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To the early Protestant mind, as illustrated by Luther, there was
something diseased, though not impure, in sexual excitement during sleep;
thus, in his _Table Talk_ Luther remarks that girls who have such dreams
should be married at once, "taking the medicine which God has given." It
is only of comparatively recent years that medical science has obtained
currency for the belief that this auto-erotic process is entirely normal.
Blumenbach stated that nocturnal emissions are normal. Sir James
Paget declared that he had never known celibate men who had not such
emissions from once or twice a week to twice every three months, both
extremes being within the limits of good health, while Sir Lauder Brunton
considers once a fortnight or once a month about the usual frequency, at
these periods the emissions often following two nights in succession.
Rohleder believes that they may normally follow for several nights in
succession. Hammond considers that they occur about once a fortnight.
Ribbing regards ten to fourteen days as the normal interval.
Loewenfeld puts the normal frequency at about once a week; this seems
to be nearer the truth as regards most fairly healthy young men. In proof
of this it is only necessary to refer to the exact records of healthy
young adults summarized in the study of periodicity in the present volume.
It occasionally happens, however, that nocturnal emissions are entirely
absent. I am acquainted with some cases. In other fairly healthy young men
they seldom occur except at times of intellectual activity or of anxiety
Lately there has been some tendency for medical opinion to revert
to the view of Luther, and to regard sexual excitement during
sleep as a somewhat unhealthy phenomenon. Moll is a distinguished
advocate of this view. Sexual excitement during sleep is the
normal result of celibacy, but it is another thing to say that it
is, on that account, satisfactory. We might, then, Moll remarks,
maintain that nocturnal incontinence of urine is satisfactory,
since the bladder is thus emptied. Yet, we take every precaution
against this by insisting that the bladder shall be emptied
before going to sleep. (_Libido Sexualis_, Bd. I, p. 552.) This
remark is supported by the fact, to which I find that both men
and women can bear witness, that sexual excitement during sleep
is more fatiguing than in the waking state, though this is not an
invariable rule, and it is sometimes found to be refreshing. In
a similar way, Eulenburg (_Sexuale Neuropathie_, p. 55) states
that nocturnal emissions are no more normal than coughing or
Nocturnal emissions are usually, though not invariably, accompanied by
dreams of a voluptuous character in which the dreamer becomes conscious in
a more or less fantastic manner of the more or less intimate presence or
contact of a person of the opposite sex. It would seem, as a general rule,
that the more vivid and voluptuous the dream, the greater is the physical
excitement and the greater also the relief experienced on awakening.
Sometimes the erotic dream occurs without any emission, and not
infrequently the emission takes place after the dreamer has awakened.
The widest and most comprehensive investigation of erotic dreams
is that carried out by Gualino, in northern Italy, and based on
inquiries among 100 normal men--doctors, teachers, lawyers,
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