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A History Lesson in Vibration (part 1)

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Vibrators are one of the most popular and well known sex toys available – the well-liked television show “Sex and the City” even devoted a whole episode to this neat little masturbatory aid.

A vibrator (or vibe) is different than a dildo because vibrators are not primarily used for penetration; they are generally used externally on the vagina, penis, or anus. Although most people have heard of vibrators, many are unaware that the vibrator actually got its start in the dark history of medicine.

As we discovered with the history of the dildo, in the 19th century it was common for women to be diagnosed with something called “female hysteria”. This was actually the second most commonly diagnosed illness (second only to fever) at the time. It was not until 1952 that the American Psychological Association declared that “female hysteria” was not a real disease or disorder.

From the time of Hippocrates, until the 1950s, medial experts had believed that female hysteria was a real disorder and that it was the result of the womb’s revolt against sexual deprivation; a condition resulting in excessive lubrication, (sexual) fantasies, irritability, and anxiety.

The only treatment for this serious “medical” condition was to bring the afflicted woman relief via paroxysm (orgasm).

Of course, only trained medical professionals could do this; and since it was time consuming and exhausting having to manually stimulate so many of these women, special tools were needed.

The first solution was for doctors to use dildos instead of their fingers to stimulate these women, but eventually they realised that mechanised tools could do the even job faster. The early mechanised tools were pretty “interesting”; instruments like air or gasoline powered vibrating tables, water powered douches, and swinging seats were just a few of the methods used on women suffering from hysteria.

Although they sound rather primitive, these crazy gadgets laid the groundwork for the development of vibrators, an important doctor’s instrument, meant to speed up the process of bringing a female patient to paroxysm/orgasm.

The first official vibrator was invented in 1869 by an American physician; it was steam powered, large, and difficult to manoeuvre. Finally, in 1882, a British doctor developed a battery powered, electric vibrator. It was much smaller and easier to use than the previous devices, and came with all sorts of fun attachments (these were similar to the kinds of attachments you can still get with a vibrator today).

Once electricity became more wide-spread, the gasoline and steam powered vibrators were replaced with electric models. As the technology improved, vibrators grew smaller and smaller and more and more popular.

To be Continued…. HERE

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5 comments to A History Lesson in Vibration (part 1)

  • Alex

    There I was looking for guiltless, mindless sexual titillation and you go and educate me. I’m bookmarking this for Suze she’ll love it.

    I don’t remember seeing your site before. You ought to get on some blog listings, unless you’re just on the ones I don’t read. Looks like I have some catching up to do.


  • AlwaysArousedGirl

    If I lived back then, I’d be at the dr’s office once a day. They’d have a room specially reserved for me.

  • figleaf

    Hi Shay,

    Great post, by the way. When about about the history of vibrators came out around a year ago I learned, for the first time, about the whole hysteria/paroxym business and the role doctors and midwives had in treating it. When you think about it, for roughly 2000 years, from Hypocrates till Ozzie and Harriet, medicine was basically the oldest profession. Only for women. Who paid doctors. Who were widely respected. Which raises 10,000 questions about, well, almost everything we think we know about sex, prostitution, gender roles, marital relations… the works.

    Yes, I know you’re just writing about vibrators, and I really look forward to the rest of the series. But thanks for bringing the history of the devices and the tasks they were designed to automate.

    Take care,


  • Pussy Talk

    Hi Shay, nice post, nice blog. I’m adding you my list of links.

    DTG xxoo

  • Shay

    Whoa! 5 comments! A new record!!

    Alex – Thanks! However did you manage to find me? You’ve got me all curious now!

    AG – lol me too. We could go together! ^_^

    Fig – the second instalment is coming soon – I’ve just finished the whole thing and it’s a 5 page word document!

    PT – Thanks for the add, always aprisiated. ^_^

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