Extracts from Iwan Bloch

The Sexual Life of Our Time In its Relations to Modern Civilisation London: William Heinemann (Medical Books Ltd). September 1908. From "New Impression June 1930"

Publishers' note to the English edition

Chapter 18: Sexual Hygiene
Sexual hygiene as social hygiene
Its foundation by Darwin
Recent works
"Reproductive hygiene"
Degeneration and regeneration (hereditary taint and hereditary enfranchisement)
Possibility of the disappearance of morbid tendencies
"Eugenics" (Galton)
Love's choice and sexual selection
Darwin's prescriptions regarding sexual selection
Prohibition of marriage
Inheritance of morbid tendencies and morbid constitutions
Danger of alcoholism for the offspring
Families of drinkers-Direct influence of alcohol upon the germ-plasm
Observations en this subject
Syphilis as a cause of racial degeneration
Syphilis and the duration of life
Degenerative effects of tuberculosis
Direct infection
Inheritance of the tubercular habit of body
Mental disorders, diatheses, and malignant tumours
Nervous disorders
Inheritable atrophy of the female mammary glands
Recent works on this subject
Effect of excessive youth or excessive age of the married pair
Influence of blood-relationship
Significance of breeding in-and-in in relation to the evolution of the race
The dangers of too close blood-relationship
Importance of spiritual qualities in relation to love's choice
The breeding of talent
Importance of this in relation to the woman's question
In relation to the improvement of the race
Greater resisting powers possessed by women towards degenerative influences
A quotation from Carl Vogt
Unfavourable influence of coercive marriage morality and of mammonism
Importance of racial hygiene and of the sexual souse of responsibility.

Publishers' note to the English edition

The author's aim in writing this book was to write a complete Encyclopaedia on the sexual sciences, and it will probably be acknowledged by all who study its pages that the author has accomplished his intention in a very scholarly manner, and in such form as to be of great value to the professions for whom this translation is intended. The subject is no doubt one which appeals to and affects the interests of all adult persons, but the publishers have, after very serious and careful consideration, come to the conclusion that the sale of the English translation of the book shall be limited to members of the legal and medical professions. To both these professions it is essential that a knowledge of the science of Sex and the various causes for the existence of " abnormals " should be ascertained, so that they may be guided in the future in their investigations into, and the practice of attempts to mitigate, the evil which undoubtedly exists, and to bring about a more healthy class of beings. It is the first time that the subject has been so carefully and fully gone into in the English language, and it is believed that the very exhaustive examination which the author has made into the matter, and the various cases to which he has called attention, will be of considerable use to the medical practitioner, and also to the lawyer in criminal and quasi-criminal matters, and probably in matrimonial disputes and cases of insanity.

Chapter 18: Sexual Hygiene

p.711 Sexual hygiene in individual relationships has already been discussed in previous chapters, and more especially in those upon the prophylaxis and suppression of venereal diseases, upon the question of sexual abstinence, upon sexual education, and upon the use of methods for the prevention of pregnancy. Here we merely propose to deal shortly with the social relationships of the hygiene of the sexual life. After Darwin, more particularly in his work on the " Descent of Man," had published fundamental observations regarding the social importance of sexual hygiene, other writers, influenced by recent anthropological and ethnological research, occupied themselves with these problems, more especially Hegar (A. Hegar, The Sexual Impulse Stuttgart, 1894), A. Ploetz (Outlines of Racial Hygiene Berlin, 1895) and R. Kossmann (Breeding - Politics Schmargendorf - Berlin, 1905); the subjects considered by these writers have been aptly comprised under the name "reproductive hygiene", which constitutes a part of general racial biology.

Unfortunately, racial biology, as Max Gruber (4) justly remarks, has formed exaggerated estimates of the ideas of "degeneration" and "hereditary taint" ; and, on the other hand, the complementary ideas of " regeneration " and " hereditary enfranchisement " have been unduly neglected. And yet it is certain that these latter influences are continually in active operation in the direction of the resanation and invigoration of the race : that the introduction of new and healthy blood is competent to bring about reanimation and regeneration, even in degenerate families. Gruber says with justice ("Hygiene of the Sexual Life," p. 55, 1905) :

"Completely normal, and entirely free from hereditary taint, no single human being can be ; and, on the other hand, experience teaches us, that just as morbid tendencies make their appearance in certain families, so also they may disappear from these families. Many of these tendencies can be rendered ineffective by a suitably chosen mode of life for the individual; and by means of repeated crossing with stems which are free from these particular taints, the morbid tendency can be led to disappear, unless the degenerative impulse is too powerful."

Max Gruber, "Does Hygiene lead to Racial Degeneration?" published in the Munchener Mediziniscfie Wochenschrift, October 6 and 13, 1903.

p.712] The recognition of this fact does not in the least diminish the great importance of purposive choice in love and marriage ; nor does it diminish the sense of sexual responsibility in relation to the great fact of heredity. But the recognition of the fortunate fact of hereditary enfranchisement supports, on the other hand, all our endeavours in the direction of rational "eugenics" (Galton), (*) in accordance with which we must, as Nietzsche says, not merely reproduce, but produce in an upward direction ("nicht bloss fort-, sondern auch hinaufpflanzen sollen").

The central problem of reproductive hygiene is that of love's choice, of sexual selection. It is a most difficult task, one which is rarely fulfilled to the utmost, for the right man to find the right woman, so that their individualities may in every respect correspond to and complement one another. In most cases it is necessary to be contented with relative harmony, and with sufficient health on both sides. The laws of a refined, differentiated marriage choice have not yet been discovered. Havelock Ellis (*) has instituted exhaustive researches on this subject, without, however, attaining any positive result. He was only able to establish the general proposition, that in love's choice identity of race and of individual characters (homogamy), and at the same time unlikeness in the secondary sexual characters (heterogamy), are to be preferred. In other respects, however, very various and complicated influences are determinative in sexual selection. Havelock Ellis also detected a natural disinclination towards love between blood-relatives, which, however, he regards as merely due to the customary life in close association from childhood onwards.

(*) Havelock Ellis, "Studies in the Psychology of Sex," vol. iv.: Selection in Man."

Darwin propounded the principle for sexual selection, that both sexes should avoid marriage when in any pronounced degree they were defective, either physically or mentally. Upon this idea rests the old and widely diffused custom of killing or exposure of sickly children, as well as the more recent prohibitions of marriage in certain States of the American Union - for example, Michigan, in which the marriage (also sexual union for procreative purposes ?) is forbidden on the part of those p.713] mentally diseased and of those who are infected with tubercle or syphilis.

The most important fundamental principle, however, of rational reproductive hygiene is, without doubt, that only healthy individuals should pair, or, at any rate, those only whose abnormalities or diseases, if any, would not injure their offspring, physically or mentally. Not in disease itself, but in the inheritance of disease, lies the great danger for the deterioration of the family and the race. It is for this reason that the study of the inheritance of morbid predispositions and morbid constitutions is of such enormous importance in racial biology.

With regard to illnesses to which attention must especially be paid in connexion with sexual selection, we have here, in the first place, to consider the "three scourges" of humanity : alcoholism, syphilis, and tuberculosis.

Apart from the fact that alcoholism leads in the drinker himself to nervous weakness, to mental disturbances of all kinds (delirium tremens, imbecility, mania, peripheral neuritis, etc.), it also exercises a very serious influence upon the offspring, who are, unfortunately, in many cases very numerous, (*) as the study of "drinker families " shows (cf. Jorger, "The Family Zero," published in the Archives for Racial Biology, 1905, vol. ii., pp. 494-559).

Only a very small fraction of the offspring of such families are physically and mentally normal (about 7 to 17 %) ; the majority display a rapidly progressive degeneration, which manifests itself physically more especially by the tendency to tuberculosis and epilepsy, and mentally by the tendency to drunkenness, crime, and imbecility. Alcohol is a direct poison to the germ cells, so much so that, according to the degree of drunkenness, it is almost possible to estimate beforehand the degree of hereditary taint. Moreover, an otherwise healthy [p.714] father, in a single severe acute alcoholic intoxication, may procreate a child either quite incompetent to live, or weakly, or completely degenerate. On the other hand, it has been observed that a person given to chronic alcoholism is competent, during a temporary diminution in his consumption of alcohol, to procreate a comparatively vigorous child. From this it follows that marriage, or sexual union in general for reproductive purposes, with a man or woman addicted to alcohol, and no less the act of procreation in a state of intoxication, are absolutely to be condemned.

The danger of alcoholism to the offspring is illustrated by the experience that about one-eighth of the surviving children of drunken parents become affected with epilepsy, and that more than one-half of idiotic children are born of drunken parents (Kraepelin, " The Psychiatric Duties of the State," p. 3 ; Jena, 1900).

In an earlier chapter (pp. 361-363) attention was drawn to the fact that syphilis rivals alcohol in its potency as a cause of racial degeneration.

Thanks to the researches of Alfred Fournier and of Tarnowsky, the sinister influence of syphilis in this respect is now widely recognized. E. Heddaeus rightly (*) asserts that since at the present day the whole world is contaminated with congenital or acquired syphilis, the eradication of syphilis is the most important task of reproductive hygiene.

The previously mentioned etiological and prophylactic-therapeutic researches, among which may be included the quite recent discovery of syphilitic antibodies in the system of those who have formerly suffered from syphilis (*), open to us a prospect of the realization of this magnificent idea.

The weakening and degeneration of the individual by acquired and inherited syphilis, is also shown by the recent researches into the influence of syphilis upon the duration of life, among which I may mention the works of A. Blaschko (*) and Hans Tilesius. (**) Regarding the disastrous influence of syphilis continued into the second and third generations, see the monograph of B. Tarnowsky, " La Famille Syphilitique et sa Bescendence " [Clermont (Oise), 1904]. (See note 3 to p. 363.)

p.715] The third disease leading to degeneration is tuberculosis which may be inherited either by direct infection of the germ or (more frequently) by the transmission of a predisposition to the offspring. This simple predisposition, recognized by the so-called "tubercular physique " (long, thin individuals, with a flattened chest, poorly developed muscles, and a pale countenance), does not offer any absolute ground for prohibiting reproductive activity, since the health of the other party to the marriage may diminish or entirely remove the danger of inheritance But, on the other hand, manifest tuberculosis or scrofula is a contra-indication to marriage.

The same is true of actual mental disorders, of severe diatheses, such as gout, obesity, or diabetes ; and of cancer and other malignant tumours ; whereas the bulk of "nervous " affections and other bodily diseases only exclude marriage in certain special circumstances. (*)

(*) In the great work of Senator-Kaminer ("Health and Disease in Relation to Marriage and the Married State," London, Rebman Limited, 1906) we find a detailed account of the circumstances and possibilities which have here to be considered.

Very unfavourable to the offspring is the atrophy of the female breasts, and the consequent incapacity for lactation, a matter to which Mensinga, G. von Bunge, G. Hirth, Emil Abderhalden, A. Hegar, (*) and others, have referred, and which exercises a very unfavourable influence upon the offspring, since natural lactation cannot be adequately replaced by artificial feeding.

According to Bunge, alcoholism, tuberculosis, syphilis, and mental disorders of the ancestry are the principal causes of atrophy of the mammary glands. Whether atrophy of the mammary glands is really on the increase, and whether it is hereditary, are matters demanding, as Abderhalden insists, more careful critical investigation. Marriage at an age too youthful (below twenty on the part of the woman) below twenty-four on the part of the man) and at too advanced an age (above forty on the part of the woman, above fifty on the part of the man) is also disadvantageous to [p.716] the offspring, as manifested by higher mortality of the infants, by the more frequent occurrence of malformations, idiocy, rickets, etc. Equally disadvantageous is too close relationship by blood, 1 since in this way any unfavourable tendencies are greatly strengthened. Upon a certain degree of inbreeding, or, rather, upon an approximation to inbreeding, depends the formation of every race. The "racial problem" in this sense is a kind of exaltation of the inbreeding principle, for the very idea of race implies a more or less close relationship between all the members of a definite stock. Thus the entire absence of fresh blood does not necessarily give rise to any degeneration; but it is certain that long-continued close in-and-in breeding on the part of near blood-relatives in the same family results in a progressive tendency to degeneration, because, among those who unite in marriage, the same morbid tendencies are present, and accumulate in consequence of the inbreeding. This is shown very clearly by some statistics collected by Morris (published by Gruber, op. cit., p. 32). Marriage between uncle and niece, or between aunt and nephew, and the, unfortunately, far too frequent marriages between first cousins, are therefore to be condemned.

The greatest value is to be placed, in love's choice, upon intellectual qualities. Intelligent persons, and those full of character, are to be preferred. Precisely in relation to the breeding of talents, Nietzsche recommended ("Posthumous Works," vol. xii., p. 188 ; Leipzig, 1901) polygamy for men or women of predominant intellectual capacity, so that they might have the opportunity of reproducing their kind in intercourse with several persons of the opposite sex, and in this way, since the later children of the same women are not so powerful nor of such striking capacity as the first-born, they might have the possibility of being the parents of several talented and distinguished individuals. In relation to the woman's question, the breeding of women well endowed with talent is a matter of especial interest. Charles Darwin2 writes :

" In order that woman should reach the same standard as man, she ought, when nearly adult, to be trained to energy and perseverance, and to have her reason and imagination exercised to the highest point; then she would probably transmit these qualities chiefly to her adult daughters. All women, however, could not be thus raised, [p.717] unless during many generations those who excelled in the above robust virtues were married, and produced offspring in larger numbers than other women."

1 Cf. F. Kraus, " Blood-Relationship in Marriage and its Consequences to the Offspring," published in Senator-Kaminer, " Health and Disease in Relation to Marriage and the Married State," p 79 (London, Rebman Limited, 1906). 2 Charles Darwin, " The Descent of Man," vol. ii., pp. 354, 355 (London, 1898).

In a valuable work W. Schallmayer1 has recently discussed the great importance of the offspring of talented persons in the improvement of the race, and has considered the details of psychical inheritance. As in the entire animal world, so also in the human race, the feminine nature has a more conservative character, one more disinclined to variations, whether favourable or unfavourable, as contrasted with the more variable nature of the male, which is also more prone to submit to degenerative influences. For this reason, in declining races, we meet many more women free from degeneration than men. Carl Vogt, in a passage which appears to be very little known, writes on this subject in the following terms :2

" "It is the women, my friend, who maintain the race, who for the longest time safeguard the type of the people in body and spirit, and for this reason they form the mirror at once of the future and of the past which are allotted to that people. You will no doubt have noticed how, in many races, there exists a disharmony between men and women, so that in one race the male and in another the female stands behind the other in physical beauty and in mental development. This relationship between the two sexes is precisely that from which we are able to learn the past and the future of the nation. Good and bad, advance and retrogression, are first undertaken by the man, and by him passed to the woman, whose conservative nature much more gradually yields to strange influences. But since the stages of mental culture through which a race passes are not only reflected in its bodily development, but actually depend upon this development, it is easy to understand that in a nature which is striving upwards, which we see in the process of advance towards better things, the men possess the advantage in the matter of beauty and of intellectual capacity; whereas when the race is a declining one, the advantages in these respects will lie with woman. If you find a race in which the women are beautiful, but as a rule the men are ugly and badly formed, you can with certainty conclude that this race has long since passed its culminating point in development, and has long been undergoing a process of decline."

1 W. Schallmayer, " The Sociological Importance of the Offspring of Talented Persons, and Psychical Inheritance," published in the Archives of Racial and Social Biology, 1905, vol. ii., pp. 38-75. Cf. also S. R. Steinmetz, " The Offspring of Talented Persons," published in the Zeitschrift fur Sozialwissenschaft, 1904, No. 1. 2 Carl Vogt, " The Ocean and the Mediterranean : Letters of Travel," vol. ii., PP- 203, 204 (Frankfurt-on-the-Main, 1848).

For racial biology it is at least equally important, if not even more important, that healthy, vigorous, and talented men [p.718] should reproduce their kind, rather than that in love's choice the corresponding qualities in women should be regarded as determinative. Racial biology, if it really wishes to obtain success in the breeding of humanity, is compelled to demand the abolition of the present evil coercive marriage morality, and, according to the suggestions of Nietzsche, von Ehrenfels, and others, will not hesitate, in certain cases, to regard polygamy as desirable, if only from this standpoint - that coercive marriage is the sole cause of the domination of " mammonism " in the sexual life; to the deleterious influence of which we have before alluded.1 Mammonism is dangerous if for this alone, because it involves the annihilation of the sense of sexual responsibility, and in consequence of this, natural love is rejected on one side, and all considerations of a racial hygienic nature are cast away on the other. The lack of both is the cause of degeneration.

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