Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Book Review: Plain Facts for Old and Young: Natural History and Hygiene of Organic Life (Sex, Marriage & Society Series)

Book Review: 

Plain Facts for Old and Young: Natural History and Hygiene of Organic Life (Sex, Marriage & Society Series)  

Or in Lady Chatterley's words, Children of the Corn Flakes

A number of years ago, Lady Chatterley remembers reading about Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, the inventor of Corn Flakes, and how his religious zealotism discouraged sexual health to the point that he suggested castration and using acid to burn away genetalia. Recently she attended a workshop on Victorian sexuality through a local chapter of Romance Writer's of America and his name was referred to again. But to imagine where this zealot came from, imagine the era:

At the end of the 1800's, sexually transmitted diseases were life threatening and caused death.

Sexuality considered a sin punishable by eternal torment. (As if the STDs weren't enough.)

Masturbation was thought to cause blindness, mental retardation and other maladies.

To those obsessed with health and religion such as Kellogg, the words sexual health meant abstinence. And this abstinence had to be maintained by any means as these quotes from his books via Wikipedia explain.

In his Plain Facts for Old and Young, he wrote:
A remedy which is almost always successful in small boys is circumcision, especially when there is any degree of phimosis. The operation should be performed by a surgeon without administering an anesthetic, as the brief pain attending the operation will have a salutary effect upon the mind, especially if it be connected with the idea of punishment, as it may well be in some cases. The soreness which continues for several weeks interrupts the practice, and if it had not previously become too firmly fixed, it may be forgotten and not resumed.
a method of treatment [to prevent masturbation] ... and we have employed it with entire satisfaction. It consists in the application of one or more silver sutures in such a way as to prevent erection. The prepuce, or foreskin, is drawn forward over the glans, and the needle to which the wire is attached is passed through from one side to the other. After drawing the wire through, the ends are twisted together, and cut off close. It is now impossible for an erection to occur, and the slight irritation thus produced acts as a most powerful means of overcoming the disposition to resort to the practice
In females, the author has found the application of pure carbolic acid (phenol) to the clitoris an excellent means of allaying the abnormal excitement.

In his Ladies' Guide in Health and Disease, to prevent masturbation, he suggested:
Cool sitz baths; the cool enema; a spare diet; the application of blisters and other irritants to the sensitive parts of the sexual organs, the removal of the clitoris and nymphae...

 These disturbing books are available on Or if you really want to support Kellogg's legacy, all you need do is buy a box of Corn Flakes. 

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