MASTOID, DISEASES OF.-1n acute or chronic suppurative inflamma tions of the middle ear (" running from the ear ''), the suppuration may extend to the mastoid process, a conical prominence of the temporal bone situated behind the car (see p. 121 and Fig. 28), and fill its cells \vith pus. In some cases a fistula forms behind the ear or in the auditory canal, so that the pus finds an outlet ; hut in other cases it becomes necessary to open the bone in order to avoid involvement of the brain. Fatal suppurative inflammation of the brain or of the meninges may result from suppuration in the mastoid process. .\ timely operation, however, usually averts this danger. Inflammation of the mastoid is characterised by pain in the bone and by swellings behind the ear. When these conditions are present, no time should be lost in consulting a physician.
MASTURBATION.—Onanism, or masturbation. is the procedure by which a discharge of semen is brought about without sexual intercourse. In the female even a simple irritation of the sexual organs must be thus designated. Masturbation (playing with and irritating the genitals) is frcquenl1y found among children of both sexes, although, of course, \ vi thou t the discharge of semen. Vile-minded nurses sometimes endeavour to quiet crying children in this manner. Mothers should know this, and strictly watch the persons attending to their children, so as to avoid dangerous consequences.
Onanistic tendencies often manifest themselves even in very small children. Nvho get into the habit of rubbing their legs together, etc. Itching irritations, uncleanliness, intestinal worms, etc., are not infrequently causative factors. In schools and other educational institutions masturbation often spreads by mutual seduction, and such places are often actually infected with onanism.
Many a boy and girl develops during this period a \veakness of the sexual organs which may remain for life.
In many cases masturbation ceases when the child becomes old enough to use its reasoning powers ; and in such instances it may have caused no permanent harm. But more often it is continued even after marriage, or taken up again later on. Naturally, this habit is detrimental to the nervous system. Masturbation is harmful if practised too frequently or for too long a time. These cases are usually due to hereditary or acquired ten dencies, to nervous debility, or mental affections. It is incorrect to teach that ordinary onanism causes mental disorders or diseases of the spinal cord. The inverse, rather, is true. Long-continued onanism proves that the affected person possesses an abnormal nervous system ; that he is not merely a sinner, but a deplorable patient.
Special caution should be raised against unscrupulous publications in which the " vice of youthful errors " is depicted as the cause of countless diseases. This is absolutely untrue. Such publications purport to frighten the already despairing patients, in order to make them apply for treatment to the authors of these books, who derive their illicit profits from such con demnable practices.
When masturbation is continued for years, it will eventually lead to a weakness of the sexual organs, causing impotence, spermatorrhcea, or, in most instances, a secretion of mucus from the prostrate gland. See SEMINAL