SINCE the time we have referred to, medical science has progressed in other directions as well. Once upon a time the “humoral” pathologists thought that metabolism took place in the body fluids, the “solid” pathologists in the body-tissues; some thought the heart, others the liver, to be the source of our bodily heat. But we know now that the real units that compose our body (see chapter 7) are the cells, which have been built up like the stones of a great house into a composite structure. Real metabolism, especially oxidation, occurs in every separate cell, while the circulation of the blood serve as a means of transportation.
As we have frequently observed, the circulation of the blood is very actively augmented by sexual stimuli, whereby all chemical processes in the cells are immensely increased. The process of oxidation is specially stimulated by it, as we shall further explain in the next chapter; but before doing so, we must settle a difficult question which is often overlooked, although it merits special attention in this connection.
Just as in public traffic the heavy vehicles cannot stop at every single house, so our blood-vessels cannot bathe every single cell. To repair this omission, the individual cells are bathed by the lymph, which acts as a connecting link between the cell and the blood. This lymph is not subservient to the circulation, but is subject to variations of pressure which ultimately determine the intensity of our metabolism.
These variations of pressure are of two kinds: osmotic or mechanical. The osmotic variations of pressure are caused chemically by the amount of salt, sugar, etc., contained in our food. These substances possess a high osmotic co-efficient. The mechanical variations of pressure, on the other hand, are caused by every mechanical movement of our bodyeither active or passive.
The production of these mechanical variations of pressure we call massage. Artificial massage has long been known as one of the most powerful of remedial measures to stimulate metabolism after a blow or fracture, in order to restore the function of the injured organ, for though continuous pressure is very injurious, rapid alternation of pressure and non-pressure is very healing, and for this reason massage always works wonders when one of our limbs has become stiff through immobilisation or constriction. Also when the tissues are infiltrated with lymph, pus or blood, not only can this fluid be dispersed by massage, but ultimate resorption greatly facilitated. Furthermore, atrophied muscles become better nourished as a result of massage.
Because massage is constantly indicated for an ever-increasing variety of cases (savage races have successfully used massage from the earliest times), the opinion has recently gained ground that it is not a special method of healing, but one of the principles of life.
We can best realise this if we notice how strongly the formation of our bodily organs is governed by it even in the embryo. Just a few examples.
How do the rounded curves of our body originate? They are thus rounded because we develop in the rounded interior of the womb, and this is rounded because the waters, like all fluids, exercise an equal pressure on every part of the uterine wall.
These few examples suffice to show to some extent the fundamental importance of massage. With every movement of the body, changes of pressure occur, and the more energetic our movements, the more will every part of our body be subjected to or relieved from pressure, which constitutes ideal massage. And from this it follows that just those muscles and organs which have most exercise, develop the most strength. All growth, all muscular education, all individual development rest on this principle.
And now we come to the application of this principle to our problems. When I speak of massage in regard to the sexual life, I do not mean only the caresses and embraces usual to lovers, or the moment of the act of copulation itself (see chapter 21) as the climax of passion, but above all the energetic stimulation of all our vital functions in this beautiful period of our lives.
Who does not know tedious people of no importance who contrive to do everything with a minimum expenditure of energy? They do everything so that it just suffices, but always with the minimum of self-massage. These people are predisposed to anaemia and scrofula; physically and mentally they are cripples. We can best realize this by gymnastics in a room with dumb-bells, or still better without any apparatus. If we do this with slack muscles, we shall produce no energy; but if we do it energetically, and with our muscles as tense as possible, then we shall feel ourselves revivified and our strength permanently increased.
Of course, in the economic field it is always a good idea to produce a maximum effect with a minimum expenditure of force; but in the working of living Nature the matter is not so simple.
A young, healthy, and observant child will soon notice how well he feels after strenuous muscular effort, and so he will unconsciously render all his bodily movements as easy and powerful and bold as possible, which looks so attractive, especially in the young child. It provides him with a store of energy and permanent health for the future.
But this surprising joy of living is generally lacking in the hobbledehoy period. The fire of early youth, when everything had the charm of novelty, has died out. For as soon as love awakes in the young man, a new life awakes in him also. Now he wants to display his strength, and takes a pride in his powers. He wants to win his chosen one, to be admired and honoured by her. He is zealous in his efforts to meet her again, perhaps gets up early in the morning so that he may see her once again before going to work. In all his actions he wants to surpass his companions. He wants to strike out in the world so that he can found a family with her. He spares no pains.
So through the ardour of the sexual life not only our circulation, but also our physiological massage is set in motion, so that the increased energy of our circulation really benefits all the cells of our body, and the metabolism is stimulated in every individual cell.
The same thing applies to our breathing.
In the fresh air we breathe deeply and slowly, so that our lungs are not only thoroughly ventilated, but thoroughly massaged. If, however, we are breathing in a heavy, dusty atmosphere, our breathing becomes quicker but more superficial, and the natural massage is therefore decreased, especially at the apices of the lungs, because these lie furthest from the diaphragm, so that in the course of time there is a tendency to necrosis (disintegration of tissue), and particularly a pre-disposition to tuberculosis.
In contrast to this, let us think of the influence of sexual excitement with its breathing deepened from pleasure and delight; like a fire that burns with heightened glow, and we shall see how powerfully this new stimulus intervenes as a massage-stimulus of our physical and psychical life. And each time that engaged couples can embrace, or married couples have the joy of falling in each others’ arms, these are only the concluding chords of this ecstasy of love.
Everybody who has experienced this, knows its vitalising effect. With the young girl this develops more internally, and therefore more intimately and lastingly. Although her inner impulses lie more deeply hidden, and she herself may not recognise their existence, they work all the more surely in her on that account. The improved massage does not fail in its blessed effect, and its climax is crowned in a happy marriage.
In conclusion I must touch on one other question in this connection-a most delicate one, because on this point every man has his own opinion, often quite unfounded and so all the more obstinate.
I was often asked as a practitioner whether intercourse during pregnancy is not an abomination. This question is not so important as it may appear, because in the early months one is not certain about the pregnancy, and in the latter months all intercourse is excluded by the increased tenderness. There still remains the intermediate period, if the wife still feels fresh and well. If then both partners want to have intercourse (and this desire is quite normal), let them be guided by the general principle: “Live as hygienically and reasonably during pregnancy as at any other time.”
By referring to what we have said above, the reader will easily see that this is good advice, not only for the mother, but also for the development of the foetus.
Why should not the child of a merry young mother be as lively and strong in all his bodily movements as she? Not only because the energetic mother will play and romp with him later on. Oh no! Long before birth, whilst they both belong so intimately to each other, every little step, every abrupt movement of the mother’s, finds its echo in the body and soul of the little child; so why should not her sexual impulses and movements also have their influence?
In the later months of pregnancy the child will produce a lively local massage with his own energetic movements; for the better development of his own little body, and to prepare the mother for her most trying moment. And who is not reminded by this, of the often marvellous cures of Thure-Brandt massage of the internal organs?