The disturbing brain influence is kept up quite as certainly by the states of thought and feeling as in any other way, and may become so constant as to produce the most exhaustive drainage of the strength. This automatic action, once established, shows real failure in the brain and spinal cord to maintain healthful functional action, so that sexual sensations, with in voluntary secretions and losses, are as often the evi dence of diseased movements in the nerve centres as of disease in the organs themselves. The most casual consideration may discern the wisdom and necessity of this wonderful complex action of soul and body, in giving to man creative power, and also how easily it may be abused.
It may seem incredible, but instances have come under my care when, by the stimulus of a morbid imagination, and the action of will in obedience to it, without the slightest mechanical touch, the genetic thrill and its attendant secretions were repeated many times in a day and night. One case was that of a poor child who had been confined to her room and bed for several years, and though not twenty years of age when I first saw her, her life forces seemed to be utterly exhausted. The nerves had so taken on this habit of action that the brain and spinal cord were continually in a state of unrest from it, and there remained no mental or physical power, or desire for recuperation. Loss of muscular power, will, and intellectual incapacity, in a greater or less degree, always supervenes upon loss of nerve power, in this as in every like drainage.
The disturbed unresting state of the brain and spinal cord, and of the entire being, kept up by every form of salacious feeling, is the reason why it so readily takes on an insane activity. We find in different subjects every grade of abnormal action, from the loose unkept thought which produces brain excitement and local plethora, to the uncon trollable raving and delirium of nymphomania or uterine furore in woman, and its fearful counterpart, satyriasis, in men.
In these poor victims of diseased and perverted conditions, the brain and spinal cord, and the entire procreative system, seems seized with an unquench able fire, which grows more furious with every effort to indulge its insatiable demands. The hapless suf ferer in famine, dying slowly but surely from starva tion, knows little of misery compared with such wretchedness as this.
Many suffer from this condition at intervals, and there are no living beings more to be pitied than they. I am sure that the beginnings of these insane conditions are often but the consequences of unre strained thinking, the thought being the nourished seed, the indulgence of sinful acts, the growing upas tree, and all the sad results to body and soul, " the fruit of the thoughts" which have not hearkened to God's law.
A single instance, from the many I could cite, will illustrate this power of thought in inducing sickness, both of body and mind. The case is that of a young lady, the daughter of a physician in high standing. She was a fine musician, having a sensitive and highly wrought organization, and held the position of organist in the church where her father was a prominent vestry-man. The rector becoming a mem ber of their family for a year, — an unmarried man of fine physique and personal address, and also a good musician,— there was much sympathy and pleasure in their acquaintance, which was very naturally an inti mate one. He accompanied her to and from rehearsals, came and went as brother and friend in the family, yet never, by any means save kindly attention, indi cated any special regard for her, and they parted with the understanding of a merely friendly correspon dence. Injudicious friends often rallied her upon
this intimacy, one of whom, referring to the rector as a lover, talked to her of the sensual view of mar riage almost wholly, till her mind and nervous system became an easy prey to depraved conditions. The coveted correspondence grew less, and the heated imagination became more unreasoning, and when, at the end of a year, the news of her friend's marriage came, she became dejected, nervous, dyspeptic, and lost her appetite. A hacking cough, which had ap peared at intervals during the past few months, became more serious, and she was confined to her room and bed. This state of things grew gradually worse, and her father, suspecting some mental cause which he found himself unable to reach, and feeling that a change was necessary, brought her to me.
For a time there seemed a gradual decline, as she did not wish to live, and would make no effort to wards recovery. The loss of nervous power was such that there seemed too little vital energy to keep the physical machinery moving, even in response to tonics, yet there was not sufficient disease of the lungs to make a fatal termination from that cause alone a necessity. One day, almost in despair, sure that I had in no way reached her diseased condition, I persuaded her, little by little, to give me her confi dence so far that I knew all the steps that led to the cause of her trouble. The weak back, the constant fluor albus, the local as well as general nervous irrita tion, imperfect digestion and feeble will, all told the same story of subjugation of the high trust of wo manhood by cherished perverted aphrodisiac feeling, till the forces were drained, and the nerve centres weakened, by an automatic action of the sexual func tion and the attendant sensual experiences, till there was, indeed, little strength left for recuperation. In the course of a year or two she became as well as any one I ever knew after such an enfeebled condi tion, but the first step in her recovery was in earnest seeking for the soul's redemption from diseased and perverted thoughts, and in holding the precious crea tive trust in its true light. Divine help was her quickening power all through her recovery, which was gradual, being, in some respects, a process of mental and physical reconstruction.
I could cite instances in youths, from fourteen to twenty years of age, where muscular debility, invol untary losses, and feebleness of will were due to the same perversion of mental action and automatic drainage of vitality. The morbid currents of thought and feeling may or may not be associated with one of the opposite sex; but, however this may be, the result of the whole round of mental masturbation is evil, and that only, Not a few of these youthful sufferers, regarding their symptoms as the evidence of local disease, have been subjected to treatment by specialists whose ad vertised empiricism caught them as their lawful prey, and subjected them to painful and unavailing treat ment for the local symptoms of their malady, which were the result of mental conditions. I wish all our skilled and worthy surgeons were free from the error of placing medication, and surgical or any methods of merely local treatment, prior in importance to the re-establishment of healthful balance in the mental and nervous conditions.
I am well assured that in all treatment of diseases of the procreative organs, in both men or women, the first aim should be to build up good health of soul and body, and set the nervous currents cours ing through those many channels which distribute strength to every part of the body.