Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Masturbation: Myths and Facts

                   Masturbation detail from a Greek krater, 560 to 550 BCE


Masturbation is a controversial topic which is diminutively discussed in the society following religious and moral issues. There are many myths associated with masturbation. Some myths are nonscientific, irrational and unnecessarily inducing fear. Often parents become confused and stressed when they come to know their teen age children engage in masturbation. Even for the teenagers it becomes an overly anxious self-indulging act that filled with guilt.

What is masturbation? Can it cause health hazards? Is it good or bad? These are the puzzling questions asked by many people. Masturbation can be defined as an act of handling one’s own sexual organs in order to evoke sexual pleasure or orgasm. Masturbation is one of the most universal ways of obtaining sexual pleasure. In one recently published study, ninety-five percent of men and eighty-seven percent of women have practiced masturbation occasionally. The famous American sex educationist Alfred Kinsey interviewed thousands of men in the 1940″²s, and concluded that 95 percent masturbated. In 1960″²s, William Masters and Virginia Johnson who did extensive research on sex therapy raised that figure to 99 percent. These studies further indicated those men usually experience an orgasm when they masturbate and learn how to masturbate before engaging in any sexual intercourse.

Ways of masturbating common to members of both sexes include pressing or rubbing the genital area, either with the fingers or against an object. Both male and females experience sexual fantasies while masturbating. Over the centuries, masturbation has been associated with many myths and taboos. Throughout certain periods of history, masturbation was deemed a sinful perversion. Although it is a common sexual activity, myth ridden and misconceived ideas that were backed up by medical fallacies caused the masturbation topic to remain quite taboo for many years. During the 1700s and 1800s some prominent physicians, scientists, philosophers, and religious leaders believed that illnesses such as insanity, vision and hearing problems, epilepsy, mental retardation, and general health problems were caused by self-stimulation. But recent studies concur masturbation is a non-pathological behavior also studies further indicate masturbation can be observed among animals. In the animal kingdom masturbation has been observed in many mammalian species, both in the wild and in captivity. Therefore masturbation is now viewed as a primitive and biologically based physical urge.

Masturbation is quite common in young children. Normally, masturbation begins in childhood (at or around 3-6 years of age) during a period described as the “phallic phase” by Sigmund Freud. Freud used to affirm that the masturbation act can be classified as the first addiction on a person’s life or the “primal addiction” . Masturbation tends to peak when children are between the ages of three and five. It then declines in frequency until puberty. Masturbation generally causes no physical harm. In most cases, problems result only when adults overreact. Some phobias regarding masturbation can be resilient in adult life. Even if these fears are only subconscious, they may generate a certain degree of anxiety sufficient to handicap life and cause detriment to sexual performance. Alex McKay, research coordinator for the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada commented that many people currently feel guilty about masturbation.

Some experts argue that masturbation improves sexual health by increasing an individual’s understanding of his or her own body and of what is erotically pleasing, building self-confidence and fostering self-acceptance. It is held in many mental health circles that masturbation can relieve depression and lead to a higher sense of self-worth (Hurlbert & Whittaker, 1991). Many specialists do not view masturbation as an abnormal or perverse act.

Some Clinicians have recommended masturbation in various types of anxiety conditions. In the early 19th Century hysteria patients were encouraged to engage in self-stimulation. Padmal De Silva- Consultant Clinical Psychologist of the Kings College London had described using masturbation as an effective mode of intervention in eating disorders and and in depression. A team in Australia led by Graham Giles of The Cancer Council Victoria in Melbourne asked 1079 men with prostate cancer to fill in a questionnaire detailing their sexual habits, and compared their responses with those of 1259 healthy men of the same age. The team concludes that the more men ejaculate between the ages of 20 and 50, the less likely they are to develop prostate cancer. In other words frequent masturbation by males may help prevent the development of prostate cancer.

Masturbation can cause anxiety and stress if a person practices self-stimulation excessively. This condition is called compulsive masturbation which is more similar to an obsessive compulsive behavior. Also application of extreme force, using trumatogenic instruments can cause tissue damage, hemorrhages, sometimes leading to hospitalization. One of the outstanding expressions made by a Psychiatrist called Thomas Szasz about masturbation. He called masturbation “the primary sexual activity of mankind” , once observed that “in the 19th century it was a disease; in the 20th, it’s a cure.”

Dr Ruwan M Jayatunge M.D.



5 comments:

  1. Wah! some invaluable facts on the primary sexual activity of mankind. first time to hear that it //tends to peak when children are between the ages of three and five.// Thinking now of my own son's behaviour. I also heard and at times experienced that it work well when you are stressed and sleepless too. Article is finished best with // in the 19th century it was a disease; in the 20th, it’s a cure//.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Some Clinical Psychologists recommend Masturbation in Depression and in anorexia nervosa. It helps to change self picture and probably changes brain chemistry

    ReplyDelete
  3. පදුරු ලවල්යාය blog අward7
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    Masturbation: Myths and Facts

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. මහත්මයා මේක ලිව්වේ අපේ සමාජේ ගොඩාක් අය මේක ගැන දරන්නේ මිත්‍යා මත නිසා

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  4. A big penis size is the stuff that locker room lore is made of, and nothing else. A big size does nothing to a man’s performance in bed or to the woman’s pleasure levels.

    Women are happy in bed so long there’s a meeting of minds – even average sex with psychological compatibility makes them happy. So, if you have heard this legend and are disturbed by it for whatever reason, don’t be.

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