In 1877, John Harvey Kellogg wrote Plain Facts for Old and Young, a seminal text discussing all aspects of healthy living. Kellogg, most famous as the inventor of corn flakes, was a passionate advocate of healthy living. He promoted the good things in life: a bland diet, plenty of exercise, common sense religion and yogurt enemas.
What really concerned him was masturbation. For Kellogg, the masturbator was both physically and morally corrupt: “In solitude he pollutes himself, and with his own hand blights all his prospects for both this world and the next.”
Of course, it was not only males who engaged in this ghastly act: “girls also indulge in it, though, it is to be hoped, to a less fearful extent than boys.”
Suspicious Signs: Symptoms of Masturbation According to Kellogg
Concerned that this vile habit would destroy lives and condemn souls, Kellogg offered his chaste readers a list of 39 signs to help spot a masturbator (primarily focusing on young wrist warriors, but applicable to all ages). In this way, serial wankers could be detected before too much damage was caused by masturbation, an act also known as self-pollution, self-abuse, onanism, manustupration, voluntary pollution, or solitary or secret vice.
What follows is a list of Kellogg’s 39 masturbatory symptoms, with additional commentary from a more modern perspective. The StudioKnow team — no strangers to this particular subject — has been evaluating the supposed symptoms over the past few weeks, to determine which of Kellogg’s warning signs are valid and those that are not…
1. General debility — an overall weakness, including unnatural paleness and colorless lips and gums, that is not caused by any other obvious factor (such as “internal disease, worms, grief, overwork, poor air, or poor food”).
- Comment: For Kellogg, this was a sure way to spot a masturbator. We, however, do not believe that all weak people are frail due to masturbation alone. Opinion: False
2. Early symptoms of consumption — a cough, a decrease in flesh, short breathing and soreness of the lungs or muscles of the chest, are “often solely the result of this vice.”
- Comment: We have only noticed this within test subjects who smoke heavily while spanking the monkey. Opinion: False
3. Premature and defective development — young masturbators risk losing vital energies that the body needs for growth and development. As a result, “The mind is dwarfed as well as the body.” In young males, this leads to a failure of the voice to increase in volume and depth of tone, deficient growth of the beard, and in failure of the chest to become full and the shoulders broad. In young women, this leads to “menstrual derangements, by defective growth either in stature, or as shown in unnatural slimness, and in a failure to develop the graces and pleasing character which should distinguish early womanhood.” According to Kellogg, “Such signs deserve careful investigation; for they can only result from some powerfully blighting influence.”
- Comment: Rob, out 16-year-old intern, has been masturbating twice daily since the age of 10. He is 6 foot 4 inches tall, has extensive facial hair and has a voice like Barry White. Opinion: False
4. Sudden change in disposition — if a kid suddenly changes from happy and pleasant to gloomy and disobedient, this is a sign “which may well arouse suspicion.” Kellogg believed that such personality changes, in both young males and females, would “rarely be found to be anything other than solitary indulgence” [humping fist].
- Comment: Kellogg overlooks the fact that most kids turn into snotty little shits when they hit puberty and enter their teenage years. However, this is also the point at which most kids start shaking hands with the devil, so maybe he has a point. Opinion: Possibly Not False
5. Lassitude — “a dislike for play, lifelessness and languor” could be a sign of frequent masturbation.
- Comment: After looking up “lassitude” in the dictionary, we decided that this makes no sense. Opinion: False
6. An unnatural dullness and vacantness
- Comment: Common in pot-smoking front-pocket rockers, but otherwise a load of bullshit. Opinion: False
7. Sleeplessness — “may justly be a cause for suspicion of evil habits.”
- Comment: We are undecided about this one. Some of us claim to sleep well after a good session, while others often lie awake having naughty thoughts, after which they go for round two. Opinion: Depends
8. Failure of mental capacity — when a child “becomes stupid, forgetful, and inattentive, he has probably become the victim of a terrible vice, and is on the road to speedy mental as well as physical ruin. Watch him.”
- Comment: “Watch him”? Christ, Kellogg was a fucking nutjob. Opinion: Scary
9. Fickleness — indecisiveness and uncertainty could be a sign of a masturbator.
- Comment: We only experience this when deciding whether to do some work or sneak off to a warm and private place for some alone time. Opinion: Normally False
10. Untrustworthiness — “This vice has a wonderful influence in developing untruthfulness”
- Comment: When your partner asks “Where have you been, dear?” it’s unlikely that you’ll reply honestly — “Oh, I’ve been in the garden shed jerking off to Asian Cum Buckets.” So yes, masturbation does promote untruthfulness. Opinion: True
11. Love of solitude — According to Kellogg, “The barn, the garret, the water-closet, and sometimes secluded places in the woods are favorite resorts of masturbators. They should be carefully followed and watched, unobserved.”
- Comment: Kellogg, seriously, what the fuck? That’s some perverted shit right there. Opinion: Kind of True, but Wrong in So Many Ways
12. Bashfulness — Kellogg admits that not “every person who is excessively modest or timid is a masturbator,” but warns that habitual hand-jammers normally cannot look a person straight in the eye.
- Comment: Well, it’s hard to look your mum in the eye just after the act, but it’s not normally a problem. Opinion: False, With the Exception of Bad Timing and Mothers
13. Unnatural boldness — In contrast to bashfulness, some masturbators become horribly uncouth. “When spoken to, he [the masturbator] stares rudely at the person addressing him, often with a very unpleasant leer upon his countenance.”
- Comment: That’s the sign of a psychopath or a coke fiend, not a masturbator. Opinion: False
14. Mock piety — When a happy child becomes “a sober and very sedate little Christian,” his or her family may see this as good thing. However, “not the slightest suspicion have they of the foul orgies practiced by the little sinner.” The child is simply using religion as an excuse to find solitude (“I’m going to pray in the woods, mother, please leave me to converse with God in solitude”).
- Comment: Using religion as a cover story for uninterrupted knuckle shuffling? Awesome! Opinion: Truly Awesome
15. Easily frightened — Masturbation can lead to a diseased imagination: “The victim’s mind is constantly filled with vague forebodings of evil.”
- Comment: We all agree that a quick solo release results in a less jittery, more relaxed lifestyle. Opinion: False
16. Confusion of ideas — “If he attempts to argue, his points are not clearly made.” His jokes fail, “and no one but himself sees any occasion for laughter, except at his stupidity.”
- Comment: Well, that would mean about 90% of all humans are regular masturbators, which is probably true. Opinion: Could be True, But Only If You Want to Blame Everything on Masturbation
17. Wantonness — While Kellogg accepts that some male masturbators develop an aversion to the society of girls, he argues that the opposite is more often true (they turn into horny little bastards). Females usually show an increasing fondness for the society of boys, turning them into wanton little sluts.
- Comment: Masturbation can fire the imagination and makes us crave action that actually involves another person. We think that’s a good thing. Opinion: Probably True
18. Round shoulders — the stooping posture in sitting results in round shoulders, an undeniable sign of the masturbator.
- Comment: If you start whacking off at age four and continue throughout your physical development, then maybe. Otherwise, no. Opinion: Normally False
19. Weak backs, pains in the limbs, and stiffness of the joints — something that should arouse suspicion, especially in young subjects.
- Comment: Some of us have experienced wanker’s cramp and stiff necks after extensive masturbation, normally during the holidays when we have plenty of free time. Comment: Potentially True
20. Paralysis — “We have seen several cases in which this condition was traced to the habit of masturbation, in children under six years of age.”
- Comment: Seriously? A six-year-old tugged himself into a state of paralysis? We’ll need some more evidence for that one, Mr Kellogg… Opinion: Probably Bullshit
21. Unnatural gait — “Boys… walk as if they had been stiffened in the hips, and as though their legs were pegs attached to the body by hinges. The girl wriggles along in a style quite as characteristic.”
- Comment: None of us have ever experienced or witnessed such a thing, although my cousin once twisted a nut somehow, which made him walk like a cowboy for about a week. Opinion: False, Unless You Twist a Nut
22. Bad positions in bed — “If a child lies constantly upon its abdomen, or is often found with its hands about the genitals, it may be at least considered in a fair way to acquire the habit, if it has not already done so.”
- Comment: No shit, Sherlock. If a teenager is lying face down in bed with his hands on his dick, it’s a fairly solid sign of a slap happy kid. Opinion: True, Obviously
23. Lack of development of the breasts in females — “a common result of self-pollution.”
- Comment and Opinion: Bullshit
24. Capricious appetite — When starting out along the masturbatory path, self-abusers develop a huge appetite, “gorging themselves in the most gluttonous manner.” Later, the appetite becomes unstable and unpredictable.
- Comment: We have only noticed this when masturbating furiously while smoking weed (cookies and joint for the left hand, leave the right hand free — a rule to live by). Opinion: True for Stoners
25. Fondness for unnatural, hurtful, and irritating foods — Frequent masturbators like to eat large quantities of “salt, pepper, spices, cinnamon, cloves, vinegar, mustard, horseradish, and similar articles.”
- Comment: Um, really? Kellogg, you’re just making this shit up, right? Opinion: Lies
26. Eating clay, slate-pencils, plaster and chalk — According to Kellogg, this is “a practice to which girls who abuse themselves are especially addicted.”
- Comment: We think Kellogg has been smoking crack. Opinion: More Lies
27. Disgust for simple food.
- Comment: Ridiculous. Opinion: More Lies
28. The use of tobacco — Smokers are almost certainly masturbators: “Exceptions to this rule are very rare indeed, if they exist, which we somewhat doubt.”
- Comment: Kellogg hated smoking almost as much as he hated masturbating. What a boring son of a bitch. Opinion: Statistically-Speaking, True
29. Unnatural paleness — Paleness in the face and colorless lips “may be attributed to secret sin.” Generally, however, Kellogg recommends giving pale people the benefit of the doubt.
- Comment: We also recommend giving pale people the benefit of the doubt before accusing them of sinful masturbatory acts. Opinion: Dubious
30. Acne or pimples on the face — A suspicious sign, but not conclusive on its own, especially when considering spotty teenagers.
- Comment: Damn, teenagers must have had a terrible time in the Kellogg household. Opinion: More Bullshit
31. Biting the finger nails — “a practice very common in girls addicted to this vice.” Girls who flick the bean too much will also have one or more warts “upon one or both the first two fingers of the hand, usually the right.”
- Comment: Gross. Opinion: Bullshit, Thankfully
32. The eyes — Sunken, red or sore eyes could be a sign of masturbatory antics. However, other factors, such as lack of sleep, could also cause similar symptoms.
- Comment: Too much masturbation can turn you blind — we’ve all heard that before. To be honest, sore or tired eyes are probably more relevant today than in Kellogg’s time. Most of us beat the meat in front of a computer screen, taking advantage of the awesome array of porn available online. And marathon late-night web surfing sessions sure can mess up your eyes… Opinion: Web Porn Red-Eye Does Exist
33. An habitually moist, cold hand — “a suspicious circumstance in a young person.”
- Comment: A momentarily moist, slightly warm hand is a legitimate sign of recent masturbation. Habitually moist and cold is not. Opinion: Almost, But Not Quite
34. Palpitation of the heart — This frequently occurring “nervous disturbance” may be a sign of frequent bishop flogging.
- Comment: Damn, Kellogg, do you want to blame masturbation for all possible illnesses and conditions? How about leprosy? Or spontaneous combustion? Opinion: Nonesense
35. Hysteria in females — “a suspicious circumstance when frequently occurring on very slight occasions”
- Comment: Hmm… we can think of a few other things that could cause this. Opinion: More Nonesense
36. Chlorosis, or green sickness — Green sickness can occur in women who partake in the “unholy practice” of masturbation.
- Comment: We have no idea what the hell chlorosis is, so we have no comment. Opinion: None
37. Epileptic fits — Often “the result of vicious habits.”
- Comment: OK, Kellogg, you’re really beginning to sound stupid now. Opinion: Kellogg is a Dickhead
38. Wetting the bed — “may be connected with the practice” of polishing the knob.
- Comment: We took a quick survey in the office: no one had wet the bed since age nine, apart from a few drunken accidents. A few people had messed up the sheets after sloppy wet dreams, but that was because they had not masturbated before bedtime. Opinion: Untrue
39. Unchastity of speech — A “fondness for obscene stories” betrays a condition of mind commonly found in young meat beaters.
- Comment: Well… we are certainly fond of obscene stories — and we unashamedly beat the bishop on a daily basis. Opinion: Probably True
In conclusion, we do not believe that Kellogg’s 39 symptoms of masturbation are relevant today — nor were they ever relevant. We are more inclined to heed the words of another, albeit much more modern, weirdo: “It doesn’t matter who’s wrong or right, just beat it, beat it.”
If you are a frequent masturbator, we’d love to hear your comments. Have you ever paralyzed yourself while pulling the pudding? Do you eat clay or chalk? We’d love to hear from you. Thanks.
Plain Facts for Old and Young — John Harvey Kellogg, 1877