Back in the medieval days, when science and superstition were not entirely distinguishable from each other among the masses, conversations about sexuality or any related topic were met with disapproval and criticism. Many even went as far as to invent devices such as chastity belts that could control and discourage someone from indulging in acts of self pleasure, or rather self-abuse or onanism, while others warned of medical or religious repercussions. One such warning comes from an 1830 book that gives detailed descriptions accompanied by colored hand-drawn illustrations of the progressive physical, as well as moral, deterioration.
Named Le Livre Sans Titre or The Book without a Title, the book illustrates the steady decline of the youth in question which, after much “suffering and pain”, results in death at the young age of 17.
People, including the medical and scientific professionals, of the middle ages held many strange beliefs regarding human sexuality. Le Livre Sans Titre isn’t the first book to address people’s “concerns” masturbation. For example, an anonymously written book known as Onania first distributed in London in 1716 calls it “heinous crime” of “self-pollution” and warns of consequences including impotence, gonorrhea, epilepsy and wasting of faculties. Another medical book published in 1760 called L’Onanisme by Samuel-Auguste Tissot claimed that semen is an essential body oil and that wasting it through masturbation would result in “reduction of strength, memory and even reason, blurred vision, all nervous disorders, all types of gout and rheumatism”, etc., and the list goes on.