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Voices — Wallace Muenzenberger

The 23rd of December 1947 is a day I’ll never forget. That is when I first learned, to my horror, what a circumcision was.

I was raised Roman Catholic and attended 12 years of parochial school. That day marked the last class before Christmas break, and the teacher (a nun) explained why January 1 was a holy day of obligation. (It’s the Feast of the Circumcision.)

In that moment, I understood immediately what had been done to my body. I understood why I was never comfortable there and why my clothes were always irritating me. I realized then that the head of my penis was meant to be covered. It was this unnatural exposure that was causing me to experience an almost constant state of semi-arousal. It’s not normal to be exposed that way. Being sexually aware and acting on that awareness are two, very different, things. I was an introvert, and thus a shy child, and there was no one with whom I could speak. I never broached the subject with my parents because I knew they would dismiss it, hoping I’d forget about it.

This is not considered a “normal” preoccupation, but then, having a scar encircling one’s penis isn’t “normal” either in most of the world, no matter how much our American culture insists that it is.

As a gay man who had wished since childhood for a foreskin to soothe the constant discomfort, I always found the circumcised penis ugly and to be a turn-off. It’s difficult to explain the trauma of being unable to discreetly identify intact gay men with whom to engage in sex, especially as an introvert.

This act that was done to me without my consent makes me very angry. I’ve channeled that anger into researching circumcision and the arguments for and against it for more than 75 years now. I still don’t understand why someone would amputate a normal body part simply because they have accepted without question the notion that it’s not clean.

For some reason in American culture, we don’t talk about the penis in a matter-of-fact way, and we definitely don’t talk about its foreskin—except to say that it’s dirty. What this is referring to is smegma, a word normally heard only in the context of jokes. Smegma is a natural lubricant the body produces to prevent the foreskin lining from adhering to the glans. It’s made of body oils, skin cells and moisture. Every body produces smegma—it’s between our toes and behind our ears, anywhere skin folds against itself. We just give it a quick wash and get on with our day.

The idea that a foreskin is dirty is a uniquely American notion. We’ve been cutting it off for six generations. We’re the only advanced nation where cutting off the foreskin of a male infant is routine practice, and we don’t even know why. The medical community makes all sorts of excuses that don’t hold up to science—while the rest of the advanced nations think we’re crazy. It’s sexual violence on an infant. It’s just insane.

But it’s so normalized. At a recent medical appointment, the doctor asked me to list every surgery I had ever had. I included circumcision on that list, but when I reviewed notes from the appointment, I realized she had left that one off. It has become so ubiquitous that she didn’t even mention it.

I’m 82 years old, and I’ve become more outspoken about this. I have repeatedly sent email letters to my congressmen and women and my senators, and their response is, “There, there. Don’t worry about it. We’re taking care of you.” They don’t see the harm that’s been done. I really feel that most American men have the attitude that it was done to them and there’s nothing they can do about it now. But it’s a human rights issue. And no one wants to listen.

Wallace Muenzenberger

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“Do You Know?” May Is Masturbation Month

May is Masturbation Month. If you missed it, you can always indulge belatedly!

Intact America followers probably know that circumcising boys (and even girls) by doctors began around 150 years ago as a “remedy” for masturbation. Victorian era doctors believed that onanism (another term for masturbation) could cause lunacy and many other diseases, both moral and physical.

Journalist David Gollaher, in his book Circumcision: A History of the World’s Most Controversial Surgery, writes about how cereal magnate John Harvey Kellogg “recommended performing circumcision ‘without administering an anesthetic, as the pain attending the operation will have a salutary effect upon the mind, especially if connected with the idea of punishment.” Other doctors in the late 19th century advocated for the use of blistering fluids on the genitals (of boys as well as girls) to both deter and punish self-pleasuring.

Amazing, isn’t it, that this history has been lost on those who deny that circumcision harms boys and men?

If you’re over 50, you probably remember the brouhaha when Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders in 1994 talked publicly about masturbation as a natural and positive human behavior. She was ridiculed and eventually resigned from her post, but not without removing some of the stigma surrounding the subject. A year later, the sex shop Good Vibrations declared May National Masturbation Month. Put it on your calendar, but no need to wait until next year to celebrate!

Voices — Wiktoria Szczepanik


I found out about circumcision quite by accident while watching a Turkish show with my mother. I heard a new word that I didn’t understand: “circumcision.” I asked my mother what that meant. She answered that it meant cutting off a piece of the penis.

I was shocked to hear that, so I just kept quiet. I thought that such things happened in the Middle Ages when people did not know enough about many topics. This thought began to haunt me. I wanted to know more. I started reading about it, and I learned that circumcision is still practiced, especially among Muslims and Jews, and in North America. It was another shock for me because I am aware of the important function of the foreskin. This is not something that can be just cut off like a nail that is too long.

I was born and live in Poland. In Europe, the scale of this problem is much smaller. I became an opponent of any interference in the human genitals, but it never concerned me personally, so my life just went on. Over time, I thought that I did not want to live in Poland all my life. I decided that when I finish my studies, I will move to the USA. I started getting to know more and more Americans. I became best friends with an American man who is Jewish. I asked him if he had been mutilated. I remember this moment as if it just happened, and it was almost a year ago. He said yes, he is circumcised. One time he mentioned that he didn’t believe in God, so I can safely say that he is a victim of his parents’ cultural preference.

When I found out about it, something changed in me. At first it was unbearable for me. I was crying and I couldn’t think normally, sleep or even eat. My thoughts became my worst enemy. One day I couldn’t even work anymore, so I left the house and went for a walk. I sat down on the grass, between trees, away from people—I was crying. And then I realized that the only thing that would bring me peace of mind is action.

I swore to myself that I would not stop until I changed something.

That day my mission began. I started looking for people who are against circumcision. I wanted to know what we can do to make this world a better place. This is how I found out about Intact America. But it took a while for me to gather the strength to contact them because this topic is very difficult for me even though I am a woman, and my body is intact.

I still wonder what the real reason was that male genital mutilation began to be practiced. Was it really about masturbation? If that is the reason, why—now that we know masturbation is normal—does the practice continue?

And if it is about culture or religion, why are doctors the ones who carry it out—as in the United States—among babies who have not yet determined their own beliefs?

Why do people always find a problem in human natural sexuality? When we are born, we have our own body. We have it all our lives and we die with it. A sexual surgery should not be forced on a baby. If an adult makes a conscious choice to undergo circumcision, okay. But cutting the foreskin of little boys is a clear violation of fundamental human rights. No one, even our parents, can take away our right to choose what our body should look like.

I think I was born to fight for men from their birth. I cannot give them back what has been taken from them. But I can try to make life better for future generations. And I will do whatever it takes to stop this madness.

Wiktoria Szczepanik

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A tribute to Richard Schwartzman

Richard Schwartzman, a psychiatrist who wrote and spoke about child rearing, including the harm of infant circumcision, passed away on July 20, 2022. He was 83 and is survived by an immediate family that includes Rebecca Wald, her husband, and their children.

For close to 50 years, Dr. Schwartzman practiced medical orgone therapy, a unique approach to restoring emotional health pioneered by Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957). Reich was a widely misrepresented physician and natural scientist who attempted to demonstrate a Western scientific basis for life energy, an animating force that he maintained flows through all living things and permeates the cosmos.

“The pain and terror of circumcision is NOT ‘forgotten’ as is said, even though it cannot be consciously recalled. I am a physician and psychiatrist who has had patients relive their circumcision in the course of Wilhelm Reich’ s body-oriented, emotional release treatment,” Dr. Schwartzman once told Ronald Goldman, Ph.D., in a personal email.

Dr. Schwartzman went on to say that he had seen at least 15 individuals who sought treatment because they felt they had been emotionally damaged by their circumcision and/or were in the process of regrowing their foreskin, noting that all but one (who terminated treatment very early) had improved their function and satisfaction with life.

Dr. Schwartzman became aware of Marilyn Milos’s important work around 1989 when one of his associates, James DeMeo, Ph.D., spoke at Marilyn’s first symposium and then several after. Dr. Schwarzman is mentioned in Goldman’s 1997 book, Circumcision: The Hidden Trauma. Dr. Schwartzman was also a friend of Intact America, and had the opportunity to speak in Boulder in 2015 at the Genital Autonomy symposium. There he explained how early infant traumas are physically locked within us at a bio-energetic level. He also showed a clip from Room for Happiness, a documentary he produced about medical orgone therapy.

Dr. Schwartzman received his Bachelor of Science degree from Philadelphia’s rigorous Central High School and thereafter matriculated directly to Temple University School of Pharmacy, graduating in 1963. After becoming a pharmacist, he attended the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. He undertook two medical internships, the first at Zeiger Osteopathic Hospital (1967) and the second at Philadelphia General Hospital (1970). The second internship allowed him to pursue a residency in psychiatry and neurology at Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital, which was an M.D. program.

Dr. Schwartzman was the first osteopathic physician in the United States to complete an M.D. residency, paving the way for many others to do the same. He lobbied for this opportunity and chose the burden of repeating the grueling internship year because he felt the M.D. residency would best prepare him as a psychiatrist. Dr. Schwartzman was never one to take a linear or expected path in life for its own sake, or to let established rules prevent him from doing what he felt was right.

In the practice of medical orgone therapy, Dr. Schwartzman was trained by physicians Morton Herskowitz, D.O. (1918-2018) and Elsworth F. Baker, M.D. (1903-1985) who had both been Reich’s students and were directly trained by Reich. This lineage allowed Dr. Schwartzman to practice orgone therapy as Reich had conceived it. Over the years, Dr. Schwartzman was disheartened by the emergence of many various self-taught “energy workers,” claiming to practice orgone therapy or calling themselves Reichians. He felt such offshoot approaches could be harmful to the recipient and also greatly contributed to the already misunderstood Reich.

Dr. Schwartzman maintained a private medical orgone therapy practice in Center City Philadelphia and then in Solebury, PA, from 1974 until his retirement in February of 2021. He positively impacted the lives of countless grateful patients. He also trained many physicians in the practice of orgone therapy (not just in the U.S. but also in Greece, Italy, and Germany); he wrote journal articles; he was an early blogger; and he lectured on topics related to Reich’s work.

In addition, Dr. Schwartzman was also a fellowship-trained forensic psychiatrist, serving as Medical Director of Psychiatric Services to the Philadelphia Prisons and Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Hahnemann University (1978-2000). In this role he saw firsthand how criminal behavior stemmed from childhood trauma. Dr. Schwartzman had the opportunity to train many of Hahnemann University’s medical students who would rotate through the prison hospital. He also regularly testified in court, sometimes in high-profile cases, regarding competency to stand trial and post-conviction recommendations.

Dr. Schwartzman was full of energy, and full of love for his family and his work. He had an incredibly generous spirit. He also had an inquisitive and open scientific mind. Using his skills as a pharmacist, he was known to putter in his kitchen compounding medications with a mortar and pestle that weren’t available in the pharmacy. He liked to point out that many great thinkers, scientists, and artists were laughed at and scorned by the establishment during their lifetimes, only to be accepted as geniuses centuries later.

Like his mother, Beatrice, Dr. Schwartzman was an optimist who always saw his cup in life as half full. He felt extremely fortunate throughout his life, pointing out on the occasion of his 83rd birthday that he had enjoyed good health until old age had recently taken its toll. He expressed how very lucky he was to have had meaningful work that he enjoyed for so many years. He took great joy and pride in his immediate family.

Dr. Schwartzman’s message was to enjoy life whenever possible, often encouraging his family to have more fun. He very much liked Goethe’s quote: “Enjoy when you can, and endure when you must.” His recipe for a successful life: Try to lead a simpler life by limiting unnecessary obligations and responsibilities. Find big work that you find meaningful and enjoy. Take pleasure in giving generously to your family and others you love. Do not strive to be “happy.”

As founding board member emeritus, Dr. Schwartzman also played an important role in founding Bruchim, a nonprofit that supports non-circumcising Jewish families. He was delighted by Bruchim and always enjoyed hearing the latest Bruchim news, frequently sharing insights with his daughter Rebecca that have helped shape the direction of the organization. Bruchim will be a lesser organization for his absence.

If you have memories of Dr. Schwartzman that you would like to share with the Wald family, or any other thoughts related to his life and work, you may send them to [email protected]. The family is requesting that memorial contributions be made to Intact America, Bruchim, or the charity of your choice that benefits infants and children.

Do You Know: The causes of tight foreskin and what to do about it?

Marilyn MilosBy Marilyn Milos, RN

Sometimes the retractable foreskin of an adult male will close down; this condition is called “pathological phimosis.” Too often, when men who have developed pathological phimosis consult with a urologist or other physician, they are told that the only cure is circumcision. This is incorrect in most cases.

The word phimosis means muzzling, to indicate that the glans (head of the penis) is muzzled by the foreskin. At birth, most babies have “physiological phimosis,” a normal condition because the glans and foreskin have not yet separated. The foreskin separates from the glans over time, usually by adolescence.

But even after the foreskin becomes mobile and retractable, it is possible that a man will one day begin to have trouble retracting it, and be diagnosed with pathological phimosis.

Here are a few possible causes for pathological phimosis, along with cures that you can pursue in order to avoid the loss of your foreskin.

1. Yeast imbalance. Exposure to soap, shampoos, and chlorinated water in swimming pools or hot tubs can kill normal, beneficial bacteria on the foreskin. This can result in yeast overgrowth, inflammation, itching, and stinging with urination; it can also make the foreskin close down. A yeast imbalance can be corrected by eliminating soap and shampoo, or by using a barrier cream on the foreskin before swimming. To help the healing process. Liquid Acidophilus culture purchased from the health food store or pharmacy can also be applied to the foreskin by pouring some of the liquid into the palm of the hand, dipping the foreskin into the solution, and letting it drip dry; do this six times a day for 3 or 4 days.

2. Vigorous sexual activity. Sometimes the foreskin will close down if a male has been too vigorous sexually, which can cause small tears in the foreskin. The opening will become tight while the tissue heals. Time and gentleness are the cure for this.

3. “Lichen sclerosus” (formerly called “BXO”), is another condition that can cause the foreskin to become too tight. Lichen sclerosus is characterized by the presence of small, shiny, and smooth white patches on the foreskin. These patches may become larger, and the skin may become itchy, thin, and wrinkled, and may tear easily and bleed. A dermatologist can diagnose lichen sclerosus, which is commonly treated with two creams, Clotrimazole and hydrocortisone, both available over the counter at your local pharmacy, or by prescription, depending upon the desired strength.

If none of these conditions is present, and your foreskin is simply too tight for comfortable retraction, before considering circumcision, ask your urologist about a Y-V- or Z-plasty. These are surgical techniques in which small slits are cut in the foreskin, and then sewn together in a way that widens the opening. This surgery saves the foreskin and its specialized nerve endings that allow for full sexual sensations and enjoyment.

As you can see, finding the reason for your phimosis is a critical step to solving the problem and avoiding the loss of your foreskin.

If you have questions not covered here about problems with your foreskin, you may write to us at: [email protected].

Voices — James F. Verrees, M.D., FACOG


During my Obstetrics and Gynecology Residency, I had the opportunity to learn newborn circumcision. Because of the frequency of the procedure, I agreed to the training. Yes, the Siren on the rocks of “cultural normalcy” called me.

Immediately prior to the training, I remember a blond-haired resident giddy with excitement at being able to learn the procedure, and vividly recall her saying: “Have the nursing staff line the boys up. Go Chop! Chop! Chop! Think of all the RVUs you can make??” RVU stands for Relative Value Unit, which is a figure used for compensation. Obviously, her main concern was the amount of money that could be generated by sexually maiming newborn boys in the name of profit. 

The white Circumstraint board was on a procedure table. The baby was brought into the room. The mother’s written “consent” had been verified.

There were three of us. My assigned job was to put the safety pin through the foreskin. 

The naked baby was then placed in four-point restraint and immediately began crying uncontrollably. Someone prepped the skin. Another Resident placed the local anesthetic which resulted in further crying. Those who have children or work with newborns know that babies do “talk” in their own ways. There are cries of hunger. Cries of frustration, and cries of absolute fear and pain. Perhaps I am blocking out the other parts of the procedure that the other two doctor trainees performed.

It came time for me to place the safety pin, so I was standing directly over the baby. The screaming was just awful. I can remember starting to place the safety pin in the foreskin and small dot of blood appeared where the pin would be placed. At this point, I almost walked out of the room. Seeing a naked restrained human screaming in pain, with his head rocking back, spittle flying from his little mouth was too much. I wondered, “Now why are we doing this? Why are we violating this human being? I finished my part and stepped aside. As the shrieks of the restrained baby intensified, the third resident severed the baby’s foreskin along the edge of the clamp and placed the circular bloody specimen on side of the Circumstraint. 

I will never forget the shrieks of that baby. 

The episode left me with the knowledge that I had violated my own morals as well as the code of medical ethics. Indisputably, we had done harm to the baby that day. The baby’s normal genital anatomy at birth had been forever changed, leaving him physically altered as well as neurologically ruined. Unquestionably, it is impossible for a newborn baby to give consent for such a procedure. I still hear the screams from time-to-time.

And we call ourselves healers?

I have never performed or taken part in another circumcision.

James F. Verrees, M.D., FACOG
Las Vegas, Nevada

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