Masturbation is surely one of the most common human activities, and yet most of us react to the subject with embarassment. Psychiatrist and sex therapist Edward L. Rowan, M.D., believes we are still victims of a negative cultural attitude spawned by the sin and sickness models of early church fathers and ill-informed medical practitioners. Unfortunately, they established a pattern of shame and guilt that is difficult to overcome in spite of our current knowledge. Although masturbation is now recognized as a therapeutic tool in addressing sexual dysfunction, Rowan argues that it can be much more. Good orgasms, whether alone or with a partner, provide a sense of well-being and personal autonomy. Relationships are better when one does not have to depend solely on a partner to make them whole. Masturbation is also the simplest form of safe sex. While masturbation is a universal behavior, there are differences in motivation, frequency, technique, and fantasy patterns between men and women. Rowan discusses these differences while emphasizing that masturbation can be good sex and should be experienced for pleasure, not just for release of tension.
From the Inside Flap
Anthropologists have recorded the existence of masturbation, with varying levels of acceptance, in nearly every culture on earth. As a practice, masturbation extends not only to other human cultures, but to animals as well. It seems that masturbation is a universal activity, so why do so many people react to the subject with shame and embarassment? Early religious leaders warned their followers about the "Sin on Onan"; ill-informed medical practitioners linked masturbation with a variety of illnesses, both physical and mental; pioneers in psychology considered it a form of deviant sexuality. Large segments of society still live with the resulting negative cultural attitudes. These early beliefs about masturbation have long been disproved, but they established a pattern of shame and guilt that is difficult to overcome. Edward L. Rowan, M.D., believes that it is time to break free of the cultural stigma surrounding masturbation. Although it is now recognized as a therapeutic tool in treating sexual dysfunction, masturbation can be much more than that. Good orgasms provide a sense of well-being and personal autonomy, making for better relationships. On a practical note, masturbation is the simplest and most effective form of safe sex. The Joy of Self-Pleasuring takes a lighthearted, instructive look at the history that has shaped our attitudes toward masturbation - from early religious, medical, and psychological theories to the Boy Scout Handbook to the Clinton administration's firing of Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders - and encourages readers to "get in touch" with their own bodies. Rowan assures us that masturbation is good sex, and that there is no reason to feel guilty about feeling good.
About the Author
Edward L. Rowan, M.D., a psychiatrist and sex therapist for thirty years, has taught clinical psychiatry at the University of Illinois and Dartmouth Medical School, and is now a consultant, writer and editor.