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13 Feb 2004

Self-gratification - is it wrong?
I have read a lot about the danger of self-gratification. From a psychological point of view, why is it wrong (especially in relation to over-indulgence in sex)?
Answer 2,881 views

01 Jan 0001

Dear lyrrad,
Wrong, and Right are theological or philosophical words, and most people disagree on their exact meanings and applications --- they're generally outside my remit. But objectively, somethings are bad in the sense of harmful, or they are not harmful.
With regard to masturbation, there is nothing wrong with it. Generally, it involves having sex with someone you love ( yourself), and it is about the ultimate in safe sex. I suppose at some point of excessive frequency there'd be discomfort from chafing, and/or interference with your general duties and other pleasures of life if you devoted excessive time to it. In itself it causes no harm whatsoever.
Within the field of sexual activities, I suppose there are two main criteria for saying something is wrong --- (a) it is always wrong to have coercive sex, that is any form of sex where your partner is unwilling, or, as in the case of a child, unable to give free, voluntary, informed consent --- and such activity would be wrong even if there were no other harm caused to the individual. (b) in the age of HIV/AIDS, we must recognize that promiscuous, careless, unprotected sex can be lethal, both to yourself and to other future partners, so this too, would be a really bad idea.
Otherwise, perhaps the wisest attitude would be that of the actress Mrs Patrick Campbell back around the turn of the LAST century ( 1900's ) who said " I don't much mind what you do, so long as you don't do it in the streets and frighten the horses.
And on the broader element of your question, as to whether tere's something wrong in gratification, i.e. in enjoying pleasure, I tend to agree with the late comedian Peter Cook, who said that he recognized that one is supposed to be able to achieve great spiritual and moral growth through suffering, "But I'd rather be stunted by joy".
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