John Harvey Kellogg

This morning I realized a lot of people do not know of or understand the connection between Kelloggs cereals, masturbation, and circumcision. I hope this blog post clears it up for those of you who are unaware.

I realized there are an awful lot of people in this country who are cutting their baby boys and don't even know how it started to be culturally acceptable in the United States.

From wikipedia:

John Harvey Kellogg (February 26, 1852 – December 14, 1943) was an American medical doctor in Battle Creek, Michigan, who ran a sanitarium using holistic methods, with a particular focus on nutrition, enemas and exercise. Kellogg was an advocate of vegetarianism and is best known for the invention of the corn flakes breakfast cereal with his brother, Will Keith Kellogg.[1] He led in the establishment of the American Medical Missionary College. The College, founded in 1895, operated until 1910 when it merged with Illinois State University.

I woke up with Kellogg's on my mind, and not because I wanted some cereal. From the above paragraph you now know there was a man named John Harvey Kellogg who lived in the United States and had a medical degree.

Kellogg was a Seventh Day Adventist who lost his fellowship in 1907 after publishing a book that disagreed with the views of the Traditionalists in the church.

While he was still a member of the church he began his vegetarianism and "holistic" teachings. He believed in enemas (gallons of water followed by an injection of yogurt into the rectum) to "purify the bowel" and diets and exercises that would supposedly decrease sexual desire. He taught sexual abstinence, which included avoiding masturbation. Here is the key that leads to the answer: for what is a surgeon to do, what will he promote, if he does not believe in masturbation as a normal part of life? He began advocating and performing circumcision surgery around the turn of the century.

He taught that circumcision must be done while the patient is conscious and without anesthesia. He believed that if this surgery was accompanied by pain the patient would learn to associate pain with the genitals and therefore be able to avoid masturbation. He was cutting little boys' prepuces off without any kind of pain medication whatsoever (a practice that has astoundingly survived up to modern day).

But he didn't stop with boys. He also believed, and taught, that little girls must also be punished in the same way. Instead of circumcising them outright, he gave little girls carbolic acid (phenol) baths to their clitorises.

In Kellogg's own words from his book Plain Facts for the Old and Young:

A remedy which is almost always successful in small boys is circumcision, especially when there is any degree of phimosis. The operation should be performed by a surgeon without administering an anesthetic, as the brief pain attending the operation will have a salutary effect upon the mind, especially if it be connected with the idea of punishment, as it may well be in some cases. The soreness which continues for several weeks interrupts the practice, and if it had not previously become too firmly fixed, it may be forgotten and not resumed.

In females, the author has found the application of pure carbolic acid [phenol] to the clitoris an excellent means of allaying the abnormal excitement.

He also advocated tying children's hands, sewing a foreskin shut, and electric shock to "treat" masturbation.

In a time of Victorian attitudes and fear of the normal functioning of the human body, people believed Kellogg and accepted his prescriptions.

We now understand that masturbation is a normal, healthy part of sexuality, along with sexual relations with your spouse, which Kellogg is also rumored to have avoided in his many years of marriage.

Unfortunately circumcision never went out of fashion and many boys have been damaged physically and psychologically and suffered in this country because of this man's teachings.

To download (for free) two of the books written by JH Kellogg, follow this link. There are many different options for the format that is most convenient for you.

Added note February 24, 2013:
Long time friend of Tom Gualtieri writes here.


Anonymous said...

After learning about this about a year ago and being a mom of three boys, two of which unfortunately are circ'd. I can't bring myself to buy anything related to Kellogg, even if the man is long dead and gone. As far as my two who are circ'd, it is something I am learning to forgive myself for, but I still see their scars. I am an intactivist and try to educate as many as possible. My future grandsons will not experience this barbaric practice IF it is still an option to parents at that time. And I will ask my sons' forgiveness when they are old enough to understand, and will support them in any way possible in any restoration options they pursue. said...

If you're interested in telling your story email me at to have it published. I'm sorry you feel bad about the first two, but when we know better we do better. There was a time when I didn't even know what circumcision was! Education is key.

tylervoartist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

simply dropping by to say hi