Street scene. New York. Time—the past. Man on a sidewalk named James McC., aged fortyish. He has a regular job, a regular life. He is nondescript, commonplace—just like any one of the other men walking up and down the sidewalks of this city. But today death has come for James McC. He has been infected by plague—the worst plague of all. A plague that will eventually rob him of his senses, his sanity, and his very life.
James McC.‘s mind is filled with the most “sickening pictures of lust, disease, melancholy, and insanity.” When the police arrest him on the corner of 6th Avenue, James McC.was literally trying to obliterate these images from his mind by smashing his head on the sidewalk. It was already too late to save him. The duty sergeant at the 29th Precinct Station House recognized James McC. He had been arrested twice before that same week. The sergeant knew it was too late. His only recourse was to send him to Bellevue where he’d be put in a straitjacket and locked in a padded cell—another victim of the curse of masturbation.
James McC. lasted almost a week before he succumbed to a painful wasting away from his obsessive self-abuse. According to his doctors at Bellevue:
Upon examination he is found to be suffering from acute mania, alternating with periods of intense melancholia in which he invariably attempts to take his own life. His language when excited exceeds in obscenity anything ever heard. During the intervals of quiet he is constantly practicing the vile habit which has undoubtedly been the cause of his insanity. He has lost all sense of shame and continues to practice before visitors, attendants and physicians. He makes no effort to go to the water-closet, and his clothes and cell are in a filthy and disgusting state. Ever since admission he has refused all food, and it has been necessary to feed him with a stomach pump. He is losing flesh and strength every day, and is fast wasting away.
From his relatives who have twice called to see him it was learned that his mental trouble came on very suddenly, although his memory and faculties have been failing for some time past. They say that he complained of sleeplessness, numbness and tingling sensations in the arms and legs, headache, and a peculiar itching of the skin, for months before any distinct symptoms of insanity appeared. They attribute it all to self-abuse, which he has admitted practicing from an early age.
August 28th.—Is now paralyzed in both lower limbs. Still violent.
Sept. 3d.—Died this morning about 1 A.M. Is so emaciated that he is little more than skin and bones. Rigor mortis entirely absent. Shortly after death the skin of the whole body changed to a dark chocolate hue.
A portrait of James McC. attempting to masturbate to the very end…
This story about James McC. is actually true. And his fate was the kind of “possible” scenario presented to hundreds of thousands of young men living in America and Europe during the 1800s. Scientists and medical practitioners declared there was a plague destroying the lives of young men which once contracted was nearly always fatal. These men were victims of a disease called Spermatorrhœa—an excessive and debilitating loss of sperm either involuntarily or through continuous “self-pollution” or over-indulgence of masturbation.
The best cure offered by the chief medical doctors was either circumcision or castration. Not exactly the kind of options most young men wanted. Therefore a whole new medical industry was created offering dubious cures for the curse of Spermatorrhœa.
Another poor man has wanked himself to death….
This may seem farcical today but it was a genuine fear backed up by the authority of doctors, scientists, politicians and OF COURSE religious leaders. We may laugh now but so too will future generations laugh at some of our own current SJW panic attacks.
Masturbation was described in the 1860s as a hideous “vile demon” which “like the vampire” will:
...suck his very life-blood, steal away his strength and life and vivacity, besmirch and weaken his mind, take the strength from his muscles, the courage from his heart, sap the very foundation of his existence, unsex and unnerve him, render him feeble, wavering and imbecile, dog his footsteps to the very steps of the altar, to curse and blacken and disappoint those joys of parentage and marital right that should be his. The shadow deepens with him as life advances, and follows him, bringing shame and misery and despair at every step, until the poor victim, driven too far, sinks into an early grave by disease or suicide, or is lost to the world and to all joys and friends behind the doors of an insane asylum.
Among the many “cures” for this dreaded Spermatorrhœa and/or compulsive masturbation was the Jugum penis.
This was a steel clip or ring with an inner ring of serrated teeth. The teeth would literally bite into the penis when it became engorged. The searing pain inflicted on the encircled member by this nasty cock ring would stop any erection or possible episode of “self-pollution.”
Medical doctors believed that when men lost sperm through a wet dream or masturbation they were literally losing their life force. Therefore it was advisable for all teenage boys and young men to wear a Jugum penis at night to prevent any “nocturnal emissions.”
Advert for the anti-pollution ring.