STUDIES IN THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SEX, VOLUME III
Analysis of the Sexual Impulse Love and Pain The Sexual Impulse in Women
PREFACE TO SECOND EDITION.
This volume has been thoroughly revised for the present edition and considerably enlarged throughout, in order to render it more accurate and more illustrative, while bringing it fairly up to date with reference to scientific investigation. Numerous histories have also been added to the Appendix.
It has not been found necessary to modify the main doctrines set forth ten years ago. At the same time, however, it may be mentioned, as regards the first study in the volume, that our knowledge of the physiological mechanism of the sexual instinct has been revolutionized during recent years. This is due to the investigations that have been made, and the deductions that have been built up, concerning the part played by hormones, or internal secretions of the ductless glands, in the physical production of the sexual instinct and the secondary sexual characters. The conception of the psychology of the sexual impulse here set forth, while correlated to terms of a physical process of tumescence and detumescence, may be said to be independent of the ultimate physiological origins of that process. But we cannot fail to realize the bearing of physiological chemistry in this field; and the doctrine of internal secretions, since it may throw light on many complex problems presented by the sexual instinct, is full of interest for us.
PREFACE TO FIRST EDITION.
The present volume of Studies deals with some of the most essential problems of sexual psychology. The Analysis of the Sexual Impulse is fundamental. Unless we comprehend the exact process which is being worked out beneath the shifting and multifold phenomena presented to us we can never hope to grasp in their true relations any of the normal or abnormal manifestations of this instinct. I do not claim that the conception of the process here stated is novel or original. Indeed, even since I began to work it out some years ago, various investigators in these fields, especially in Germany, have deprived it of any novelty it might otherwise have possessed, while at the same time aiding me in reaching a more precise statement. This is to me a cause of satisfaction. On so fundamental a matter I should have been sorry to find myself tending to a peculiar and individual standpoint. It is a source of gratification to me that the positions I have reached are those toward which current intelligent and scientific opinions are tending. Any originality in my study of this problem can only lie in the bringing together of elements from somewhat diverse fields. I shall be content if it is found that I have attained a fairly balanced, general, and judicial statement of these main factors in the sexual instinct.
In the study of Love and Pain I have discussed the sources of those aberrations which are commonly called, not altogether happily, "sadism" and "masochism." Here we are brought before the most extreme and perhaps the most widely known group of sexual perversions. I have considered them from the medico-legal standpoint, because that has already been done by other writers whose works are accessible. I have preferred to show how these aberrations may be explained; how they may be linked on to normal and fundamental aspects of the sexual impulse; and, indeed, in their elementary forms, may themselves be regarded as normal. In some degree they are present, in every case, at some point of sexual development; their threads are subtly woven in and out of the whole psychological process of sex. I have made no attempt to reduce their complexity to a simplicity that would be fallacious. I hope that my attempt to unravel these long and tangled threads will be found to make them fairly clear.
In the third study, on The Sexual Impulse in Women, we approach a practical question of applied sexual psychology, and a question of the first importance. No doubt the sex impulse in men is of great moment from the social point of view. It is, however, fairly obvious and well understood. The impulse in women is not only of at least equal moment, but it is far more obscure. The natural difficulties of the subject have been increased by the assumption of most writers who have touched it—casually and hurriedly, for the most part—that the only differences to be sought in the sexual impulse in man and in woman are quantitative differences. I have pointed out that we may more profitably seek for qualitative differences, and have endeavored to indicate such of these differences as seem to be of significance.
In an Appendix will be found a selection of histories of more or less normal sexual development. Histories of gross sexual perversion have often been presented in books devoted to the sexual instinct; it has not hitherto been usual to inquire into the facts of normal sexual development. Yet it is concerning normal sexual development that our ignorance is greatest, and the innovation can scarcely need justification. I have inserted these histories not only because many of them are highly instructive in themselves, but also because they exhibit the nature of the material on which my work is mainly founded.
I am indebted to many correspondents, medical and other, in various parts of the world, for much valuable assistance. When they have permitted me to do so I have usually mentioned their names in the text. This has not been possible in the case of many women friends and correspondents, to whom, however, my debt is very great. Nature has put upon women the greater part of the burden of sexual reproduction; they have consequently become the supreme authorities on all matters in which the sexual emotions come into question. Many circumstances, however, that are fairly obvious, conspire to make it difficult for women to assert publicly the wisdom and knowledge which, in matters of love, the experiences of life have brought to them. The ladies who, in all earnestness and sincerity, write books on these questions are often the last people to whom we should go as the representatives of their sex; those who know most have written least. I can therefore but express again, as in previous volumes I have expressed before, my deep gratitude to these anonymous collaborators who have aided me in throwing light on a field of human life which is of such primary social importance and is yet so dimly visible.
Lelant, Cornwall, England.
ANALYSIS OF THE SEXUAL IMPULSE.
Definition of Instinct—The Sexual Impulse a Factor of the Sexual Instinct—Theory of the Sexual Impulse as an Impulse of Evacuation—The Evidence in Support of this Theory Inadequate—The Sexual Impulse to Some Extent Independent of the Sexual Glands—The Sexual Impulse in Castrated Animals and Men—The Sexual Impulse in Castrated Women, After the Menopause, and in the Congenital Absence of the Sexual Glands—The Internal Secretions—Analogy between the Sexual Relationship and that of the Suckling Mother and her Child—The Theory of the Sexual Impulse as a Reproductive Impulse—This Theory Untenable—Moll's Definition—The Impulse of Detumescence—The Impulse of Contrectation—Modification of this Theory Proposed—Its Relation to Darwin's Sexual Selection—The Essential Element in Darwin's Conception—Summary of the History of the Doctrine of Sexual Selection. Its Psychological Aspect—Sexual Selection a Part of Natural Selection—The Fundamental Importance of Tumescence—Illustrated by the Phenomena of Courtship in Animals and in Man—The Object of Courtship is to Produce Sexual Tumescence—The Primitive Significance of Dancing in Animals and Man—Dancing is a Potent Agent for Producing Tumescence—The Element of Truth in the Comparison of the Sexual Impulse with an Evacuation, Especially of the Bladder—Both Essentially Involve Nervous Explosions—Their Intimate and Sometimes Vicarious Relationships—Analogy between Coitus and Epilepsy—Analogy of the Sexual Impulse to Hunger—Final Object of the Impulses of Tumescence and Detumescence.
LOVE AND PAIN.
The Chief Key to the Relationship between Love and Pain to be Found in Animal Courtship—Courtship a Source of Combativity and of Cruelty—Human Play in the Light of Animal Courtship—The Frequency of Crimes Against the Person in Adolescence—Marriage by Capture and its Psychological Basis—Man's Pleasure in Exerting Force and Woman's Pleasure in Experiencing it—Resemblance of Love to Pain even in Outward Expression—The Love-bite—In What Sense Pain May be Pleasurable—The Natural Contradiction in the Emotional Attitude of Women Toward Men—Relative Insensibility to Pain of the Organic Sexual Sphere in Women—The Significance of the Use of the Ampallang and Similar Appliances in Coitus—The Sexual Subjection of Women to Men in Part Explainable as the Necessary Condition for Sexual Pleasure.
The Definition of Sadism—De Sade—Masochism to some Extent Normal—Sacher-Masoch—No Real Line of Demarcation between Sadism and Masochism—Algolagnia Includes Both Groups of Manifestations—The Love-bite as a Bridge from Normal Phenomena to Algolagnia—The Fascination of Blood—The Most Extreme Perversions are Linked on to Normal Phenomena.
Flagellation as a Typical Illustration of Algolagnia—Causes of Connection between Sexual Emotion and Whipping—Physical Causes—Psychic Causes Probably More Important—The Varied Emotional Associations of Whipping—Its Wide Prevalence.
The Impulse to Strangle the Object of Sexual Desire—The Wish to be Strangled. Respiratory Disturbance the Essential Element in this Group of Phenomena—The Part Played by Respiratory Excitement in the Process of Courtship—Swinging and Suspension—The Attraction Exerted by the Idea of being Chained and Fettered.
Pain, and not Cruelty, the Essential Element in Sadism and Masochism—Pain Felt as Pleasure—Does the Sadist Identify Himself with the Feelings of his Victim?—The Sadist Often a Masochist in Disguise—The Spectacle of Pain or Struggle as a Sexual Stimulant.
Why is Pain a Sexual Stimulant?—It is the Most Effective Method of Arousing Emotion—Anger and Fear the Most Powerful Emotions—Their Biological Significance in Courtship—Their General and Special Effects in Stimulating the Organism—Grief as a Sexual Stimulant—The Physiological Mechanism of Fatigue Renders Pain Pleasurable.
Summary of Results Reached—The Joy of Emotional Expansion—The Satisfaction of the Craving for Power—The Influence of Neurasthenic and Neuropathic Conditions—The Problem of Pain in Love Largely Constitutes a Special Case of Erotic Symbolism.
THE SEXUAL IMPULSE IN WOMEN.
The Primitive View of Women—As a Supernatural Element in Life—As Peculiarly Embodying the Sexual Instinct—The Modern Tendency to Underestimate the Sexual Impulse in Women—This Tendency Confined to Recent Times—Sexual Anaesthesia—Its Prevalence—Difficulties in Investigating the Subject—Some Attempts to Investigate it—Sexual Anaesthesia Must be Regarded as Abnormal—The Tendency to Spontaneous Manifestations of the Sexual Impulse in Young Girls at Puberty.
Special Characters of the Sexual Impulse in Women—The More Passive Part Played by Women in Courtship—This Passivity Only Apparent—The Physical Mechanism of the Sexual Process in Women More Complex—The Slower Development of Orgasm in Women—The Sexual Impulse in Women More Frequently Needs to be Actively Aroused—The Climax of Sexual Energy Falls Later in Women's Lives than in Men's—Sexual Ardor in Women increased After the Establishment of Sexual Relationships—Women Bear Sexual Excesses Better than Men—The Sexual Sphere Larger and More Diffused in Women—The Sexual Impulse in Women Shows a Greater Tendency to Periodicity and a Wider Range of Variation.
Summary of Conclusions.
The Sexual Instinct in Savages.
The Development of the Sexual Instinct.
INDEX OF AUTHORS.
INDEX OF SUBJECTS.
ANALYSIS OF THE SEXUAL IMPULSE.
Definition of Instinct—The Sexual Impulse a Factor of the Sexual Instinct—Theory of the Sexual Impulse as an Impulse of Evacuation—The Evidence in Support of this Theory Inadequate—The Sexual Impulse to Some Extent Independent of the Sexual Glands—The Sexual Impulse in Castrated Animals and Men—The Sexual Impulse in Castrated Women, after the Menopause, and in the Congenital Absence of the Sexual Glands—The Internal Secretions—Analogy between the Sexual Relationship and that of the Suckling Mother and her Child—The Theory of the Sexual Impulse as a Reproductive Impulse—This Theory Untenable—Moll's Definition—The Impulse of Detumescence—The Impulse of Contrectation—Modification of this Theory Proposed—Its Relation to Darwin's Sexual Selection—The Essential Element in Darwin's Conception—Summary of the History of the Doctrine of Sexual Selection—Its Psychological Aspect—Sexual Selection a Part of Natural Selection—The Fundamental Importance of Tumescence—Illustrated by the Phenomena of Courtship in Animals and in Man—The Object of Courtship is to Produce Sexual Tumescence—The Primitive Significance of Dancing in Animals and Man—Dancing is a Potent Agent for Producing Tumescence—The Element of Truth in the Comparison of the Sexual Impulse with an Evacuation, Especially of the Bladder—Both Essentially Involve Nervous Explosions—Their Intimate and Sometimes Vicarious Relationships—Analogy between Coitus and Epilepsy—Analogy of the Sexual Impulse to Hunger—Final Object of the Impulses of Tumescence and Detumescence.
The term "sexual instinct" may be said to cover the whole of the neuropsychic phenomena of reproduction which man shares with the lower animals. It is true that much discussion has taken place concerning the proper use of the term "instinct," and some definitions of instinctive action would appear to exclude the essential mechanism of the process whereby sexual reproduction is assured. Such definitions scarcely seem legitimate, and are certainly unfortunate. Herbert Spencer's definition of instinct as "compound reflex action" is sufficiently clear and definite for ordinary use.
A fairly satisfactory definition of instinct is that supplied by Dr. and Mrs. Peckham in the course of their study On the Instincts and Habits of Solitary Wasps. "Under the term 'instinct,'" they say, "we place all complex acts which are performed previous to experience and in a similar manner by all members of the same sex and race, leaving out as non-essential, at this time, the question of whether they are or are not accompanied by consciousness." This definition is quoted with approval by Lloyd Morgan, who modifies and further elaborates it (Animal Behavior, 1900, p. 21). "The distinction between instinctive and reflex behavior," he remarks, "turns in large degree on their relative complexity," and instinctive behavior, he concludes, may be said to comprise "those complex groups of co-ordinated acts which are, on their first occurrence, independent of experience; which tend to the well-being of the individual and the preservation of the race; which are due to the co-operation of external and internal stimuli; which are similarly performed by all the members of the same more or less restricted group of animals; but which are subject to variation, and to subsequent modification under the guidance of experience." Such a definition clearly justifies us in speaking of a "sexual instinct." It may be added that the various questions involved in the definition of the sexual instinct have been fully discussed by Moll in the early sections of his Untersuchungen ueber die Libido Sexualis.
Of recent years there has been a tendency to avoid the use of the term "instinct," or, at all events, to refrain from attaching any serious scientific sense to it. Loeb's influence has especially given force to this tendency. Thus, while Pieron, in an interesting discussion of the question ("Les Problemes Actuels de l'Instinct," Revue Philosophique, Oct., 1908), thinks it would still be convenient to retain the term, giving it a philosophical meaning, Georges Bohn, who devotes a chapter to the notion of instinct (La Naissance de l'Intelligence, 1909), is strongly in favor of eliminating the word, as being merely a legacy of medieval theologians and metaphysicians, serving to conceal our ignorance or our lack of exact analysis.
It may be said that the whole of the task undertaken in these Studies is really an attempt to analyze what is commonly called the sexual instinct. In order to grasp it we have to break it up into its component parts. Lloyd Morgan has pointed out that the components of an instinct may be regarded as four: first, the internal messages giving rise to the impulse; secondly, the external stimuli which co-operate with the impulse to affect the nervous centers; thirdly, the active response due to the co-ordinate outgoing discharges; and, fourthly, the message from the organs concerned in the behavior by which the central nervous system is further affected.
In dealing with the sexual instinct the first two factors are those which we have most fully to discuss. With the external stimuli we shall be concerned in a future volume (IV). We may here confine ourselves mainly to the first factor: the nature of the internal messages which prompt the sexual act. We may, in other words, attempt to analyze the sexual impulse.
The first definition of the sexual impulse we meet with is that which regards it as an impulse of evacuation. The psychological element is thus reduced to a minimum. It is true that, especially in early life, the emotions caused by forced repression of the excretions are frequently massive or acute in the highest degree, and the joy of relief correspondingly great. But in adult life, on most occasions, these desires can be largely pushed into the background of consciousness, partly by training, partly by the fact that involuntary muscular activity is less imperative in adult life; so that the ideal element in connection with the ordinary excretions is almost a negligible quantity. The evacuation theory of the sexual instinct is, however, that which has most popular vogue, and the cynic delights to express it in crude language. It is the view that appeals to the criminal mind, and in the slang of French criminals the brothel is le cloaque. It was also the view implicitly accepted by medieval ascetic writers, who regarded woman as "a temple built over a sewer," and from a very different standpoint it was concisely set forth by Montaigne, who has doubtless contributed greatly to support this view of the matter: "I find," he said, "that Venus, after all, is nothing more than the pleasure of discharging our vessels, just as nature renders pleasurable the discharges from other parts." Luther, again, always compared the sexual to the excretory impulse, and said that marriage was just as necessary as the emission of urine. Sir Thomas More, also, in the second book of Utopia, referring to the pleasure of evacuation, speaks of that felt "when we do our natural easement, or when we be doing the act of generation." This view would, however, scarcely deserve serious consideration if various distinguished investigators, among whom Fere may be specially mentioned, had not accepted it as the best and most accurate definition of the sexual impulse. "The genesic need may be considered," writes Fere, "as a need of evacuation; the choice is determined by the excitations which render the evacuation more agreeable." Certain facts observed in the lower animals tend to support this view; it is, therefore, necessary, in the first place, to set forth the main results of observation on this matter. Spallanzani had shown how the male frog during coitus will undergo the most horrible mutilations, even decapitation, and yet resolutely continue the act of intercourse, which lasts from four to ten days, sitting on the back of the female and firmly clasping her with his forelegs. Goltz confirmed Spallanzani's observations and threw new light on the mechanism of the sexual instinct and the sexual act in the frog. By removing various parts of the female frog Goltz found that every part of the female was attractive to the male at pairing time, and that he was not imposed on when parts of a male were substituted. By removing various of the sense-organs of the male Goltz further found that it was not by any special organ, but by the whole of his sensitive system, that this activity was set in action. If, however, the skin of the arms and of the breast between was removed, no embrace took place; so that the sexual sensations seemed to be exerted through this apparatus. When the testicles were removed the embrace still took place. It could scarcely be said that these observations demonstrated, or in any way indicated, that the sexual impulse is dependent on the need of evacuation. Professor Tarchanoff, of St. Petersburg, however, made an experiment which seemed to be crucial. He took several hundred frogs (Rana temporaria), nearly all in the act of coitus, and in the first place repeated Goltz's experiments. He removed the heart; but this led to no direct or indirect stoppage of coitus, nor did removal of the lungs, parts of the liver, the spleen, the intestines, the stomach, or the kidneys. In the same way even careful removal of both testicles had no result. But on removing the seminal receptacles coitus was immediately or very shortly stopped, and not renewed. Thus, Tarchanoff concluded that in frogs, and possibly therefore in mammals, the seminal receptacles are the starting-point of the centripetal impulse which by reflex action sets in motion the complicated apparatus of sexual activity. A few years later the question was again taken up by Steinach, of Prague. Granting that Tarchanoff's experiments are reliable as regards the frog, Steinach points out that we may still ask whether in mammals the integrity of the seminal receptacles is bound up with the preservation of sexual excitability. This cannot be taken for granted, nor can we assume that the seminal receptacles of the frog are homologous with the seminal vesicles of mammals. In order to test the question, Steinach chose the white rat, as possessing large seminal vesicles and a very developed sexual impulse. He found that removal of the seminal sacs led to no decrease in the intensity of the sexual impulse; the sexual act was still repeated with the same frequency and the same vigor. But these receptacles, Steinach proceeded to argue, do not really contain semen, but a special secretion of their own; they are anatomically quite unlike the seminal receptacles of the frog; so that no doubt is thus thrown on Tarchanoff's observations. Steinach remarked, however, that one's faith is rather shaken by the fact that in the Esculenta, which in sexual life closely resembles Rana temporaria, there are no seminal receptacles. He therefore repeated Tarchanoff's experiments, and found that the seminal receptacles were empty before coitus, only becoming gradually filled during coitus; it could not, therefore, be argued that the sexual impulse started from the receptacles. He then extirpated the seminal receptacles, avoiding hemorrhage as far as possible, and found that, in the majority of cases so operated on, coitus still continued for from five to seven days, and in the minority for a longer time. He therefore concluded, with Goltz, that it is from the swollen testicles, not from the seminal receptacles, that the impulse first starts. Goltz himself pointed out that the fact that the removal of the testicles did not stop coitus by no means proves that it did not begin it, for, when the central nervous mechanism is once set in action, it can continue even when the exciting stimulus is removed. By extirpating the testicles some months before the sexual season he found that no coitus occurred. At the same time, even in these frogs, a certain degree of sexual inclination and a certain excitability of the embracing center still persisted, disappearing when the sexual epoch was over.
According to most recent writers, the seminal vesicles of mammals are receptacles for their own albuminous secretion, the function of which is unknown. Steinach could find no spermatozoa in these "seminal" sacs, and therefore he proposed to use Owen's name of glandulae vesiculares. After extirpation of these vesicular glands in the white rat typical coitus occurred. But the capacity for procreation was diminished, and extirpation of both glandulae vesiculares and glandulae prostaticae led to disappearance of the capacity for procreation. Steinach came to the conclusion that this is because the secretions of these glands impart increased vitality to the spermatozoa, and he points out that great fertility and high development of the accessory sexual glands go together.
Steinach found that, when sexually mature white rats were castrated, though at first they remained as potent as ever, their potency gradually declined; sexual excitement, however, and sexual inclination always persisted. He then proceeded to castrate rats before puberty and discovered the highly significant fact that in these also a quite considerable degree of sexual inclination appeared. They followed, sniffed, and licked the females like ordinary males; and that this was not a mere indication of curiosity was shown by the fact that they made attempts at coitus which only differed from those of normal males by the failure of erection and ejaculation, though, occasionally, there was imperfect erection. This lasted for a year, and then their sexual inclinations began to decline, and they showed signs of premature age. These manifestations of sexual sense Steinach compares to those noted in the human species during childhood.
The genesic tendencies are thus, to a certain degree, independent of the generative glands, although the development of these glands serves to increase the genesic ability and to furnish the impulsion necessary to assure procreation, as well as to insure the development of the secondary sexual characters, probably by the influence of secretions elaborated and thrown into the system from the primary sexual glands.
Halban ("Die Entstehung der Geschlechtscharaktere," Archiv fuer Gynaekologie, 1903, pp. 205-308) argues that the primary sex glands do not necessarily produce the secondary sex characters, nor inhibit the development of those characteristic of the opposite sex. It is indeed the rule, but it is not the inevitable result. Sexual differences exist from the first. Nussbaum made experiments on frogs (Rana fusca), which go through a yearly cycle of secondary sexual changes at the period of heat. These changes cease on castration, but, if the testes of other frogs are introduced beneath the skin of the castrated frogs, Nussbaum found that they acted as if the frog had not been castrated. It is the secretion of the testes which produces the secondary sexual changes. But Nussbaum found that the testicular secretion does not work if the nerves of the secondary sexual region are cut, and that the secretion has no direct action on the organism. Pflueger, discussing these experiments (Archiv fuer die Gesammte Physiologie, 1907, vol. cxvi, parts 5 and 6), disputes this conclusion, and argues that the secretion is not dependent on the action of the nervous system, and that therefore the secondary sexual characters are independent of the nervous system.
Steinach has also in later experiments ("Geschlechtstrieb und echt Sekundaere Geschlechtsmerkmale als Folge der innerskretorischen Funktion der Keimdrusen," Zentralblatt fuer Physiologie, Bd. xxiv, Nu. 13, 1910) argued against any local nervous influence. He found in Rana fusca and esculenta that after castration in autumn the impulse to grasp the female persisted in some degrees and then disappeared, reappearing in a slight degree, however, every winter at the normal period of sexual activity. But when the testicular substance of actively sexual frogs was injected into the castrated frogs it exerted an elective action on the sexual reflex, sometimes in a few hours, but the action is, Steinach concludes, first central. The testicular secretion of frogs that were not sexually active had no stimulating action, but if the frogs were sexually active the injection of their central nervous substance was as effective as their testicular substance. In either case, Steinach concludes, there is the removal of an inhibition which is in operation at sexually quiescent periods.
Speaking generally, Steinach considers that there is a process of "erotisation" (Erotisieurung) of the nervous center under the influence of the internal testicular secretions, and that this persists even when the primary physical stimulus has been removed.
The experience of veterinary surgeons also shows that the sexual impulse tends to persist in animals after castration. Thus the ox and the gelding make frequent efforts to copulate with females in heat. In some cases, at all events in the case of the horse, castrated animals remain potent, and are even abnormally ardent, although impregnation cannot, of course, result.
The results obtained by scientific experiment and veterinary experience on the lower animals are confirmed by observation of various groups of phenomena in the human species. There can be no doubt that castrated men may still possess sexual impulses. This has been noted by observers in various countries in which eunuchs are made and employed.
It is important to remember that there are different degrees of castration, for in current language these are seldom distinguished. The Romans recognized four different degrees: 1. True castrati, from whom both the testicles and the penis had been removed. 2. Spadones, from whom the testicles only had been removed; this was the most common practice. 3. Thlibiae, in whom the testicles had not been removed, but destroyed by crushing; this practice is referred to by Hippocrates. 4. Thlasiae, in whom the spermatic cord had simply been cut. Millant, from whose Paris thesis (Castration Criminelle et Maniaque, 1902) I take these definitions, points out that it was recognized that spadones remained apt for coitus if the operation was performed after puberty, a fact appreciated by many Roman ladies, ad seouras libidinationes, as St. Jerome remarked, while Martial (lib. iv) said of a Roman lady who sought eunuchs: "Vult futui Gallia, non parere." (See also Millant, Les Eunuques a Travers les Ages, 1909, and articles by Lipa Bey and Zambaco, Sexual-Probleme, Oct. and Dec., 1911.)
In China, Matignon, formerly physician to the French legation in Pekin, tells us that eunuchs are by no means without sexual feeling, that they seek the company of women and, he believes, gratify their sexual desires by such methods as are left open to them, for the sexual organs are entirely removed. It would seem probable that, the earlier the age at which the operation is performed, the less marked are the sexual desires, for Matignon mentions that boys castrated before the age of 10 are regarded by the Chinese as peculiarly virginal and pure. At Constantinople, where the eunuchs are of negro race, castration is usually complete and performed before puberty, in order to abolish sexual potency and desire as far as possible. Even when castration is effected in infancy, sexual desire is not necessarily rendered impossible. Thus Marie has recorded the case of an insane Egyptian eunuch whose penis and scrotum were removed in infancy; yet, he had frequent and intense sexual desire with ejaculation of mucus and believed that an invisible princess touched him and aroused voluptuous sensations. Although the body had a feminine appearance, the prostate was normal and the vesiculae seminales not atrophied. It may be added that Lancaster quotes the following remark, made by a resident for many years in the land, concerning Nubian eunuchs: "As far as I can judge, sex feeling exists unmodified by absence of the sexual organs. The eunuch differs from the man not in the absence of sexual passion, but only in the fact that he cannot fully gratify it. As far as he can approach a gratification of it he does so." In this connection it may be noted that (as quoted by Moll) Jaeger attributes the preference of some women—noted in ancient Rome and in the East—for castrated men as due not only to the freedom from risk of impregnation in such intercourse, but also to the longer duration of erection in the castrated.
When castration is performed without removal of the penis it is said that potency remains for at least ten years afterward, and Disselhorst, who in his Die accessorischen Geschlechtsdruesen der Wirbelthiere takes the same view as has been here adopted, mentions that, according to Pelikan (Das Skopzentum in Ruessland), those castrated at puberty are fit for coitus long afterward. When castration is performed for surgical reasons at a later age it is still less likely to affect potency or to change the sexual feelings. Guinard concludes that the sexual impulse after castration is relatively more persistent in man than in the lower animals, and is sometimes even heightened, being probably more dependent on external stimuli.
Except in the East, castration is more often performed on women than on men, and then the evidence as to the influence of the removal of the ovaries on the sexual emotions shows varying results. It has been found that after castration sexual desire and sexual pleasure in coitus may either remain the same, be diminished or extinguished, or be increased. By some the diminution has been attributed to autosuggestion, the woman being convinced that she can no longer be like other women; the augmentation of desire and pleasure has been supposed to be due to the removal of the dread of impregnation. We have, of course, to take into account individual peculiarities, method of life, and the state of the health.
In France Jayle ("Effets physiologiques de la Castration chez la Femme," Revue de Gynecologie, 1897, pp. 403-57) found that, among 33 patients in whom ovariotomy had been performed, in 18 sexual desire remained the same, in 3 it was diminished, in 8 abolished, in 3 increased; while pleasure in coitus remained the same in 17, was diminished in 1, abolished in 4, and increased in 5, in 6 cases sexual intercourse was very painful. In two other groups of cases—one in which both ovaries and uterus were removed and another in which the uterus alone was removed—the results were not notably different.
In Germany Glaeveke (Archiv fuer Gynaekologie, Bd. xxxv, 1889) found that desire remained in 6 cases, was diminished in 10, and disappeared in 11, while pleasure in intercourse remained in 8, was diminished in 10, and was lost in 8. Pfister, again (Archiv fuer Gynaekologie, Bd. lvi, 1898), examined this point in 99 castrated women; he remarks that sexual desire and sexual pleasure in intercourse were usually associated, and found the former unchanged in 19 cases, decreased in 24, lost in 35, never present in 21, while the latter was unchanged in 18 cases and diminished or lost in 60. Keppler (International Medical Congress, Berlin, 1890) found that among 46 castrated women sexual feeling was in no case abolished. Adler also, who discusses this question (Die Mangelhafte Geschlechtsempfindung des Weibes, 1904, p. 75 et seq.), criticises Glaeveke's statements and concludes that there is no strict relation between the sexual organs and the sexual feelings. Kisch, who has known several cases in which the feelings remained the same as before the operation, brings together (The Sexual Life of Women) varying opinions of numerous authors regarding the effects of removal of the ovaries on the sexual appetite.
In America Bloom (as quoted in Medical Standard, 1896, p. 121) found that in none of the cases of women investigated, in which ooephorectomy had been performed before the age of 33, was the sexual appetite entirely lost; in most of them it had not materially diminished and in a few it was intensified. There was, however, a general consensus of opinion that the normal vaginal secretion during coitus was greatly lessened. In the cases of women over 33, including also hysterectomies, a gradual lessening of sexual feeling and desire was found to occur most generally. Dr. Isabel Davenport records 2 cases (reported in Medical Standard, 1895, p. 346) of women between 30 and 35 years of age whose erotic tendencies were extreme; the ovaries and tubes were removed, in one case for disease, in the other with a view of removing the sexual tendencies; in neither case was there any change. Lapthorn Smith (Medical Record, vol. xlviii) has reported the case of an unmarried woman of 24 whose ovaries and tubes had been removed seven years previously for pain and enlargement, and the periods had disappeared for six years; she had had experience of sexual intercourse, and declared that she had never felt such extreme sexual excitement and pleasure as during coitus at the end of this time.
In England Lawson Tait and Bantock (British Medical Journal, October 14, 1899, p. 975) have noted that sexual passion seems sometimes to be increased even after the removal of ovaries, tubes, and uterus. Lawson Tait also stated (British Gynaecological Journal, Feb., 1887, p. 534) that after systematic and extensive inquiry he had not found a single instance in which, provided that sexual appetite existed before the removal of the appendages, it was abolished by that operation. A Medical Inquiry Committee appointed by the Liverpool Medical Institute (ibid., p. 617) had previously reported that a considerable number of patients stated that they had suffered a distinct loss of sexual feeling. Lawson Tait, however, throws doubts on the reliability of the Committee's results, which were based on the statements of unintelligent hospital patients.
I may quote the following remarks from a communication sent to me by an experienced physician in Australia: "No rule can be laid down in cases in which both ovaries have been extirpated. Some women say that, though formerly passionate, they have since become quite indifferent, but I am of opinion that the majority of women who have had prior sexual experience retain desire and gratification in an equal degree to that they had before operation. I know one case in which a young girl hardly 19 years old, who had been accustomed to congress for some twelve months, had trouble which necessitated the removal of the ovaries and tubes on both sides. Far from losing all her desire or gratification, both were very materially increased in intensity. Menstruation has entirely ceased, without loss of femininity in either disposition or appearance. During intercourse, I am told, there is continuous spasmodic contraction of various parts of the vagina and vulva."
The independence of the sexual impulse from the distention of the sexual glands is further indicated by the great frequency with which sexual sensations, in a faint or even strong degree, are experienced in childhood and sometimes in infancy, and by the fact that they often persist in women long after the sexual glands have ceased their functions.
In the study of auto-erotism in another volume of these Studies I have brought together some of the evidence showing that even in very young children spontaneous self-induced sexual excitement, with orgasm, may occur. Indeed, from an early age sexual differences pervade the whole nervous tissue. I may here quote the remarks of an experienced gynecologist: "I venture to think," Braxton Hicks said many years ago, "that those who have much attended to children will agree with me in saying that, almost from the cradle, a difference can be seen in manner, habits of mind, and in illness, requiring variations in their treatment. The change is certainly hastened and intensified at the time of puberty; but there is, even to an average observer, a clear difference between the sexes from early infancy, gradually becoming more marked up to puberty. That sexual feelings exist [it would be better to say 'may exist'] from earliest infancy is well known, and therefore this function does not depend upon puberty, though intensified by it. Hence, may we not conclude that the progress toward development is not so abrupt as has been generally supposed?... The changes of puberty are all of them dependent on the primordial force which, gradually gathering in power, culminates in the perfection both of form and of the sexual system, primary and secondary."
There appear to have been but few systematic observations on the persistence of the sexual impulse in women after the menopause. It is regarded as a fairly frequent phenomenon by Kisch, and also by Loewenfeld (Sexualleben und Nervenleiden, p. 29). In America, Bloom (as quoted in Medical Standard, 1896), from an investigation of four hundred cases, found that in some cases the sexual impulse persisted to a very advanced age, and mentions a case of a woman of 70, twenty years past the menopause, who had been long a widow, but had recently married, and who declared that both desire and gratification were as great, if not greater, than before the menopause.
Reference may finally be made to those cases in which the sexual impulse has developed notwithstanding the absence, verified or probable, of any sexual glands at all. In such cases sexual desire and sexual gratification are sometimes even stronger than normal. Colman has reported a case in which neither ovaries nor uterus could be detected, and the vagina was too small for coitus, but pleasurable intercourse took place by the rectum and sexual desire was at times so strong as to amount almost to nymphomania. Clara Barrus has reported the case of a woman in whom there was congenital absence of uterus and ovaries, as proved subsequently by autopsy, but the sexual impulse was very strong and she had had illicit intercourse with a lover. She suffered from recurrent mania, and then masturbated shamelessly; when sane she was attractively feminine. Macnaughton-Jones describes the case of a woman of 32 with normal sexual feelings and fully developed breasts, clitoris, and labia, but no vagina or internal genitalia could be detected even under the most thorough examination. In a case of Bridgman's, again, the womb and ovaries were absent, and the vagina small, but coitus was not painful, and the voluptuous sensations were complete and sexual passion was strong. In a case of Cotterill's, the ovaries and uterus were of minute size and functionless, and the vagina was absent, but the sexual feelings were normal, and the clitoris preserved its usual sensibility. Munde had recorded two similar cases, of which he presents photographs. In all these cases not only was the sexual impulse present in full degree, but the subjects were feminine in disposition and of normal womanly conformation; in most cases the external sexual organs were properly developed.
Fere (L'Instinct sexuel, p. 241) has sought to explain away some of these phenomena, in so far as they may be brought against the theory that the secretions and excretions of the sexual glands are the sole source of the sexual impulse. The persistence of sexual feelings after castration may be due, he argues, to the presence of the nerves in the cicatrices, just as the amputated have the illusion that the missing limb is still there. Exactly the same explanation has since been put forward by Moll, Medizinische Klinik, 1905, Nrs. 12 and 13. In the same way the presence of sexual feelings after the menopause may be due to similar irritation determined by degeneration during involution of the glands. The precocious appearance of the sexual impulse in childhood he would explain as due to an anomaly of development in the sexual organs. Fere makes no attempt to explain the presence of the sexual impulse in the congenital absence of the sexual glands; here, however, Munde intervenes with the suggestion that it is possible that in most cases "an infinitesimal trace of ovary" may exist, and preserve femininity, though insufficient to produce ovulation or menstruation.
It is proper to mention these ingenious arguments. They are, however, purely hypothetical, obviously invented to support a theory. It can scarcely be said that they carry conviction. We may rather agree with Guinard that so great is the importance of reproduction that nature has multiplied the means by which preparation is made for the conjunction of the sexes and the roads by which sexual excitation may arrive. As Hirschfeld puts it, in a discussion of this subject (Sexual-Probleme, Feb., 1912), "Nature has several irons in the fire."
It will be seen that the conclusions we have reached indirectly involve the assumption that the spinal nervous centers, through which the sexual mechanism operates, are not sufficient to account for the whole of the phenomena of the sexual impulse. The nervous circuit tends to involve a cerebral element, which may sometimes be of dominant importance. Various investigators, from the time of Gall onward, have attempted to localize the sexual instinct centrally. Such attempts, however, cannot be said to have succeeded, although they tend to show that there is a real connection between the brain and the generative organs. Thus Ceni, of Modena, by experiments on chickens, claims to have proved the influence of the cortical centers of procreation on the faculty of generation, for he found that lesions of the cortex led to sterility corresponding in degree to the lesion; but as these results followed even independently of any disturbance of the sexual instinct, their significance is not altogether clear (Carlo Ceni, "L'Influenza dei Centri Corticali sui Fenomeni della Generazione," Revista Sperimentale di Freniatria, 1907, fasc. 2-3). At present, as Obici and Marchesini have well remarked, all that we can do is to assume the existence of cerebral as well as spinal sexual centers; a cerebral sexual center, in the strictest sense, remains purely hypothetical.
Although Gall's attempt to locate the sexual instinct in the cerebellum—well supported as it was by observations—is no longer considered to be tenable, his discussion of the sexual instinct was of great value, far in advance of his time, and accompanied by a mass of facts gathered from many fields. He maintained that the sexual instinct is a function of the brain, not of the sexual organs. He combated the view ruling in his day that the seat of erotic mania must be sought in the sexual organs. He fully dealt with the development of the sexual instinct in many children before maturity of the sexual glands, the prolongation of the instinct into old age, its existence in the castrated and in the congenital absence of the sexual glands; he pointed out that even with an apparently sound and normal sexual apparatus all sorts of psychic pathological deviations may yet occur. In fact, all the lines of argument I have briefly indicated in the foregoing pages—although when they were first written this fact was unknown to me—had been fully discussed by this remarkable man nearly a century ago. (The greater part of the third volume of Gall's Sur les Fonctions du Cerveau, in the edition of 1825, is devoted to this subject. For a good summary, sympathetic, though critical, of Gall's views on this matter, see Moebius, "Ueber Gall's Specielle Organologie," Schmidt's Jahrbuecher der Medicin, 1900, vol. cclxvii; also Ausgewahlte Werke, vol. vii.)
It will be seen that the question of the nature of the sexual impulse has been slowly transformed. It is no longer a question of the formation of semen in the male, of the function of menstruation in the female. It has become largely a question of physiological chemistry. The chief parts in the drama of sex, alike on its psychic as on its physical sides, are thus supposed to be played by two mysterious protagonists, the hormones, or internal secretions, of the testes and of the ovary. Even the part played by the brain is now often regarded as chemical, the brain being considered to be a great chemical laboratory. There is a tendency, moreover, to extend the sexual sphere so as to admit the influence of internal secretions from other glands. The thymus, the adrenals, the thyroid, the pituitary, even the kidneys: it is possible that internal secretions from all these glands may combine to fill in the complete picture of sexuality as we know it in men and women. The subject is, however, so complex and at present so little known that it would be hazardous, and for the present purpose it is needless, to attempt to set forth any conclusions.
It is sufficiently clear that there is on the surface a striking analogy between sexual desire and the impulse to evacuate an excretion, and that this analogy is not only seen in the frog, but extends also to the highest vertebrates. It is quite another matter, however, to assert that the sexual impulse can be adequately defined as an impulse to evacuate. To show fully the inadequate nature of this conception would require a detailed consideration of the facts of sexual life. That is, however, unnecessary. It is enough to point out certain considerations which alone suffice to invalidate this view. In the first place, it must be remarked that the trifling amount of fluid emitted in sexual intercourse is altogether out of proportion to the emotions aroused by the act and to its after-effect on the organism; the ancient dictum omne animal post coitum triste may not be exact, but it is certain that the effect of coitus on the organism is far more profound than that produced by the far more extensive evacuation of the bladder or bowels. Again, this definition leaves unexplained all those elaborate preliminaries which, both in man and the lower animals, precede the sexual act, preliminaries which in civilized human beings sometimes themselves constitute a partial satisfaction to the sexual impulse. It must also be observed that, unlike the ordinary excretions, this discharge of the sexual glands is not always, or in every person, necessary at all. Moreover, the theory of evacuation at once becomes hopelessly inadequate when we apply it to women; no one will venture to claim that an adequate psychological explanation of the sexual impulse in a woman is to be found in the desire to expel a little bland mucus from the minute glands of the genital tract. We must undoubtedly reject this view of the sexual impulse. It has a certain element of truth and it permits an instructive and helpful analogy; but that is all. The sexual act presents many characters which are absent in an ordinary act of evacuation, and, on the other hand, it lacks the special characteristic of the evacuation proper, the elimination of waste material; the seminal fluid is not a waste material, and its retention is, to some extent perhaps, rather an advantage than a disadvantage to the organism.
Eduard von Hartmann long since remarked that the satisfaction of what we call the sexual instinct through an act carried out with a person of the opposite sex is a very wonderful phenomenon. It cannot be said, however, that the conception of the sexual act as a simple process of evacuation does anything to explain the wonder. We are, at most, in the same position as regards the stilling of normal sexual desire as we should be as regards the emptying of the bladder, supposing it were very difficult for either sex to effect this satisfactorily without the aid of a portion of the body of a person of the other sex acting as a catheter. In such a case our thoughts and ideals would center around persons of opposite sex, and we should court their attention and help precisely as we do now in the case of our sexual needs. Some such relationship does actually exist in the case of the suckling mother and her infant. The mother is indebted to the child for the pleasurable relief of her distended breasts; and, while in civilization more subtle pleasures and intelligent reflection render this massive physical satisfaction comparatively unessential to the act of suckling, in more primitive conditions and among animals the need of this pleasurable physical satisfaction is a real bond between the mother and her offspring. The analogy is indeed very close: the erectile nipple corresponds to the erectile penis, the eager watery mouth of the infant to the moist and throbbing vagina, the vitally albuminous milk to the vitally albuminous semen. The complete mutual satisfaction, physical and psychic, of mother and child, in the transfer from one to the other of a precious organized fluid, is the one true physiological analogy to the relationship of a man and a woman at the climax of the sexual act. Even this close analogy, however, fails to cover all the facts of the sexual life.
A very different view is presented to us in the definition of the sexual instinct as a reproductive impulse, a desire for offspring. Hegar, Eulenburg, Naecke, and Loewenfeld have accepted this as, at all events, a partial definition. No one, indeed, would argue that it is a complete definition, although a few writers appear to have asserted that it is so sometimes as regards the sexual impulse in women. There is, however, considerable mental confusion in the attempt to set up such a definition. If we define an instinct as an action adapted to an end which is not present to consciousness, then it is quite true that the sexual instinct is an instinct of reproduction. But we do not adequately define the sexual instinct by merely stating its ultimate object. We might as well say that the impulse by which young animals seize food is "an instinct of nutrition." The object of reproduction certainly constitutes no part of the sexual impulse whatever in any animal apart from man, and it reveals a lack of the most elementary sense of biological continuity to assert that in man so fundamental and involuntary a process can suddenly be revolutionized. That the sexual impulse is very often associated with a strong desire for offspring there can be no doubt, and in women the longing for a child—that is to say, the longing to fulfill those functions for which their bodies are constituted—may become so urgent and imperative that we may regard it as scarcely less imperative than the sexual impulse. But it is not the sexual impulse, though intimately associated with it, and though it explains it. A reproductive instinct might be found in parthenogenetic animals, but would be meaningless, because useless, in organisms propagating by sexual union. A woman may not want a lover, but may yet want a child. This merely means that her maternal instincts have been aroused, while her sexual instincts are still latent. A desire for reproduction, as soon as that desire becomes instinctive, necessarily takes on the form of the sexual impulse, for there is no other instinctive mechanism by which it can possibly express itself. A "reproductive instinct," apart from the sexual instinct and apart from the maternal instinct, cannot be admitted; it would be an absurdity. Even in women in whom the maternal instincts are strong, it may generally be observed that, although before a woman is in love, and also during the later stages of her love, the conscious desire for a child may be strong, during the time when sexual passion is at its highest the thought of offspring, under normally happy conditions, tends to recede into the background. Reproduction is the natural end and object of the sexual instinct, but the statement that it is part of the contents of the sexual impulse, or can in any way be used to define that impulse, must be dismissed as altogether inacceptable. Indeed, although the term "reproductive instinct" is frequently used, it is seldom used in a sense that we need take seriously; it is vaguely employed as a euphemism by those who wish to veil the facts of the sexual life; it is more precisely employed mainly by those who are unconsciously dominated by a superstitious repugnance to sex.
I now turn to a very much more serious and elaborate attempt to define the constitution of the sexual impulse, that of Moll. He finds that it is made up of two separate components, each of which may be looked upon as an uncontrollable impulse. One of these is that by which the tension of the sexual organs is spasmodically relieved; this he calls the impulse of detumescence, and he regards it as primary, resembling the impulse to empty a full bladder. The other impulse is the "instinct to approach, touch, and kiss another person, usually of the opposite sex"; this he terms the impulse of contrectation, and he includes under this head not only the tendency to general physical contact, but also the psychic inclination to become generally interested in a person of the opposite sex. Each of these primary impulses Moll regards as forming a constituent of the sexual instinct in both men and women. It seems to me undoubtedly true that these two impulses do correspond to the essential phenomena. The awkward and unsatisfactory part of Moll's analysis is the relation of the one to the other. It is true that he traces both impulses back to the sexual glands, that of detumescence directly, that of contrectation indirectly; but evidently he does not regard them as intimately related to each other; he insists on the fact that they may exist apart from each other, that they do not appear synchronously in youth: the contrectation impulse he regards as secondary; it is, he states, an indirect result of the sexual glands, "only to be understood by the developmental history of these glands and the object which they subserve"; that is to say, that it is connected with the rise of the sexual method of reproduction and the desirability of the mingling of the two sexes in procreation, while the impulse of detumescence arose before the sexual method of reproduction had appeared; thus the contrectation impulse was propagated by natural selection together with the sexual method of reproduction. The impulse of contrectation is secondary, and Moll even regards it as a secondary sexual character.
While, therefore, this analysis seems to include all the phenomena and to be worthy of very careful study as a serious and elaborate attempt to present an adequate psychological definition of the sexual impulse, it scarcely seems to me that we can accept it in precisely the form in which Moll presents it. I believe, however, that by analyzing the process a little more minutely we shall find that these two constituents of the sexual impulse are really much more intimately associated than at the first glance appears, and that we need by no means go back to the time when the sexual method of reproduction arose to explain the significance of the phenomena which Moll includes under the term contrectation.
To discover the true significance of the phenomena in men it is necessary to observe carefully the phenomena of love-making not only among men, but among animals, in which the impulse of contrectation plays a very large part, and involves an enormous expenditure of energy. Darwin was the first to present a comprehensive view of, at all events a certain group of, the phenomena of contrectation in animals; on his interpretation of those phenomena he founded his famous theory of sexual selection. We are not primarily concerned with that theory; but the facts on which Darwin based his theory lie at the very roots of our subject, and we are bound to consider their psychological significance. In the first place, since these phenomena are specially associated with Darwin's name, it may not be out of place to ask what Darwin himself considered to be their psychological significance. It is a somewhat important question, even for those who are mainly concerned with the validity of the theory which Darwin established on those facts, but so far as I know it has not hitherto been asked. I find that a careful perusal of the Descent of Man reveals the presence in Darwin's mind of two quite distinct theories, neither of them fully developed, as to the psychological meaning of the facts he was collecting. The two following groups of extracts will serve to show this very conclusively: "The lower animals have a sense of beauty," he declares, "powers of discrimination and taste on the part of the female" (p. 211); "the females habitually or occasionally prefer the more beautiful males," "there is little improbability in the females of insects appreciating beauty in form or color" (p. 329); he speaks of birds as the most "esthetic" of all animals excepting man, and adds that they have "nearly the same taste for the beautiful as we have" (p. 359); he remarks that a change of any kind in the structure or color of the male bird "appears to have been admired by the female" (p. 385). He speaks of the female Argus pheasant as possessing "this almost human degree of taste." Birds, again, "seem to have some taste for the beautiful both in color and sound," and "we ought not to feel too sure that the female does not attend to each detail of beauty" (p. 421). Novelty, he says, is "admired by birds for its own sake" (p. 495). "Birds have fine powers of discrimination and in some few instances it can be shown that they have a taste for the beautiful" (p. 496). The "esthetic capacity" of female animals has been advanced by exercise just as our own taste has improved (p. 616). On the other hand, we find running throughout the book quite another idea. Of cicadas he tells us that it is probable that, "like female birds, they are excited or allured by the male with the most attractive voice" (p. 282); and, coming to Locustidae, he states that "all observers agree that the sounds serve either to call or excite the mute females" (p. 283). Of birds he says, "I am led to believe that the females prefer or are most excited by the more brilliant males" (p. 316). Among birds also the males "endeavor to charm or excite their mates by love-notes," etc., and "the females are excited by certain males, and thus unconsciously prefer them" (p. 367), while ornaments of all kinds "apparently serve to excite, attract, or fascinate the female" (p. 394). In a supplemental note, also, written in 1876, five years after the first publication of the Descent of Man, and therefore a late statement of his views, Darwin remarks that "no supporter of the principle of sexual selection believes that the females select particular points of beauty in the males; they are merely excited or attracted in a greater degree by one male than by another, and this seems often to depend, especially with birds, on brilliant coloring" (p. 623). Thus, on the one hand, Darwin interprets the phenomena as involving a real esthetic element, a taste for the beautiful; on the other hand, he states, without apparently any clear perception that the two views are quite distinct, that the colors and sounds and other characteristics of the male are not an appeal to any esthetic sense of the female, but an appeal to her sexual emotions, a stimulus to sexual excitement, an allurement to sexual contact. According to the first theory, the female admires beauty, consciously or unconsciously, and selects the most beautiful partner; according to the second theory, there is no esthetic question involved, but the female is unconsciously influenced by the most powerful or complex organic stimulus to which she is subjected. There can be no question that it is the second, and not the first, of these two views which we are justified in accepting. Darwin, it must be remembered, was not a psychologist, and he lived before the methods of comparative psychology had begun to be developed; had he written twenty years later we may be sure he would never have used so incautiously some of the vague and hazardous expressions I have quoted. He certainly injured his theory of sexual selection by stating it in too anthropomorphic language, by insisting on "choice," "preference," "esthetic sense," etc. There is no need whatever to burden any statement of the actual facts by such terms borrowed from human psychology. The female responds to the stimulation of the male at the right moment just as the tree responds to the stimulation of the warmest days in spring. We should but obscure this fact by stating that the tree "chooses" the most beautiful days on which to put forth its young sprouts. In explaining the correlation between responsive females and accomplished males the supposition of esthetic choice is equally unnecessary. It is, however, interesting to observe that, though Darwin failed to see that the love-combats, pursuits, dances, and parades of the males served as a method of stimulating the impulse of contrectation—or, as it would be better to term it, tumescence—in the male himself, he to some extent realized the part thus played in exciting the equally necessary activity of tumescence in the female.
The justification for using the term "tumescence," which I here propose, is to be found in the fact that vascular congestion, more especially of the parts related to generation, is an essential preliminary to acute sexual desire. This is clearly brought out in Heape's careful study of the "sexual season" in mammals. Heape distinguishes between the "pro-estrum," or preliminary period of congestion, in female animals and the immediately following "estrus," or period of desire. The latter period is the result of the former, and, among the lower animals at all events, intercourse only takes place during the estrus, not during the pro-estrum. Tumescence must thus be obtained before desire can become acute, and courtship runs pari passu with physiological processes. "Normal estrus," Heape states, "occurs in conjunction with certain changes in the uterine tissue, and this is accompanied by congestion and stimulation or irritation of the copulatory organs.... Congestion is invariably present and is an essential condition.... The first sign of pro-estrum noticed in the lower mammals is a swollen and congested vulva and a general restlessness, excitement, or uneasiness. There are other signs familiar to breeders of various mammals, such as the congested conjunctiva of the rabbit's eye and the drooping ears of the pig. Many monkeys exhibit congestion of the face and nipples, as well as of the buttocks, thighs, and neighboring parts; sometimes they are congested to a very marked extent, and in some species a swelling, occasionally prodigious, of the soft tissues round the anal and generative openings, which is also at the time brilliantly congested, indicates the progress of the pro-estrum.... The growth of the stroma-tissue [in the uterus of monkeys during the pro-estrum] is rapidly followed by an increase in the number and size of the vessels of the stroma; the whole becomes richly supplied with blood, and the surface is flushed and highly vascular. This process goes on until the whole of the internal stroma becomes tense and brilliantly injected with blood.... In all essential points the menstruation or pro-estrum of the human female is identical with that of monkeys.... Estrus is possible only after the changes due to pro-estrum have taken place in the uterus. A wave of disturbance, at first evident in the external generative organs, extends to the uterus, and after the various phases of pro-estrum have been gone through in that organ, and the excitement there is subsiding, it would seem as if the external organs gain renewed stimulus, and it is then that estrus takes place.... In all animals which have been investigated coition is not allowed by the female until some time after the swelling and congestion of the vulva and surrounding tissue are first demonstrated, and in those animals which suffer from a considerable discharge of blood the main portion of that discharge, if not the whole of it, will be evacuated before sexual intercourse is allowed." (W. Heape, "The 'Sexual Season' of Mammals," Quarterly Journal of Microscopical Science, vol. xliv, Part I, 1900. Estrus has since been fully discussed in Marshall's Physiology of Reproduction.) This description clearly brings out the fundamentally vascular character of the process I have termed "tumescence"; it must be added, however, that in man the nervous elements in the process tend to become more conspicuous, and more or less obliterate these primitive limitations of sexual desire. (See "Sexual Periodicity" in the first volume of these Studies.)
Moll subsequently restated his position with reference to my somewhat different analysis of the sexual impulse, still maintaining his original view ("Analyse des Geschlechtstriebes," Medizinische Klinik, Nos. 12 and 13, 1905; also Geschlecht und Gesellschaft, vol. ii, Nos. 9 and 10). Numa Praetorius (Jahrbuch fuer Sexeuelle Zwischenstufen, 1904, p. 592) accepts contrectation, tumescence, and detumescence as all being stages in the same process, contrectation, which he defines as the sexual craving for a definite individual, coming first. Robert Mueller (Sexualbiologie, 1907, p. 37) criticises Moll much in the same sense as I have done and considers that contrectation and detumescence cannot be separated, but are two expressions of the same impulse; so also Max Katte, "Die Praeliminarien des Geschlechtsaktes," Zeitschrift fuer Sexualwissenschaft, Oct., 1908, and G. Saint-Paul, L'Homosexualite et les Types Homosexuels, 1910, p. 390.
While I regard Moll's analysis as a valuable contribution to the elucidation of the sexual impulse, I must repeat that I cannot regard it as final or completely adequate. As I understand the process, contrectation is an incident in the development of tumescence, an extremely important incident indeed, but not an absolutely fundamental and primitive part of it. It is equally an incident, highly important though not primitive and fundamental, of detumescence. Contrectation, from first to last; furnishes the best conditions for the exercise of the sexual process, but it is not an absolutely essential part of the process and in the early stages of zooelogical development it had no existence at all. Tumescence and detumescence are alike fundamental, primitive, and essential; in resting the sexual impulse on these necessarily connected processes we are basing ourselves on the solid bedrock of nature.
Moreover, of the two processes, tumescence, which in time comes first, is by far the most important, and nearly the whole of sexual psychology is rooted in it. To assert, with Moll, that the sexual process may be analyzed into contrectation and detumescence alone is to omit the most essential part of the process. It is much the same as to analyze the mechanism of a gun into probable contact with the hand, and a more or less independent discharge, omitting all reference to the loading of the gun. The essential elements are the loading and the discharging. Contrectation is a part of loading, though not a necessary part, since the loading may be effected mechanically. But to understand the process of firing a gun and to comprehend the mechanism of the discharge, we must insist on the act of loading and not merely on the contact of the hand. So it is in analyzing the sexual impulse. Contrectation is indeed highly important, but it is important only in so far as it aids tumescence, and so may be subordinated to tumescence, exactly as it may also be subordinated to detumescence. It is tumescence which is the really essential part of the process, and we cannot afford, with Moll, to ignore it altogether.
Wallace opposed Darwin's theory of sexual selection, but it can scarcely be said that his attitude toward it bears critical examination. On the one hand, as has already been noted, he saw but one side of that theory and that the unessential side, and, on the other hand, his own view really coincided with the more essential elements in Darwin's theory. In his Tropical Nature he admitted that the male's "persistency and energy win the day," and also that this "vigor and liveliness" of the male are usually associated with intense coloration, while twenty years later (in his Darwinism) he admitted also that it is highly probable that the female is pleased or excited by the male's display. But all that is really essential in Darwin's theory is involved, directly or indirectly, in these admissions.
Espinas, in 1878, in his suggestive book, Des Societes Animales, described the odors, colors and forms, sounds, games, parades, and mock battles of animals, approaching the subject in a somewhat more psychological spirit than either Darwin or Wallace, and he somewhat more clearly apprehended the object of these phenomena in producing mutual excitement and stimulating tumescence. He noted the significance of the action of the hermaphroditic snails in inserting their darts into each other's flesh near the vulva in order to cause preliminary excitation. He remarks of this whole group of phenomena: "It is the preliminary of sexual union, it constitutes the first act of it. By it the image of the male is graven on the consciousness of the female, and in a manner impregnates it, so as to determine there, as the effects of this representation descend to the depths of the organism, the physiological modifications necessary to fecundation." Beaunis, again, in an analysis of the sexual sensations, was inclined to think that the dances and parades of the male are solely intended to excite the female, not perceiving, however, that they at the same time serve to further excite the male also.
A better and more comprehensive statement was reached by Tillier, who, to some extent, may be said to have anticipated Groos. Darwin, Tillier pointed out, had not sufficiently taken into account the coexistence of combat and courtship, nor the order of the phenomena. Courtship without combat, Tillier argued, is rare; "there is a normal coexistence of combat and courtship." Moreover, he proceeded, force is the chief factor in determining the possession of the female by the male, who in some species is even prepared to exert force on her; so that the female has little opportunity of sexual selection, though she is always present at these combats. He then emphasized the significant fact that courtship takes place long after pairing has ceased, and the question of selection thus been eliminated. The object of courtship, he concluded, is not sexual selection by the female, but the sexual excitement of both male and female, such excitement, he asserted, not only rendering coupling easier, but favoring fecundation. Modesty, also, Tillier further argued, again anticipating Groos, works toward the same end; it renders the male more ardent, and by retarding coupling may also increase the secretions of the sexual glands and favor the chances of reproduction.
In a charming volume entitled The Naturalist in La Plata (1892) Mr. W.H. Hudson included a remarkable chapter on "Music and Dancing in Nature." In this chapter he described many of the dances, songs, and love-antics of birds, but regarded all such phenomena as merely "periodical fits of gladness." While, however, we may quite well agree with Mr. Hudson that conscious sexual gratification on the part of the female is not the cause of music and dancing performances in birds, nor of the brighter colors and ornaments that distinguish the male, such an opinion by no means excludes the conclusion that these phenomena are primarily sexual and intimately connected with the process of tumescence in both sexes. It is noteworthy that, according to H.E. Howard ("On Sexual Selection in Birds," Zooelogist, Nov., 1903), color is most developed just before pairing, rapidly becoming less beautiful—even within a few hours—after this, and the most beautiful male is most successful in getting paired. The fact that, as Mr. Hudson himself points out, it is at the season of love that these manifestations mainly, if not exclusively, appear, and that it is the more brilliant and highly endowed males which play the chief part in them, only serves to confirm such a conclusion. To argue, with Mr. Hudson, that they cannot be sexual because they sometimes occur before the arrival of the females, is much the same as to argue that the antics of a kitten with a feather or a reel have no relationship whatever to mice. The birds that began earliest to practise their accomplishments would probably have most chance of success when the females arrived. Darwin himself said that nothing is commoner than for animals to take pleasure in practising whatever instinct they follow at other times for some real good. These manifestations are primarily for the sake of producing sexual tumescence, and could not well have been developed to the height they have reached unless they were connected closely with propagation. That they may incidentally serve to express "gladness" one need not feel called upon to question.
Another observer of birds, Mr. E. Selous, has made observations which are of interest in this connection. He finds that all bird-dances are not nuptial, but that some birds—the stone-curlew (or great plover), for example—have different kinds of dances. Among these birds he has made the observation, very significant from our present point of view, that the nuptial dances, taken part in by both of the pair, are immediately followed by intercourse. In spring "all such runnings and chasings are, at this time, but a part of the business of pairing, and one divines at once that such attitudes are of a sexual character.... Here we have a bird with distinct nuptial (sexual) and social (non-sexual) forms of display or antics, and the former as well as the latter are equally indulged in by both sexes." (E. Selous, Bird Watching, pp. 15-20.)
The same author (ibid., pp. 79, 94) argues that in the fights of two males for one female—with violent emotion on one side and interested curiosity on the other—the attitude of the former "might gradually come to be a display made entirely for the female, and of the latter a greater or less degree of pleasurable excitement raised by it, with a choice in accordance." On this view the interest of the female would first have been directed, not to the plumage, but to the frenzied actions and antics of the male. From these antics in undecorated birds would gradually develop the interest in waving plumes and fluttering wings. Such a dance might come to be of a quite formal and non-courting nature.
Last, we owe to Professor Haecker what may fairly be regarded, in all main outlines, as an almost final statement of the matter. In his Gesang der Voegel (1900) he gives a very clear account of the evolution of bird-song, which he regards as the most essential element in all this group of manifestations, furnishing the key also to the dancing and other antics. Originally the song consists only of call-cries and recognition-notes. Under the parallel influence of natural selection and sexual selection they become at the pairing season reflexes of excitement and thus develop into methods of producing excitement, in the male by the muscular energy required, and in the female through the ear; finally they become play, though here also it is probable that use is not excluded. Thus, so far as the male bird is concerned, bird-song possesses a primary prenuptial significance in attracting the female, a secondary nuptial significance in producing excitement (p. 48). He holds also that the less-developed voices of the females aid in attaining the same end (p. 51). Finally, bird-song possesses a tertiary extranuptial significance (including exercise play, expression of gladness). Haecker points out, at the same time, that the maintenance of some degree of sexual excitement beyond pairing time may be of value for the preservation of the species, in case of disturbance during breeding and consequent necessity for commencing breeding over again.
Such a theory as this fairly coincides with the views brought forward in the preceding pages,—views which are believed to be in harmony with the general trend of thought today,—since it emphasizes the importance of tumescence and all that favors tumescence in the sexual process. The so-called esthetic element in sexual selection is only indirectly of importance. The male's beauty is really a symbol of his force.
It will be seen that this attitude toward the facts of tumescence among birds and other animals includes the recognition of dances, songs, etc., as expressions of "gladness." As such they are closely comparable to the art manifestations among human races. Here, as Weismann in his Gedanken ueber Musik has remarked, we may regard the artistic faculty as a by-product: "This [musical] faculty is, as it were, the mental hand with which we play on our own emotional nature, a hand not shaped for this purpose, not due to the necessity for the enjoyment of music, but owing its origin to entirely different requirements."
The psychological significance of these facts has been carefully studied and admirably developed by Groos in his classic works on the play instinct in animals and in men. Going beyond Wallace, Groos denies conscious sexual selection, but, as he points out, this by no means involves the denial of unconscious selection in the sense that "the female is most easily won by the male who most strongly excites her sexual instincts." Groos further quotes a pregnant generalization of Ziegler: "In all animals a high degree of excitement of the nervous system is necessary to procreation, and thus we find an excited prelude to procreation widely spread." Such a stage, indeed, as Groos points out, is usually necessary before any markedly passionate discharge of motor energy, as may be observed in angry dogs and the Homeric heroes. While, however, in other motor explosions the prelude may be reduced to a minimum, in courtship it is found in a highly marked degree. The primary object of courtship, Groos insists, is to produce sexual excitement.
It is true that Groos's main propositions were by no means novel. Thus, as I have pointed out, he was at most points anticipated by Tillier. But Groos developed the argument in so masterly a manner, and with so many wide-ranging illustrations, that he has carried conviction where the mere insight of others had passed unperceived. Since Darwin wrote the Descent of Man the chief step in the development of the theory of sexual selection has been taken by Groos, who has at the same time made it clear that sexual selection is largely a special case of natural selection. The conjunction of the sexes is seen to be an end only to be obtained with much struggle; the difficulty of achieving sexual erethism in both sexes, the difficulty of so stimulating such erethism in the female that her instinctive coyness is overcome, these difficulties the best and most vigorous males, those most adapted in other respects to carry on the race, may most easily overcome. In this connection we may note what Marro has said in another connection, when attempting to answer the question why it is that among savages courtship becomes so often a matter in which persuasion takes the form of force. The explanation, he remarks, is yet very simple. Force is the foundation of virility, and its psychic manifestation is courage. In the struggle for life violence is the first virtue. The modesty of women—in its primordial form consisting in physical resistance, active or passive, to the assaults of the male—aided selection by putting to the test man's most important quality, force. Thus it is that when choosing among rivals for her favors a woman attributes value to violence. Marro thus independently confirms the result reached by Groos.
The debate which has for so many years been proceeding concerning the validity of the theory of sexual selection may now be said to be brought to an end. Those who supported Darwin and those who opposed him were, both alike, in part right and in part wrong, and it is now possible to combine the elements of truth on either side into a coherent whole. This is now beginning to be widely recognized; Lloyd Morgan, for instance, has readjusted his position as regards the "pairing instinct" in the light of Groos's contribution to the subject. "The hypothesis of sexual selection," he concludes, "suggests that the accepted male is the one which adequately evokes the pairing impulse.... Courtship may thus be regarded from the physiological point of view as a means of producing the requisite amount of pairing hunger; of stimulating the whole system and facilitating general and special vascular changes; of creating that state of profound and explosive irritability which has for its psychological concomitant or antecedent an imperious and irresistible craving.... Courtship is thus the strong and steady bending of the bow that the arrow may find its mark in a biological end of the highest importance in the survival of a healthy and vigorous race."
Having thus viewed the matter broadly, we may consider in detail a few examples of the process of tumescence among the lower animals and man, for, as will be seen, the process in both is identical. As regards animal courtship, the best treasury of facts is Brehm's Thierleben, while Buechner's Liebe und Liebes-Leben in der Thierwelt is a useful summary; the admirable discussion of bird-dancing and other forms of courtship in Haecker's Gesang der Voegel, chapter iv, may also be consulted. As regards man, Wallaschek's Primitive Music, chapter vii, brings together much scattered material, and is all the more valuable since the author rejects any form of sexual selection; Hirn's Origins of Art, chapter xvii, is well worth reading, and Finck's Primitive Love and Love-stories contains a large amount of miscellaneous information. I have preferred not to draw on any of these easily accessible sources (except that in one or two cases I have utilized references they supplied), but here simply furnish illustrations met with in the course of my own reading.