I would emphasize at this point, that I deal only with such emotions and sensations as lie within the limits of normal sexuality: limits which are wide and various enough in all conscience! Morbid deflections, twisted and abnormal desires have no place in the physiology of marriage, in spite of their primitive ramifications, manifold diversity, and extraordinary frequency in the whole field of sexual life. And perfect marriage should be kept free from their taint, with all the knowledge and power at our command. And we shall be ever careful to keep those sinister portals closed.
The sense of hearing has, I think, been underestimated unduly by many authorities with reference to its erotic effects.
Indeed, the realm of sounds, harmonic and melodic, has erotic witchery of the utmost power for those who are both aesthetically and sexually sensitive. Music is not the only form of auditory impression with a powerful sexual appeal. The sexual impulse is far more often powerfully stirred by the intensely personal medium of the human voice; of a special voice.
The tone-color of a voice, and the intonation of a single word – and it may be a word with no special meaning or associations in itself – may excite incredible intensity of desire. The unique and precious significance that a woman's voce can give to such a word can suffice to overwhelm a man's powers of endurance and control, or to bring about the climax of erotic expression in the orgasm.
Personal qualities or idiosyncrasies are of great significance in the association of sexual emotion with the sense of smell. This is the case both in perception of and reaction to olfactory stimuli, and as regards the special personal odors.
Olfactory susceptibility us a very diverse and uncertain factor. There are persons in whom it hardly exists. There are certainly many who have no conception of the sexual significance of odors and who are not conscious of any reaction to odors. Inasmuch as they are here anesthetic and inappreciative, they lose a delectable relish to love. I would advise such persons to give their attention to the subject of odors, to become acutely conscious of the enjoyment they derive from the subtle and various scents exhaled by the body they love.
And human beings differ in their own individual odors as much as in their olfactory reactions. It must be of course understood that the term "personal odors" does not include such noxious by-products as the effluvia of unclean bodies or clothing, of the gases produced by waste matter in the bowels, or of breath saturated with garlic or other injudicious food! Or, indeed, of all and any such sexually repulsive or aesthetic care, which must be avoided as the negation of all wholesomeness and charm.
But in all these intimate matters the personal tastes of the "consumer" are as important as the idiosyncrasy of the "producer" of the odors in question. This was strikingly proved to me during a visit from two young men of my acquaintance, who were also mutual friends. The conversation touched on a certain young lady. One of the youths – he was only twenty two – said carelessly and certainly without in the least realizing the true significance of his words: "Oh, no, I don't like her as a dancing partner. She is a nice girl, but – she has such a disagreeable smell!" The friend, of the same age and equally naïve, replied: "Do you really think so? I don't understand that at all; it is just the smell that emanates from her that I like!"
A further instance is so remarkable that I will not deprive you of the details. I know of a case in which a young married lady can perceive and differentiate the momentary mood and psychic condition of her husband – whose breath has been affected by constant smoking – by the varying odors emanating from his skin! She describes these odors as follows: Slightly sweet when he is in good humor; slightly sour in fatigue; and extremely acrid in anger and strong excitement, becoming the more pungent and penetrating the more he loses emotional balance and control.