Why Do I Feel Intense Shame and Self-Hatred When I Masturbate?
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loganMay 9th, 2014 at 2:58 PM
I would suspect that this either has something to do with the way you were raised and the messages that you were always given about masturbation when you were younger, or it is because it is taking you away from other things that should be bringing you pleasure in life but are not. I guess that it could be either but I know that there are toms of people who have a hard time dealing with their sexuality and the emotions about it when they have been brought up in a home that tells you that this is something that you should be ashamed of, and not necessarily joyful about. Thise things that you were taught when you were young could be feeding into some of these emotions that you have.
flipfJanuary 17th, 2017 at 6:59 PM
It has nothing to do with how you were raised. Feeling physiologically depleted after sex/masturbation has to do with bio-chemistry. There are many species (fish/insects) who die (especially the male) right after copulation. Watch a video of a Salmon who’s swum hundreds of miles, just to fertilize some eggs, immediately after doing so, they float inert and exhausted, and shortly thereafter die, if they feel euphoric, it’s probably nature’s way of anesthetizing them. From an evolutionary perspective you’ve done you’re job, the chain can go on, and you’re basically finished. Now this isn’t precisely true of human beings but the feelings of shame tiredness, depletion, emptiness, have nothing to do with the way you were raised that’s all psychobabble. The effects may be intensified by not having a partner near by when you shoot because you’ve failed to procreate, but even if you do, the cessation of desire, or desire for cessation is still there. You may love your wife or girlfriend, but you will have no desire for her after you ejaculate, for as long as your personal refractory period happens to last—it doesn’t matter who you are or how you were raised—sometimes you feel a slight euphoria, but this is mostly the pressure being let out. You’re dopamine spikes way up to the moment of orgasm, then comes crashing down…shame, revulsion, fatigue, thinking how the hell your going to get out of there, are hardwired into sex. An animal is never quite so vulnerable as when it’s copulating, that’s why the pull to do so needs to be damn near irresistible. If you aren’t going to lay down and die afterwards, it makes sense for your body to hit you with any number of chemical messages telling you basically, ‘run for your life!’ It’s really time people threw out the charlatanism of psychiatry, and looked at physiological/chemical fact. Some behaviors may stem from childhood experience, but this does not condone the wild hypothesizing, and absurd theories that have been perpetuated for the last hundred plus years. It’s time for all Freud-type guess work to be chucked out along with all the other outmoded nineteenth century ideas. What goes up must come down.
PaulApril 20th, 2017 at 9:43 PM
If you have a religious background like myself it preaches that it wrong to lust over your neighbors wife and to covet what’s not yours as far as married or taken women ..but I too seem to have the same over baring guilt like I did my lover wrong and or God in some way ..
Rita pMay 10th, 2014 at 8:01 AM
There has always been this prevailing message that this is wrong and so that is kind of how I have always believed too.
Darren Haber MFTMay 11th, 2014 at 10:11 PM
Thank you for your comments.
VikkiMay 12th, 2014 at 4:02 AM
Men have been made to feel oversexed if they masturbate and women have been made to feel like they are dirty if they do. Why? this is all a part of basic human sexuality and very natural. Now if it is getting in the way of you being able to do your job or interact with others, or you don’t even want to consider a sexual relationship with a partner because of masturbation getting in the way of that then there is a problem that needs to be addressed and dealt with. But otherwise I think that it is wrong for anyone to continue to characterize there being something wrong with you if you choose to masturbate.
andrew pMay 13th, 2014 at 3:47 AM
I suppose that if it is not holding you back in other areas of your life then it’s ok, but I think that you must know that in some ways that it is or else you would not be writing in here
Amy ArmstrongMay 13th, 2014 at 12:41 PM
I really appreciate your compassionate and thoughtful response to this, Darren. This was also a very brave question to write in, even anonymously. Without realizing it, I think a lot of us get our sense of goodness tied up with the quirks of the people and community we are raised with, and the more salient being a “good” person is in your values system, the more likely these beliefs are to get to you. Also, this is especially challenging for young people who are still trying to figure out who they are and what is important to them apart from their parents. The issue really isn’t the masturbation, but the intense shame. While this might seem like a silly example of good vs. bad behavior gone awry, some people feel ashamed when they receive public recognition for doing something well, and I think those feelings often stem from the same place. Anyway, obviously, there’s a lot here, and it’s definitely a good idea to address the thoughts and shame.
Darren HaberMay 15th, 2014 at 11:03 PM
PaulineMay 14th, 2014 at 10:29 AM
I will admit that this is something that is hard for me to accept I guess mainly because I was brought up in a home that I would describe as sexually repressed and thus all of us kind of ended up that way too!
I am glad that there are so many more freedoms available now then there were when I was growing up, and I like to think that I am more open minded than say my parents would have been about this. I still have to wonder though why you feel the need to do this all the time of you have someone in your life that you care about and who makes you feel good on a physical and emotional level. This isn’t something that you are doing, it is just me trying to understand this and how this can play a healthy part in an actual relationship.
camMay 28th, 2014 at 5:51 AM
I found out my own,answer from a doctors blog if you are masterbating more than once a week it is unhealthy. to cut it back to once a month and when,you do,masterbate man or women you loose vital vitamins and minerals from ejaculation like protien, b vitamins and others and when you do it excessively you can,loose muscle mass from the lack of protien to your body and get more angry and irritable from doing it your body naturaly will, clean it self out dead sperm,cells and the body will reobsorb it. I have stopped completely I feel wonderful more energetic happier to do it once a month is healthy by his standards it is up to you how far you want to go with it
BobMay 22nd, 2015 at 12:50 AM
I think moderation is the key if one can do it. Some sources claim that long ago God told man not to spill his seed on the ground. I interpreted that as don’t waste ones semen/yang energy.
So for me the real question is where can real balance be found ? My best guess is in a loving, nurturing, intimate relationship. If one is bi-sexual;My goodness I wouldn”t know where to start. Some may say sexual desire is a gift from the Gods. For me it has been a curse !
JonSeptember 2nd, 2016 at 9:57 PM
Almost everything you just said was wrong now i dont know if your just lying or did you get this information from a website from the 1930s but to anybody even thinking about taking this comment seirously please dont
Dr Ham, Sex Educator and OBGYNJune 23rd, 2014 at 12:37 AM
A woman who achieves orgasm once a day versus once a month, has a 40% drop in her risk for breast cancer. To that add life-force-giving testosterone and her lifetime breast cancer risk drops to. 1/300 vs 1:8 we see now. Now optimize all by shedding the bra, or no more than 6 hrs a day, and the a woman’s risk for breast cancer now approaches a mans – at 1:800-1000, and…you both feel and look great! Check our website coastalclinic.com, or tweet at #drjohnnieham.
AliJanuary 7th, 2015 at 8:58 PM
When you do it too much and it affects your lifestyle then yes it does become unhealthy and has many health risks; however, it’s actually very healthy and can boost your sex life, decrease women’s risk of breast cancer, relieve stress, etc etc. It doesn’t matter how often you do or don’t do it, what matters is if it fits your lifestyle. Masturbation is completely natural and healthy and no one should ever be made to feel ashamed or guilty of the act.
martyFebruary 7th, 2015 at 3:26 PM
I read things online about how masturbation causes anxiety, depression, suicidal tendencies, emotional problems, sexual dysfunction, low self-esteem, bad eyesight, shriveled testicles, laziness. Now we have Cam (above) saying it will drain me of my vitamins, protien and I will lose muscle…
It’s no wonder I feel horrible about myself after I masturbate. Is it healthy to feel such shame?!?!?!?!? I am a male how masturbates about 4 times a week.
AlexMay 20th, 2015 at 12:12 AM
Well…when you masturbate you’re technically replacing happiness for that specific moment and then you feel like crap because that “built-in happiness” went away. So that shame that people feel after masturbating is just an amplified anxiety feeling that you get when you think of something that you should feel ashamed of(in this case masturbation itself). So in general you’d still feel like crap if you’d have a reason to and in your case you create a reason to be ashamed of. Now i’m not saying it’s ok to do it since most people become depressed because of it. People who don’t are just in the phase where they don’t really know that they’re addicted or they deny that their addicted or they just started doing it. Masturbation is too pleasurable not to get addicted to. It’s like eating from McDonalds once and say you’re never going to that place again. It just doesn’t make sense…but after you realise that you don’t really need it and you just want it, all you have to do is..stop doing it when you don’t want to do it :) Peace 8-)
PatrickAugust 6th, 2016 at 8:49 AM
You describe the process very well.
BobMay 22nd, 2015 at 12:36 AM
Well, I’m a 50 year old male who hates condoms but not interested in knocking up any women for the sake sexual pleasure.There’s enough unwanted people in the world.IMO
its taken me a long time to figure out if masturbation with lust of women are a healthy outlet for me. I”ve decided it is not. There are many negitive effects from doing it that I feel don’t get acknowledged. Coping with sexual energy and a healthy attraction towards the opposite sex has always been great trouble for me. If I mastubate I feel alienated from women lack self confidence to build intimacy with them and my shame and sexual guilt magnifies as does my self hatred and inadequacies
relievedDecember 4th, 2015 at 1:57 AM
Wow, thank you for the wisdom. I have made many girls insecure in relationships, because when I had any kind of foreplay or sex, they could obviously tell i felt awful about it after. I love it during, but the tradeoff of guilt never feels worth it. people all around me think i have sex all the time because I’m amazing at approaching and flirting with girls. Basically, I get them to the bedroom and get sexual in some form, we have an amazing time.. and then I make them feel ashamed because my mind suddenly flips to dismal. I fooled around a little with a friend of mine 3 years ago, and then turned her down when she wanted sex. She’s gorgeous and thankfully still my friend. She thinks I turned her down for a less embarrassing reason. I’m 34 now and besides that friend, I haven’t had any sex, foreplay, kissing, or holding hands in my 30’s. i meet a lot of interested girls, but I can’t keep doing this to them or myself. I know my situation is not healthy, because each girl feels inevitably like a lost cause, and life certainly did not intend that. I feel guilty masturbating most of the time. So pretty much, sex and the inspiration of beautiful girls has been reduced to a recipe for feelings of hopelessness. It’s just a neverending staircase. Your article helped a bit. I will continue reading more info on this subject
Darren H.December 5th, 2015 at 10:58 PM
Thanks relieved, you might want to check out books by Patrick Carnes or Pia Mellody. Mellody writes more about love addiction and codependence but as they say in recovery, scratch an alcoholic and addict and you find a “codependent” underneath. It’s not my favorite word but it’s familiar in terms of describing a loss of self-identity, confidence and putting all your emotional eggs in another’s basket.
AnonApril 20th, 2016 at 3:40 AM
Hi, I feel that way to and have felt that way for a long time…I am 24 and I feel scared of having a boyfriend, and maybe i guess they might be related. Except I am a girl which makes asking for help on this issue way harder i think. Do you have any tips on asking for help and not feeling really ashamed around the person you tell! Thanks
TazerJune 14th, 2016 at 12:10 AM
Faber madeJune 22nd, 2016 at 4:08 AM
I use to be like you too Darren.well this problem I think it is because you were told that masurbwte is dirty or is harmful and anything.Anyways to stop being like this you have to keep yourself busy example go and get yourself some job or play with someone and also hang out with your friends too.i hope this work.hope you got the best of luck
PatrickAugust 6th, 2016 at 8:45 AM
Hi, I have the same feelings the past 45 years. But mine is much worse even. If i do it, I feel so ashamed, i am afraid to go out of the house for 2 days. I am very depressed and the shame is very very painful. I hit rock bottom for almost 2 days, then recover. But mine started when i was about 18 yrs. old. In a matter of about 3 days, it was like a tidal wave breaking thru some damn that had built up for years (shame). It never left me really over 45 years. I stopped at that time for 10 yrs. out of total paranoia. Everything had a connotation by association. A door knob, a pan handle, a broom handle. I couldn’t even get keys out of my pocket without paranoia by association that i was touching myself and this association was so vivid that i couldn’t hide the shame. I still have this problem till now. Meds? Nothing has helped.
billAugust 15th, 2016 at 1:38 PM
we may all need a girlfriend. no joke
GeorgeNovember 3rd, 2016 at 6:11 AM
You are not the only one who feels self hate and shame when masturbating. That’s happened to me to and I’m sure other people as well. Many years ago I had a beautiful girlfriend who loved sex. Sex with her raised me up instead of bringing me down. It filled my life with love instead of self hate. I think there are some things that we as people including psychologists don’t understand. As Shakespeare once said “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” I don’t understand sex. I don’t understand the link to shame and why it’s there. However, I think shame like pain is a valuable warning to stop doing something. If you injure your knee for example, you may not know what happened inside your knee but you’re probably better off not using your knee for a few days until it’s better. Pain is warning you, stay off that knee. Likewise if you feel shame I would suggest listening to it and avoiding the actions that cause the shame even if they are pleasurable. Shame may be telling you there is something bad about what you are doing. Regarding the people who say masturbation is natural, just because a lot of people do something doesn’t mean it’s right to do it. I’m not saying to stop it altogether but I’m saying I’ll bet you feel better overall if you minimize it. I think the best solution is to find an attractive loving girlfriend who likes sex if you can.
Ahmed el-kadyNovember 25th, 2016 at 7:18 AM
I am a man . I am 25 years old and did not have sex but I masturbate and really feels so tired in my body and my mind ,feels ashamed , lazy , has no motivation to do any thing and nervous after masturbation, I do not know what is the feeling after having sex with the girl? Is it the same or not and what is the difference??
PragmatistSeptember 2nd, 2017 at 2:43 AM
George – your reply has helped me – yes, we might as well accept that the shame has some purpose, and take its ‘advice’ on this matter. For me, I knew even at the moment of climax that I have set myself back again in terms of ever finding sexual fulfilment with a partner, as years ago I read an article about self-pleasuring, that convinced me that the more I do that the less likely that a man will be able to bring me to orgasm ever (I’m a female). And yet after months, even over a year probably, I succumbed, to cheer myself up, temporarily, after a bit of a grumpy and negative day. At the moment of first self-stimulation, it is very hard to stop, with the pull of the anticipated pleasure being so strong. I think this forum is helpful. I will not beat myself up about this lapse, but will just resolve to try to avoid a likely situation of temptation again if possible. It may take a complete lifestyle makeover, but that will be worth it because that will bring other benefits with it. Sending strengthening wishes to all those struggling with this. P.
PragmatistSeptember 3rd, 2017 at 1:39 PM
I should add that, at the moment of orgasm, I told myself, well, at least enjoy it while it lasts, and I did, for that about 2 seconds that it lasted. I’m glad I enjoyed that at least, because I feel that I should now resolve – if that is possible? – to do my utmost not to succumb ever again, as long as that;s in my power not to. However, the lifestyle makeover necessary to avoid getting into this situation again (the unavoidable temptation of the flesh that is) will necessitate me re-focusing on God, starting from today. Because, without that alternative focus, which is a spiritual focus (and may be given different names in differnt belief systems) then I will innevitably slip back into this powerlessness against the pull of my own flesh. An important aspect for me personally is that the climax represents a kind of ultimate union, if thankfully only temporary, with satan or the ruler of this world, whereas, the Spiritual connection which I must seek is a temporary union (perhaps shadowed in an opposite sense by the physical orgasm) with Christ as God, during this life, which I have been shamefully neglecting of late. I know this will seem like a religious nutter to some reading this, but I am glad of this forum to work out this issue in my own mind (and perhaps it rings true to some reader), and determine to choose the ultimate spiritual connection over the physical one. It seems likely that (apart from within a loving marriage of course) the two experiences are antithetical to each other and could not exist together within my life. Sorry to ramble on. I hope all will reach their own personal conclusion on this matter, as I am certainly not here to argue with anyone. I’ll check for responses in a few months.
PeteJanuary 4th, 2017 at 9:29 AM
Hello, I found this post just now when I googled, “Why do I feel guilty about masturbating?” I’m 20 years old in college with a girlfriend, I’ve always been open to sexual tendencies, and have masturbated for a long time. It feels good, so obviously I want to do it, not to mention that I haven’t seen my girlfriend in a couple of weeks and we have been unable to satisfy each other’s sexual needs. I have always been a carefree person, able to rationalize with myself about my vices and habits. I had no problems with procrastination, masturbation, smoking marijuana, and pursuing my hobby interests before focusing in on my education…Until relatively recently, my wonderful girlfriend helped me to quit my long, 6 year run with marijuana, and instilled in me her family value of just “getting sh*t done”, for lack of a more accurate phrase. I just masturbated an hour ago, and I feel a clouding sense of guilt in my mind that doesn’t allow me to fully focus on what I’m currently working on (thus me sitting here writing this instead of doing my work… A little ironic, but this is an important topic), and doesn’t allow me to be fully engaged and in the moment in my studies. I think the guilt is exactly because of that. I had “sh*t to do”, and I thought I could just beat one off real quick and get right back to work, but the truth is that I can’t stop thinking about it until I pee afterwards… We can talk about anything here, right? But anyhow I love orgasms, and I think masturbation is a natural thing to do… My proposed solution (and I’ll get back to you if it works or doesn’t): ONLY do it at the end of the day, right before I go to bed, when ALL of my “sh*t is done”, so that I may have wonderfully sexy dreams and get to work the following morning, feeling relaxed and at peace.
daveJanuary 8th, 2017 at 10:23 AM
Darren have you read ‘Many lives many masters’ by Brian Weiss ? It is the story of how a top psychiatrist (department head at major university) started using ‘Earlier life therapy’ …apparently quite by chance …thus curing sexual and other problems in his patient where conventional therapy had not had much effect.I used to get Dianetics (concerns earlier lives) many years ago and found it to be effective where other things were not
PencilMarch 22nd, 2017 at 5:05 PM
I have rationalized in my mind there is no good reason to feel guilty about masturbating and plenty of wrong reasons. The guilt religion instills is not as based in reality as many claim number 1 and number 2 it is really natural to want to do it and 3 no harm comes just by virtue of it being done. Relieve yourself of the stress by realizing the guilt you are feeling might not even be rational guilt. I cant tell you how many times I tried to “resist temptation” when in reality I was trying to resist having a drink. Its normal to have a drink. It only becomes a problem if you drink in such a way that harm comes of it or you become deeply and obessively addicted. Everyone likes ice cream… but if you eat ice cream 24 7 without a break or without sleep or if you start stealing ice cream cones then you have a problem on your hands. I think as long as you can have ice cream without it resulting in unhealthy or harmful or inconsiderate behavior…. then by all means have and enjoy the ice cream.
2centsMarch 24th, 2017 at 10:59 PM
I have a hard time believing no one has mentioned pornography, here. If we’re viewing porn to masturbate, I think there are naturally some nagging questions in the back of our mind–why are these naked people recording themselves? Did they have regrets? Were drugs or manipulation a factor? I feel guilt free after sex but shameful after masturbation. I think we ought to legalize therapeutic release for hire (handjobs).
ConnorMarch 30th, 2017 at 7:20 AM
I have been feeling this way for about 2 years now, anything I read doesn’t make me feel different, I still feel guilt/self-hatred/anger, you name it.
Ismail MMay 11th, 2017 at 10:06 AM
Thanks a lot!
AkashMay 11th, 2017 at 10:07 AM
roguewolfMay 31st, 2017 at 8:00 PM
i know how you feel it happened to me and still does sometimes but everyone does it everyone no matter how badly it is looked on or no matter how many people say it is gross everyone does it it is normal it relieves stress and helps you get through the day now days though anything even having to do with a penis or a vagina is thought to be the worse thing ever and that is what society says which makes you feel like you have just done the worst thing ever
FieryelfOctober 28th, 2017 at 9:43 AM
I’ve been trying to do Nofap for a year now and because of the restrictions I’ve been putting on myself, I now have a deep feeling of shame when I do masturbate. I’ve never had a relationship, I have a rather low self esteem regarding my experience with women even though I look pretty darn good. I think I’ve always been using porn and masturbation as a way to escape my feelings of worthlessness. I always thought that If I got rid of my sex drive through masturbation I wouldn’t have any reason to pursue women and feel bad about it.
johnJanuary 7th, 2018 at 9:23 AM
Shame is probably the real you screaming out at you to face your fears and find a woman. As soon as you do you’ll realize it was all in your head. It’ll be fine, always has been always will be and you made it fine nobody else so trust in yourself.
lunaNovember 13th, 2017 at 8:04 AM
Why do something need to be tied to it,I do it because I like it it feels good that’s it
johnJanuary 7th, 2018 at 9:13 AM
I get it too sometimes, it’s because really deep down I know it’s not right but every now and then, usually after exercise when I already feel good I have a sense of pureness about it like I’m not doing it to pleasure myself , it’s those times that I use my imagination and I imagine I’m making love to a beautiful woman who I would like to think is my wife who I’m in love with so it actually means something. Other times I do it when I’m bored or I want to feel good and I usually watch porn and get off to that or the sound of the woman but those times I feel guilty, I think after “why am I doing this” or “I shouldn’t have done that” then the guilt goes away until the next time. I think the bible isn’t saying it’s wrong it’s trying to help us avoid feeling guilty by saying making love should be between a husband and wife and not to lust over another woman because they know how it would make us and the wife feel if they knew as well.
JimJanuary 30th, 2018 at 2:46 PM
I am 68 years old. I masturbate at least once/day. I was raised a Roman Catholic so I know exactly where the feelings of guilt, shame, ,,, come from and it isn’t God. Human beings created religion and all of its rules. Religion has been used since the beginning to control the masses by those who crave power. Religion may be one of the main reasons that the human race is driving itself to extinction. I stopped feeling guilty about masturbating in my early twenties after leaving home and started thinking for myself. I do believe in God. The only thing I “know” is that God is. Trying to define “what” God is just leads you farther and farther from the truth.
concernedFebruary 10th, 2018 at 6:22 AM
I came here because I have been feeling very guilty since I started masturbating. I started masturbating late last December and I started liking it this year. And every time I masturbate, I’d feel this huge sense of guilt and a pang of regret. I even had to install a porn blocker on my computer because I wanted to break a habit it took years to form. I masturbate twice every Saturday. Saturday, because this is when I’m always home. I’m sure if I was home every other day, I would be masturbating on these days too. I am 24 and I became very sexually active last year too which I think is what led me to masturbation. Or perhaps the unspoken tale about how masturbation is evil and girls shouldn’t indulge in it?
GraceMay 20th, 2018 at 3:48 AM
An open discussion here is good. I’ve struggled with this issue for many years. That feeling is there almost all of the time after masturbation… although now I’ve learnt to forgive & forget myself immediately – even if I feel like a dog. I cannot excuse myself for any of my short comings (no pun intended) other than the fact I believe I am unashamedly loved by my creator.
Not only can I feel the guilt & shame following a masturbation ritual… if I tune into my feelings I can absolutely sense that I am actually resisting to do so in my core before & during the act.
I think the motivation behind (the ‘why’) you do something is the distinction between those times where no guilt or shame were felt. The times where I felt good throughout the process I had been inspired by what I would consider a ‘divine’ thought. This inspiration was like a seed… and there was no negative associations that went along with it… and thus… I felt no guilt & shame before, during or after the act.
However, these times are few & far between.
If you are true to yourself I think you will know whether or not something is healthy for you.
The main thing is to learn from our past thoughts, actions & behavioural cycles.
It takes some faith to just say ‘f*** it’ I am going to be happy even in the midst of shame.
But I think that is actually God’s (or ‘source’s… name your creator) perspective – that we are loved & we are an extension of that love.
If things aren’t helpful we can certainly sense it. So we shouldn’t dwell on any feelings of guilt & shame. Just be honest with yourself & do what you REALLY want to do… Instead of doing what you THINK you want to do… that’s what I’ve been learning about my short comings. I do a lot of the stuff I don’t want to do… because I ‘think’ I am bringing myself pleasure. But in reality I am not. True pleasure doesn’t have any negative s*** attached & certainly isn’t mixed with a sense of f****** up. Best of luck & God bless – Grace.
PatrickMay 30th, 2018 at 6:10 AM
I’m 62. I’m pretty much on disibility the past 30 years because of shame. I’ve seen psychiatrists most of my life for it. No medicine’s have helped. I was about 17 when it hit me like a wall……..deep shame. i was paranoid because of it. Everything around me had sexual connotations to it…even very subtle things that hardly resembled a penis in any way. My mind was flooded with sex and I felt like the worse human on earth. I stopped mastrubating for 10 years. Even during that time, i had huge amount of shame because of “what i did” even if it was ten years earlier. It just never left me. In short, now, since i stay at home most of the time, i masturbate again, mayby once every week or two. When, I do, of course paranoid as hell and afraid to leave my front door. Always felt persecuted by society because of this. And always felt like i’ve commited an emmensed moral crime. I’d sure like to exchange thoughts with anyone else who’s experienced this.
KennethJune 29th, 2018 at 7:03 PM
Wow! I just read through all of these comments, starting with Darren’s response to “Deeply Ashamed.” I don’t know if “Deeply Ashamed” has come back to this site since he posted, but I hope so! I have experienced the same thing that many of you have described: shame and self-loathing following masturbation. I am married to a woman who claims she has “not a sexual bone in her body,” with the actions to substantiate the claim – 30 years of it. She is a wonderful mother, and a good house-mate, but not sexual in any way. She will sometimes “respond” if asked, but must always be asked, and that not too often (currently going on 2 years with no intercourse). We were both raised in a very strict religious setting where nearly anything that resembled sex was considered “of the devil.” I found pornographic magazines as a young man and have viewed pornography online from time to time, but I do not find it terribly exciting. I have never had any problem performing sexually in our marriage (until I realized I was basically having to beg for sex – and for me sex involves both heads, and the upper one became really conflicted about this). I have NEVER felt any shame or anxiety after an orgasm during marital sex. The shame only comes with masturbation, which I have to “sneak off” to do because of the self-loathing. I have recently started to argue that testosterone ought to be treated as a drug. Once that urge starts, it is very difficult to stop, and ironically, the knowledge of the impending shame and self-loathing, even though present and in full consciousness, seems powerless to overcome the urge. It is almost as if something in the sexual urge blocks it. In the Christian tradition, the story is told of Adam and Eve and the eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Many people have pointed out that post-Fall, humans now “know” good from evil. I have recently started pointing out to them that God only told them they would get the knowledge of good and evil, NOT the power always to choose good over evil.
This mention of good and evil highlights what many of the commentators above have said: there is a real struggle with whether or not masturbation is bad. I do not think so. It is a biological process, and to say it is bad would be akin to claiming that God had turned loose a bunch of kids with full loaded AK-47s and said: “Y’all don’t shoot anything, now, ya hear?” The sexual urge was addressed in an interesting way in the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible): men were allowed to have multiple wives, hence there was probably not much need to masturbate (sorry ladies, that is just the way it was . . .). Plus, while I can certainly see how couples who deeply love each other can and should have great sex as often as possible, I cannot imagine that God would not have realized that some people were going to be more sexual than others – what then? You could turn to 1 Cor. 7:5 “do not refuse one another except perhaps by agreement for a season . . . lest Satan tempt you through lack of self-control” (RSV), but that verse only indicates that both partners should be aware that their marriage vows includes have sex on some regular basis. If one partner is unwilling, what is the other to do? I just don’t see God placing those kinds of restrictions on his creation.
If you are not religious, just ignore the paragraph above. We are all humans, religious or not, and where we fall on the atheist – zealot scale says nothing about our sexuality. We are all aware of many powerful people who have been “exposed” for some sexual mis-step. The shame, interestingly, as seen in the comments posted above, transcends any type of religious divide; maybe our hyper-sexualized but under-sexed leftover-Puritan culture is to blame for the shame. It is real. It is debilitating. I was surprised, but comforted to read of those who felt “paranoid” for a day or two, as if something bad was going to happen as a result of pleasuring oneself. Been there – done that, got all the scars to prove it. I sometimes think of it as a love-hate relationship with myself, which reminds me of Golum in Lord of the Rings: Gandalf stated that “he loves and hates the ring as he loves and hates himself.” Ever swore to yourself “I will never do it again”? Yep, been there – got dozens of those tee-shirts and cozies. Then to do it again just intensifies the self-loathing. I will end by saying that there is a certain smug feeling of “yeah, I got this” if you restrain for a few weeks or months (some said years – ‘you go!’). There is a certain sense of “overcoming” and an improved sense of self-worth. . . only to be dashed when biology trumps will. Hang in there guys and gals. I echo Dr. Darren’s words: get help with the shame – you are NOT alone – and if it matters to any of you: God still loves you no matter how many times you masturbate.
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