In the excerpt from his detailed book On the Curability of Certain Forms of Insanity, Epilepsy, Catalepsy and Hysteria in Females, Isaac Baker Brown provides "evidence" that explains why his cliterechtomy procedures in the mid-1800s were advantageous. He describes female masturbation and clitoral stimulation as "abnormal excitement" and he seems to be rather threatened by the notion that Victorian women are potentially "plagued" by sexual desire. The coded language regarding masturbation displays Brown's discomfort with the whole ordeal and the introductory chapter provides insight into his attempts at rationalizing his method of treatment. His misogynistic perception of women shines through when he states that he cannot possibly discuss the "numerous varieties of insanity and other nervous disorders to which females are liable," yet he seems frightened that this "abnormal irritation of a nerve centre" could lead to the sexual downfall of men (Brown, 2).
As the title of this book implies, I do not intend to occupy the attention of my readers with all the numerous varieties of insanity and other nervous disorders to which females are liable, but only those which I believe to be curable by surgical means. The class of diseases on which I shall dwell are those depending on (or arising from) a loss of nerve tone, caused by continual abnormal irritation of a nerve centre.
My statement, that death is indeed the direct climax of the series, might be proved by several cases which have occurred in my own practice...The case that occurred in my own practice was as follows- aet. 19, has been gradually becoming ill since the age of nine; does not look older than the latter age, though the sexual organs are highly developed as they should be. Has been for many months in a metropolitan hospital suffering from acute headache, but has received no benefit. For two years has been perfectly blind.
She was found dead, and with every evidence of having expired during a paroxysm of abnormal excitement.
These cases will illustrate how important it is to arrest the disease ab initio, and the treatment must be the same whether we wish to cure functional disturbance, arrest organic disease, or finally, if we have only one chance, of averting death itself.
Of course, from the very novelty of these views, I have been met with many objections, such as unsexing the female, preventing the normal excitement consequent on marital intercourse, or actually, as some most absurdly and unphilosophically assert, causing sterility...
Page numbers in original volume
Baker Brown, Isaac. "Chapter I: Introductory." On the Curability of Certain Forms of Insanity, Epilepsy, Catalepsy, and Hysteria in Females. Hardwicke. 1866. Pp. 2 & 8-10.