Do some people never go through puberty?

Do some individuals never experience puberty? Is this possible?

Sure. Google “gonadal failure” and you’ll find lots of links.

If the gonads are congenitally/surgically absent or otherwise don’t gear up to produce the sex hormones, secondary sexual characteristic develoment will be delayed or nonexistent.

In developed countries, this is compensated for by hormone pills, patches or shots.

Otherwise one is SOL, and the lack of sex hormones and secondary sexual characteristics in adult life has many medical implications.

You mean that physically they remain juveniles, never acquiring secondary sex characteristics?

Or that they somehow make a direct jump from being juveniles to being adults with no transitional period?

Or something else entirely?

EDIT: questions posted to the OP, Qadgop’s reply came in in-between

You mean naturally? Certainly castrati were boys who had their puberty deliberately, well, cut off.

Didn’t castrati experience an entire life without going through puberty?

They had their testes destroyed, apparently by being crushed by hand whilst taking a hot bath (no anaesthetic), to preserve their singing voices.

ETA: D’oh, beaten to the punch.

Why do you ask?

What might be some of the medical implications? I ask out of curiosity, because my ex-brother-in-law had a condition similar to this, and it wasn’t treated until he was 18 or 19. He just never entered puberty on his own, apparently due to a lack of hormones. Then he got some sort of medication (not sure what), but it didn’t seem to “catch him up” to what’s typical for a guy his age. I wonder what he’s looking at down the road, now that he’s 30-ish.

For some reason the other day, I was thinking about the Mexican “wolf boys” and their condition, which is hypertrichosis – excessive hair. I then started wondering about other hormonal problems that people sometimes have, like dwarfism, giantism (probably not real medical terms, and possibly not “politically correct” terms either! Sorry!), etc. – which got me thinking about the current topic : could there be some type of medical condition that would prevent one from experiencing puberty, and remain childlike throughout life?

My mind just drifts into very odd topics sometimes. I thought that the good people at the SDMB would be able to enlighten me!

Yes, I do mean naturally.

By the way, I never really understood why they bothered castrating boys like they used to. There seem to be quite a few male singers nowadays (and I assume always!) who can hit notes well into the soprano range, without sacrificing their “equipment”!

It has less to do with range, and more to do with timbre. The castrati didn’t sound like their female counterparts.

Dying before the age of ten usually allows one to forego the process.

Several years ago one of the new magazine shows (maybe 20/20) did a story about a professional actor who had that condition. Even though he was in his late 20’s , he was often hired to play a 12-year-old. Thus the studio didn’t have to worry about the child actor restrictions, and also had a professional actor who could learn his lines well, could work long hours, and who didn’t have the immature attitude common in a kid. It seemed that he was on a lot of crime drama shows. When asked why he didn’t take the medication to go through puberty, he said that he didn’t want to jeopardize his acting career.

IIRC they lived longer lives than ‘regular’ males.

Well, I’m not clear on all of it, but aside from the obvious, like lack of armpit and public hair, lack of breasts in women and lack of facial hair in men, there are a few other consequences. In men the penis would tend to retain a juvenile size and appearance. Since testosterone is in involved in halting bone growth men without natural sex hormones can grow quite tall, but they will have trouble putting on muscle mass so they may be weak for their size. In both sexes, lack of proper hormones can lead to osteoporosis fairly early in life. Depression and mood abnormalities can also occur. There are probably other consequences, but it’s not something I’ve ever researched much.

However, replacement of hormones is pretty straightforward and should be able to prevent the adverse consequences of lacking natural hormones.

Bet they hit the ol’ High E flat when that happend!

It doesn’t have anything to do with range (both countertenors and women can match castrati there).

Timbre is a problem, but not the big one. If you cast a female mezzo soprano in a castrato role, you’ve got the problem that she sounds like a woman. Thankfully, this once wide-spread practice has been mostly abandoned in the last 20 years. Countertenors are men singing either partly or entirely in falsetto. Every untrained singer has changes in timbre as they move up or down, but none quite so noticeable as the jump from full voice to falsetto. With practice, however, this can be smoothed out to an even timbre at every pitch. Countertenors do have the plus that they sound like men.

The big thing castrati had going for them was volume. Countertenors may be otherwise ideal except for one draw back: singing in falsetto, no matter how well they can project, they will never be as loud as someone singing in full voice. Untrained or poor countertenors might not even be loud enough to sing over the orchestra. A castrato, on the other hand, doesn’t use falsetto (well, he might, but only for very high notes). He can sing as loud as a man singing bass or tenor, but in alto or soprano.

(You have to remember that opera is unamplified–nobody’s wearing a microphone–and they’ve got to be heard by an audience of thousands, some hundreds of feet and three or four floors away.)

There are “natural castrati” singing today. They are exactly the sort of people your thread is about–those with some illness that has prevented puberty for occurring and their voice from deepening–and sound exactly like what a castrato is: a boy soprano with the volume and control of an adult and 20 additional years of practice. (Here’s a clip. Radu Marian isn’t exactly the best singer in the world and this was recorded in an echoy cathedral–he’s primarily a religious singer–but it gives you an idea.)

True, but there’s some question as to why. Was it the castration that made them live longer, or they ungodly amounts of wealth showered down on them? Castrati were superstars. They had the finest care money could buy. They did tend to grow comparatively large, however. Comics of the time depict them as giants looking down on the other singers like they were ants. Castrati were usually given heroic roles like valiant warriors and noble princes and their stature surely helped that image.
Castration can in two varieties: either severing the testicles, or crushing them. It has never been legal and was always done in a back-alley or bribed surgeon sort of way. The boy would be either doped with opium or suffocated until he passed out, then the procedure would be done, taking no more than a couple seconds. He’d be tightly bandaged and submerged in a bath of warm milk to prevent infection. Success rate was excellent–very safe compared to other operations at the time. For those that did died, the cause of death was almost always an overdose of opium.

That’s how it worked for actual boy singers destined to become star castrati. A lot of poor people also had grand hopes that their sons would make them rich and castrated them through various less clean and slick means often involving farm implements. They never quite understood castration preserved a good voice, it didn’t create one.

Ah, I’ve found a better clip. “Ombra mai fu” from Xerxes, sung first by a woman, then a countertenor, then a treble, and finally a castrato. You can hear quite plainly the difference between them.

Well, I found some info on Wikipedia. Evidently, two “voice actors”, Dick Beals and Walter Tetley, never experienced puberty due to glandular problems. They both profited from their child-like voices!

Dick Beals (born 1927) was briefly the voice of “Gumby” and also voiced characters in cartoons such as “Roger Ramjet” and “The Jetsons”. He is also famous for Alka Seltzer commercials, playing the voice of “Speedy”.

Walter Tetley (1915-1975) is probably most famous for being “Sherman” in “Bullwinkle”. He also provided the voice for the “Andy Panda” cartoon character of the 1940s.

Dick Beals was only 4’7" and weighed 70 pounds. I did not find similar stats for Walter Tetley.

Curiosity! The best reason :cool:

Awesome links!

Was it Josh Ryan Evans?