India and China: Semen and Spirituality
To The Seminal Truth? Table of Content.
Semen: Views from Ancient Greece to Medieval Period
  Semen Loss / "Spending"
Europe / America

Tissot (1781). On Onania or A Treatise Upon the Disorders Produced by Masturbation.  "'Sperm is ... the end-product of all digestions.' and 'essential ointment,' the 'leading liqueur' as termed by Tissot, which contains this vital force that animates the body ... Tissot quotes aristotle, who considered sperm as "the excretion from the ultimate food, or to put it more clearly, as the most perfected components of our foods.' Concerning the pathogenic aspect, Tissot refers his readers to Galen who wrote that 'losing sperm amounts to losing the vital spirits'"  ...Spermatorrhea ... is in our own history... [It is described] in Diseases II by the Hippocratic authors under the name of 'consumptions of the back' (Bottero, 1991: 312-3).

"Dangers of semen loss dominates Euro-American minds. Even Freud attributed neurasthenia - a neurosis - to "immoderate masturbation or spontaneous emission." In 1912, he also challenges Stekel's "truly modern view that seminal loss has no pernicious effects on brain functioning..." (Bottero, 1991: 313). Interest in neurasthenia continued late into the twentieth century and the condition found a place in all editions of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) till the ninth revision. Psychiatrists in the Indian subcontinent were classifying Dhat Syndrome in this category until the tenth revision of the ICD accorded a separate category for it in the classificatory system" (Raguram, et al., 1994: 122).

Semen Loss in Nineteenth-Century England:"It was a period of medical terrorism when drastic measures like surgery, physical restraint, severe punishment and fright influenced most treatments for semen loss... Many famous psychiatrists of the time, including Henry Maudley, held the view that semen loss especially if it occurs through masturbation, results in mental illness" (Raguram, et al., 1994: 121).

Semen Loss in America: "As sensational report on idiocy was presented to the Massachusetts state legislature in 1848 by the superintendent of the lunatic asylum at Worcester, who claimed that 32 percent of admissions to the hospital were insane because of semen loss, either spontaneous or through masturbation" (Raguram, et al., 1994: 122). "The anti-mastubation furor escalated and reached its apogee in the 1870s and '80s in the writings of John Harvey Kellogg, M.D....  [who] died in 1943 at the age of 91, without retracting any of his absurd pronouncements" (Money, 1995: 29). Circumcision as anti-masturbation endeavor (Money, 1989).

France - Fin-de-siècle: "Energy distribution, in French physiology, created further dangers to the reproductive success of the bourgeois. Theories of energy/depletion (new versions of ancient vitalism) envisioned strength and vitality as available to any organism in only limited quantities. Overexertion of any kind, but especially sexual, was seen as a real danger to males, who were thus advised to ration their sperm. Men were cautioned too that women, by their very essence, were incompletely energized and sought to possess male energy through the absorption of sperm. Thus the imperative that females be chaste takes on medical meaning" (Hildreth, 1996: 151).

Sexism: "Victorian theorists of anti-sexualism took for granted the inequality of the sexes and the superior power of the male who, therefore, had more to lose if he lost his semen. Moreover, the fact that the female had no semen to lose if she masturbated was evidence of her inferiority - such was the circularity of their reasoning".

India and China: Semen and Spirituality
Semen: Views from Ancient Greece to Medieval Period

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