Sunday, October 28, 2007

Of Cornflakes Sex and Masturbation

John Harvey Kellogg ( 1852 – 1943) was an American medical doctor in Battle Creek, Michigan who ran a sanitarium using holistic methods, with a particular focus on nutrition, enemas and exercise. Kellogg was an advocate of vegetarianism, and is best known for the invention of the Kellogs corn flakes breakfast cereal with his brother, Will Keith Kellogg.

Kellogg did a great deal to warn about the supposed dangers of sexual activity. He outlined his views on this subject in his book 'Plain Facts for Old and Young'. He warned against nearly all sexual activity, including a large chapter about the many “excesses” couples could be guilty of within marriage. He drew on the warnings of William Acton and expressed support for the work of Anthony Comstock. He appears to have gone beyond his own advice, since though he and his wife were married for over 40 years, they never had sexual intercourse and had separate bedrooms all their lives. It has been suggested he worked on Plain Facts on their honeymoon!


He was an especially zealous campaigner against masturbation, recommending extreme methods. In his Treatment for Self-Abuse and its Effects he wrote:

A remedy for masturbation which is almost always successful in small boys is circumcision. 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. In females, the author has found the application of pure carbolic acid [phenol] to the clitoris an excellent means of allaying the abnormal excitement. ”

Believing that masturbation was a sensual sin of the flesh, self-abuse, and an obsessive habit common to adolescent males and others, he advocated exposing the sensitive glans, which during masturbation would be subject to friction. In addition, the removal of the protective foreskin would further reduce sensory pleasures from the habit. Reducing the sensory pleasure, it was felt, would also reduce boys' rebelliousness. He also claimed that masturbation was a primary cause of acne, extreme mental and physical debility, heart disease, atrophy of the testes, dimness of vision, epilepsy, and insanity. Kellogg also believed that one should guard one's emissions as he believed people possessed a fixed amount of "vital energy." He also recommended, to prevent children from this "solitary vice," that one could bandage or tie their hands, cover the genitalia with a patented cage structure, and even use electrical shocking.


Dr. Kellogg wrote that "neither the plague, nor war, nor small-pox, nor similar diseases, have produced results so disastrous to humanity as the pernicious habit of onanism." He felt that masturbation destroyed not only physical and mental health, but the moral health of individuals as well. Kellogg also believed the practice of "solitary-vice" caused cancer of the womb, urinary diseases, nocturnal emissions, impotence, epilepsy and insanity. Kellogg was the first to mention the psychological role in producing insanity. To fight the urge to practice masturbation Kellogg offered a number of remedies to the young and old. He believed that young and old should maintain an abstemious diet, eating only twice a day. They should avoid stimulating food and drinks, and very little meat if any should be consumed. Kellogg also advocated hydrotherapy and stressed the importance of keeping the colon clean through yogurt enemas.

Kellogg would live for over sixty years after writing Plain Facts. Whether he continued to teach the “facts” in it is not entirely clear, although it appears from the later books he wrote that he moved away from this subject matter. One source, taking a positive view of his nutritional and anti-smoking work, suggests he “dropped his obsession with the evils of sex” around 1920, but another, highly critical source maintains he “never retracted his claims”.!

-courtesy wikipedia-

1 comment:

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