Nov 15, 2007 | Personal

A Treatise on Masturbation


So for my job I travel around the country doing consulting, and right now I am in the south. The client I work with on a day-to-day basis is a total right wing nut job. A few examples of his right-wing-nut-jobbiness:

• He jokes about carpet-atomic bombing the Middle East.
• He thinks that AIDS has something to do with God punishing gays.
• He's argued that there is no way to know that there isn't an infinite amount of oil.
• He says all schools should be privatized, and if poor people then can't afford to send their kids to school they should just not go, since they aren't learning anything in public schools anyway. (great way to have a majority illiterate society in one generation)
• He says he doesn't believe anything he can't see, which is why he doesn't believe in global warming or evolution. I asked him why he believes in God, and he responded because he has seen God. No shitting, apparently God took the time to manifest before him just to tell him not to play Doom 3 anymore.

This is but a small sampling. In short, this guy is a walking failure of our educational system. What is most amazing is that he is fairly arrogant in espousing these opinions. He figures that if he just says it confidently enough, that no one will challenge him. Anyway, since he works for the client I can't call him a fucking idiot, but I can't let all this stuff sit. I just appeal to his sense of reason in a generally nice way.

The latest tussle we had was over masturbation.

I made a semi-joking comment that a good way to reduce rape would be to encourage men to jack-off more, since it would reduce the sexual tension level in the male population. I could immediately tell that I offended some brainwashing lesson he received at church once, because he snidely protested. “That is a counterfactual. Masturbation does not reduce sexual tension, it increases it,” he said in a correcting fashion. “If you masturbate it just makes you want to masturbate more and more until you can't think about anything else.” I told him I disagreed strongly, that masturbation was considered by psychologists to be normal, healthy and a good way to release sexual tension. He looked and me and smirked, as if he was thinking, “heh, do you really believe that?” and said, “do some research.” He then went back to typing on the computer, pleased with himself.

I almost wrung his neck right there, but instead I resolved to do “research.” I compiled a large amount of material on masturbation and how psychologists and medical doctors consider it to be normal, healthy and to release sexual tension. I then e-mailed it to him. Here it is:

I have already done research on masturbation, but I've compiled a lot of material here for you to review. As I said today, it is commonly accepted as fact that masturbation relieves sexual tension, so my argument was that you could make the case that since rape often has something to do with an unhealthy degree of sexual tension, if masturbation were more common there would be less rape. You seemed to dispute that masturbation is healthy/normal/relieves sexual tension.

Masturbation is something that has been viewed as a bad thing by society until the 20th century, when sex research showed that not only did almost all young people masturbate, but that it was a normal and even positively healthy thing to do. Today, masturbation is actually commonly used today as a therapeutic tool in sex therapy. As quoted below, “Masturbation is often used as a therapeutic technique for overcoming sexual dysfunction.” That's right. Doctors actively instruct people to masturbate as a healthy way to release their sexual tension.

The only thing I can think of as to why you might think that masturbation is bad is that maybe you might have heard a few untrue things. One is that masturbation causes blindness. This is debunked in pretty much any relevant medical journal. Another one might be that you have an idea that if people masturbate they become obsessed with it and compulsively masturbate. This would be a causation error. Virtually all psychologists/medical doctors will tell you that any instances of compulsive masturbation (they are rare) are a symptom of mental illness, not a cause of mental illness. It's like if someone was mentally insane and drooled on themselves you judged that drooling on oneself causes mental insanity. It's backwards.

Some books/papers/excerpts all written by PHD's in psychology/medical doctors:
Masturbation as Means of Achieving Sexual Health
Edited by: Walter O. Bockting, PHD and medical doctor at the University of Minnesota. Eli Coleman, PHD and medical doctor at the University of Minnesota.

“No physical harm can
come of it, contrary to the old beliefs, no matter how
frequently it is done. [Masturbation is] a pleasurable and exciting
experience. . . . It releases tensions, and is
therefore valuable in many ways. . . . It provides a
full outlet for fancy, for daydreaming, which is
characteristic of adolescence. . . . In itself, it offers a
variety that enriches the individual's sex life. . . . it is
not only harmless but is positively good and healthy,
and should be encouraged because it helps young
people to grow up sexually in a natural way”
-Excerpt from Roger Pomeroy's Boys and Sex.
PHD in psychology from Columbia, Professor at California Medical School

From MayoClinic, a highly respected medical institution:
“Self-stimulation. Masturbation is a normal and healthy way to fulfill your sexual needs.”

Here is an excerpt from a paper written by several psychologists in a widely quoted paper titled Masturbation -- From Stigma to Sexual Health:
Health Benefits of Masturbation
Many medical professionals and sexual health authorities have reported that “solo sex” (Litten,1993), “sex for one,” “self loving” (Dodson, 1996), and “self pleasuring” (Rowan, 2000) can be beneficial to one's physical, emotional, and sexual health, and the health of one's relationships. They have demonstrated that arousal and orgasm from masturbation may:
• reduce stress
• release sexual tension (Francoeur, 1991, 393)
• provide a sexual outlet for people without partners, including the elderly (Masters, Johnson, & Kolodny, 1986, 289; Phipps, 1977, 192)
• provide a sexual outlet for people who choose to abstain from sexual intercourse due to pregnancy, menstruation, or illness of a partner (Phipps, 1977, 192)
• indirectly prevent disease and build up resistance to infections by increasing the flow of white blood cells and rejuvenating the circulation of hormones (Stein, 2000)
• stimulate endorphin production, allowing better oxygen metabolism and more efficient cell functioning throughout the body (Stein, 2000)
• create a sense of well-being (Stein, 2000)
• promote higher self-esteem (Hurlbert and Whittaker, 1991)
• promote higher levels of marital and sexual satisfaction (Hurlbert and Whittaker, 1991)
• provide treatment for sexual dysfunction (Zilbergeld, 1992)

Masturbation as a Treatment for Sexual Dysfunction
Masturbation is often used as a therapeutic technique for overcoming sexual dysfunction (Christensen, 1995, 91; Mosher, 1979, 320).
Women seeking therapy commonly complain of anorgasmia, or the inability to achieve orgasm
(Rowan, 2000, 184). Masturbation can assist anorgasmic or preorgasmic women in reaching orgasm (LoPiccolo & Lobitz, 1972, 163). For some men, practicing masturbation techniques can
increase ejaculatory control and prevent premature ejaculation (Zilbergeld, 1992, 459). For others, masturbation may serve as therapy for delayed ejaculation (Rowan, 2000, 185–186).

In addition to psychological/sexual health benefits, there is evidence that masturbating reduces the chance of prostate cancer:

The American Medical Association declared in 1972 that masturbation is a normal, healthy activity. It is probably because of tricky politics that it took them so long.

Masturbation has also been observed in hundreds of animal species.
-Bagemihl, Bruce. (1999). Biological Exuberance: Animal
Homosexuality and Natural Diversity

Approximately 70 percent of men in their late 20s masturbate, and more than 50 percent of women in their 30s masturbate.
-Michael, Robert T, John H. Gagnon, Edward O. Laumann, & Gina
Kolata. (1994). Sex In America: A Definitive Survey.

From Scientific American, written by a Psychologist. She recommends that women practice masturbating to become more in tune with their bodies:

Some women need therapy to deal with the underlying issues preventing them from experiencing orgasm, whereas others can benefit from educational information and practice, Barbach
maintains. For most women, the key lies in realizing that their bodies are the best teachers.
“The way for a woman to become orgasmic is to learn about her body through masturbation,” says sexologist Betty Dodson of New York City. “Once she figures out what works for her, she can share that information with her partner.” This approach boasts high satisfaction rates. Guided by a book or therapist, women participate in exercises that help them to discover what they like and dislike. They explore their attitudes about sex and are encouraged to use their imaginations as well as sexual aids
to enhance arousal.

“Some women who have never experienced orgasm before find they can with the more intense stimulation provided by a vibrator,” Blank reports. As they explore their bodies' responses
and what kinds of fantasies augment their sexual experiences, most women eventually figure out how to bring themselves to orgasm. “The idea is to focus on pleasure, not achieving orgasm,” Barbach says. The quickest route to orgasm, she suggests, is staying in the moment and simply following what
feels good, not concentrating on a goal.

Even people who climax during masturbation can benefit from more practice. “You can work on losing the feelings of intense arousal and getting them back again so you realize it's okay when that happens with a partner,” Barbach says.

He hasn't responded or spoken of the e-mail. He never responds, or even speaks of the topics that I smash his arguments to bits on ever again.

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