would normally commence his seduction.
Clever wives are ever on the alert for new and better methods of denying and discouraging the amorous overtures of the husband. A good wife should expect to have reduced sexual contacts to once a week by the end of the first year of marriage and to once a month by the end of the fifth year of marriage.
By their tenth anniversary many wives have managed to complete their child bearing and have achieved the ultimate goal of terminating all sexual contacts with the husband. By this time she can depend upon his love for the children and social pressures to hold the husband in the home.
Just as she should be ever alert to keep the quantity of sex as low as possible, the wise bride will pay equal attention to limiting the kind and degree of sexual contacts. Most men are by nature rather perverted, and if given half a chance, would engage in quite a variety of the most revolting practices. These practices include among others performing the normal act in abnormal positions; mouthing the female body; and offering their own vile bodies to be mouthed in turn.
Nudity, talking about sex, reading stories about sex, viewing photographs and drawings depicting or suggesting sex are other obnoxious habits the male is likely to acquire if permitted.
A wise bride will make it her goal never to allow her husband to see her unclothed body, and never allow him to display his unclothed body to her. Sex, when it cannot be prevented, should be practiced only in total darkness. Many women have found it useful to have thick cotton nightgowns for themselves and pajamas for their husbands. These should be donned in separate rooms. They need not be removed during the sex act. Thus, a minimum of flesh is exposed.
Once the bride has donned her gown and turned off all the lights, she should lie quietly upon the bed and await her groom. When he comes groping into the room she should make no sound to guide him in her direction, lest he take this as a sign of encouragement. She should let him grope in the dark. There is always the hope that he will stumble and incur some slight injury which she can use as an excuse to deny him sexual access.
When he finds her, the wife should lie as still as possible. Bodily motion on her part could be interpreted as sexual excitement by the optimistic husband.
If he attempts to kiss her on the lips she should turn her head slightly so that the kiss falls harmlessly on her cheek instead. If he attempts to kiss her hand, she should make a fist. If he lifts her gown and attempts to kiss her anyplace else she should quickly pull the gown back in place, spring from the bed, and announce that nature calls her to the toilet. This will generally dampen his desire to kiss in the forbidden territory.
If the husband attempts to seduce her with lascivious talk, the wise wife will suddenly remember some trivial non-sexual question to ask him. Once he answers she should keep the conversation going, no matter how frivolous it may seem at the time.
Eventually, the husband will learn that if he insists on having sexual contact, he must get on with it without amorous embellishment. The wise wife will allow him to pull the gown up no farther than the waist, and only permit him to open the front of his pajamas to thus make connection.
She will be absolutely silent or babble about her housework while he is huffing and puffing away. Above all, she will lie perfectly still and never under any circumstances grunt or groan while the act is in progress.
As soon as the husband has completed the act the wise wife will start nagging him about various minor tasks she wishes him to perform on the morrow. Many men obtain a major portion of their sexual satisfaction from the peaceful exhaustion immediately after the act is over. Thus the wife must insure that there is no peace in this period for him to enjoy. Otherwise, he might be encouraged to soon try for more.
One heartening factor for which the wife can be grateful is the fact that the husband's home, school, church, and social environment have been working together all through his life to instill in him a deep sense of guilt in regards to his sexual feelings, so that he comes to the marriage couch apologetically and filled with shame, already half cowed and subdued. The wise wife seizes upon this advantage and relentlessly pursues her goal first to limit, later to annihilate completely her husband's desire for sexual expression.
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