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John Harvey Kellogg Serves Corn Flakes at the San (March 7, 1897)
page 2

If the enemas and the yogurt and the corn flakes and the surgeries failed to improve the patient's condition, Dr. Kellogg had another explanation for what ailed them. He accused them of being masturbators. He abhorred sex, and particularly masturbation, nearly as much as he abhorred clogged colons. Plain Facts for Old and YoungMasturbation, he believed, caused sleeplessness, eating disorders and acne. He devoted 97 pages of his 664-page treatise on sex, Plain Facts for Old and Young, to what he called "The Secret Vice." (He also suggested a cure for masturbation. "A remedy which is almost always successful in small boys," he wrote, "is circumcision... The operation should be performed by a surgeon without administering an anesthetic, as the brief pain attending the operation will have a salutary effect upon the mind... In females, the author has found the application of pure carbolic acid to the clitoris an excellent means of allaying the abnormal excitement.") It is perhaps telling that the good doctor composed a good deal of this book while on his honeymoon. Although he was married, the marriage was never consummated. He and his wife kept separate apartments throughout their lives. (Dr. Kellogg maintained that this was due to the deleterious effect of sexual activity upon physical health. Some commentators, though, have speculated that Dr. Kellogg was either impotent, as a result of mumps, or that he suffered from klismaphilia, a sexual disorder in which enemas replace intercourse.)

The Vibratory ChairIcy baths in radium-infused water and bone-jarring rides on the vibratory chair aside, most of the patients who came to the San did improve. This was due, in large part, to Dr. Kellogg's careful selection of his patients. The seriously ill were almost never admitted. If they were, he released them before their conditions proved fatal. (Sojourner Truth, for instance, died at home several months after her stay at the San.) His patients suffered from the diseases of the rich—obesity, overwork, and boredom. It may be a testament to the efficacy of Dr. Kellogg's "biological living" that he himself lived to be 91. On the other hand, it may be only a testament to his genetic makeup. His brother Will lived to be 91, as well.

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Image Credits:
Picture of Dr. Kellogg with cockatoo is from Great American Quacks: The Museum of Questionable Medical Devices
Front cover of Plain Facts for Old and Young is from The Museum of Menstruation and Women's Health
Picture of the Sanitarium is from Sojourner's Years in Battle Creek

Sources:
DTs Today in All Kinds of History
Christian Science Monitor: What's for Breakfast?
Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (Battle Creek Historical Society)
Dr. J. H. Kellogg Discovery Center, from the Adventist Heritage Ministry
Great American Quacks: The Museum of Questionable Medical Devices
Sojourner's Years in Battle Creek
Pork--Or the Dangers of Pork-Eating Exposed, by J.H. Kellogg, MD
Porn Flakes
The full text of Plain Facts for Old and Young is available from the Electronic Text Center at the University of Virginia Library

More corn flakes and yogurt enemas:
coverThe Road to Wellville, starring Anthony Hopkins, Bridget Fonda, and Matthew Broderick.
Only loosely based on history, The Road to Wellville was adapted from T. Coraghessan Boyle's brilliantly satirical novel of the same name. A mercilessly funny sendup of the health-crazed culture of the late 19th century, it's definitely not for everyone, but if you can stomach it (pardon the pun), it provides rich food for thought.

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