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Masturbation drains the body of its living forces

Michael Rees belatedly reviews The Doctor Says, a booklet from 1942 by Dr Stewart MacColl

The Dr Says for Web“Life has been aptly described as a battle; it is, therefore, vital to know our enemies, and to be prepared to face them squarely when they attack. However mankind differs in other respects we have this in common – we are all tempted, and the master temptation is the direction of impurity.”

The Doctor Says is a 1942 sexual health booklet educating young men about how to deal with life’s temptations. The foreword itself is a marvel. Written by Lieutenant C. Bjelke-Peterson (uncle of renowned crypto-fascist Joh), it praises the book’s author Dr MacColl for his “fight against one of the most treacherous and destructive enemies of our society – sex impurity”. Bjelke-Petersen knows these vices well.

With over 40 years of experience as a “physical culturalist” (whatever that is), he recalls many young men who had “squandered” the fortune of the “Bank of Vitality” through “impure” acts.

Impurity is the subject of MacColl’s extensive pamphlet. The Doctor Says begins with the observation that the “blackest pages in history” and the “vilest degradations from which human life has ever suffered” are “connected with sex”.  He warns that, if we are not vigilant, temptation will make a “shipwreck of our lives”.

It is an astounding claim, but one that MacColl is easily able to substantiate. He explains that the “master temptation”, impurity, emerges when a young man “becomes conscious of the presence of his organs of reproduction”.

First, this feeds his desire to “abuse himself” by “draining the body of its living forces”. Unable to evidence his claim that masturbation is verifiably “injurious”, MacColl suggests that it results in “impaired memory” and “loss in the power of concentration”.

Even worse, it erodes one’s “strength of soul”. The second (and ‘more dangerous’) development, is the urge to have sexual intercourse. Rest assured that, “whatever the character of the women may be” (remember, homosexuality hadn’t been invented yet), “the consequences are disastrous”.

After the “unclean touch” of sexual intercourse outside of marriage, MacColl claims that, in his medical experience, “80 per cent” of people contract venereal disease. The abstinent, however, “excel in physical and mental energy, and have come to the fore in life’s struggle”.

Fear not. MacColl offers simple solutions to “reducing temptation” and avoiding “sin’s deceptive art”. Some of them appear obvious to the modern reader. It is now common knowledge that “statues of naked and half-naked figures” and “novels and newspapers of the ‘spicy’ brand” induce temptation. Additionally, one might avoid “the company of those who delight in telling filthy yarns and details of their own immoral practices”.

Regardless of your preferred solution to the master temptation of impurity, I’m sure that you’d agree that Dr MacColl sounds like a real wanker.

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