Historical Reprints Health Related Studies in the Psychology of Sex Volume 3

Studies in the Psychology of Sex Volume 3

Studies in the Psychology of Sex Volume 3
Catalog # SKU1328
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 2.00 lbs
Author Name Havelock Ellis


Studies In The
Psychology of Sex

Volume III

Analysis Of The Sexual Impulse
Love And Pain
The Sexual Impulse In Women

Havelock Ellis

In the study of Love and Pain I have discussed the sources of those aberrations which are commonly called, not altogether happily, "sadism" and "masochism." Here we are brought before the most extreme and perhaps the most widely known group of sexual perversions. --- Some ask us why we would republish a series that might be outdated. Why? Earlier writings on this subject were not purely sterile and medicinal in content, but included a spiritual aspect that modern psychology and medicine overlook. These include a view of romanticism lacking in most modern books on these subjects.


The term "sexual instinct" may be said to cover the whole of the neuropsychic phenomena of reproduction which man shares with the lower animals. It is true that much discussion has taken place concerning the proper use of the term "instinct," and some definitions of instinctive action would appear to exclude the essential mechanism of the process whereby sexual reproduction is assured. Such definitions scarcely seem legitimate, and are certainly unfortunate. Herbert Spencer's definition of instinct as "compound reflex action" is sufficiently clear and definite for ordinary use. A fairly satisfactory definition of instinct is that supplied by Dr. and Mrs. Peckham in the course of their study On the Instincts and Habits of Solitary Wasps. "Under the term 'instinct,'" they say, "we place all complex acts which are performed previous to experience and in a similar manner by all members of the same sex and race, leaving out as non-essential, at this time, the question of whether they are or are not accompanied by consciousness."

This definition is quoted with approval by Lloyd Morgan, who modifies and further elaborates it (Animal Behavior, 1900, p. 21). "The distinction between instinctive and reflex behavior," he remarks, "turns in large degree on their relative complexity," and instinctive behavior, he concludes, may be said to comprise "those complex groups of co-ordinated acts which are, on their first occurrence, independent of experience; which tend to the well-being of the individual and the preservation of the race; which are due to the co-operation of external and internal stimuli; which are similarly performed by all the members of the same more or less restricted group of animals; but which are subject to variation, and to subsequent modification under the guidance of experience." Such a definition clearly justifies us in speaking of a "sexual instinct." It may be added that the various questions involved in the definition of the sexual instinct have been fully discussed by Moll in the early sections of his Untersuchungen über die Libido Sexualis.

Of recent years there has been a tendency to avoid the use of the term "instinct," or, at all events, to refrain from attaching any serious scientific sense to it. Loeb's influence has especially given force to this tendency. Thus, while Pièron, in an interesting discussion of the question ("Les Problè mes Actuels de l'Instinct," Revue Philosophique, Oct., 1908), thinks it would still be convenient to retain the term, giving it a philosophical meaning, Georges Bohn, who devotes a chapter to the notion of instinct (La Naissance de l'Intelligence, 1909), is strongly in favor of eliminating the word, as being merely a legacy of medieval theologians and metaphysicians, serving to conceal our ignorance or our lack of exact analysis.

The first definition of the sexual impulse we meet with is that which regards it as an impulse of evacuation. The psychological element is thus reduced to a minimum. It is true that, especially in early life, the emotions caused by forced repression of the excretions are frequently massive or acute in the highest degree, and the joy of relief correspondingly great.

But in adult life, on most occasions, these desires can be largely pushed into the background of consciousness, partly by training, partly by the fact that involuntary muscular activity is less imperative in adult life; so that the ideal element in connection with the ordinary excretions is almost a negligible quantity. The evacuation theory of the sexual instinct is, however, that which has most popular vogue, and the cynic delights to express it in crude language. It is the view that appeals to the criminal mind, and in the slang of French criminals the brothel is le cloaque. It was also the view implicitly accepted by medieval ascetic writers, who regarded woman as "a temple built over a sewer," and from a very different standpoint it was concisely set forth by Montaigne, who has doubtless contributed greatly to support this view of the matter: "I find," he said, "that Venus, after all, is nothing more than the pleasure of discharging our vessels, just as nature renders pleasurable the discharges from other parts."

Luther, again, always compared the sexual to the excretory impulse, and said that marriage was just as necessary as the emission of urine. Sir Thomas More, also, in the second book of Utopia, referring to the pleasure of evacuation, speaks of that felt "when we do our natural easement, or when we be doing the act of generation." This view would, however, scarcely deserve serious consideration if various distinguished investigators, among whom Fèrè may be specially mentioned, had not accepted it as the best and most accurate definition of the sexual impulse. "The genesic need may be considered," writes Fèrè, "as a need of evacuation; the choice is determined by the excitations which render the evacuation more agreeable."3 Certain facts observed in the lower animals tend to support this view; it is, therefore, necessary, in the first place, to set forth the main results of observation on this matter. Spallanzani had shown how the male frog during coitus will undergo the most horrible mutilations, even decapitation, and yet resolutely continue the act of intercourse, which lasts from four to ten days, sitting on the back of the female and firmly clasping her with his forelegs. Goltz confirmed Spallanzani's observations and threw new light on the mechanism of the sexual instinct and the sexual act in the frog.

By removing various parts of the female frog Goltz found that every part of the female was attractive to the male at pairing time, and that he was not imposed on when parts of a male were substituted. By removing various of the sense-organs of the male Goltz4 further found that it was not by any special organ, but by the whole of his sensitive system, that this activity was set in action. If, however, the skin of the arms and of the breast between was removed, no embrace took place; so that the sexual sensations seemed to be exerted through this apparatus. When the testicles were removed the embrace still took place. It could scarcely be said that these observations demonstrated, or in any way indicated, that the sexual impulse is dependent on the need of evacuation.

Professor Tarchanoff, of St. Petersburg, however, made an experiment which seemed to be crucial. He took several hundred frogs (Rana temporaria), nearly all in the act of coitus, and in the first place repeated Goltz's experiments. He removed the heart; but this led to no direct or indirect stoppage of coitus, nor did removal of the lungs, parts of the liver, the spleen, the intestines, the stomach, or the kidneys. In the same way even careful removal of both testicles had no result. But on removing the seminal receptacles coitus was immediately or very shortly stopped, and not renewed. Thus, Tarchanoff concluded that in frogs, and possibly therefore in mammals, the seminal receptacles are the starting-point of the centripetal impulse which by reflex action sets in motion the complicated apparatus of sexual activity.5 A few years later the question was again taken up by Steinach, of Prague. Granting that Tarchanoff's experiments are reliable as regards the frog, Steinach points out that we may still ask whether in mammals the integrity of the seminal receptacles is bound up with the preservation of sexual excitability.

This cannot be taken for granted, nor can we assume that the seminal receptacles of the frog are homologous with the seminal vesicles of mammals. In order to test the question, Steinach chose the white rat, as possessing large seminal vesicles and a very developed sexual impulse. He found that removal of the seminal sacs led to no decrease in the intensity of the sexual impulse; the sexual act was still repeated with the same frequency and the same vigor. But these receptacles, Steinach proceeded to argue, do not really contain semen, but a special secretion of their own; they are anatomically quite unlike the seminal receptacles of the frog; so that no doubt is thus thrown on Tarchanoff's observations.

Steinach remarked, however, that one's faith is rather shaken by the fact that in the Esculenta, which in sexual life closely resembles Rana temporaria, there are no seminal receptacles. He therefore repeated Tarchanoff's experiments, and found that the seminal receptacles were empty before coitus, only becoming gradually filled during coitus; it could not, therefore, be argued that the sexual impulse started from the receptacles. He then extirpated the seminal receptacles, avoiding hemorrhage as far as possible, and found that, in the majority of cases so operated on, coitus still continued for from five to seven days, and in the minority for a longer time. He therefore concluded, with Goltz, that it is from the swollen testicles, not from the seminal receptacles, that the impulse first starts. Goltz himself pointed out that the fact that the removal of the testicles did not stop coitus by no means proves that it did not begin it, for, when the central nervous mechanism is once set in action, it can continue even when the exciting stimulus is removed. By extirpating the testicles some months before the sexual season he found that no coitus occurred. At the same time, even in these frogs, a certain degree of sexual inclination and a certain excitability of the embracing center still persisted, disappearing when the sexual epoch was over.

340+ pages - 8 x 6.5 inches SoftCover


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