The Journal of Libertarian Studies

Facebook icon
LinkedIn icon
Twitter icon
< | < | <

Medicine and the Crimination of Sin: "Self-abuse" in 19th Century America

  • The Journal of Libertarian Studies

Tags HealthLegal SystemMedia and Culture

07/30/2014Ronald Hamowy

What this essay will attempt to show is that while, during the 19th century, the prohibition of sexual immorality played a comparatively unimportant role in American criminal law, the medical profession arrogated to itself the task of dealing with moral questions. Psychological medicine particularly, by substituting "treatment" of disease for legal punishment of moral transgression, placed itself in the position of enforcer of virtuous conduct. Medicine was so successful in assuming this function that, by the end of the century, it had enlisted the great mass of the literate public in support of its findings respecting the connection between sexual behavior and mental disease

Volume 1, Number 3 (1977)

Image source:

Cite This Article

Hamowy, Ronald. "Medicine and the Crimination of Sin: "Self-abuse" in 19th Century America." Journal of Libertarian Studies 1, No.3 (1977): 229-270.

Shield icon interview