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Though Tissot's ideas are now considered conjectural at best, his treatise was presented as a scholarly, scientific work in a time when experimental physiology was practically nonexistent.
The authority with which the work was subsequently treated – Tissot's arguments were even acknowledged and echoed by luminaries such as Kant and Voltaire – arguably turned the perception of masturbation in Western medicine over the next two centuries into that of a debilitating illness.
Social views regarding masturbation taboo have varied greatly in different cultures, and over history.
"Onania" was a huge success with over 60 editions published and being translated into several languages.The mind is often utterly ruined, and insanity supervenes.Doctor John Harvey Kellogg (February 26, 1852 – December 14, 1943) was an especially zealous campaigner against masturbation.Masturbation was also an act of creation and, in Sumerian mythology, the god Enki was believed to have created the Tigris and Euphrates rivers by masturbating and ejaculating into their empty riverbeds.Male masturbation was an even more important image in ancient Egypt: when performed by a god it could be considered a creative or magical act: the god Atum was believed to have created the universe by masturbating to ejaculation.
A doctor named J W Robertson tried to describe the differences between different types of masturbation in the year 1898, when addressing the Medical Society of the State of California. Balthazar Bekker, titled "Onania, or the Heinous Sin of self-Pollution, And All Its Frightful Consequences, In Both Sexes, Considered: With Spiritual and Physical Advice To Those Who Have Already Injured Themselves By This Abominable Practice." It drew on familiar themes of sin and vice, this time in particular against the "heinous sin" of "self-pollution", with dire warnings that those who so indulged would suffer: Disturbances of the stomach and digestion, loss of appetite or ravenous hunger, vomiting, nausea, weakening of the organs of breathing, coughing, hoarseness, paralysis, weakening of the organ of generation to the point of impotence, lack of libido, back pain, disorders of the eye and ear, total diminution of bodily powers, paleness, thinness, pimples on the face, decline of intellectual powers, loss of memory, attacks of rage, madness, idiocy, epilepsy, fever and finally suicide.