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Disease, Infirmity and Sex (Rumination on Gerontology)

Dr. M. A. Usmani

Disease should not be confused with infirmity of old age. Old age is a stage of life. And no stage of life is ipso facto pathological.

Disease requires cure, and infirmity care. Disease lies in the jurisdiction of physicians or health care practitioners, but infirmity requires tending and care from all concerned. There is no definite age for the onset of infirmity: there can be persons showing infirmity in their fifties, and other persons not revealing an iota of it even in their seventies. Factors can be legion for this anomaly, viz. heredity, pursuits of life, environment, family life: infested with strife, or stress free; quantity or quality of sexual impetus, inborn or acquired; intellectual vs. emotional life, etc., etc.

A burning pursuit or dedication to a mission in life keeps the heart and spirits of a person young and buoyant. Healthy heredity and un-stressful and smooth family life bestow serenity and equanimity of mind, and keeps one physically symptom-free.

The most vital factor that keeps the infirmity of old age at bay is sex. Keep the flame of sex burning to keep the mind-body balance integral. Sex is basic to life, and life is basic to all that is. Sex should be venerated, not thwarted, not despised in the least, nor labeled as satanic, nor even angelic, for it is the fountainhead of pure and vigorous life. Life flows from sex; and sex determines the quality of life. Sex brings optimism, and creates a sense of belonging. It unites you with humanity, and makes you flow with the stream of life.

In human life sex is manifested in two ways: direct, natural (heterosexual) sex, and sublimated sex. The sublimated sex appears as further subdivided into two phenomena: one, owing to person’s inborn proclivities, the other, coming into existence owing to the embargo put on the free flow of life energy or the élan vital of the individual by the non-permissive and prohibitive society. In the first case the person uses his vital sexual energy in a creative way, in the realm of arts and intellect, according to his proclivities or inborn tendencies. The society does not curb this natural sublimation of sex. Many great men, in history, have sublimated almost the total impetus, or sexual raw energy, so that they were left with very rudimentary sexual life. Havelock Ellis was one such a person. (His field of fame was psychology and sociology of sex!)

In the other case, the non-liberal and intolerant society, with religious restrictive norms, stifle many a soul and compel him to abnormal sexual life. Sexual delinquency thus takes its birth. Homosexuality, in the notorious form of ‘gayism, and lesbianism’ comes into existence.

I know that people, or votaries of these two addictions, will adduce tons of arguments against my conclusion; but the fundamental and basic cause will remain the same, that is, the abnormal and censorious society with its non-liberal mores and laws. Religious institutions and strict gender-segregation hostels are the festering dens for this sexual delinquency.

Another way of sublimation of sexual energy, or libido, is the sublime pursuit of the mystics. Mysticism is, undoubtedly a metamorphosis or transmutation of raw sexual energy of the individual. All the mystic literature containing mystical outbursts, in the form of poetry or esoteric prose, betray its sexual origin. Most of its ecstatic outbursts are sexual and amorous. The works of the great mystics of the human history, e.g. Mauvlana Rome, Sarmad, Sultan Bahu, Bulle Shah, and many Christian and Hindu mystics have used the ordinary amorous diction and sexual language, to convey their ecstatic experience. There is definite underpinning of sexual impetus in these experiences. Sometime, we find, the mystic himself becomes a lover (i.e. male gender) and the ultimate Reality (that is God) a beloved (female gender). Sometimes it occurs the other way round, i.e. himself the female gender, as bride, and God the male gender, as groom; but the yearning will be of the same amorous emotions and expression.

Mysticism is an ennobling experience. It humanizes the mystic. He turns to be a great lover of mankind. He rises above all the mundane prejudices. But human history shows that there is very sinister danger in mysticism degenerating into theological constructs or formation of new faith systems. It happens especially where the mystic has penchant to be a reformer. This penchant is his own; it has nothing to do with mysticism and/or the sublimation of sex. It is, so to say, ‘mundanization’ of what was ethereal and the spiritual. The systems of faith are time-limited and space-limited; they are not for all times, nor for all places. They are workable for shorter or longer time, but not for ever. Mystical experience is neither space limited nor time limited. It is eternal, and timeless. ( Doors of Perception, by Aldous Huxley, is a good treatise to be consulted for edification here.)

We come to the conclusion that sex is an essential element in life; it brings optimism, sense of well-being and belonging, and equanimity. These are essential elements to ward off infirmity.

This is the psychology of man, especially in old age, that nobody wants to be called an old man, or old woman. Everybody wants to keep young. A physician often hears an old man asking him: “Can I be young again, doctor?” Along with this he finds that most of his old patients have become, so to say, perfectionists. They want every thing in their body in perfect order, and every function performing perfectly. They don’t want to accept the fact that functioning threshold of their viscera and organs decreases with age. They don’t accept the fact of aging. A large percentage of their complaints are not in fact diseases. Those are only sign of aging.

One such complaint is the incontinence of urine, in the form of involuntary dribbling, especially after urination. This sometimes respond to treatment and sometimes not. Some loss of control of the bladder is common infirmity of old age. Giving it some allowance is in order: don’t delay the call, or, more appropriately, devise a method to empty the bladder after a pre-determined period, even if you do not feel any urge.

A patient of mine was much perturbed because of this infirmity. He was a religious person, and did not want to say his prayers with soiled clothes. I advised him to wear a thick cotton underwear, till he improves by treatment; and take off the underwear, at the time of prayer, and wash the parts.

Old-age infirmity requires that one should relinquish indulgence and wantonness in consuming foods. One should eat sparingly, especially at night. Observe the rule: no eating when no hunger.

In old age people usually develop intolerance to the farinaceous foods. One should usually avoid these foods. Nuts, figs, dates and resins are the food of choice after the age of sixty.

Milk allergy is very common. It either creates flatulence or diarrhea. Most old people can’t digest milk. Be realistic and forego the habit of taking milk. Milk is not an essential diet in adult life and in old age. We must remember that it is only the Homo Sapiens who have devised taking and continuing to take milk after the infancy, even in old age. In the animal world no mammal takes milk more than few weeks or months.

Another infirmity of old age is the prostate problems. It is not essential, but it occurs in sizable percentage of old people. In most of the cases I have helped people by asking them to regularize their sexual life and indulgence. Many acute cases I’ve cured by advising the patients to end the tumescence of their prostate by ejaculating the semen by whatever means available to them. Havelock Ellis devised this term of ‘tumescence and detumescence with respect to prostate problems. Hypertrophy of the prostate do occur (rarely also malignant), but exercise and regular sex is preventive. Occasionally two to three weeks’ use of Sabal Serulata will keep the prostate in form.

Similarly in women the incidence of breast and uterine cancer, after menopause, (also the disfigurement of their physique), can be appreciably lessened by keeping their sex life to the optimum level. Even the beauty of the figure can be preserved thereby.

Sexually enriched life (either direct or sublimated) is bar against the infirmity of the old age. The mystics and the Sufis live a useful and long life; and the artists, painters, writers and intellectuals spend an active and ‘youthful’ life (if not already spoiled by inebriety).


Usmani Resource Page

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