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What's the Harm of Masturbation

Masturbation promotes self-centeredness and self-centeredness is the foremost enemy to mental health. Self-centeredness leads to emotional immaturity and makes us indifferent to other people’s needs. It leads to sexual addiction and loneliness. It certainly does not foster the character needed for marriage where you are to be a complete gift to the other. A person who cannot control himself emotionally or physically is in no position to give themselves in the spousal union. Self-possession, on the other hand, does.

Self-possession does not interfere with a person’s happiness or mental health. Self-possession does not interfere with authentic personal love and union, because if persons did not belong to themselves, then their union would be subpersonal. Love is empowered precisely by this self-possessive power to give ourselves to others and encouraging people to give in to their desires without any restraint will only lead to difficulties in their future relationships, and I dare say other areas as well that may require some self-restraint/self-possession.

Saint Pope John Paul II says, “The man who fails to master himself to master his own drives and desires will inevitably seek to master others in order to satisfy those drives. Manipulation replaces love.” Talk about promoting the rape culture.

Robert Spitzer in his book “Finding True Happiness” discusses the levels of different kinds of happiness. The different levels, external pleasure, ego-comparative, contributive-empathetic, and transcendent are based on their pervasiveness, endurance, and depth. True happiness is more pervasive, more enduring and has more depth. Pervasive happiness is that which extends beyond the self. Masturbation is not pervasive, so the happiness is limited. Mutual masturbation (differentiated between stimulation prior to intercourse) is not pervasive; this is how come relationships built on mutual pleasure are the least likely to stand the test of time, because when mutual benefit no longer exists, there is nothing else there to unite the two.

We should not be encouraging teens to act erratically and irrationally without restraint as if it will not take on a life on its own and lead to license in other areas of their life... “vaping.” External pleasures are not pervasive; ego-comparative pleasures are not pervasive. Happiness based on contributive-empathetic values where we contribute to the good of our family and community is pervasive. Endurance: how well do the effects associated with a particular happiness last? External pleasures do not endure; ego-comparative pleasure do not endure; contributive-empathetic values endure. Deep: how much is our intellect, creative and psychological powers involved. Physical pleasures do not involve our higher creative intellectual and psychological powers in any meaningful way. It is restricted to biological stimuli. Contributive-empathetic and transcendental values are deep. For instance, helping someone understand their inherent and eternal dignity regardless of possessions and status is both more enduring and cognitively involved, and more psychologically wholesome.

I am not suggesting that all physical pleasure is bad, in fact, they are good, and when ordered by right reason it can lead to the good of the individual. What I am suggesting is that we have to restrain our immediate impulses and order ourselves to the more pervasive, enduring, and deep forms of happiness. When our physical pleasure is ordered to these other goods and universal good ends and in which we do not violate the dignity and value of another person, our own lives will be happier and more fulfilled.

Besides, the chaste man derives more pleasure, not only because moderation increases pleasure but also because there is a union of persons in the sexual act. The non-chaste person tends to seek their own pleasure through sexual intimacy with another person (Freud's pleasure principle). This speaks volumes; many people do not know who or what influences their thoughts. Freud had a significant impact on how we view people today. He believed sensuality, as we do, is directed toward bodily enjoyment. The problem is he went no further and stopped here. Our feelings and sensuality to Freud do not have the task of seeking truth and the value of another person for their own sake. No, their value is seen only in the sense of the pleasure principle and what they can do for us to satisfy some instinctual drive. Love and communion are impossible for Freud because, to him, you never experience the person as anything other than an object for enjoyment.

Therefore, sexual intimacy is never personalized. Sex is not personalized until in, and through it, each person affirms and loves the other for his or her own sake. When we are preoccupied and concerned with our own egoism and calculus of pleasure but consent to serve someone else's egoism in a like manner, there is no unification of persons, but something likened to mutual masturbation.

Self-possession is what makes sex and love personal. If you're not self-possesive, then you do not belong to yourself, you're an automaton, and your relationship with another will always be subpersonal. This is one reason if not the main reason why the chaste person derives more pleasure from the sexual act, love is empowered precisely by this self-possessive power to give ourselves to others. It is love in which we are made and in which we desire. The personal aspect of sex is inevitably perverted the moment we use the other for our selfish pleasure. The habituated turning to the self in masturbation will no doubt pervert ones understanding of sexual intimacy with another person. It will also make our relationships less personal and thus not bring us the happiness and fulfillment we desire in those relationships.

Of course, C.S. Lewis says it best,

"For me the real evil of masturbation would be that it takes an appetite which, in lawful use, leads the individual out of himself to complete his own personality in that of another and turns it back; sends the man back into the prison of himself, there to keep a harem of brides. And this harem, once admitted, works against his ever getting out and really uniting with a real woman. For the harem is: always accessible, always subservient, calls for no sacrifices or adjustments, and can be endowed with erotic and psychological attractions which no real woman can rival. Among those shadowy brides he is: always adored, always the perfect love, no demand is made of his unselfishness, no mortification ever imposed on his vanity. In the end, they become merely the medium through which he increasingly adores himself."

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