Methodological Solipsism Considered as a Research Strategy by Fodor Jerry

By Fodor Jerry

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No child, however young, was, in principle, excepted from this fate. 2 Suck a Thumb. In 1845 the focus on social behavior was illustrated in a child’s book, Struwwelpeter, that comprised gruesomely illustrated accounts of the terrible consequences of childish disobedience to adult authority. Each cautionary tale was correlated with a misuse of the body—cleanliness, personal hygiene, gluttony, and an early recognition of what in 1879 was to be identified by the German pediatrician Lindner as “pleasure sucking” (Gillis, 1996, 57).

Reviewed as an important addition to professional literature, this text offered examples of and prescribed treatment for a range of physical and mental consequences of excessive coitus and masturbation (Bell 1839, 146). Cases included both children and adults and treatments ranged from the topical (application of iced water) to the more extreme surgical interventions. As Deslandes recounted, Mademoiselle C***, ten years old and of strong constitution and good muscular development had been addicted to onanism since she was two years old.

In this somatic focus of disease and treatment, diseases of the mind were derivative from, rather than the causal link with, compulsive uses of the body. The high profile of masturbation in medical writing was also a vector in the growing tensions between the “quack” practitioners and trained physicians as medical knowledge and power began to coalesce (Porter 1995, 45–59). 16 Prior to this, for example, German physician Christian Struve17 (1802) preserved the eighteenth-century argument that “nature is the safest guide of man: her voice is paramount and prior to any document” (377).

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