Albert Chavannes

Albert Chavannes (1836 – 1903) was a Swiss-born American author, philosopher, and sociologist. He explained the benefits of continence during sex, including marital harmony, birth control and better health. Also see his pamphlet Magnetation and Its Relation To Health and Character.


Entire book

[From Chapter 10 “Sexual Magnetism”]

(p.76) [The sexual vital force] has special potentialities …which, if they can be used by the parent organism for his own benefit, must have better results than can be derived from [intellectual or emotional] magnetisms. It must result in an increase of vitality, and probably in the prolongation of life.

(pp. 78-79) As the tendency to child-bearing diminishes [as people gain intellectual and physical force], it becomes quite a problem to know what shall be done with the increase in sexual force [no longer expended in raising lots of children] so that it shall become a blessing and not a curse to society.

The change from procreation to magnetation is…an economic question because the population question is the most important question which humanity has to solve … it is hopeless to try to improve the economic conditions of a people who increase faster than the means of subsistence, or to regenerate individuals conceived in disease and raised in poverty. It is a social question because it influences individual character, which is the only sure basis of social improvement.

(p.80) Success [with magnetation] depends upon union and reciprocity. Not the reciprocity of a moment of passion, as is too often the case in procreation, but the reciprocity of affection, based upon these qualities which are the foundation of the social virtues. It requires good personal control in both sexes, teaches kindness and forbearance, broadens the mind and destroys jealousy. It creates an atmosphere of sympathy and attraction which reaches far out from the family circle, and will in time modify the industrial relations. Surely such a change in the use of sex force is needed, and as it must be controlled by our intelligence it cannot be successfully accomplished unless we have a clear idea of the ends we desire and of the means by which they can be attained.

(p.85) The persons who believe that their sex force can be turned back from its original function of reproducing the race to adding to their own physical powers, and wish to reap this benefit must study themselves and find out the limit of their self-control, so as to avoid as far as possible that complete surrender to passionate desire which is always the precursor of procreation.

The effort is not nearly as difficult or hopeless as some persons suppose. We have all around us examples of the power of the brain to control the subordinate organisms, and there is no reason why the sex force should not be brought into proper subjection whenever men and women will have developed sufficiently to recognize how necessary it is to curb their inherited propensities, and how great will be the reward of this new advance in civilization.

(p.86) While the ascetics of old taught the non-use of sex force as pleasing to God and worthy of a reward after death, evolution philosophers teach self-control in the use of sex force as a means of increasing the sum total of happiness for those who exercise it.

What then is the incentive to magnetation? How will it increase personal happiness? Briefly told, it is claimed that it furnishes a more satisfactory and less wasteful method than procreation for restoring the equilibrium of sex force.

(p.96) Magnetation depends upon reciprocity, and there can be reciprocity only between equals. … Sex slavery precludes the free exchange of sex magnetism, and will have to be abolished before the full benefits of magnetation can be secured.

(p.97) It is but right to state that if economic conditions and superstitious beliefs have had a tendency to make man over-assertive, the same influences have made woman mercenary, and she will have to correct herself of that defect before right relations can be established between the sexes.

(p.98) [A] perfect state of receptivity…can greatly increase the transfer of magnetism, and upon it depends in a great measure the success of magnetation.

(p. 102) If there is danger to society in unregulated procreation, there is safety in magnetation, for it is based on self-control, and by its help the proper equilibrium can be safely maintained, and society will learn in time that the sex force, which untamed must be placed under outside restraints to keep it from bringing too much misery into the world, can, when its potentialities are known, be placed under personal subjection, and play an important part in the increase of happiness and the advance of civilization.

(p. 103) Whenever it is well understood that there is less danger in intelligent freedom than in ignorant slavery, and that the free social commingling of the sexes tends to restore the proper equilibrium, while undue restraint tends to such an accumulation of sex force as to destroy the equilibrium and induce to abnormal actions in efforts to restore it, the tendency to trust young girls with the control of their conduct will greatly increase and the growing spirit of independence will receive much more encouragement.

It is very satisfactory to persons who hold the views that I do, to see the gradual dying out of the puritanical spirits, and especially to note the breaking down of the opposition to the dance, for [dancing] offers the most available mode of magnetation for young people under present conditions. The excitement of the music, the exercise of the limbs and the close proximity of the sexes tend to release a large amount of sex magnetism and to induce considerable equilibration, while the length of time that it can be kept up allows it to be enjoyed to full satisfaction. Dancing…is the best safeguard against sexual excess while the kissing plays, so much in favor where dancing is denounced, are sure to excite the passions and to leave the persons who indulge in those pastimes in a state of ferment which leads them very easily to succumb to temptation.

(p. 104) The frequency of divorce shows that there is a weak spot in the marriage relation for it certainly was not contemplated at the time the union was consummated, and I am inclined to believe that this weak spot is the ignorance of the dual function of sex force and of the antagonism which exists between magnetation and procreation.

(p. 105) A proper regard for the married happiness of youths of both sexes ought to lead to their being taught:

First, that sex force is a natural force, as pure and deserving of gratification as any force within us, and that if society has placed it under restraint, it is not because its expression is degrading to the human character, but because its uncontrolled results are inimical to the advance of civilization.

Second, that all expressions of love are due to the presence of sex force. These expressions may be such as may be accounted most chaste, or they maybe coarse and aggressive, but their source is the same and they are all attempts to equilibrate the sex force within us.

Third that marriage is the legal method of this equilibration sanctioned by society, which looks upon it as a sexual contract, entered upon for the gratification of sexual desires.

(p. 106) To retain [their] attraction, a young couple entering into married life must have a rational view of the function of sex force and a desire to use it to its best advantage, as well as a knowledge of the results that will follow if they use it in procreation or in magnetation. … How does it come to pass then, that failings that were so easily overlooked during courtship should assume such proportions after marriage? To my mind the answer is plain.

(p. 108) Magnetation is an art, and cannot be attained through the unregulated impulses of ignorant individuals, nor can the necessary development be reached so long as false views of the sex relation control the education of the youths of both sexes.

(p. 112) If, instead of inculcating in married people the idea of mutual ownership with its resulting jealousy, personal independence and equal rights were the ruling principle in marriage, both partners would find among their friends and acquaintances persons who, by ways perfectly compatible with their married position and the pledges they have made to each other, would relieve them of undue magnetic pressure due to incomplete equilibration.

Knowledge and self-control lead to individual independence and are necessary conditions to social progress, and it is because I believe it will help the onward march of these social forces that I advocate the change from Procreation to Magnetation.

Vital Force, Magnetic Exchange and Magnetation by Albert Chavannes (1897)