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Physical Disease as the Source of Morbid Sexual Irritability


There is a class of diseases, appearing sometimes in very young children, which have, among other dis tressing symptoms, an unnatural excitation of the genesic organs, awakening prematurely the nervous sources of sexual feeling.

These disorders should always come at once under the care of a good physician, and the most careful obedience given to his instructions. In addition to this care, the most faithful moral and hygienic man agement must be observed until recovery, or the little sufferer may become a lifelong prey, not only to serious physical, but also to a more baleful moral disease.

The fact that these affections are regarded by mothers as unimportant or simply annoying, unless the suffering becomes painfully severe, and that months of fretting and teasing irritation may be experienced by the child and receive little or no notice, is my reason for calling the attention of parents and guardians to the earlier as well as the mid-life manifestations of these forms of disease.

These troubles are most likely to appear in children of vitiated blood conditions, arising from poor food, or its equivalent, bad digestion, in those inheriting scrofulous habit, salt rheum, erysipelas, for a malig nant or syphilitic taint. I have seen little children ailing from a combination of all the above-named causes, and it is not unusual, when the blood is tainted, to see infants of a few weeks or months, in whom the linings of the lower bowel, vagina, vulvae, prepuce, and urethra, were in a condition like that seen in cankered throat, or infants' sore mouth. This state of things not only causes general nervous ex citement and an intolerable itching, burning, and smarting, but severe urinary distress, amounting to strangury at times. Every adult who has expe rienced this anguish knows it as one of the most acute bodily distresses.

I shall never forget being called to see an infant girl a few months old, whose father and mother were quite strong, the father having suffered from gonor rhoea, which he thought of no moment, and the mother had also been slightly affected. The child

appeared strong, fat, and healthy, fed well, and received from the mother abundant nourishment, as was apparent. The young mother, and the mother in-law, with whom they lived, declared the baby the crossest child they ever knew, saying "it had 'cried continually, night and day, ever since it was born." A kind-hearted neighbor, who did not believe a baby would cry so unless something was the matter, had insisted that the doctor be called in. The tongue and linings of the mouth and throat seemed quite healthful, and no especial evidence of disease ap peared till careful local examination showed specific inflammation of the rectum, urethra, vulva, and con tiguous surfaces. The slightest touch of the urethra with a small silver probe caused violent screaming, with evidence of great agitation, as from intense pain. Both mother and grandmother said they sup posed the "redness" was caused by the chafing always seen in very fleshy children, and though they had taken great pains with the baby it was almost impossible to keep her dry. Upon watching, they soon discovered that urination was very frequent, and the screams began with and continued long after it was finished. The case proved a more than usu ally obstinate one, but as the little sufferer grew better she was less and less " cross," and when about a year old became ordinarily quiet and good tem pered.

I never think of the exquisite anguish of such innocent victims, of the days. and nights of care.to their parents for months and sometimes years—often more than is usual in rearing a whole family of healthful children, but I am impressed with the base wrong these parents have entailed upon helpless, innocent victims. If people understood how surely every grain of "wild oats " sown must be reaped, and the bitter harvest eaten by the sowers in their own homes and with those who share their homes with them, the old adage that " young people must sow their wild oats," would never be lightly re peated.

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