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Bed-wetting

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Whereas child bed wetters in sixteenth-century England had been directed for their malady to consume the testicles of a hedgehog or the windpipe of a cock, Enlightenment science, which rejected symbolical approaches to medical problems, recommended direct interventions to cut off the flow of urine. Thus did treatment in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries come to include:

Plugging the urethra.

Constriction of the penis with bandages, strings, adhesives, or vises, one of which was described as a “formidable rat-trap looking instrument.”

In severe cases, circumcision or clitoridectomy.

Ignipuncture of the perineum.

Sleeping on a hard surface.

Bladder and rectal irrigations.

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’s last article for Harper’s Magazine, “Making a Scene,” appeared in the May issue.

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