SEMINAL LOSSES (SPERMATORRHCEA).—Involuntary discharges of semen, unaccompanied by sexual excitement. Such emissions should by no means be looked upon as signs of disease. On the contrary, involuntary discharges of seminal fluid, occurring at intervals of one or two weeks, must be considered a normal process in healthy young men. During the first years of beginning puberty the night dreams recur at intervals of three to six weeks ; but with the completion of sexual development their frequency increases, and it must not be considered a morbid symptom if the discharges of seminal fluid finally occur every two weeks, or even every week. Personal predis position, mode of living, occupation, and state of nutrition are important factors in this respect.
There is not the slightest reason to advise young men, who occasionally may become worried about the nightly emissions, to have sexual intercourse. Such discharges will not cause a young man to feel weak or morbidly irritated ; but, on the contrary, he will feel refreshed, brisk, and strong. One should look upon this discharge of semen as a very natural outflow of an excessive and unused secretion of the testicles, a process which will in no manner be followed by disturbances. It appears especially necessary to emphasise the fact that the seminal fluid does not contain any " nerve-substance," the loss of which would be of special significance to the spinal cord and be apt to cause locomotor ataxia. This is a widespread but absolutely erroneous belief.
Under certain conditions, however, seminal emissions may take place several nights in succession, or even several times during one night. This is especially the case in young men who early began to have sexual inter course, or who practise it to excess. Excessive masturbation, nervousness, and abnormal irritability are likewise factors in causing frequent seminal discharges. The effect of such a condition is to cause a disagreeable relaxation ; and the elasticity of the mind suffers. In such cases morbid
processes are at work, the judging of which is a matter for professional advice, as this abnormal condition is often the result of local affections which require medical treatment. Such patients cannot be too emphati cally cautioned against reading so-called popular writings, as well as the pamphlets distributed by certain practitioners. Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous physicians who make it their business to take the most impudent adVantage of unfortunate persons who, with or without any fault of their own, suffer from this disorder. Such physicians depict the great dangers of the condition (impotence, loss of manhood, etc.) in the most fantastic manner, and ruin their victims morally. One should be most emphatically cautioned against entering into correspondence with persons of this class. The vastly exaggerated descriptions of the dangers of the existing morbid condition have caused many promising young men to commit suicide in despair.
A practical cure in all these cases can result only from conscientious psychic—medicinal or non-medicinal—treatment by a physician. The selection of the proper method of treatment can be made only after a careful study of the prevailing affection ; and any form of self-instruction from popular or medical publications is dangerous. Such subjects of reading will but too frequently cause the patients to conceive hypochondriac hal lucinations, and to fall victims to sexual neurasthenia, a widespread condition. On the other hand, there can be no doubt that treatment by an experienced physician will, in most cases, effect recovery, without impairing the sexual functions of the affected individual. Much as physicians arc convinced of the deleterious effect of excessive masturbation upon the physical and mental health of the young, it rarely happens that perma nent and incurable harm results therefrom. Such severe disturbances are due either to an inherited or acquired predisposition, or to circumstances.