Masturbation Message Nonsense From My Childhood Part Two

Where did Ellen White get her ideas about masturbation. Well one of the people was Sylvester Graham developer of the cracker that bears his name and John Harvey Kellogg, brother of the cereal company founder. Both had a dim view of masturbation as this excerpt from a no longer available but excellent article, Porn Flakes by Carrie McLaren , describes

As a rule, there’s often more to folk wisdom than bad science, and so it is with myths about masturbation and other aspects of sexuality. In America, a peculiar flowering of these myths took place in the 19th century. Though the predictable culprits — Victorian prudery, evangelical Christianity, entrepreneuriallism — are part of the picture, what’s less known is the the myths’ century-old relationship with whole-grain foodstuffs. Thanks to certain influential health advocates, sex and diet were inexorably linked, and, for both, healthy meant bland.

The souvenirs of these efforts with us today are only ironic footnotes on the graves of two crusaders: Sylvester Graham, immortalized not for his sexual and nutritional reform but for the sugared brown crackers used in pie crust. And John Harvey Kellogg, a flaked-food believer eclipsed by his brother’s breakfast cereal dynasty.


“All kinds of stimulating and heating substances; high-seasoned food; rich dishes; the free use of flesh; and even the excess of aliment; all, more or less — and some to a very great degree — increase the concupiscent excitability and sensibility of the genital organs…” — Sylvester Graham

Carrie McLaren first looks at Sylvester Graham…

A free thinker, Sylvester Graham (1794-1851) lashed out against white bread, feather beds, pork, tobacco, salt, condiments, tight corsets, nocturnal emissions, heavy clothing, and hot mince pie. His specialties, though, were masturbation and poor eating habits. Graham was by no means the first to decry the debilitating effects of masturbation; Judeo-Christian tradition has long considered it an evil, a barrier to the natural function of sexuality — reproduction. But Graham’s approach was different, focussing on health rather than morality


Before 1700, medical references to the harmful effects of masturbation were scarce. In the eighteenth century, two works–Ononia: Or the Heinous Sin of Self-Pollution, and all its Frightful Consequences… (by an anonymous author) and Samual Tissot’s Treatise on the Diseases Produced by Onanism–introduced concepts that Graham adopted and help popularize (for example, Tissot’s idea that loss of semen under any condition made one sick). Graham’s Lecture to Young Men (1834) was the first of its kind and launched a whole genre of medical tracts on masturbation, known then as “self abuse” or “self pollution.”Graham knew his audience. With his solid grasp of rhetorical devices, he made claims no one could disprove–or rather, would disprove. Though people often disagreed on the particular causes of masturbation, most believed the symptoms were easy to recognize–victims were usually shy, suspicious, languid, unconcerned with hygiene, jaundiced. Graham used this to his advantage; in fact, he found most any health problem could be tied to masturbation. Only first-hand experience (yuk yuk) could disprove his claims and Graham came prepared to beat down any challengers with flamboyant, over-the-top gore. According to Graham, a masturbator grows up “with a body full of disease, and with a mind in ruins, the loathsome habit still tyrannizing over him, with the inexorable imperiousness of a fiend of darkness.”

The cause of acne in incriminating teens is revealed, and the result: “ulcerous sores, in some cases, break out upon the head, breast, back and thighs; and these sometimes enlarge into permanent fistulas, of a cancerous character, and continue, perhaps for years, to discharge great quantities of foetid, loathsome pus; and not unfrequently terminate in death.”


“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…In females, the author has found the application of pure carbolic acid to the clitoris an excellent means of allaying the abnormal excitement. ” — Dr. John Harvey Kellogg

After the look at Graham, Carrie McLaren turns her attention to John Harvey Kellogg, who in addition to dabbling in corn flakes with his famous brother had a sanitarium, a sort of Victorian era spa. He had very extreme views as the quote above illustrates. But there’s more talking about his sanitarium, Carrie writes …

No chronic masturbators were admitted either. Kellogg echoed Graham’s doom-and-gloom views on the matter and even added to them. On the night of his honeymoon (more on this in a moment), he spent his time writing Plain Facts for Old and Young, a warning on the evils of sex. Of the 644 pages, 97 address “Secret Vice (Solitary Vice or Self-Ab use),” its symptoms and results. Included are 39 signs indicating someone is jacking off; a list comprehensive enough to indict everyone vaguely human: #7. Sleeplessnes, #11. Love of solitude, #12. Bashfulness and #13. Unnatural boldness, #14. Confusion of ideas, #24. Capricious appetite, #28. Use of tobacco, #30. Acne.


Such was Dr. Kellogg’s power play: in rejecting known masturbators from the hospital, he avoided acknowledging there was no real cure. Yet his theories gave him an outlet from poor slobs the hospital diet couldn’t help. Dr. Kellogg could diagnose them as masturbators and thus pass responsibility for the problem onto the patient. If the illness persisted, that was proof of secret vice, or that the problem was long-term or irreversible. Dr. Kellogg was never wrong. In fact, he made an issue of abstaining from all sexual relations himself, supposedly to prove that sex was not necessary to health. Though he married Ella Eaton, their marriage was never consummated and they lived in separate apartments.

It’s quite likely, though, that the doctor was in some way dysfunctional (one book suggests he had mumps). After breakfast every morning, he had an orderly give him an enema. This may mean he had klismaphilia, an anomaly of sexual functioning traceable to childhood in which an enema substitutes for regular sexual intercourse. For the klismaphile, putting the penis in the vagina is experienced as hard, dangerous, and repulsive work.

So, my paranoia and fear of masturbation, and that of my friends, was brought on by an alleged prophetess passing off the ravings of Victorian zealots as divine inspiration. Makes me want to scream!

Thankfully a college student, from my future alma mater, participating at a “week of prayer” event at my academy, (high school), basically summarized some of the information in this post and kindly told me not to worry. He was very cute and my newly functioning gaydar was singing. Unfortunately I never saw him again but I will be forever in his debt.

Here’s another brief article about John Harvey Kellogg’s obsession with masturbation.

Road To Wellville Trailer

Road To Wellville, Complete Movie

The Road to Wellville is a 1994 American comedy-drama film adaptation of T. Coraghessan Boyle’s novel of the same name, which tells the story of the doctor and clean-living advocate John Harvey Kellogg COPYRIGHT DISCLAIMER: I do not own the copyright to this movie. All material belongs to their respective owners. No copyright infringement intended.

A madcap portrayal of William Lightbody’s stay at the health farm run by cereal king Dr. John Harvey Kellogg. William’s wife, Eleanor, has persuaded him to go to Kellogg to have his system cleaned of impurities. Kellogg is very unconventional, and almost barbaric in his treatments. Anthony Hopkins …… Dr. John Harvey Kellogg
Bridget Fonda ………. Eleanor Lightbody
Matthew Broderick … William Lightbody
John Cusack ……….. Charles Ossining
Dana Carvey …… ….. George Kellogg


About Fairy JerBear

A disabled, trans/agender fairy bear living in the American Southwest and passionate about social justice, the environment, Trans/ LGBTQIA+ equality and combating bullying.
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2 Responses to Masturbation Message Nonsense From My Childhood Part Two

  1. Reblogged this on Fairy JerBear's Queer/Trans Musings From The City Different – Santa Fe, NM and commented:

    The second part of this revelatory series on how repressive messages about sexuality negatively affected my youth…


  2. Pingback: Masturbation Message Nonsense From My Childhood Part One | JerBear's Queer World News, Views & More From The City Different – Santa Fe, NM

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