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either disposition or appearance. During intercourse, I am told,
there is continuous spasmodic contraction of various parts of the
vagina and vulva."
The independence of the sexual impulse from the distention of the sexual
glands is further indicated by the great frequency with which sexual
sensations, in a faint or even strong degree, are experienced in childhood
and sometimes in infancy, and by the fact that they often persist in women
long after the sexual glands have ceased their functions.
In the study of auto-erotism in another volume of these _Studies_
I have brought together some of the evidence showing that even in
very young children spontaneous self-induced sexual excitement,
with orgasm, may occur. Indeed, from an early age sexual
differences pervade the whole nervous tissue. I may here quote
the remarks of an experienced gynecologist: "I venture to think,"
Braxton Hicks said many years ago, "that those who have much
attended to children will agree with me in saying that, almost
from the cradle, a difference can be seen in manner, habits of
mind, and in illness, requiring variations in their treatment.
The change is certainly hastened and intensified at the time of
puberty; but there is, even to an average observer, a clear
difference between the sexes from early infancy, gradually
becoming more marked up to puberty. That sexual feelings exist
[it would be better to say 'may exist'] from earliest infancy is
well known, and therefore this function does not depend upon
puberty, though intensified by it. Hence, may we not conclude
that the progress toward development is not so abrupt as has been
generally supposed?... The changes of puberty are all of them
dependent on the primordial force which, gradually gathering in
power, culminates in the perfection both of form and of the
sexual system, primary and secondary."
There appear to have been but few systematic observations on the
persistence of the sexual impulse in women after the menopause.
It is regarded as a fairly frequent phenomenon by Kisch, and also
by Loewenfeld (_Sexualleben und Nervenleiden_, p. 29). In America,
Bloom (as quoted in _Medical Standard_, 1896), from an
investigation of four hundred cases, found that in some cases the
sexual impulse persisted to a very advanced age, and mentions a
case of a woman of 70, twenty years past the menopause, who had
been long a widow, but had recently married, and who declared
that both desire and gratification were as great, if not greater,
than before the menopause.
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