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considerable intellectual power and some culture, but showed
unmistakable signs of his early indiscretion. He stated that although
he mingled quite freely with other boys of his age, he obtained no
knowledge of the habit from others. He often heard allusions which he
did not understand, and of which he did not, fortunately, discover the
meaning. But he was afflicted with congenital _phimosis_, the prepuce
being so tight that retraction was impossible. This, together with
urinal irritation,--which occasioned nocturnal incontinence of
urine,--constipation, and highly seasoned food, produced so much local
irritation as to occasion frequent erections, and an increased
secretion. He soon noticed that there was an accumulation of hardened
secretion beneath the foreskin, and in attempting to remove this, he
accidentally provoked voluptuous sensations. He speedily abandoned
himself to the habit, often repeating it several times a day. Beginning
at the age of twelve years, he continued it for three or four years.
Soon after acquiring the habit, he became aware of its tendencies,
through reading books upon the subject, but he found himself so
completely enslaved that abstinence seemed impossible. One resolution
to reform after another was formed, only to be speedily broken. His
unwholesome diet, habitual constipation, and especially the
unfortunate organic difficulty in his genital organs, produced an
almost constant priapism, which was only relieved, and then but
temporarily, by the act of pollution. His sedentary habits increased
the difficulty to an extreme degree.
In the meantime, his constitution, naturally weak, was being gradually
undermined. He suffered from constant headache, heart-burn, pains in
the back and limbs, weakness, and lassitude. Yet he attributed none
of these ailments to the true cause. After the lapse of three or four
years thus spent, and after repeated ineffectual attempts, by a
powerful effort of the will, by the aid of prayer, and by adopting a
more wholesome diet, he succeeded in getting the mastery of his vice.
But the local difficulties still continued in a great degree, and under
particularly aggravating circumstances occasioned a relapse at long
intervals. After a time, the local difficulties grew less and less,
and enabled him to gain a complete victory over the habit, though the
results of previous sin still remained, for which he desired treatment.
This case will serve as a fair illustration of many of similar character,
in which the child accidentally makes the discovery which leads him
to work his own ruin.
Other Physical Causes.--Constipation, piles, irritable bladder,
fissure of the anus, local uncleanliness, and pruritis of the genital
organs, will produce the habit in both males and females in the manner
described. Sleeping on feather beds increases the local congestion,
and thus favors the exciting influences of any of the above-named causes.
It may, perhaps, itself be the exciting cause.
We once treated a patient who was affected with stone in the bladder,
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