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suspension, swinging, restraint, and fetters. Strangulation is the extreme
and most decided type of this group of imagined or real situations, in all
of which a respiratory disturbance seems to be an essential element.
In explaining these phenomena we have to remark that respiratory
excitement has always been a conspicuous part of the whole process of
tumescence and detumescence, of the struggles of courtship and of its
climax, and that any restraint upon respiration, or, indeed, any restraint
upon muscular and emotional activity generally, tends to heighten the
state of sexual excitement associated with such activity.
I have elsewhere, when studying the spontaneous solitary
manifestation of the sexual instinct (_Auto-erotism_, in vol. i
of these _Studies_), referred to the pleasurably emotional, and
sometimes sexual, effects of swinging and similar kinds of
movement. It is possible that there is a certain significance in
the frequency with which the eighteenth-century French painters,
who lived at a time when the refinements of sexual emotion were
carefully sought out, have painted women in the act of swinging.
Fragonard mentions that in 1763 a gentleman invited him into the
country, with the request to paint his mistress, especially
stipulating that she should be depicted in a swing. The same
motive was common among the leading artists of that time. It may
be said that this attitude was merely a pretext to secure a
vision of ankles, but that result could easily have been attained
without the aid of the swing.
I may here quote, as bearing on this and allied questions, a
somewhat lengthy communication from a lady to whom I am indebted
for many subtle and suggestive remarks on the whole of this group
"With regard to the connection between swinging and suspension,
perhaps the physical basis of it is the loss of breath. Temporary
loss of breath with me produces excitement. Swinging at a height
or a fall from a height would cause loss of breath; in a state of
suspension the imagination would suggest the idea of falling and
the attendant loss of breath. People suffering from lung disease
are often erotically inclined, and anesthetics affect the
breathing. Men also seem to like the idea of suspension, but from
the active side. One man used to put his wife on a high swinging
shelf when she displeased him, and my husband told me once he
would like to suspend me to a crane we were watching at work,
though I have never mentioned my own feeling on this point to
him. Suspension is often mentioned in descriptions of torture.
Beatrice Cenci was hung up by her hair and the recently murdered
Queen of Korea was similarly treated. In Tolstoi's _My Husband
and I_ the girl says she would like her husband to hold her over
a precipice. That passage gave me great pleasure.
"The idea of slipping off an inclined plane gives me the same
sensation. I always feel it on seeing Michael Angelo's 'Night,'
though the slipping look displeases me artistically. I remember
that when I saw the 'Night' first I did feel excited and was
annoyed, and it seemed to me it was the slipping-off look that
gave it; but I think I am now less affected by that idea. Certain
general ideas seem to excite one, but the particular forms under
which they are presented lose their effect and have to be varied.
The sentence mentioned in Tolstoi leaves me now quite cold, but
if I came across the same idea elsewhere, expressed differently,
then it would excite me. I am very capricious in the small
things, and I think women are so more than men. The idea of
slipping down a plank formerly produced excitement with me; now
it has a less vivid effect, though the idea of loss of breath
still produces excitement. The idea of the plank does not now
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