New Sex Experiments And Discoveries For Improving Sexual Life
( Originally Published 1940 )
FOR some considerable time, the true significance of several small, functionally obscure organs in the human body has been a vexing question. Finally it was found that they contain important chemical constituents which they pour into the blood-circulation. These substances are of great importance for the body-metabolism.
It has been observed that after radical extirpation of such an organ as the thyroid gland for exophthalmic goitre, the patient begins to suffer from general trophic disturbances, such as puffiness of the skin, dry epidermis, slowing of all mental activities, which might go on to complete imbecility. These symptoms will at once abate if the patient is given small portions of the thyroid gland, e.g., that of the sheep, or thyroid extract. It was further noted that the same treatment proved effective in the case of patients suffering from the same symptoms, which had manifested themselves spontaneously, without any operation. A small portion of this organochemical substance acts as a stimulant to the tissue metabolism. It cures obesity, renders the epidermis lustrous, and even improves cretinism, whereas a larger dose acts as a heart-poison, which may be observed by the acceleration of the pulse-rate. As far as the sexual life is concerned, it may be added that, in a child in whom the thyroid gland is removed at an early period of its life, sexual maturity is retarded or prevented altogether.
At first it was believed that organs which furnished such extremely active substances, represented a new type of gland. As no efferent duct was found, their activity was referred to as "internal secretion," a term which is self-contradictory. But more and more such organs with active products were subsequently discovered, e.g., the thymus, the supra-renal bodies, the hypophysis (pituitary), etc.
The physiological effect of muscular tissue, especially of its extract, which acts as a stimulant and in excessive doses increases the pulse-rate, but is a cardiac poison, had been known for some time, as was the fat-reducing effect of the Banting cure.
Thus, it become increasingly clear that all living organs contain typical chemical substances as the metabolic products of their ordinary cell-life. These metabolic substances are passed into the circulation by means of the lymph. We should only use the term gland when we find the typical structure of a gland, especially when a duct is to be found which serves to convey the waste products towards either the external surface of the body or the internal surface of the alimentary canal. All other tissues and organs, not excluding the above mysterious ones, give up their waste products to the circulation by means of the lymphatic system.
Our normal health depends chemically on the neutral equilibrium of all those substances contained in the blood-stream either as food for the tissues or as their waste products. Organochemical therapy aims at adding those substances, of which in a given case there may be an insufficient quantity.
These considerations suggest a reason why, in the human body, all sorts of rudimentary organs which have long lost their significance, still persist, instead of having been eliminated. This is probably due to the fact that on account of their organochemical constituents, these organs are still of some value in the struggle for existence. Indeed, the recent study of organochemistry began with the consideration of these very organs.
It was also noticed that if the testicles or ovaries were removed, the patient became feeble and debilitated. Hence, the organochemical effect of these organs was also studied. Brawn-Sequard experimented with extracts of bull's testicles and met with some success. But far more definite results are obtained if, instead of administering extracts to the experimental animal, the living organs are implanted into it, e.g., into the muscles of the abdominal wall. Only by this procedure is a permanent effect likely to be obtained.
By experiments of this sort on animals, it has been proved that the organochemical substances derived from the testis or ovary are of paramount importance for the development of secondary sexual characters.
The evidence afforded by the experiments of Professor Eugen Steinach (of the Biological Institute in Vienna) on rats and guinea-pigs, is incontrovertible. When still very young, their own testes or ovaries were removed, i.e., they were castrated or sprayed. Then the reproductive masses of the opposite 'sex were implanted into their abdominal musculature. The reproductive elements of the implanted organs degenerated, but the other tissues proliferated.
So that later on, only that part of the graft which produces organochemical substances could function. If the grafts took successfully, the animals, though eunuchs, developed secondary sexual characteristics, not those, however, of their original sex, but of that of the implanted organs. The masculinized, originally female animals, acquired a more robust build, and attempted to tread normal females, etc. In the feminized, originally male animals, the nipples developed, they showed a feminine coyness, took the female part in coitus, etc. Indeed, feminized male rats even suckled one or two young ones with maternal tenderness!
Thus the presence of either testes or ovaries decides the development of the sexual characters, not only because of the production of egg-cells or sperm-cells, but also because of the specific organochemical substances which are poured by these organs into the circulation. These organochemical substances are responsible for the sexual stimulus by which our whole bodily development, and our psyche as well, is dominated. Especially these organochemical substances govern the appearance of one or other type of secondary sexual characters, as has been shown. Investigators have gone a step further and have inquired if they are not ultimately responsible for the appearance of the reproductive cells also, which is, after all, the most important point. Elsewhere too, new tissue-formation is often seen to be provoked by chemical stimuli, e.g., by toxins which are organochemical substances derived from bacteria and other micro-organisms.
We saw that organochemical substances derived from our own tissues might be active in the same way. We pointed out that if the thyroid gland is removed radically in childhood, sexual maturity will be retarded, or may be suppressed altogether. It cannot be doubted, after Steinach's experiments on animals, that the organic substances from testis and ovary have at least an equal influence in this direction.
This theory is corroborated by the fact that sexual maturity can be produced artificially at other periods of life, if one can succeed in starting the production of the respective organochemical substances.
Thus, Professor Steinach has succeeded in restoring fully the formation of reproductive cells in rats sterile from old age. He did this by artificially exciting the secretion of the respective organochemical substances. An obvious, though temporary, rejuvenation resulted. In male rats, the ligature and section of one sperm-duct was all that was needed. This caused the sperm-producing element in the corresponding testicle to atrophy, and the other element to hypertrophy. In female rats, however, implantation of a young ovary was necessary.
Such "rejuvenation treatment," as it is called, has been successful, though as yet only over a short period, in the treatment of impotence in men. It might possibly be also effective in curing frigidity in women.
These radical operations should, however, not be undertaken too lightly, for such a condition is sometimes Nature's method of ensuring mental repose.
Professor Steinach also succeeded in artificially producing a premature sexual maturity in very young animals. He was able to do this by any agency which would destroy the rudiments of the reproductive cells and cause proliferation of the other tissues. The following are such agencies: transplantation to some other site; X-radiation; heat; intoxication; and in males, ligature and section of both sperm-ducts. Unfortunately, if the reproductive masses are damaged on both sides, all formation of reproductive cells is henceforth impossible. I have not been able to ascertain whether this last experiment has been done unilaterally. If so, the premature sexual maturity might be accompanied by the production of reproductive cells. In this connection, the following case of a unilateral lesion, in which there occurred seminal nocturnal emissions in childhood, is very significant.
I refer to the case reported by Lacchi. This case was a boy, aged nine, four feet seven inches high, with beard, erections, sexual appetite and sexual emissions. The left testicle was amputated for carcinoma, and within four months every one of the above phenomena disappeared. This disappearance is significant as a control-test.
The appearance of sexual phenomena is thus a profound modification of normal vegetative growth. This modification manifests itself first as a change in the composition of the body-fluids, and later by a new cell-formation—two processes which are hardly separable. Similarly, it is the sap of the tree which causes its fruit to grow.
We do not know at present exactly how these organochemical substances determine the direction of sexual desire. Theoretically one might suppose that these specific substances exert specific influences on the brain-cells. But this may be regarded as rather speculative and does not help us much.
The following hypothesis appears to me more probable. It is as we have just seen an essential condition of life for all animal organisms that the different organochemical toxins should balance and if necessary neutralise each other. In a hermaphrodite animal the corresponding toxin of the gonads might easily fulfil this condition. But since division of the sexes has taken place (vide chapter 40) copulation may be regarded as a rather imperfect means to the same end. While the exchanges of juices in kissing and copulation is not very considerable, a mingling of cells does occur. In the process of fertilisation the cells concerned practically neutralise each other biochemically by chemiotaxis, so the next generation is for the time being undifferentiated. Thus from the very beginning only such individuals could properly procreate in whom this ancient impulse to find an antitoxin for its own toxin persisted unimpaired. Thus even today the toxin of the ovaries causes attraction towards the male, and the toxin of the testis an attraction towards the female, in the same way as during the consumption of food all plants and animals prefer those constituents of which they are at the moment in want(5); and thus both the mutual attraction of the reproductive cells and the mutual attraction of the two sexes may ultimately depend on organochemical chemiotaxis.
Possibly, however, hereditary influences are concerned in producing equal numbers of males and females, as the Mendelian theory would indicate. In his hybridisation experiments in his garden, Mendel crossed white beans of pure stock with dark beans of pure stock. Later, white sheep of pure stock and black sheep of pure stock were crossed, and so with all sorts of obvious characters. In man, hereditary characters like haemophilia and colour blindness were tested in the same way and statistics kept. In these experiments with plants and animals, hybrids resulted which were crossed again with each other in various combinations and generations. After many experiments Mendel could predict in what ratio in any particular case the characteristics in question would appear.
There are cases in which the respective characters are to be expected in equal numbers. Possibly there is some similar basis for the ratio of the two sexes.
5 Several other authors have frequently pointed out the analogy between the copulation-impulse and the food-impulse.
Appendix on Hermaphrodism
Besides the different types and gradations of hermaphrodism mentioned at the end of the previous chapter, we must refer to that kind of hermaphrodism which occurs if the organochemical substances of both sexes are produced in the same individual.
The possibility of this type of bisexuality cannot be denied, for such cases have been produced experimentally. On simultaneously grafting testes and ovaries into animals previously castrated, Steinach obtained a bisexual type, a kind of artificial hermaphrodite, showing alternate periods of male and female tendencies. On microscopic examination these were found to coincide with alternating proliferation of (1) interstitial tissue of the testes and (2) of the tissues surrounding the egg-rudiments of the ovary. On the other hand, Kunt Sand found both tendencies occurring simultaneously in such experiments.
This hermaphroditic experiment is of special importance for the comprehension of sexual differentiation, because it brings us considerably nearer the solution of a difficult question. Men are known to exist who feel no sexual attraction towards women but rather a pronounced sexual craving towards men, i.e., towards their own sex, for which reason they are called homosexual. Similarly, there are homosexual women who are only attracted towards women. Since we know through Steinach's experiments that sexual attraction towards one or other of the sexes is largely determined by the presence of organochemical substances derived from either testis or ovary, the inference was drawn that such an individual peculiarity whenever it is congenital, is to be imputed to the presence of the wrong organochemical substances. A man need not possess an ovary, nor a woman a testis; it would be sufficient if the testis contained ovarian tissues and vice versa.
Steinach's above-mentioned experiment teaches that cases with such a hybrid gonad may be produced artificially, and at the end of the previous chapter we found that such hybrid cases occur naturally. Further observations at post-mortems and possibly during operations will have to elucidate how many cases of homosexuality are due to such hybrid gonads.
In the meantime these discoveries have already produced signal results. During the summer of 1916, Dr. Lichtenstern is said to have succeeded in rendering a pronouncedly homosexual man pronouncedly heterosexual, at the patient's own request by bilateral castration and subsequent implantation of a normal testicle which was removed from another patient on account of cryptoschism (imperfect descent). The transformed homosexual has subsequently contracted a happy, though sterile, marriage.
Even should this type of operation prove successful, the majority of homosexual individuals will probably hesitate to have it performed on them. They are not unhappy on account of their peculiarity, but rather on account of our prejudices. It is we who are diseased and in need of cure. We must accept the fact that Nature has not endowed all people with the same sexual desires. Even the separation of the sexes is not absolute.