The Doctor Looks at Love and Life, Joseph Collins, Garden City Publishing Co., Inc. 1926.
The "life" part actually takes up about two-thirds of this book, and is
of no interest here, unless you want to know that the majority of people
in the 1920's were also sheep, the evidence being that a man who wore
spats outside the city would "receive disapprobation as heartfelt as it is
manifest." Not to mention the fate that would be befall a person who
dared to wear a straw hat after September 15, no matter how hot it is. P.
112. On the subject of love, however, the doctor has some extremely
contradictory views. That is to the extent that one can figure out what
he is talking about at all. For a doctor, he seems to be completely
unaware of, or unable to bring himself to use, many well-known medical
terms for the things that he is talking about, with the result that it
really is not clear, at least to the modern reader, what those are. He
also has a writing style that approaches the bizarre, as when he says "The
day of concuspiscent cantharides has passed, and the 'likorous moths'
which Chaucer maintains have such definite entailment have been dried by
law, but the day of the
The inherent conflicts in his positions also do not make it any easier to get his point.
He would have every nation have a vote on whether people who are not married should be continent. He would limit the voters to those between the ages of 25 and 50 because: "Before the first named age they are too inexperienced to have sound judgment, and after the latter period they are too warped by their regrets." He seems certain that the result of this vote would not be for continence, and that, as a result, prostitution would disappear, though Libertines, decadents, drunkards and dope fiends ... would continue to bring sexuality into disrepute." P. 62. He also says that "It is a lie to teach that procreation or any step of it is a sin - a cowardly malicious lie." P.21. But each of these statements is followed by statements about how it is best that the persons having children be married and the marvels that could be achieved for society if everyone had monogamous relationships.
He has similar inconsistencies when it comes to masturbation. He refers to it as a natural form of release, and decries the misinformation spread about it and the supposed harms it causes, yet he considers it fortunate that most do not continue the habit long and seems to regard it as problematic in adults, for reasons that he does not explain. "Nature has provided mankind with sex safety valves. They are adequate if too much strain is not put upon them. It is wholly beyond belief that nature intended that they should last very long; probably until the sex dynamo develops its full capacity." P.18 "With those who find and use the substitute I have had much to do. Many of them are of the salt of the earth, modest, senstitive, temperamental, talented, often overburdened with emotional awareness and penetration. They are entitled to our counsel and our guidance. Practically all men and a considerable proportion of women strive for and obtain some form of appeasement. Fortunately, in the majority the indulgence is moderate and the period of addiction comparatively brief. Sex enlightenment has already accomplished a great deal in this field. ... The terrorizing admonitions of well-meaning but ill-advised and misinformed parents and teachers, and the ghastly literature that worms its way into the hands of school-boys and young men, which alleges, by word and picture, that physical decay and mental agony flow from such practices, are far more injurious to mind and body than the indulgence itself. Onanism of any variety does not make an invalid or misfit of its practitioner. The shame it engenders, the fear that parents and physicians thrust upon him tend to do so." P.19
It is with respect to homosexuality, however, that the conflicts become
the most pronounced. He says that most homosexuals are not degenerates
and that their love is not pathological in nature. P. 65. But he also
refers to them as "deviates who will one day disappear from the world when
we shall have guessed the last riddle of the sympathetic nervous system
and the ductless glands. P. 66 And continues "There are many persons who
indulge in unnatural sexual relations who are not homosexuals. They are
the real degenerates. There are many potential and actual homosexuals
whose intercourse with persons of their own sex is confined to emotional
and intellectual contact, to establishing romantic friendships with them
and seeking relief from
Some of these conflicts may result from an attempt to make palatable some rather unconventional statements. However, other things he says are enough to get him run out of town, and he doesn't seem to have any conflicts about them at all. For example, he is no fan of Christianity, saying that "Sin and hypocrisy undoubtedly existed before Christianity but Christianity has nurtured them in unnatural requisitions." P. 60. Also, he says "When God's masterpieces became sentient He blessed them and assured them of the plenitude of the earth and admonished them to subdue it. His injunction was that they be fruitful and multiply; that they direct, coordinate, and display the energy with which He had endowed them. They made a mess of it and their descendants have done worse. The instruments that they have used to accomplish the jumble are religion, convention, expediency." P. 15. And, "Religion, convention and expediency say it matters not how [procreative capacity] comes, or how much comes; it is to be handled in the same way. They say so but nature says no; and the result is divided into three classes: antinomians who are in the vast majority; conformers; and cripples whose immobilities have resulted from fear engendered by threats of punishment by God, state and society should they transgress, and whose exhaustion is the result of battling with their most godlike possession."
He also has some relatively radical ideas about women. Besides noting
that "Women's resentment against being looked upon and treated as property
is frequently displayed in frigidity," P. 36, he feels that freedom for
women will lead to some amzing changes: "No one can foresee the result of
women's economic independence, of her use of the ballot. ... It will not
be woman's lack of modesty or morality, nor her instinctive or acquired
possessions that will work the change. It will be wrought by her position
of absolute equality with man. Woman may be a different creature from
what we have believed. She may be just like a man in every respect save
that she produces ova instead of spermatazoa, evolutes more slowly, and
has less energy. Should this prove to be the case, sexual incompatibility
will be a rare occurrence. The marriage game will be played fair, love
will replace sentiment, reality artifice, and respect flattery. There
will be a new sex morality uniform for men and women, and human beings
will not be ashamed of their most glorious possession." P. 44-45. (I'm
still waiting). In the meantime, he views traditional marriage as slavery
for women, but continues: "Truth, however, compels me to say
parenthetically that woman apparently likes to be a slave. All one has to
do to be convinced of it is to watch her in her everyday life and in the
conduct of her affairs. As soom as she is old enough and has the
opportunity to say 'yes' she becomes man's slave. Her slavery may weigh
upon her if she discovers too late that she has made a mistake. But the
moment she frees herself from it, either willingly or by a happy stroke of
circumstances, she goes in for slavery again: usually to a man, often to
He makes other good points. He says that "One of the delusions from which man cannot free himself is that there is a close relationship between pulchritude and passion. In truth, they are seldom to be met in the same person. Passion may or may not be a compensation for plainness, but it is far more likely to be the possession of one whose surfaces are flat rather than round, whose features war with one another rather than harmonize, whose lure is charm rather than grace."
And "Jealousy in reality is a part of the ego urge; that is why it is so difficult to eradicate. But it is marvellous that we make such small effort to minimize its potency or shape its course. ...We try to infuse into them sentiments of altruism, of courage, of generosity -- in short, all the unhuman but humane impulses, but we do little or nothing toward teaching our youths that jealousy is more likely to cause misery to themselves and others than almost any other component of their emotional makeup." P. 48.
And there is this little mix of wisdom, and stereotype: "Procreative capacity comes to living creatures after a definite period of existence; to mankind it comes after about fourteen years of life. To some it comes like a hurricane; to others like a warm wind in spring. It steals upon some like a thief in the night; it affronts others like an armed highwayman in full day. To some it does not come at all. To the male it seems to come far more blusteringly than to the female. This may be an entailment of her long bondage, an artefact of her artificial life. Its onset and early display, in women especially, varies with the nation and the race. It is widely held that Latin races are more easily upset by it than Anglo-Saxon. It is my experience that the reverse is true." P. 15-16.
And finally, this bit of hyperbole: "Young men and women must be made to understand that that which they call love is transitory and that the only way to give it the simulcrum of permanency is to transmute it into sympathy, respect and affection. Conjugality is the master transmuter; community of interest is the material to use. Sexual intercourse is not a matter incidental to matrimony as many young people believe; it is the keystone of the matrimonial arch. It is not the servant of parentage only; it is the heralder of pleasure, the messenger of profit. It adds luster to the hair, softness to the skin, appeasement to the emotions, depth to the understanding and breadth to the soul. By harmonizing the activity of the ductless glands it invigorates the body and gives energy to the mind."