Masturbation Addiction - What is Masturbation Addiction?
Masturbation addiction is, simply put, the compulsive need to masturbate. The need becomes so overwhelming that the addict does not have the power to keep from masturbating. This overpowering desire is at the base of most forms of sexual addiction. The need to view pornography is usually a precursor to masturbation. The more advanced forms of sexual addiction, such as multiple affairs, sex with prostitutes, or other illegal activities, generally have their beginnings in masturbation. Masturbation addiction is referred to as a "process" addiction, as opposed to a substance addiction like alcohol, or drugs. In a process addiction, the euphoric feeling, or high, comes from chemicals released into the brain, rather than from an external source. As the mind becomes accustomed to the release of these chemicals, it searches out for continued sources of that high.
On the surface, masturbation would seem to be harmless. After all, it's just sex with yourself. But there is more to masturbation than meets the eye. Since we are three part beings - body, soul, and spirit - masturbation affects us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Before we get into the negative effects of masturbation, let me assure you that these are real, and I have experienced them in my own life.
Masturbation Addiction - Physical Aspects
As mentioned above, the "high" from masturbation addiction comes from the flood of chemicals that are released into the brain during orgasm. As the brain begins to crave this "high," the addict trains himself to climax quicker and more often. In addition, the addict becomes accustomed to the sensations of masturbation, sometimes to the point that "normal" sexual activity is not satisfying. Woody Allen had a line in one of his movies: "I'm good at sex; I practice a lot when I'm alone." While that may come across as a funny line, it underscores the physical problem with masturbation. By practicing masturbation, the addict becomes accomplished at short, intense activity with a quick climax. Unfortunately, this isn't very satisfying to a spouse in a sexual relationship.
Masturbation Addiction - Emotional/Spiritual Aspects
Masturbation, by its very nature, is a selfish act. Since you are having sex with yourself, there is no need to please anyone else. The emotional nature tends to follow the same course. As sex becomes little more than another way to meet your own physical needs, the tendency is to ignore the emotional needs of your spouse as well. She becomes nothing more than an object for your sexual satisfaction. In my own marriage, this led to a point where I didn't need my wife physically or emotionally, so I started to completely shut down from her. This led to separation and divorce after 13 years of marriage.
Many people are quick to point out that masturbation is not specifically mentioned in the Bible, so there must not be anything wrong with it. Some would point to the story of Onan in Genesis 38:8-10 as an example of masturbation being condemned in the Bible. However, in the context, it can be argued that Onan's wickedness stems from his refusal to provide his deceased brother with an heir. It took Jesus' radical statement in Matthew 5:28 to show the sinful nature of masturbation: "But I tell you that anyone that looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery in his heart." Since masturbation is nearly always accompanied by lustful thoughts, by Jesus' words it is the same as adultery, which is most definitely a sin.
Masturbation Addiction - How do I Know if I'm Addicted?
The easiest way to tell if you have an addiction to masturbation would be to stop. Try to abstain from masturbation, or any other form of sex outside of marriage, for 30 days. If you are able to go this long without masturbating on your first try, you are probably not addicted. However you may want to consider quitting anyway for the sake of your relationships. If, like me, you find yourself barely able to go more than two or three days, you appear to have an addiction problem. Since masturbation affects the body, soul, and spirit; recovery must take place in all three areas. The physical recovery involves abstinence. We've already mentioned above that this is a difficult or impossible thing on our own. So we need the emotional support that can only come from reaching out to other people for accountability. This could include counseling with a Christian counselor experienced in sexual addiction issues. This can be a frightening step, in that masturbation addiction tends to be a secret sin, and there is a feeling of shame in admitting this struggle. And that feeling of shame can also keep us from asking forgiveness from the One who gives it freely. But that spiritual healing and renewal is a critical part of the recovery process.