Recovery Workshop

Assessing Masturbation

What is it?

Masturbation, in the context of this workshop, is to be considered the purposeful act of genital stimulation by manual or artificial means for the express purpose of producing physically satisfying stimulation. Though it is generally considered a selfish, unhealthy act, masturbation can be used in a variety of healthy situations both alone and in the presence of a partner. Masturbation can actually be used to promote intimacy within a relationship.

For someone who is struggling with issues involving compulsive masturbation, however, such "healthy situations" should not be sought early on in recovery. Instead, an initial abstinence should be sought, until the compulsive nature of the behavior has been resolved. Another group for which "healthy masturbation" will not apply is anyone whose religious convictions forbid such acts. With such dictated values, the conflict between what is natural and what is forbidden is too great, and so the decision to act in such a way will produce significant emotional imbalance — which, as we know by now, often trigger the addictive process. Because healthy masturbation is not an option, these two groups will have an added burden in recovery, as they will need to generate additional strength from higher prioritized values. This is not an easy burden to overcome, but one that is certainly achievable.

Common Behaviors Associated with Masturbation:

I. Self-stimulation by hand, mouth, etc.

  • manually stimulating one's own genitalia
  • kissing, sucking or otherwise stimulating one's breasts
  • consciously contracting one's pelvic muscles to produce sexual stimulation
  • digital stimulation through the anus

II. Stimulation by artificial means

  • use of vibrators, accu-jacs or other mechanical devices
  • use of running water, washing machines, food, etc.
  • use of household items like jewelry, curling irons, broom handles, etc.
  • use of animal fur, stolen objects, fetish objects

III. Stimulation by the use of living beings as physical objects

  • use of spouse as a sensory stimulator only (no emotional intimacy experienced with spouse during sexual act)
  • use of incapacitated beings (e.g. drug-induced, invalid, dead) for passive sexual gratification (versus aggressive gratification as found in rape, molestation, incest)
  • use of birds, cats, sheep, dogs, etc. (separate from bestiality)

Elements Frequently Associated with Masturbation (from the Wheel of Sexual Compulsion):

  • Sensory Stimulation
  • Orgasm
  • Accomplishment (when fulfilling the "need" to achieve orgasm)

Other Behaviors Commonly Found in a Ritualistic Chain where Masturbation is the Primary Behavior:

  • Fantasy
  • Pornography

Frequent Cues/Triggers Often Associated With Masturbation

  • Life Stressors
  • Emotional imbalance (especially depression, anger)
  • Objects (especially visual stimulation, access to lotions, objects)
  • Unfulfilled romantic/sexual encounters

Boundaries Frequently Violated By Masturbation:

  • Self-respect (when behavior is followed by guilt/shame)
  • Intimacy (when not emotionally sharing the experience with others)
  • Autonomy (when behavior is compulsive, feeling like life is outside of own control)
  • Order (when time spent masturbating interferes with the completion of life goals, time management)
  • Safety (when masturbation includes dangerous and/or injurious acts)

If you have experienced similar behaviors as described above (or have experienced additional behaviors that were not mentioned, but fall under the category of Masturbation), please describe them below.

My History with Masturbation

First Name and Last Initial:

E-mail address:

Describe your most common masturbation patterns, behaviors:

Think for a few minutes, then list all of your most common triggers for this type of behavior:

List any concerns, unusual circumstances that you currently have regarding this behavior. For instance, any bizarre rituals that you perform, dangerous objects that you use, frequency issues, etc.

slide up button