Q Dear Miss Abigail:
I’m a twenty-two year old male from India. I have this habit of masturbating, very regularly. I started it three years back, after my first girlfriend ditched me. I never had sex with her. I used to feel guilty, but now I don’t. But I don’t want to go about telling it to every one. Something tells me it’s not right for my health.
I have no other bad habits like smoking, drinking, hanging around in discos, etc. Tell me if I’m wrong in masturbating and what do I do to stop it. I seriously want to stop it.
A Dear Saagar:
You and a number of other readers, my dear. I think this is the perfect time to show how advice has changed across the years. Check out the difference between Sylvanus Stall’s harsh words in 1909 to the more tame advice from the 1950s and 60s. Let’s all take a moment to appreciate how far we’ve come. Shall we?
And Saagar? Stop worrying and spend more time dancing. What’s wrong with discos?
1909: No Boy Can Toy
No boy can toy with the exposed portions of his reproductive system without finally suffering very serious consequences. In the beginning it may seem to a boy a trifling matter, and yet from the very first his conscience will tell him that he is doing something that is very wrong. It is on this account that a boy who yields to such an evil temptation will seek a secluded, solitary place, and it is because of this fact that it is called the “solitary vice.” Because the entire being of the one who indulges in this practice is debased and polluted by his own personal act it is also called “self-pollution.” It is also called “Onanism,” because for a similar offense, nearly four thousand years ago, God punished Onan with death (Genesis xxxviii, 3-10). This sin is also known by another name, and it is called “masturbation,” a word which is made from two Latin words which mean “To pollute by the hand.”
Source: Stall, Sylvanus. What a Young Boy Ought to Know. Philadelphia: The Vir Publishing Company,1909.
~ pp. 107-108 ~
1952: Will We Go Crazy?
“Doctor? Is there anything we can do that will keep us from going crazy?”
The doctor guessed what had led to this question, for he had heard it asked several times before. It took a little cross questioning, however, before the boys would admit what had happened. The truth was that Tom’s mother had suspected that he was handling his genital organs, and had told him in horrified tones that “the insane asylums are just full of people who have gone crazy because of such self-pollution.” What made it worse was that she really believed it; and she as so certain about it and so upset, that the boys believed it too. Of course, Tom at once told Jim.
Both the boys had stayed awake the greater part of that night, and the next, too; and had brooded over the matter pretty steadily ever since. Then they heard the doctor talk in school; but hadn’t gotton up the courage to ask him about the matter. At last they couldn’t stand it any longer, so they came to him in terror to find out if there was anything they could do to save them from this terrible end. . . .
The answer he was able to give them was prompt, direct and reassuring. He explained that while the habit they had been indulging in was anything but a desirable one, and had once been considered even by doctors to be a very dangerous one, they had nothing to fear. He told them that it is now known to be a scientific fact that, while it is something to be discontinued, it is nothing to worry about, unless they were to carry it on into their later adult years. And he was sure that they had sense enough not to do that.
Source: Richardson, Frank Howard. For Boys Only: The Doctor Discuss the Mysteries of Manhood. New York: David McKay Company, Inc., 1952 (reprinted 1970).
~ pp. 55-56 ~
1963: Bugaboos of the Past
I want to emphasize the fact that the commonly quoted medical consequences of masturbation are almost entirely fictious. Masturbation will not impair the mind. It will not weaken the individual. It will not cause him to lose his ability to be a father. It will not interfere with the successful performance of the sexual function under normal conditions. Those are bugaboos of the past and should be discarded.
Source: Bauer, W. W. Moving into Manhood. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1963.
~ p. 14 ~