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she has long hours of wakefulness,
she then sees clearly the encroachment
on her own health in an arrangement
in which she is not merely passive, but is actively abused.
He giveth His Beloved Sleep
The healing magic of sleep is known to all. Sleeplessness
is a punishment for so many different violations of nature's laws, that
it is perhaps one of the most prevalent of humanity s innumerable sufferings.
We see this very clearly in ordinary healthy man.
Then, when the propitious hour arrives, and after
the love- play, the growing passion expands, until the transports of feeling
find their ending in the explosive completion of the act, at once the tension
of his whole system relaxes, and his muscles fall into gentle, easy attitudes
of languorous content, and in a few moments the man is sleeping like a
How fare women in this event? When they too have had complete satisfaction they similarly relax and slumber.
But as things are today it is scarcely an exaggeration to say that the majority of wives are left wakeful and nerve-racked to watch with tender motherly brooding, or with bitter and jealous envy, the slumbers of the men who, through ignorance and carelessness, have neglected to see that they too had the necessary resolution of nervous tension.
Many married women have told me that after they have had relations with their husbands they are restless, either for some hours or for the whole night; and I feel sure that the prevalent failure on the part of many men to effect orgasms for their wives at each congress, must be a very common source of the sleeplessness and nervous diseases of so many married women.
The relation between the completion of the sex
act and sleep in woman is well indicated in the case of Mrs A., who is
typical of a large class of wives.
After her husband s death her health improved,
and in a year or two she entered into a new relation with a man who was
aware of women s needs and spent sufficient time and attention to them
to ensure a successful completion for her as well as for himself.
Sleep is so complex a process, and sleeplessness
the resultant of so many different maladjustments, that it is, of course,
possible that the woman may sleep well enough, even if she be deprived
of the relief and pleasure of perfect union.
From their published statements, and their admissions
to me, it appears that many practicing doctors are either almost unaware
of the very existence of orgasm in women, or look upon it as a superfluous
and accidental phenomenon.
As this book is written for those who are married,
I say nothing here about the lives of those who are still unmarried, though,
particularly after the age of thirty has been reached, they may be very
difficult and need much study and consideration.
Yet for the unmarried woman the lack is not so
acute nor so localized as it is for the married woman who is thwarted in
the natural completion of her sex-functions after they have been directly
The married woman, however, is not only diffusely
stirred by the presence of the man she loves, but is also acutely locally
and physically by his relation with her.
When a wife is left sleepless through the neglect
of the mate who slumbers healthily by her side, it is not surprising if
she spends the long hours reviewing their mutual position; and the review
cannot yield her much pleasure or satisfaction.
Another of the consequences of the incomplete
relation is that often, stirred to a point of wakefulness and vivacity
by the preliminary sex- stimulation (of the full meaning of which she may
be unconscious), a romantic and thoughtful woman is then most able to talk
intimately and tenderly to speak of the things most near and sacred to
These thoughts are so depressing even to the tenderest
and most loving woman, and so biter to one who has other causes of complaint,
that in their turn they act on the whole system and increase the damage
done by the mere sleeplessness.
It requires little imagination to see that after
months or years of such embittered sleeplessness, the woman tends not only
to become neurasthenic but also resentful towards her husband.
He, with his health maintained by the natural
outlet followed by recuperative sleep, is not likely to be ready to look
into the gloomy and shadowy land of vague reproach and inexplicable trivial
wrongs which are all the expression she gives to her unformulated physical
If he is, as many men are, tender and considerate,
he may try to remedy matters by restricting to the extreme limit of what
is absolutely necessary for him, the number of times they come together.
To make plain the reasonableness of my view regarding sleep, it is necessary to mention some of the immensely profound influences which it is now known that sex exerts, even when not stimulated to its specific use.
In those who deprived of their sex-organs, particularly
when young, many of the other features and organs of the body develop abnormally
or fail to appear.
The growth of organs and structures so remote
from the sex-organs, as, e.g., the larynx, have been found to be influenced
by the chemical stimulus of secretions from the sex-organs and their subsidiary
The idea that some particular secretions or "humours"
are connected with each of the internal organs of the body, is a very ancient
one; but we have even yet only the vaguest and most elementary knowledge
of a few of the many miracles performed by these subtle chemical substances.
But we do not know, for physiologists have nor yet studied the degree and character of the immense stimulus of sex-life and experience on the glands of the sex-organs, or how they affect the whole of the human being's life and powers.
The "Mendelians" and the "Mutationists,"
who both tend to lay so much (and I think such undue) stress on morphological
hereditary factors, seem at present to have the ear of the public more
than the physiologists.
It is therefore clear that any influences exerted
on such profoundly important organs as those connected with sex must have
far-reaching results in many unexpected fields.
It is true that in coitus woman has but a slight
external secretion, and that principally of mucus.
Is it conceivable that organs so fundamentally
placed, and whose mere existence we know affects the personal characters
of women, could escape physiological result from the intense preliminary
stimulus and acute sensations of an orgasm?
This subject, and its numerous ramifications,
are well worth the careful research of the most highly trained physiologists.
I may point out as a mere suggestion that the
man's sex-organs give rise to external and also to internal secretions.
In women we know there are corresponding perpetual internal secretions, and it seems evident to me that there must be some internal secretions which are only released under the definite stimulus of the whole sex-act.
The English and American peoples, who lead the world in so many ways, have an almost unprecedentedly high proportion of married women who get no satisfaction from physical union with their husbands, though they bear children, and may in every other respect appear to be happily married.
The modern civilized neurotic woman has become
a by-word in the Western world.
I am certain that much of this suffering is caused by the ignorance of both men and women regarding not only the inner physiology, but even the obvious outward expression, of the complete sex-act.
Many medical men now recognize that numerous nervous
and other diseases are associated with the lack of physiological relief
for natural or stimulated sex feelings in women.
Sleep, concerning which I began this chapter, is but one of innumerable indications of inner processes intimately bound up with the sex-reactions.
When the sex-rite is, in every sense, rightly
performed, the healing wings of sleep descend both on the man and on the
woman in his arms.
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