Will I Go Blind?

Of all the types of sexual acting out, compulsive masturbation, with or without pornography, is the most secretive and isolating—and also the most common (in both men and women). Because many individuals view sexual self-stimulation as shameful, dirty, or sinful, those who engage in the practice compulsively are unlikely to discuss it with others, even a therapist.

If and when a compulsive masturbator does seek help, he or she is unlikely to do so for his/her sexual acting out. Instead, that individual is far more likely to report anxiety, depression, feelings of loneliness and isolation, and the inability (or lack of desire) to form intimate relationships with other people.

Some people who masturbate compulsively do so as part of their daily routine. These are “morning, noon and night” people who masturbate on a regular schedule, almost like clockwork—when they wake up, before they go to bed, when they’re in a particular place, when some “thing” happens, or when they experience a certain (usually uncomfortable) feeling.

Other individuals are binge masturbators, “losing themselves” for hours or even days at a time, sometimes continuing to masturbate even after physically injuring their genitalia. Binge masturbation is occasionally accompanied by illicit drug use, usually stimulants like cocaine or crystal meth.

Binge masturbators can lock themselves in their home or a motel room for days on end, losing all track of time and life in the real world.

The Proliferation of Porn

Recently, both male and female compulsive masturbators have been adversely affected by the tech-connect boom and the seemingly endless array of sexual and romantic stimulation it provides. As online accessibility, affordability and anonymity have increased, so too has the number of individuals compulsively masturbating to online material.

Men are usually turned on by objectified imagery—nude photos, streaming video, hardcore anime, etc. Women tend to be more aroused by romance—or at least the potential for romance—as found on social media and dating sites, in chat rooms, and in erotic novels such as the “50 Shades” trilogy, which scores of women are downloading to e-readers.

For compulsive masturbators, the computers, laptops, e-readers, smart-phones and all of the other Internet accessible devices we can’t seem to live without provide a safe and easy route to intensely stimulating sexual and romantic fantasies, exacerbating the preexisting issue.

Lots of Sex, No Partners

Michael, a 28-year-old single man who works 9 to 5 as an insurance claims adjustor, wakes up early every morning to masturbate—a practice he started in his early teens. Most mornings he “jerks off” to fantasies, but sometimes he grabs his smart phone, opens up a porn site, and masturbates to streaming videos of naked women defiling or abusing themselves in some way.

He feels badly about being turned on by stuff that seems degrading to women, but some days he just can’t help himself. Once Michael has “jump-started his day,” he gets out of bed, shaves, and hops in the shower. If he’s just had a fantasy or seen a video that really turned him on, he’ll masturbate again while he’s in the shower, or while he’s in the car on his way to work.

He likes masturbating in the car more than anywhere else because it’s exciting and it takes his mind off of traffic and everything else that bothers him about his life. As part of his job he’s on the road a lot—so he masturbates in the car a lot. He’s gotten tickets for driving erratically because of this, but he’s always managed to “zip up” before a police officer or anyone else could catch him in the act.

In the evenings he treats himself to “dinner and a show,” which means pizza or takeout Chinese food and several hours of porn beamed wirelessly from his laptop computer to the 50-inch flat-screen television in his living room. On an average day, Michael has four or five orgasms. Also on an average day—apart from interactions related to his work and purchasing food or gasoline—Michael does not converse with a single human being.

Compulsive Medication?

Compulsive masturbators, both men and women, utilize sexual self-stimulation as a means of self-soothing and avoiding uncomfortable feelings. Most of these individuals struggle with underlying emotional or psychological issues such as early-life or profound adult emotional trauma, anxiety, low self-esteem, poor social skills and depression.

They learn, usually as adolescents, to use masturbation as a means of coping with stress and/or masking emotional pain. Eventually, masturbation becomes their primary coping mechanism—their response to any and every issue, including problems as simple and seemingly benign as boredom.

Compulsive masturbators find themselves living a secret life, hiding their sexual behavior from family, friends and coworkers. Often, they try to quit or limit their masturbation, without success. As time passes, they masturbate more frequently, or for longer periods or time, or to progressively more intense or bizarre sexual content. Until they seek help, their compulsive masturbation continues despite negative life consequences such as:

  • Nonexistent or significantly decreased sexual intimacy with others
  • Social isolation, loneliness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Relationship problems
  • Hours, sometimes days, lost to sexual fantasy, porn use, and masturbation
  • Physical harm to genitalia
  • Drug use or drug addiction relapse in conjunction with masturbation
  • Sexual dysfunction, such as erectile dysfunction or delayed ejaculation

Will Watching One of Those “Hygiene Films” From the 1950s Help?

Sadly, compulsive masturbators are often reluctant to seek help because they don’t view their solo sexual behaviors as an underlying source of their unhappiness. And when they do seek assistance, they often seek help with their compulsion’s related symptoms—depression, loneliness, and social isolation—rather than the masturbation problem itself.

Many compulsive masturbators attend psychotherapy for extended periods without ever discussing (or even being asked about) masturbation or pornography. Thus, their core problem remains underground and untreated.

Recovery from compulsive masturbation most often requires extensive counseling with a trained and licensed sexual addiction treatment specialist, coupled with or followed by group therapy and/or a 12-Step recovery program. Getting help for compulsive masturbation can feel shameful, embarrassing, and humiliating, and, as with any compulsion, the pain and consequences of the behavior have to become greater than the fear of seeking assistance before the individual becomes willing to get help.

It is important to note that compulsive masturbation is most often a symptom of underlying emotional and relationship concerns that will require longer-term psychotherapy and support to overcome, but this psychotherapy and support can be successful only after the presenting behavioral issue has been eliminated.

 

Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S is the author of three books on sexual addiction and an expert on the juxtaposition of human sexuality, intimacy, and technology. He is Founding Director of The Sexual Recovery Institute, www.sexualrecovery.com, in Los Angeles and Director of Intimacy and Sexual Disorders Services at The Ranch in Tennessee, www.recoveryranch.com, and Promises Treatment Centers in California, www.promises.com. Mr. Weiss is a clinical psychotherapist and educator. He has provided sexual addiction treatment training internationally for psychology professionals, addiction treatment centers, and the US military. A media expert for Time, Newsweek, and the New York Times, Mr. Weiss has been featured on CNN, The Today Show, Oprah, and ESPN among many others. Rob is the Sex and Intimacy blogger for Psych-Central, an online psychology site, and can also be found on Twitter at @RobWeissMSW.

 

 


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    Last reviewed: 6 Sep 2012

APA Reference
Weiss LCSW, R. (2012). Compulsive Masturbation: The Secret Sexual Disorder. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 24, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/sex/2012/05/compulsive-masturbation-the-secret-sexual-disorder/

 

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