|Miracle cures, 1898|
As these two articles from 1898 show, there was not much difference between the Orificial History Society and more orthodox medicine when it came to the dangers of preputual irritation and the benefits of an early circumcision.
Far-reaching benefits of circumcision
The operation of circumcision is so far-reaching in its beneficial results that performance of this operation cannot be confined to any one class of specialists, but is the common property of all, including even the general practitioner, as all can agree on one point at least – that is, that removal of the prepuce is followed by a cleanlier and more aseptic condition of the glans penis. But the class who are most greatly interested in this surgical procedure are the genito-urinary surgeon and neurologist, either of whom may be frequently called upon to perform circumcision as a remedy for a venereal trouble or some obscure nervous affection.
1. The author was Georg Ludwig Kobelt, who had written in Die Mannlichen and Weiblichen Wollusts-Organe des Menschen und verschiedene Saugetiere (The male and female organs of sexual arousal in man and some other mammals), first published in 1844: “The glans penis is the principal point of reunion of the sensitive nerves of the virile organ, no other part which it regulates can be compared with it in this respect. In respect of richness in nerves, the glans penis yields to no other part, not even the organ of sense.” Hodgon is more likely remembering the passage as quoted by William Acton, in The functions and disorders of the reproductive organs in childhood, youth, adult age and advanced life, (3rd edition [London 1862], Philadelphia: Lindsay and Blakiston, 1865), p. 153, n.1
Further benefits of circumcision
According to Dr Bergman, “He needed the rightful punishment of
In children, I believe, we will notice the most rapid recoveries, no doubt due to the circumstances that the vital forces of a growing system are more numerous or employed more actively than in one where are engaged forces to maintain life only, and consequently such a system is more readily impressed than one at later periods of life.
Circumcision has an extraordinarily wide range of action, not as a surgical procedure to remove objectionable local conditions only, but employed as a curative means in diseases of the sympathetic nerve, in which there is to the common physician apparently no connection between the lesion and the male organ. But the orificial surgeon has learned to recognise these cases, and is able to effect a cure where ordinary medication has been tried and found a failure. In the few cases here submitted orificial treatment wrought a speedy cure, after internal medicines had failed to produce any impression for the better.
CasesCase 1. – Baby Andrew H., aet. 10 months, had for some time suffered from difficult urination. He was irritable and fretful to the highest degree, and was continually disturbed in his sleep. Before micturition the parts would swell up, assume a bluish colour, and with great straining and pain a small stream of urine would be expelled. I prescribed for the boy, but with very little relief, and as the condition of the boy was growing worse, I concluded to circumcise him. The prepuce was found adherent to the glans and abnormally contracted, leaving only the smallest opening for the urine. The rectal sphincter was also too tight. In a few days the boy recovered from the effects of the operation, and was well after that. The dysuria disappeared entirely, and the boy, improved in every respect, is at present at 4 years or age perfectly well and hearty.
Case 2. – Baby Russell R., aet. 18 months, had been treated or convulsions during dentition, but without any improvement. When he was brought to me the seizures were of such a serious nature that fear had been expressed by his former physician that the boy might not live through another attack. Although the irritation from the teeth had a great deal to do with these attacks, it was clear to me that they had a deeper source. On examination of the boy I fond this, so common condition, viz.: elongated, tight prepuce; inflamed, narrow meatus. I advised circumcision, which was immediately performed. The adherent foreskin had to be peeled off the glans, and several hard lumps of smegma were removed. The continuous catgut stitch was used to unite the mucous membrane with the skin. The little patent made a rapid recovery; the convulsions ceased at once; the boy grew and thrived and was in fact entirely changed. He became sweet and happy, his parents joy and pleasure from having been a constant care and worry.
Case 3. – Ernest G., 8 years old, was brought to my office by his mother, who told me the boy had always been sickly, never well. He had had all the children’s diseases; would take cold with every change of he weather; would never eat much at mealtimes, but always between; could not sleep well, perhaps because he was so disturbed by his bladder in the night, and had been for nearly three years deaf in his right ear. The boy certainly looked very sickly and puny. he had taken “barrels of medicines”, until his stomach had revolted, and had now come to try the new school. I suspected orificial irritation, and after having examined the boy and informed Mrs G. of a few facts, I recommended an operation, to which she consented. I found about the same condition as in the previous case and an extremely flabby and “tired” sphincter.
I am pleased to report that the treatment did wonders for this boy. His appetite became more natural; the functions of the bladder normal; his hearing was restored, and during the first three months following he operation he gained nearly six pounds in weight. The principal accessories I used were baryta jod 3x for the general condition, and fer. phos. 6x for his ear.
Case 4 – Clarence B., aet. 16 years, had been under my care for several months for various complaints, and with varied success. He was undersized in stature, and so dull mentally that he forgot half the time to take his medicines, and could give such a poor account of himself that I made only slow progress with him. I was about to give up he case when his older married sister told me, one day, that she had wrung out of the boy a confession that he was addicted to the secret vice practised among boys.
This information, of course, changed my medication, but though the boy, as I had reason to believe, stopped this injurious practice, his actual recovery did not take place until I had performed an orificial operation, consisting of circumcision and removal of pockets and papillae.
It may have been that this patient could have been cured without this treatment, but I hardly believe so, for he arose from his sickbed clean. He needed the rightful punishment of cutting pains after his illicit pleasures, and realising his error he turned into another path and became rapidly restored to full vitality of body and soul. His eye grew bright, his brow clear, his gait became elastic, and he grew more in height in the following one year than he had in the previous three. His intellect widened, as his memory returned, and he last reports from school showed that he had acquitted himself as a good scholar.
N. Bergman, “Report of a few cases of circumcision”, Journal of Orificial Surgery, Vol. 7, December 1898, pp. 249-51