IF we enumerate once more all the sexual stimuli which are produced by secretory antagonism : congestive symptoms, deeper breathing, increased massage, the excitement of our entire nervous system, then we obtain a combined impression of increased activity of all our vital functions, that is to say, an increased vital energy, which is indeed difficult to measure, weigh or count, but which ultimately culminate in increased oxidation.
It is not simply figuratively, but empirically that we speak of warm love and glowing passion. Sexual stimulus excites an agreeable warmth, which glows in our faces. We may imagine on the one side a fire on the hearth that burns with a lively flame when-ever it is stirred up, and on the other one that has nearly gone out because it has been left unattended.
Fortunately the increased oxidation and the consequent increased heat-production caused by a sexual stimulus never reaches the pathological degree which we call fever; although when there are dramatic complications one might well speak of feverish excitement.
And yet this increase in the total amount of bodily heat is greater than we should imagine, if we know from the study of physiology how very constant our body temperature is; although here only the internal temperature and not the temperature of the entire body is meant.
And on this account the thermometer does not assist us much in our judgment of the total bodily heat. It is unfortunate that Pettenkofer of Munich never tried the experiment in his air-bells for the estimation of oxidation, of comparing the oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production of two couples, the one at the height of love’s ecstasy, and the other asexual, “cold right through to the heart,” although he often tried the experiment with two people at a time, one active and hard at work and the other at rest. And the difference was enormous!
Empirically, the rise in our total body-temperature caused by sexual stimulus is not recognisable. The sexual life excites in us acquire a brightly coloured plumage at mating time, and many insects also, when they swarm out to breed. And for this reason we are always glad to see rosy cheeks on our young folks; not because we are so fond of red, but because it denotes a warm temperament. When we are old we are pale, and in death, white and cold.
Of course, we may also be excited by many other motives, and all these may appear along with the sexual ardour. The one motive does not exclude the other; on the contrary, they mutually increase each other. But at the same time the sexual stimulus is one of the mightiest of all, because it resides in our inmost being and continually awakens afresh.
For not only does the glow of love burn within us every time the sexual impulse wells up in our own being, but, because we live in a world full of lovers, also each time we see a person of the opposite sex or a pair of lovers. We already anticipated these feelings when we were children. Even our daily work seems lighter when we are working with the other sex. Just as when the light shines it illuminates all things, even the most insignificant, so the sexual life sheds warmth and colour on all around us, even the most ordinary things. And the love we observe amongst animals awakens the same feelings in us; and every flower speaks to us of love. The soul sensitive to love is like the clear mirror of a pool which reflects the sun not only once, but sparkles a thousandfold with the rippling of its waters.
The strength of the sexual life is so great that it is not a deficiency that we have to fear, but an excess! For sometimes this impulse may dominate us to such an extent that it threatens the whole happiness of our lives with disaster. For this reason we always stand in need of self-control; and to this subject we shall devote the whole of the third part of this work.
Just one more observation. The principle “nothing is made for nothing” also holds good in the sexual sphere. Just as we can produce fire by rubbing two articles together, but must rub very vigourously, so also we cannot obtain the increased warmth and energy without effort. We have repeatedly seen, and we shall see further in the next chapter, what numerous hindrances and difficulties the sexual life has to contend with, a resistance which must be overcome both in the material and psychical sense. This is the hardest task of life for adults; for one must be adult in order to be sexually mature. Only now we can thoroughly understand how greatly the sexual life may increase our energy: sexual energy is proportional to sexual resistance.