1861: Masturbators lick walls and eat pencils, says Dr Jackson

James C. Jackson (1811-95) was a New England journalist who, in middle age, abandoned writing to train as a doctor. He became a prolific writer and an advocate for vegetarian diets. In 1863, Jackson invented a coarse breakfast cereal called ‘granula’. A forerunner to granola, it was designed to replace red meat consumption and therefore reduce “animal lusts”.

Like his fellow food reformers Sylvester Graham and John Harvey Kellogg, Jackson was obsessed with curtailing masturbation. In an 1861 book about sexual health and reproduction, Jackson advised parents and guardians to be ever vigilant for signs their offspring might be indulging in “furtive nocturnal activities”.

Jackson also offered several tips for spotting the regular masturbator, including changes in behaviour, loss of memory, poor posture and an irregular walk:

“A masturbating girl who is past the age of puberty may be known by her gait… Their style of motion may be characterised as a wiggle rather than a walk… Were I a young man, I should always at the outset be suspicious [of a woman] if, when I saw her walk, she should exhibit this peculiar wiggle.”

One of the most visible signs of a masturbating teenager, according to Jackson, is unusual or bizarre eating habits. Self polluters are “exceedingly capricious in their appetites” and “not satisfied with any food unless it is richly seasoned or highly flavoured”. They can sometimes be found in the kitchen gulping down spoonfuls of spices like cloves, cinnamon and mace. Jackson also cited cases of masturbators who could not resist eating “lumps of salt”, licking “lime off the wall” or chewing up “slate pencils”.

Source: James C. Jackson, The Sexual Organism, 1861. Content on this page is © Alpha History 2019-23. Content may not be republished without our express permission. For more information please refer to our Terms of Use or contact Alpha History.