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.

for psychologists who interpret sexual effects from phimosis as a delusion

Anthropologists dismissed phimosis as the origin of the circumcision traditions, because phimosis was considered to be a rarity. 40,000 yrs. ago tribal groups were extended families of about 30, with 15 males. When measuring statistics they are only valid when you have a sample group of e.g. 3,000 as in the German study, giving 8.8%.

Small groups always show fluctuations. At times of high frequency, routine circumcision would have been a practical answer for any caring elder - and perfectly understandable for anyone who'd been driven half crazy after a lifetime of personally frustrating foreskin problems.


The development of the ancient practice of partial circumcision is shrouded in mystery, (Please note, the author is not discussing full circumcision as practiced in the modern times).. Experts in anthropology and more recently psychology have been unable to establish the origin of the practice of routine male circumcision.

The anthropological and psychological theories on the origins of the practice of routine male circumcision, discuss if this began as a manifestation of cultural requirements (e.g. hygiene, initiation, fertility, tribal mark, sacrifice, sexual advantages); or the expression of unconscious tendencies (e.g. castration complex, menstruation envy, regression).

The modern anthropologist regards circumcision as an unsolvable mystery. Modern theories assume that the practice was based on a number of combined factors.

Phimosis was refuted because a) natural peoples did not appreciate the connection between the penis and semen, and fertility. Anthropologists have assumed that the problem with phimosis, is that it hinders semen emission, which it doesn't, it just stops sex being as much fun as it could be. It's irrelevant that the connection between semen and fertility was not understood by natural peoples. Phimosis hinders enjoyment.

and b) phimosis is thought to be a rarity, however this opinion was established previous to any statistical studies.

Modern writers never mention phimosis. Since 1960 any discussion of phimosis as origin for circumcision has vanished from the books.

Phimosis was last discussed by Ploss (1884) and Bryk (1931). Anthropological studies, lists fully all relevant texts including the original Ploss; and Bryk's full discussion.

Ploss (1894) was misinterpreted by a student who rewrote his work after his death. He claimed phimosis to be the origin of routine male circumcision, he did not claim fertility to be of any great relevance apart from among fairly advanced lierate cultures.

Bryk thought phimosis was far too great a rarity to be considered as originating factor. However neither he nor any other anthropologist ever refers to a statistical study. In 1931 there were no statistical studies.

A clear understanding of the statistics is important to this subject because at present the main reason anthropologists dismiss phimosis as the origin, is because they believe it is a rarity.

I discuss all the available statistical reports. These show between 2.4% and 14% of young males have problems of retraction in the non-erect state. This figure does not include the frequency when erect, or frenulum breve. In addition, this figure is given for only one point of time in life, it does not include how many men develop a secondary phimosis as an adult.

However even this would only give a basic idea on the actual frequency. The practice originated among the hunting peoples. Hunting peoples lived in tribal groups of a size (around 30 members with 15 males) which are renowned for their unreliable statistical fluctuations. This is the reason modern statistics are measured with groups of a thousand or more. With a modern scientific measurement of 10%, in a small group we would expect the frequency to periodically vary between 0% and 100%.

When we consider that different forms of phimosis can become problematic in childhood adulthood or old age, we see how males could have problems with a form of phimosis, in 3 or 4 generations of the same family group simultaneously.

I suggest the first routine steps were taken during one of the periods of high frequency.

The full extent of the effects of these conditions have only recently come to light, largely due to the anonymity of Internet where adult men have been able to record their experiences openly for the first time.

A man who had personal experience of the problems involved with phimosis has motives for introducing the practice, which no anthropologist has ever discussed.

I suggest routine partial circumcision was originally introduced by men who had personal experience of foreskin problems.

There are numerous individual degrees and combinations of foreskin conditions, each causing specific physical effects during erection. The mysterious appearance of a secondary phimosis occurring throughout adulthood, the almost invisible relative phimosis and the apparent infant phimosis - all add to the symptomatic complexity.

Some conditions are merely irritating others are painful, some typically result in inflammations and disease, some cause problems by urination, others during masturbation; some during penetration, others during intercourse and still others for several days after intercourse.

We are considering a large variety of difficulties influencing various different areas of health and sexual activity.

In pre-literate times it would not have been possible to start understanding and classifying all these problematic conditions, the symptoms would have been totally mystifying, but contrary to the confusion and complications, the cure would have been simple and obvious and for a people who required practical answers, the best reasoning would have been done with a sharp knife.

I suggest routine circumcision was originally introduced as an all cure as a practical and simple solution to, and prevention of, a number of confusing and chaotic problems.

A further section examines the various reasons why among some peoples the practice became established - the oldest living surgical tradition - and thus heralded the beginnings of the surgical practice in Western medicine.

If routine circumcision had initially been introduced for this most obvious reason of eliminating difficult foreskins; it would underline the importance of a modern alternative form of prevention.

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The Origins of the Practice of Routine Male Circumcision

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