Impotence: a story with a sequel

Impotence: a story with a sequel

For many centuries, people did not put up with impotence and sought ways to treat it. Ancient Greeks and Egyptians already had their own recipes.

Impotence” is a term of Latin origin. It was first used in 1420 in Thomas Hockley’s poem “De Regina principle”, meaning “lack of strength” or “helplessness”: “his impotence does not extend as far as his influence.” And in the sense of” loss of sexual power”, the term was first used only in 1655 in the” History of the Church in Britain ” by Thomas fuller, where the Pope himself was called impotent. But, of course, the problem of male sexual impotence existed long before the word “impotence”appeared.

Biblical story

Paradoxically, the first mention of sexual impotence can be found in the Bible, namely the old Testament. Suffered from this illness, king David, who angered God criminal love affair. It was like this. King David was flattered by the wife of his devoted warrior Uriah the Hittite. As a result of carnal pleasures, the unfaithful wife became pregnant. The cunning king, having decided to hide the shame, sent her husband to a dangerous campaign, where he found his death. Without hesitation, David took widowed mistress to wife and, it would seem, all he should be well. But misdemeanor lascivious king angered God: “Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do evil in his sight?”. And as punishment, God “took the sword of David,” and he lost his virility.

In those harsh times, the king, not capable of procreation, could well lose the throne, so David’s advisers sent to the king a beautiful young girl, in the hope that she will return him sexual potency. “The damsel was very fair, and cherished the king and ministered to him: but the king knew her not” (III kings, 1:4). So the great king became the first impotent in history.

For many centuries, people did not put up with impotence and sought ways to treat it. Ancient Greeks and Egyptians already had their own recipes. Greek doctors recommended as a medicine the seeds of dope and flowers of male fern, which was attributed to take inside and use as lotions and wraps. The results of such treatment were not always satisfactory, however, the doctors did not give up.


An unexpected turn in the understanding of sexual impotence occurred in the Middle ages, when sexual problems began to be attributed more to the competence of the Church than to medicine. The main reason for impotence Church authorities called the action of demonic forces. In 1486, was released the infamous treatise “the Hammer of witches”(“Malleus Maleficarum”), which directly stated that impotence is the result of arcane spells that sends witches. Affected by their spell book recommended several methods of healing, of which the most reliable — to find and destroy the witch. Medieval impotents took the advice literally and zealously undertook to get rid of the causes of their love failures.

Around the same time, another work was published concerning sexual impotence and its treatment — “a Brief treatise on people who, being struck by witchcraft, are unable to communicate with their wives.” It describes in detail the ways witch sends men spoilage. In this treatise also suggested some means of struggle against witchcraft. According to the authors of the treatise, from impotence well helped regular prayers, spraying the walls of the house with dog blood and the encirclement around the house of fish bile.

A more progressive view of the problem of impotence arose only a hundred years later. In 1563 Dr. Johann Weyer suggested that impotence is not necessarily the result of evil spells, and may occur due to natural causes and also be a side effect of using certain drugs. However, like all new ideas Weyer were not accepted immediately, even enlightened people. And even among the inhabitants of impotence connection with witchcraft seemed simpler and easier than the mysterious natural causes, so she confessed to the XIX century.

In Russia, the problem of sexual impotence worried men no less than in the West. “Whose man mihir will not stand, and you take the deer’s brain from the bone, RUB it in the water and give the man Petey. The same will be mihir of state” — so recommended to treat impotence (aka “newsmania”) in handwritten medical book of the eighteenth century. Domestic healers offered and other equally exotic recipes treatment of male impotence. For example, it was proposed to “smear shame” with a mixture of chicken heart with deer fat or eat thirty stewed sparrows in a pot. As far as such methods were effective, history is silent. Also very popular among the Russian people were conspiracies: both those that got rid of impotence, and those with which it could be sent. Most interesting is that even today in remote villages such plots are still being used. So if you ever hear: “How beard cock hanging out, I would have the servant of God (your name) all hung out”, — beware, you inflict “newsmania”!

The scientific approach to the study of impotence arose only by the end of the XIX century. For the study of impotence took no healers and priests, and doctors and scientists. The first serious work on the topic of impotence: “sexual weakness of men” (1883) belonged to the American William Hammond. He believed that the cause of impotence is Masturbation and early sexual intercourse. The higher the sexual activity of the patient, the faster he will spend it and get sick with sexual impotence.

How treated?

Treatment of impotence was of two types: hygienic and medical. The first included not only the rejection of sexual activity during the year, but also “abstinence from lustful thoughts.” In addition, various types of showers and special physical exercises were attributed. Particular importance was attached to the strict prohibition to sleep on the back. As a prevention of impotence, Hammond recommended not to start sexual activity until 21 years, and then limited to three sexual contacts per month. Now something already known, that Hammond was wrong, but a century ago his ideas were accepted on cheers.

Inspired by a Puritan physician, by the end of the 19th century, inventors patented dozens of anti-turbulence devices. They looked like a kind of” chastity belt ” — iron covers for the penis and testicles, fastened to the belt. Hard times have come from the stronger sex, especially when you consider that the actual treatment of impotence for Hammond was the application of electric current discharges to the genitals. And other doctors did not lag behind and offered to treat impotence with cauterization, massage, flogging of the penis with rods and nettles.

The twentieth century can be considered the century of struggle against impotence. First of all, Masturbation was rehabilitated, the causes of sexual impotence began to be divided into psychological and physical, and, having dealt with the causes of the disease, they switched to its complex treatment.

Traditionally, the word “impotence” often refers to the inability to achieve an erection or hold it. In the life of any normal man, such an embarrassment can sometimes happen, but this is absolutely not a sign of illness. And only when exception becomes the rule, it is time to sound alarm. By the way, not so long ago, the doctors agreed once and for all to get rid of the degrading term “impotence”, now the problems with erection will be called “erectile dysfunction”. Let not very clear, but not so offensively.

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