Experts have been unable to understand the origin of the practice of routine male circumcision. Most of the literature shows no awareness of phimosis - its frequency - or the sexual and erectile problems which can be cured by circumcision. If routine circumcision had been introduced for this most obvious reason of eliminating difficult foreskins; then the importance of an alternative modern method, suitable to our culture's attitudes in this day and age, would be clear.

"Die Beschneidung bei Mann und Weib"

Gustav Feller. New Brandenburg. (1931)

"Circumcision in Man and Woman"
translated: David Berger MA

American Ethnological Press New York (1934)
AMS Press (1974)
extracts from p. 92 - 207
revised: R. Stuart

Full Index
Part Four
Page 181-217
p. 181
p. 188
p. 188
p. 196
p. 198
p. 200
p. 203
p. 206
p. 208
p. 209
p. 210
p. 216
Bryk`s explanation (duration of intercourse)
Evolution... Denudation. modes of thinking
emphasis of glans
Bryk - Denudation customs
Chemical denuadation
The Foreskin Complex
Function of the foreskin
Potency in old age
Chinese piercing blood treatment
S. 155
S. 161
S. 161
S. 167
S. 169
S. 171
S. 174
S. 177
S. 179
S. 180
S. 180
S. 185

p. 181

Thus, now comes lastly, my explanation which will describe motives of a psychological as well as imitative nature. It was implied in Neger-Eros (1) however no proof was offered. This will now be corrected.

1) F. Bryk, Voodoo-Eros, 1928 (p. 122 (footnote) and pp. 55-57).

Regarding the statement that Africans being true natural peoples and observing the genitals of animals in detail, I mentioned in a footnote (I, p. 122) "Especially domestic animals. These observations particularly concerning the erection of the stallion, bull etc.,would have given the impetus to cut back the prepuce.

On the reason for circumcision I said (Bryk, p. 55): "It seems to me, rather, that the fundamental reason for circumcision can easily be inferred from the nature of sexuality.

"Man strives to make the often troublesome act of intercourse as comfortable as possible; and it cannot be denied that the foreskin is often a painful hindrance, becoming strangulated after the entrance of the glans and making the act difficult, or, in case the prepuce does not leave the glans free, hastening the ejaculatio seminis. What could be simpler than to do away with this hindrance, especially since an additional mark of beauty was thus attained for maturity.

Of secondary importance were the several months of

p. 182

prolongued convalescence following this, during which the youth, now marked as a man, could find opportunity in the absence of schools, to be initiated by his master into all the mysteries of life.

The question which was now facing Bryk (referring to himself) was clearly formulated by Merker (1), concerning the function of the foreskin during copulation, in other words, what effect circumcision has on the retardation of ejaculation.

1) This explanation was overlooked by all authors probably because the first edition of his work, which is the one always quoted, does not contain it, the second not being examined for this purpose. By chance I came across the second edition and was amazed at the congruence of our ideas.

Merker writes (p. 331) "According to what we have seen, the circumcision of boys seems to have its origin in the view that it increases the procreative ability of the man. ... This view is based on the experience that a man with his penis circumcised cohabits longer and excites the woman more. A man with his penis uncircumcised ejaculates his semen sooner during coitus, sometimes too soon, before the woman has reached the climax of sexual pleasure. When the penis is circumcised, the seminal ejaculation is retarded and coincides with the climax of sexual pleasure, which is most favorable toward effecting conception.

"This leads us to the assumption that the law-giver who introduced circumcision did it with the purpose of favoring conception and thus increasing the number of births, i.e. the birth rate. Circumcision became a preparation for marriage and accordingly is still performed among the Massai-, as among other primitive peoples, not until the inception of puberty. Later it became for both Israelites and Massai a tribal sign and as such was shifted among the former to earliest youth".

Merker doubts the advantage of cleanliness (II, p. 332): "for among the sparsely clad primitive peoples the part in question is much more exposed to the effects of dust, etc., and to injury by thorns, prickly leaves, flowers and grasses, than it would be otherwise".

p. 183

Friederici and Fehlinger also support the same view, which is summed up by van de Velde (p. 186): "The black youths who meet on the plantations discuss these things among themselves and know that those among them who are circumcised have a much less sensitive glans than those who have not been so treated. The circumcised admit quite candidly that it takes them longer to reach an ejaculation than it does the uncircumcised. (Friederici)

"The purpose of circumcision is probably that of lengthening the sexual act, since the uncovered glans is less sensitive than the covered one. (Fehlinger)

"Thus it need not surprise us that we repeatedly find women in the literature of late who endeavor to level out the difference between 'wish' and 'can' by turning to a man who is circumcised after unsatisfactory relations with other men.

"It is difficult to determine whether a man with lessened sensitivity of the glans loses some of the pleasure of the sexual act, or whether the prolongation of the act thus caused actually gives him an advantage.

"It is certain that in general primitive peoples and especially the Orientals consider the loss of the prepuce in this respect and for this reason a decided advantage for they lay great stress upon the greatest possible prolongation of coitus. Certainly one of the factors here may be the universal human propensity for enjoying every pleasure to its full extent, and especially may the desire have made itself manifest to enlarge as much as possible a series of such intensely pleasurable emotions (by experience seeming always too short). I consider this - speaking sexual-psychologically - an absolutely normal desire consciously or unconsciously manifested in a sexually healthy human being, at least in men. A more significant factor, however, is the emotional status of natural man who (though he may in other ways neglect women, treat-

p. 184

ing them as an article of possession and beast of burden) lays much more emphasis upon the sexual pleasure of the woman than the average man. He - primitive man - is not satisfied with the course of coitus or with himself, if he has not satisfied the woman.(1) He is pleased - this Don Juan contemporain - not only with the gratification he has experienced, but also with that he has imparted.

1) Unfortunately, illustrative evidence is not given. (B.)

"Thus the pride of being a desired partner in sexual intercourse has not been the least important of the reasons inducing man to value the removal of the prepuce". (Van de Velde)

Doiteau also recommends circumcision to individuals with "coita bref". (Doiteau, p. 22.)

No investigations have as yet been made on the physiological effect of circumcision on erection, the retardation of ejaculation and other attendant phenomena during the sexual act, and this is also very difficult and complicated for it could be done only by men who had already had repeated sexual intercourse before having been circumcised .(2) It is necessary for these men to have followed exactly the function of their foreskins in order to be able to tell the difference afterward; but, from my investigations, most men have not the slightest idea about it, because all control of reason is lost in congressibus. Where love begins, reason ends.

2) A well known Finnish physician, who had had himself circumcised when already mature, told me that after circumcision the ejaculatio seminis was at first hastened, because the sensitive, previously hidden portions of the glans were now exposed. (B.)

* The circumcised man`s ability to make love longer and please the woman more; must be judged irrelevant to the origins, simply because such complicated observations and thoughts about cause and effect, would have been by all accounts not feasable for Bryk`s prelogical thinker. (RS.)

As a result of this our literature is almost devoid of references to the role of the foreskin during the sexual act. I was able to find only allusions in Adler which I shall bring forward when discussing the circumcision of women and the role of the clitoris in connection with it.

I received some valuable information on this topic from Dr. Srecko Milic, principal in Essegg: two elderly gentlemen had themselves circumcised by him, not, for ex-

p. 185

ample, to have a phimosis removed, but simply to attain a retardation of the ejaculation during sexual intercourse. Neither had been influenced by the other, each impelled by the same desire, had conceived the idea of subjecting himself to this surgical treatment. 1 was assured by my guarantor that the purpose of the operation had been attained.

Ethnography gives us a few hints on the duration of the sexual act among primitives, in many cases in regard to circumcised subjects. Thus Moszkowski, in a lecture held before the Medical Society for Sexology and Constitutional Research (February, 1929) on "The Sexual Life in Australia", mentions a case he has observed of an act of copulation lasting half an hour. In answer to my question as to whether the man was circumcised, Moszkowski answered in the affirmative.

Frobenius (I, p. 329) tells us that the Bessari hasten "to attain the ejaculation as soon as possible"; the man squats, the woman is in a supine position. This tribe ridicules people that are circumcised, both men and women. Here then we have information to the effect

p. 186

that an uncircurncised tribe of "primitives" ejaculates quickly, information contrasting sharply with the cases given by Moszkowski and Eylmann, which are based on circumcised subjects. Eylmann (p. 123) writes: "Moreover, according to information furnished me by bush-people, the act of population is said to last quite a long time. In order not to be misunderstood, let me add that it is my conviction that among primitive peoples generally both sexes are not so quickly aroused sensually as people who belong to an advanced, rather weak-nerved culture, as for example, we Germans".

Information on the duration of sexual intercourse must naturally be tested as to its validity. In this field especially the negro likes to boast (Bryk, I, p. 223). In considering duration one must take into account also the position of the cohabitants, since it is well known that the acceleration or retardation of emission depends, in the case of one and the same person, upon the various "positions" (Adler). Consequently the question of positions,(1) so real and conspicuous in the modern popular literature of erotic enlightenment, must be borne in mind in all future research and considerations on the effect of circumcision. Among the Ethiopian tribes, according to Frobenius (1, p. 276), the squatting position is typical, it is the "only decent" one. The normal "covering" position is considered obnoxious by the Chambo; it also offers "but slight prospect for speedy offspring".

1) A classification of the material is to be found in Meisenheimer, (pp. 206-263).

According to Riedel "fit coitus in silvis valde secreto modo, among some tribes in a squatting position, as among the Marego or the orang-utang and other apes. The masculine genitalia are small, likewise the vagina of the women".

Even if it should actually turn out, which, to be sure, is still questionable, that the effect of circumcision pre-

p. 187

supposed by Merker and myself is absent, and only illusory, still that explanation, expecting an effect that is not attained, need not necessarily be rejected as inadequate, just as it is impossible to deny the psychic phenomena preceding it.

For one must keep in mind the imagination of the prelogical thinker whose wish and its fulfilment, in view of his almost infinite suggestibility, always coincide. Indeed, all primitive systems of therapeutics are based, in the last analysis, on this assumption.

p. 188


As a result of man's erect position, as also in the case of bats, the non-erect penis, formerly hidden in the folded pocket of the foreskin, became more prominent (Meisenheimer, p. 255). Consequently its normal position is dependent, penis pendulus, except in the case of the bushmen, among whom it is said to have retained its position as penis rectus. (1) The foreskin pocket was gradually transformed by being shifted forward but unfolded at the same time, so that now, with its skin duplicity, it formed a homogeneous elongation of the skin covering of the penis. It usually extends beyond the tip of the penis in a probiscidiform continuation, but during erection is capable of withdrawing more or less or is turned back by the protuberation of the stiffened organ.

The prepuce is considered by many to be an organ of protection, having the function of safeguarding "the tender skin of the glans from harmful external effects" (Kutna, p. 100-102) and preserving the sensitiveness of the sexual part (Doiteau, p. 20). It is also to "keep itself slippery so long as the glans is not functioning". Since "the protection originally afforded by the foreskin has been given by clothing for thousands of years, the foreskin has, in the course of time, suffered the loss of its main purpose; it has become the dispensable rudiment of

1) According to the latest researches of Dr. L. Schultze (p. 209) at different times the bushman penis is both dependent (pendulus) and projecting (rectus).

p. 189

a former protective organ, and is now in the course of constant atrophy". (1)

Through domestication, which has in other respects had a negative effect upon sexuality, man, among other advantageous characteristics, has suffered the loss of the retractability of the foreskin to a great degree (2) I call attention to the fact that our major domestic animals, the cow, horse and dog have come to rely upon the obstetric assistance of human beings in "dropping"; and that in covering, man must often also help, by placing the erect organ of the bull into the vagina of the cow in order thus to facilitate the procedure. It is open to doubt just what factors brought about this degeneration of retractibility in the human being, whether it is at all a consequence or attendant phenomenon of the process of transformation of the mammalian penis into the penis pendulus, whether it was favored by the fact that the anterior extremities developed into manipulatory organs, hands,(3) which could be of assistance at the decisive moment, or whether, with the abandonment of periods of heat, a steady preparedness (semper pronto, as Casanova says) set in. All three factors could have been of influence.

In short, all over the world, in peoples that do not circumcise themselves in youth, the retraction of the penis is executed manually, the glans is exposed, or as Verlaine so finely puts it, is "decapped", (décalotté). Among us it is done secretly, in Japan this is almost a public affair; having the penis constantly in a retracted state is part of the national character of the Japanese. In Japan it

1) That the prepuce is in the course of atrophy is a statement still to be proved. If it is to be considered merely a protective organ, then it is not exactly appropriate for primitive man, who goes about naked in the thorny underbrush, to circumcise and thus deprive Himself of this natural organ of protection. (B.)
2) Meisenheimer (p 475) notes "that the domestication of animals has brought about a truly extravagant development of the scrotum In the majority of domestic mammals" Compare the tame boar of many genera of swine with the wild boar, and the wild species of sheep and cattle with the related tame ones.
3) Prof. Enderlein observed, according to an oral communication, the female of the long-tailed monkey pulling the penis of the male with her right paw until it finally performed the sexual act.

p. 190-191

is everywhere said that the member of the European is "kawa-kamuri" (kawa-skin, kamuri-covered). A Japanese is very much ashamed of being kawakamuri. Alsutane Hirata ("Ibuki Oroshi") already called attention to the difference between the penis of the European and that of the Japanese, comparing the European penis to that of a dog. One also recognizes in Japanese art of 1751-1780 the dog-like penis of the Dutchman; it was even thought that the glans was covered during erection also. Our guarantor, the Japanese physician Adachi, gives us some interesting and detailed information on the psychic phenomena that lead to denudation of the glans.


"Every Japanese entering maturity asks himself in the beginning why his glans is not completely free like that of other adults, and in this way arrives at an unfortunate suspicion of the naturalness of his own member". He therefore shoves the foreskin back. "This operation is practiced by every one, but it is kept secret". It is no custom "but an almost universal and quite secret usage", which is "dictated by that shame of kawakamuri".

Adachi considers phimosis the origin of this practice*. Here again the effect is confused with the motive. Indeed, Adachi himself gives a mimetic one as inductive (the model of the denuded penis of the adults).

*I do not see where Bryk reads this - in Adachi, Buntaro, Über den Penis der Japaner, Zeitschrift f. Morphologie und Anthrop., 5 Heft 2, p.351-356 (1903) Adachi says nothing on the subject except when discussing the baring of the glans: "The origin of this strange idiocyncracy would be found in phimosis or in one of the circumcision rites."(RS)

The perpetually free glans of the Japanese is called by Adachi "an artificial phenomenon". The denudation is attained in the following manner: the foreskin is shoved back behind the corona glandis and often retained in that position by means of a string, so that finally, in many cases, it "cannot be extended forward any more to cover the glans". The conduct of Japanese is interesting when the penis is to be exposed. At the bath or medical examinations (e.g. for military service) a Japanese would never present himself otherwise than decapped. If, as sometimes happens, the prepuce slips forward again, he quickly draws it back in order not to offend against good form. With us the contrary is the case. A European, in a similar position, would quickly draw his retracted foreskin forward. Likewise the Eskimo, who goes about naked in his igloo, but who never forgets to tie up his foreskin with a fish sinew to prevent the glans from becoming visible. Art furnishes us with similar parallels. While Japanese art never represents the penis otherwise than denuded, occidental art in naked statues or pictures always shows it covered by the probiscidiform continuation of the foreskin, except in phallic representations: one need but recall Greek plastic art with its Adonis, Phoebus, Dionysus, etc. To us the penis looks


fine when covered with the foreskin and for this reason Doiteau attempts to perform postectomy in such a way that the circumcised penis looks as if it were uncircumcised. This is exactly the case in Africa as well: those tribes that are circumcised always represent the penis in this way on their wooden statues; the neighboring tribes, however, that are unacquainted with circumcision, constantly represent it as membrum praeputiatum. (1)

1) Compare also von Sydow, Handbuch d. afrikanischen Plastik, (Berlin, 1930).

Language has also retained the differences just described of representative art for the designation of the denuded penis. In Europe, since Aristotle, the denuded tip of the penis has universally been called "acorn" (Lat. glans) because a certain similarity between the fruit and the

p. 194

semi-denuded penis cannot be denied. In adults, as a result either of masturbation or repeated sexual intercourse, the tip of the glans often becomes visible, the shrunken and retracted foreskin leaving a greater or lesser portion of the glans free, remaining in this position permanently. This preputial crown, netted with folds and swollen veins together with the tip of the penis, does actually remind one of the acorn cup with the acorn peeping out. However, among the Japanese, where the glans is worn free and consequently looks different, it is called "kito", turtle-head, because, as has been shown by the relationship of the serpent cult to phallic worship, it resembles the head of a reptile.

The original concept "acorn" did not fully differentiate the glans (strictly speaking) from the foreskin that half

p. 195

covered it, conceiving both parts of the organ as going together according to the figure. I have called attention to the fact also that the ancient Israelites originally had no independent concept of the foreskin, because they considered it to be a part of the skin covering of the penis. But according to Blanchard, the Latin praeputium already contains a reference to circumcision, since the word putium is said to be derived from puto (a putando dictur). And according to Stieda (p. 240) even the Italian putto, puzzo (puzzoso), which is known in German as Putte, is to be derived from putium; putte would then be equivalent to Schwanzlein (little tail).

Those primitive peoples that are acquainted with circumcision differentiate quite definitely between the foreskin and the denudation of the glans, or the state of circumcision. Among the Nandi there are different designations for the circumcised and uncircumcised penis (pirtit). The Pitta-Pitta call the uncircumcised boy "Nulla-maro," i.e., possessor of a foreskin, in contradistinction to the circumcised, who is called "Kati" (head) and his circumcised member "mondo". In Europe the glans is also often called "head" (e.g. the Finns)(1) as in Japan (Adachi, p. 1, note 2). In the former place, however, head is to be taken to mean the pileus of the mushroom.

1) But "head" has also the signification of tip or end. The Finnish scientific term is terska.

"The edible boletus, on account of its form, is often the subject, among Europeans as well as Japanese, of common jokes, in which, be it emphasized, the Japanese conceives of the thicker portion as a 'head' (glans)".

Eberth, in his strictly scientific work, still compares the glans to the pileus of a mushroom. "Head" is probably the most frequent designation of the glans and the "decap" of Verlaine, as well as the Polish "kapucyna, rznac" (to masturbate, literally, "to beat a Capuchin", from capuche) are no doubt further figurative as well as

p. 196

national derivations in connection with the covering or uncovering of the head. In this conception, naturally, the most obvious function of the head, that of eating, is kept in mind, and this explains why primitive man often identifies cohabitation with eating, as is shown by the Nandi phrase (Bryk, p. 225). The emotions of the head are also transferred to its likeness: thus a Nandi woman when seeing an inflamed penis says, "He is angry". The word "phimosis" as well, is derived from similar primitive associations, from phimos, a muzzle, being the foreskin which pathologically cannot be retraced, muzzling the mouth.

Even more remarkable and more valuable for our study are the deductions of von Sydow who sees in the extravagant exaggeration of the size of the head in the plastic art of primitive peoples a subconscious dependence of the primitive's imagination on the phallic representation, which dominates him completely.

"But this striking peculiarity is also founded erogenetically on the picture of the erect phallus. For it is then noticed that the glans is enlarged out of all proportion to the organ as such. The relationship of size between the glans and the member corresponds exactly to that enormity of the head in primitive figures! lt now becomes clear why, in mask costumes, such extraordinary emphasis is placed on the mask itself, because it is the symbol of that part of the body most sensitive to pleasure." (von Sydow, p. 102.)

It is certainly of major importance whether the canon advanced by Sydow, supposedly binding for the plastic art of all primitive peoples, is valid or not. Moreover, the phallic interpretations of this well known art theorist are of fundamental significance in the matter at hand; his autoanalysis by means of the discovery of an otherwise suppressed but formative power of forced concep

p. 197

tion, is closely bound up with the representation of the glans. Not less interesting are the word formations that are based on no visible models (serpent-head, acorn, head, mouth), but that have arisen out of abstract reflections. Thus, the strictly scientific name of the penis in its normally pendent condition is "membrum mortuum", dead member, while when stiff and erect it is called alive, "membrum vivum" (Eberth). In truth, a very remarkable terminology that designates the lasting condition as something dead and the unusual condition (to be sure, one that is swelled with life) as normal, living - a point of view which we also find among negroes. The Nandi woman, beholding the relaxed penis after coitus, says, nakwisha kufa, "he has died"! For her it is dead. Throughout the entire line of reasoning we find the phallic, exhibitionistic concept, which imputes to the life-giving phallus a power that conquers death and which was thought or wished to be everlasting.

Similar modes of thinking play a decisive role in the emotional life of the child, fill his imagination and dominate his whole ego. In nature he observed the stiffened member of the domestic animals, or in the bush that of the wild mammals; also the half exposed, glandiform penis of his father or other adults (Cf. Noah and Ham). He refers these engrams thus received directly to himself and notices that he is different, that a piece of "meat" covers what should be exposed. He will have it out and plucks at his member. Local irritations (e.g. phimosis) also seem to play a part in the release of onanism (Kronfeld, p. 532). It allows him no rest, it torments, it harasses the child, who longs for the moment when he will finally have succeeded in drawing the foreskin back behind the groove of the glans (sulcus retroglandularis). In this manner he removes an infantile phimosis and performs a "post-natal act", which Trusen really considers circumcision to be, quite instinctively, one might almost


say, automatically. Masturbation is only an attendant phenomenon, it is not that which gives the deciding impulse to these manipulations but rather the picture of the phallus; "whether buck and bull or man was the prototype of the phallus that became the symbol of the cult, is quite immaterial. Before man actually realized the signification of the sexual parts of the buck, he had most certainly become duly attentive to his own. Man always drew conclusions from himself and applied them to other beings, real or imagined ... Before men saw the bull in the zodiac, they must have been acquainted with the common, Indian bull, whose powerful member undoubtedly attracted their attention. The purpose of the member was known to them from experience and they therefore considered the possessor of the strongest member to be especially fitted to illustrate the power of procreation. When they made an image of a prominent person or an anthropomorphic god, they did not forget to supply him at times with an immense sexual tool as a visible sign of his superiority". (Kraus in Dulaure, p. 6.)

These or similar thoughts may have animated a mature, adult man, when he made himself his phallus-god; they do not apply to the child. Only the optical impression of the denuded penis, which he had a chance to see more often in animals than in men, and which is there more striking on account of its considerably greater size, had an effect upon his imagination and first impelled him to denudation, which otherwise, according to Stieda (p. 261) is manifest only in adults and "without special manual assistance only during erection when the member has become stiff."

This mechanical uncovering of the glans is the fundamental motive for cirucmcision. It did not cause circumcision, but stimulated it and prepared the ground. It is curiousto find that even among peoples who circumcise their children, there are still practices and precepts, which clearly show this


custom of denudation. "Among many Turkish families the foreskin is retracted after birth and the process frequently repeated in order prophylactically to remove adhesions". (Risa) Perhaps it is for a similar reason that many fathers masturbate their children, on which Tessmann reports (III, p. 509): "Onanism is rare but there is prevalent among the Simaku the remarkable custom of fathers massaging the penis of their little boys. They sit on the four footed bed and take the member of the boy between their big and second toes, or if they sit lower they sometimes knead it with their hands also, which the boys do not at all object to. I observed this custom several times. That is probably the reason why the little fellows, though only four to six years old, had erections every moment, which were not very noticeable, but often slyly hidden."'

Risa first argued in favor of purposed denudation, but it must have arisen originally out of quite other and much more primitive motives. Preuss (p. 281) reports: "a child that is fat, 'surrounded by flesh', must, according to Max Samuel, look circumcised at least at the time of erection (of the child's penis)", and thus is not required to be circumcised, according to the Jewish rite. Here then, it is clear that denudation is considered a substitute for circumcision. In principle circumcision is displaced by denudation. As a matter of fact, however, boys who are not circumcised until they reach puberty also denude their glans manually, and it is noteworthy that parents and older people prohibit touching the member with the hands. (Bryk, I, p. 220.) Even among the Jews there are exaggerated orders that forbid touching one's member. Thus we read in the Talmud, according to Buxdorf (p. 112): Whoever touches his hand to his (sexual) member, let his hand be struck off to its middle. Even

1) When I asked whether these massages of the penis among the Simaku were perhaps for the purpose of denuding the glans, Mr. G. Tessmann answered that he had forgotten to ask that.


when urinating (1), one may not take his penis into his hand. Whoever takes his sexual member into his hand and urinates, it is as if he brought the flood into the world. (Cf. also Wunderbar, p. 27.)

1) The ancient Israelites probably urinated in a crouching position, like the negroes, (Bryk, I, p. 101.) Reinig has also observed this manner of urinating among the Islamttic Pamir-Kirghiz and Tajiks.

The "phallic hand" is also connected with denudation and masturbation. Dulaure says (p. 215): "The extended middle finger represents the membrum virile and the bent fingers on each side are the testicles. That is why the Romans called the middle finger digitus impudicus or infamis, and the Greeks, the lewd finger, which expression is to a degree similar to the Latin and referred to shameful secret practices, once less common than now."

But the skin of the penis is also denuded by means of chemical influence. I have observed this peculiar manner of retraction among the Nandi. I wrote the following about it (Bryk, I, p. 225):

"Among the Semi-hamites it (masturbation) occurs more from the desire to have the foreskin drawn back as early as possible, in order thus to resemble the older folks more, than to satisfy awakening desires. It is common practice among the Nandi for the boys to smear sticky, milky juice of the euphorbiaceous plant yeptiringuet on the glans and to masturbate (lat pertit) with it. The juice of this plant is quite caustic and causes the glans to swell up strongly, so that the foreskin can easily be drawn back; which is what is wanted. During the process the boys call out, "Suren suren, ce kwamon pek a metet" (Become big and I'll give you something to eat). The blossoms of this plant are usually stuck into the hair, the separated milk serving as the agglutinant. Now the little fellow can go to a girl and try it".

Apparently this is a case of artificially produced paraphimosis. This treatment seems to be very painful, for when a moran (circumcised warrior) showed me the plant


and I requested him to go through the whole procedure before me, he drew his lips forward and exclaimed an inarticulate "Ooh!" as if he meant to express the pain brought about by this caustic poison. He explained to me later that that was what he had actually meant.

I know of only one other reference in anthropological literature to chemical denudation, among the Massai. Merker (p. 345) writes the following on "ol jogi," (Euphorbia spec.): "In order to appear circumcised, the children smear the juice of the Euphorbia on the glans, which then swells up and holds back the prepuce". P. 63 (note) tells us the same thing in Latin: "Ut decisi (circumcisi videantur pueri interdum glandem succu herbae Euphorbiae genere, nomine 'ol jogi', oblinunt. Glans tumescens prohibet, ne praeputium prolabatur".

Merker's explanation that this process was for the purpose of "appearing circumcised" is quite untenable. For when the little boy has finally succeeded in making the prepuce retractable behind the Sulcus glandis, he does not repeat this chemical manipulation; nor does his penis look circumcised, because the prepuce automatically slips forward and constantly covers the glans. Moreover it would be ridiculous if a little shaver tried to pass for circumcised, since among the Nandi and Massai circumcision is performed during the fourteenth year at the earliest, usually about the seventeenth or eighteenth, and no one would seriously expect to find a child circumcised. He could be compared to little boys who paint themselves a moustache with charcoal, but who are never taken seriously by any one. Then again, a circumcised penis looks quite different from one that is merely denuded. (Cf. p. 207.)

lt is not impossible that the poisonous herbs used in some places to treat the wound of circumcision (e.g. among the Magwamba (Junod), which "are not medicinal


herbs, but actually poison the wound", were used originally for chemical denudation in the manner of the Euphorbia described, and have been received into the ceremony of circumcision as "survivals". According to Buschan (p. 239) similar features may be traced in Indian erotic practices. There "is a whole list of recipes . . . which have the purpose, by means of rubbing in sharp (caustic) vegetable matter, of evoking an inflammation, even blistering, of the skin of the penis, whereby the latter increases in volume".

Jacobus X . . . mentions a kind of transition from manual to chemical denudation of the glans. Among the inhabitants of Tahiti the boys make use of the urine caught in the pocket of the foreskin to loosen up and extend their prepuce, which otherwise is firmly attached to the glans. Since Jacobus X ... gives very interesting information on the masculine genitalia of the Tahitians, I quote the passage in question. The genitalia of the Tahitian, says Jacobus X. . . are very similar to those of the inhabitant of Central Europe.

"The usually cylindrical penis of fine, dark red color with a slight mixture of ochre and sepla, is on the average 18 (16-20) centimeters long and 4-5 centimeters in diameter, seldom more, and rarely reaching 22 centimeters In erection the penis hardens and stands almost vertical in the twenty year old tane (youth), so that it touches the abdomen, which, according to my guarantor, is almost impossible in a penis that remains half soft. The glans is relatively large. The testicle is said to be larger than those of any other race and to reach the size of a hen's egg. At fifteen to sixteen years, sometimes even at twelve, it has already attained a development equal to that of the twenty year old European and is the size of a dove's egg. Although there is very little growth of beard, the genitals are already covered with plentiful tender and curly, black or chestnut-colored hair. The precocious tane already


prepares for the adventures of love in his eleventh or twelfth year, sometimes even his tenth. In order to get his glans free, he takes the foreskin between his thumb and index finger when he urinates, so that only a small opening remains for the passage of the urine; the urine, in collecting, forms a jacket around the glans under the foreskin, and since the lad repeats this several times a day, there is a regular mechanical distension of the opening. If that is not sufficient to free the glans, the lad cuts through the ligament with a large piece of flint and heals the wound without danger or pain by applying to the wound some cotton saturated with the juice of an arnica like plant. Immediately thereafter his intercourse with the feminine sex begins. Coitus is performed from the front, rarely from behind. Between his twentieth and fortieth year (according to the same guarantor) the tane has an exceptionally strong impulse to discharge".

According to the general opinion of physicians, the foreskin of the youth does not retract with denudation, for which reason this condition is looked upon as a sign of his "virginity". Wolfsheimer (p. 21) writes: "There is no positive doubt among physicians that in Christians of the age of 13 the prepuce is so tight that the glans of the penis cannot be denuded without the greatest pain, for which reason physicians are wont to consider this tightness of the prepuce as one of the signs of virginity. Although as far as stiffness and erection of the penis of such youth is concerned, it is sometimes found to be capable of and suitable for copulation; nevertheless, we think it unfitted for generation itself on account of the narrowness of the prepuce".

Thus the foreskin "muzzles" the youth and is a serious hindrance to completing the sexual act. We have shown that this becomes a complex governing his entire emotional life.

The complex can often lead to very serious mental de-


pressions and disturbances. In one case known to me, the entire schizoid inferiority complex of a young man, could be traced to his inability to manually uncover his glans. The man in question, by the way a very talented young natural scientist, suffered from a congenital phimosis, which he unfortunately recognised too late, for when subsequently as an adult, he let himself be circumcised his inferiority complex had already completely ruined him. The pathological, forced images, from which the Bugir of South Celebes suffer, and which, according to Karsch (p. 215) have some connection with homosexuality, also have their origin, undoubtedly, in the foreskin-complex which we have revealed.

"The patients have attacks of fear that last for hours followed by great fatigue, during which they think that their penis is about to withdraw into their abdomen, which would lead to death were not the patient or some one else to hold the member fast just in time. This hallucination is said to be considered a disease, koro, but is nevertheless kept secret".
Hochenegg also mentions cases of cryptophallism.

On achieving the denudation (of his glans) the man`s painful anxiety is not yet over. During intercourse, indeed, even during the preliminary stiffening of his member, once morethe foreskin-complexmakes itself obvious in an uncomfortable and negative manner.

During erection the glans, (which together with the entire Radix penis increases considerably in size), emerges from its enveloping preputial cover, in such a manner that the prepuce gradually draws backwards behind the corona glandis, that is, as far as the youth has been able to achieve with his manipulation. Here, as a rule, it stops framing the groove behind the glans in a "collar", and must first be pushed further backwards by hand if ever the same position should be acheived as during the immissio penis. lt is only after this that the now completely smoothed blade of the foreskin conforms with the


skin of the member. The boy, constrained by his foreskin complex often experiences disapointment as a result of this, he had imagined that the foreskin would go further backwards, as shown by the examples of the erection of the dog, horse or bull,but now he notices that the frenulum, the ligament joining the blade of the foreskin with the glans and penis,prevents any further backwards movement. He conceives the idea of cutting through the frenulum. (1) Perhaps he had already heard from his older comrades in suffering, that due to its shortness it sometimes rips during coitus.

"The Kayapo wear a cap, which they fasten on to the prepuce, after they have cut through the frenulum with a taqua splinter". (Kissenberth after Koch, p. 110.)

Cases of severing of the frenulum are known to me in the literature only among the inhabitants of the Loyalty Islands (Sarasin) and, as just mentioned, among the Tahitians. That among the latter the severing of the frenulum is directly dependent upon the denudation of the glans explains the reason for that remarkable mutilation. It is only now that the youth undertakes sexual intercourse.

1) In the case of a short frenulum, by which the glans of the penis is drawn crooked during erection, ejaculation is made more difficult.

Kobelt (p. 18) maintains that, as in the case of the glans plate of the stallion, the human glans increases in diameter in the vagina, though to a lesser degree.

"Only with the action of the external stimulus of friction during the process of coitus does the glans (especially the corona glandis) attain its complete expansion, and only now does it enter the second stage of sexual excitement, namely, that of the materialization of the sexual sensation proper, and this becomes intensified with more and more urgent need of stimulus to the highest degree of the oestrus, which has as its direct consequence the

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ejaculatio seminis and as its indirect, final placidity".

Kobelt writes (p. 60): "In pressing further in, the sharply projecting crown on the glans slides over the wall of both bulbi by a sudden jerk and this ring-shaped cushion embraces the neck and body of the penis like the hame does the neck of a horse; behind this the skin of the glans comes into intimate contact with the elastic and tender padding of the vaginal tube".

It is remarkable that Kobelt does not mention at all the part played by the foreskin during copulation; to him, apparently, it does not exist as an accessory organ during the rhythmical friction. Nor could I find any information on this in the literature, in spite of my pains. Only in Adler did I find an allusion to the subject, which I quote. It confirms my observation. "If, accordingly, it is an indisputable fact that the clitoris, and especially its glans, is not by any means an absolutely necessary organ for the attainment of the highest sexual pleasure, its anatornical favor, being supplied with special and plentiful nerves, seems to require explanation. It appears to me to be much more plausible that these collection points of the finest nerve endings, directed externally, and to be found in both sexes, indicate that by friction in general of the sexual parts a peculiar condition may be evoked, when once the rnysterious forebodings of the sexual instinct have furtively made themselves known. Both, the glans penis and the glans clitoridis, have their movable skin coverings, their prepuce. But I do not consider this to be a protection, intended carefully to guard and preserve the sensitivity of the fine nerve endings, as has many times been said where, then, are the Jews, the Turks and all the Mohammedans, who, in spite of circumcision, are noted for their sensuality! - but quite on the contrary, an accidental stimulant. Amid all the movements of the body, these skin folds must also be moved, and if the sexual parts are in an excitable condition (similar to

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erection), nature in this way points out the direction and course the impulse is to take. I make bold to go even further and believe that the typical secretion of the glans, which, as smegma praeputiale, forms so abundantly in these very heavy folds, is a link in the chain of natural stimulants which instinctively lead the individual to the satisfaction of the sexual desire".

I have myself already mentioned this among the suggested explanations in connection with the physiological motive (p. 75). The cohabitant sometimes experiences pain due to the narrowness of the vagina because his foreskin, which also contributes to enlarging the volume of the root, becomes strangulated. It may even happen, according to Waldeyer (p. 653) that "minor injuries occur to the foreskin, glans, and especially the frenulum particularly when this is too short" . But it is much more common that, when the vagina is not too narrow, the foreskin, bent back and made to "disappear" along the smooth surface of the penis, or kept behind the groove of the glans in some other way, begins to pass up and back over the sulcus due to the rhythm of the friction, making the contact with the surface of the glans more intimate and thus contributing directly to accelerate the ejaculation, since it is around the neck of the glans

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that the most sensitive centers of feeling (1) are found. This acceleration, naturally, is undesirable to both partners. At first, in the heat of youthful ardor and with his egocentric sexual nature, the young man does not bother much about it, but with the passing of the years when the symptoms of pre-impotence appear, then the emotional depression reappearing with the foreskin complex becomes acute and what is more natural than to think of a remedy? Obviously, by means of magic: one gladly sacrifices to the gods what is troublesome to him, what he wants to be rid of.

1) According to Buschke the papillae sometimes seen here signify that the glans "once possessed a horny covering, which gradually was lost."

It is also possible that the frequent occurrence of children "born circumcised" may have given the neurotic the idea of the superfluity of the prepuce, as Niebuhr supposes (p. 79). The absence of the foreskin in children born circumcised may have convinced autochthons "that the foreskin was of no use. And since it was sometimes found to be a hindrance in coitus, this may have caused circumcision". It may also be assumed that the first surgical removal of a phimosis gave occasion directly for incisio or circumcisio, but at any rate the emotions of the considerably erotically tormented victim must have been quite ripe for this self punishment, prior to any secondary, external impulses which may have driven him to perform the act. Even without this, without a model, the now senescent man, ever since his youth under the spell of the foreskin complex, would and must logically have arrived at the idea of removing the source of his torment. And by the removal of the prepuce, the erogenetic zone must have shifted more toward the root of the penis.

It is no matter of chance that according to Israelitic myth, the first man to have himself circumcised was not a child, nor a boy nor even a young man, but the ninety-nine year old Abraham, in whom the symptoms of im-

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potence were making themselves felt but who still wanted to have a child. Dr. Arnold Schultze, the well know explorer, gave me a statement of the negroes of Central Africa, according to which the Bagandi, who circumcised themselves between their twentieth and twenty-fifth year, perform the operation only "when they can not do it properly". It is also known that in men who are uncircumcised a too great sensitivity of the glans may lead to a kind of impotence.

Bloch says on this (p. 498): "Very peculiar and in a way analogous to vaginism in women is impotence through too great sensitivity to pain of the glans or local inflammations. The pains experienced during coitus by one in this condition are often so severe, that all pleasure in sexual intercourse is lost".(1)

1) The glans, after it has been denuded for the first time is so sensitive that boys give up masturbating for a time as a result of the pain.

The failure of masculine potency during coitus, which is often only transitory, naturally caused primitive peoples to think about it. One need only call to mind the many aphrodisiacs known to popular therapeutics. Among Indian erotic practices one meets repeatedly with allusions to many measures taken against the unwelcome symptoms of impotence. Very remarkable (2 ) are precautions of the Chinese, the blood treatment of the penis which they administer themselves: "The Chinese, for whom sexual activity forms such an important part of existence, is naturally quite keen on preserving and increasing his potency. There are countless more or less nonsensical devices and medicaments that serve this purpose. Of the latter the most common are pulverized deer-horn and tiger-bone, or even tiger flesh and the famous Ginseng

2) There is in European folklore an instrument against impotence, which, though recommended only in derision, is of a certain psychogenic interest. If one is no more able, says the Pole, then let him procure a "Kolbuszuwa spoen" (Kolbuszowska lyzka). Kolbuszowa in Galicia was famous for its excellent turners and wood carvers. The spoon in question consists of two scoops with a handle in the middle. The two scoops are placed under the scrotum and the handle under the flaccid penis. It was probably a similar idea that gave rise to the new invention of a penis support "Amor Star."

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root. One method seems especially worthy of mention and appears eminently successful, namely, a local blood treatment performed by the patient himself, not by injection, which would have little to recommend it here, but by the old Chinese method of pinching. Along the body of the penis one or two Mark-sized, dark-blue wales are pinched and after twelve to twenty four hours a noticeable intensification of the power of sexual reaction appears, apparently caused by the stimulating effect of the extravascular blood and the increased blood stream necessary for its resorption. Perhaps this extremely simple method may afford many an old man back home a little pleasure". (Hartmann.)

Primitive man soon found out that by means of all kinds of manipulation and intervention in a positive sense the perfection of the mechanics of copulation and even its refinement could be effected. The Chinese blood treatment is only a stage in this direction. The Sumatra Islander goes farther: he does not pinch the skin of his penis but implants in it a number of small stones or silver and gold platelets.

According to Hagen the process of implantation is performed by native itinerant medicine sellers in the following manner: "The skin of the masculine organ (not including the foreskin) is stretched with the fingers in such a way that it is drawn strongly to either side and back toward the root of the penis. Then with a sharp knife a cut about two centimeters long is made down to the fascia, and into this cut, in the hypodermic cellular tissue, is set a small white stone, usually of one centimeter, but sometimes double this size, prismatic in form and with rounded edges. Then the skin is let go, which, due to its elasticity, returns to its former position and covers the stone. The latter, finally, is situated one or two centimeters away from the cut, whereby suppuration is prevented. But it seems that the latter is not always

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successful, in view of the decidedly high degree of local irritation: the man whose disfigured penis I saw had had these stones set in about twenty five years ago, in order, as he said, to please the women, who were "crazy" about such a man. There had originally been ten such stones, but only four were now left; the others, as he put it, had been lost in the course of time, that is, had been cast out by the tissue. The same man also told me: rich and aristocratic Rajahs of the Tobah lands had silver and gold platelets set in instead of these white stones. But this custom is rare".

From the legends of the Africans it may be concluded that the negroes also retain a subconscious recollection of a kind of implantation. In a fable, the spider-man has "the smith make him another iron thorn for his member". (Frobenius, Das schwarze Dekameron, p. 273, 1910.) Artificial instruments of stimulation may also be applied to other parts. The glans is perforated and into the hole is placed a foreign body that embraces the friction surfaces of both bulbi more tightly. Thus arose "Ampallang" and "Kambiong". In discussing the instruments of stimulation of the masculine organ of animals, Meisenheimer (p. 342) remarks: "I have proof from the sexual psychology of man that these formations actually do exert a sexual stimulus. In man, as well as in most of the lower mammals, the stiff, firm organ of procreation, with its swollen glans, is in itself an organ of stimulation. But that is not always sufficient. I shall not speak here of the many devices which are the products of super-refined decadent civilization, but simply of the almost universal practices of primitive man. It is customary among the Dajaks of Borneo and the inhabitants of North Celebes for the men to perforate their glans transversely above the urethra and to place in the artificial canal thus formed, just before coitus, a small metal rod having a ball at each end, of which one is removable to allow the intro-

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duction of the rod.

In Borneo this apparatus is called Ampallang, in Celebes, Kambiong, and its use is so general, its effect so esteemed, that the Dajak women have an actual right of demanding the application of this instrument by the men. Refusal would be a ground for divorce. That is not enough. In Celebes the stimulative effect of the Kambiong is further supported by the eyelids and eye-lashes of a buck that are tied around the margin of the glans (Fig. 20), which in Java are replaced by strips of goat-skin. The Araucanians of South America seem to make use of similar devices; they apply to the same part little bristles of horse hair, the so-called geskels."

Thomas Candisch, already in the year 1588, reported the perforatio glandis for the island of Capul, one of the

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Zulu Islands. His sailors observed "among the natives a peculiar kind of infibulation; after circumcision a tin nail was driven through the glans of every masculine child: the point of the nail was split and then bent back, the head of the nail forming a little crown. The wound caused by the driving in of the nail during childhood healed without causing the infibulated child much pain. The people drew the nail out and put it back in the glans according to their need and taste. In order to convince themselves of the truth of this as well as out of a reasonable curiosity, the companions of Candisch themselves tested this insertion and removal of the nail on one of the sons of the chieftain (Kaziken), a ten-year old boy. This custom or usage was said to have been introduced at the instigation of the women; for when the latter saw that the men were strongly addicted to sodomy (pederasty), they paid a visit to the chieftains and demanded, for the future, the use of the infibulation described in order to prevent this evil by such great inconvenience". (Karsch, pp. 217-218.)

But it is difficult to see why this means should be a hindrance only in homo-erotic practices, and lose its effectiveness in normal sexual acts. Apparently this device is similar to the Kambiong.

From these examples it must be clear to every one that man is capable of mutilating the penis out of purely erogenic grounds. In the case of the Ampallang and the Kambiong he must submit to the painful operation of the perforation of the glans.

But it is also said that perforation of the glans is performed without any manifest purpose of intensifying the libido sexualis during coitus, but to be purely a plastic expression of self-mortification.

Motilinia reports about the people of Teoucan, Teotetlan and Cozcatlan "that the young men of marriageable age perforated their penis and drew under the skin a

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rope as thick as one's finger and from ten to twenty ells long, and if any one fainted during this operation it was said of him that he had already sinned and had had intercourse with women. We hear exactly the same thing from Yucatan where sometimes penitents place themselves in a row, each one perforates his penis,(1) and a string, as long as possible, drawn through the members of all the penitents together". (Seler)

1) Evidently the glans. (B.)

The drawing of the string through all the members as through the eye of a needle probably symbolizes the feeling of connection on the part of the class of men in question; perhaps there is a homo-erotic idea at the bottom of this "union".

We have attempted to describe the psychic phenomena in the sexual life of man from the awakening of the sexual instinct to the emotional depression of the neurotic, and have placed circumcision in a direct connection with, or in dependence to, them. His suggestibility, produced by the "omnipotence of thought," vouched for the efficacy of artificial means of retardation.

But circumcision is not an insurance policy against impotence One day Abraham, or any other man, notices that in spite of circumcision his erotic energy gradually begins to fail, then approximately the following thoughts take hold of him: "A woman can always, at least from the physiological point of view, receive, but the maliciousness of fate often plays a man, in erotic equipment, a nasty trick. How fine it is for women. How would it be if I transformed myself into a woman"?

This is, then, a purely bi-sexual thought which arose perhaps as a result of a homo-erotic bent. He now further mutilates his sexual organ, seizes a stone knife, slits up the urethra with it from the scrotum to the glans, enlarges the wound with his fingers until finally his mem-

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ber is transformed into a vulva. Now he can be both: man and woman. With the execution of introcision the circumcision idea, from the physiological-erotic standpoint, has reached the termination of its complete development: only in a psychic direction could it now change, be transformed, deepened, by suppressing the original purpose and putting in its place new factors, depending on which cultural unit it met with. In this manner, during the course of a long time, the original sense of circumcision was changed, as it is most obviously shown in the Mosaic Yahweh cult. Quite correctly Gunkel says (p. 17): "We may only ask what historical Israel thought of this custom, but we must keep in mind from the beginning the possibilities that this later sense is quite different from the original one; further, that the conception of this custom has changed during historical times, and finally, that it was executed according to ancient usage, without much thought on the matter at all".

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Just as every other good discovery immediately becomes incorporated in the state social welfare system, such was the case with circumcision. And according to the culture it found, it received a corresponding stamp and commensurate significance.

At first the father circumcised his sons: circumcision was purely a family affair. But primitive society succeeded in immediately seizing it for another capacity: initiations of boys were already in existence and circumcision could be made a splendid number. Man, who sought to raise himself to a level of order out of anarchical chaos, was even then induced to take social measures in his attempt to solve the questions of sex; he began to control the marriageable youths, their unbroken sexual instinct had to be, and was to be, checked by the primitive form of marriage. At this juncture nothing was more welcome than circumcision itself: the youth could actually be gagged: when circumcised he had a visible stamp from society for the concession of marriage and his maturity.(1) Uncircumcised he was still a child, unclean, neuter. Among many peoples the candidate for circumcision or novice appears decked out in feminine ornamentation (Nandi, Bryk, I pp. 118-119); among the Sluka (Rascher) he is treated like a bride; when called, he answers with the women's cry, never the men's (Bryk, 1, p. 99). He is an intermediate stage.

1) The introduction of the custom of circumcision presupposes a time in which peoples still went about in a condition of nakedness. (Westermarck, p. 234; Reinhardt.)

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But circumcision also has its severe disadvantages. It is painful and more often than not was terminated by unintended, marked disfiguration; indeed, even by death. Jewish prescriptions contain indications of these facts. According to these, circumcision may not be performed with a reed because (as a result of experience) "a portion of the penis could be cut off". Even more remarkable is the provision cited by Preuss (p. 285) referring apparently to the circumcision of hemaphiliacs: "If two children (according to R. Jehuda) or three (according to R. Simeon Ben Gamliel) of the same mother have died as a result of circumcision, the operation is to be omitted in the case of the third (or fourth). The same is to be observed if a child of each of three sisters has died".

I think the death of one child would have been sufficient to put this provision into effect.

It is no wonder that the marriageable youth, considering the fear circumcision must have exercised, resisted the establishment of the new custom. It can be determined almost exactly, even among the Jews, how long it took for the custom of circumcision to become firmly established. The young people generally offered opposition to it and had to be coerced by means of whippings, threats of death and torture.

Navigation Hierarchy
Chapter Three
The Origins of Routine Male Circumcision
Phimosis Through the Ages

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