Understanding Compulsive Masturbation

A Parents Guide to Understanding Compulsive Masturbation

Of all the types of sexual acting out, compulsive masturbation is one of the most secret and isolative. The person engaging in this sexual activity is often the last to seek help.  Often they don’t understand that this behavior is a problem. Most often they feel shame from family, society and even from religion. Many clients report that their internalized messages around masturbation are that the act itself is “dirty”, “shameful”, or “sinful.”

Most sex addicts seek treatment because of an obvious consequence of a legal, occupational, health or relational type. The solitary nature of the compulsive masturbation leaves their actions less subject to the direct consequences, when compared to other forms of sexual acting out. The addict engaging in compulsive masturbation seeks therapeutic intervention for help as a last resort. There is a real desire to seek relief from anxiety, obsession, isolation. A common goal is to seek or maintain healthy intimate relationships. Some compulsive masturbators do experience consequences through the viewing of inappropriate materials i.e. child pornography or through masturbating in inappropriate places i.e. the workplace or an automobile. However, the most frequent consequence of compulsive masturbation is a life devoid of intimacy and filled with hidden shame.

Unknow Behavior

Others, especially teens can act more as binge masturbators. They may find themselves spending hours at a time “lost” in fantasy, porn use and masturbation. In most cases they are responding to some strong internal, intolerable affect combined with an identifiable trigger or stimulus. This type of compulsive masturbator can lose hours or even days to the computer, videos, with or without drug use and masturbation. They can literally lock themselves up at home and disappear into their masturbatory escape.

Can You Injure Yourself?

This type of behavior is likely to result in genital injury due to the amount of time and energy devoted to masturbation. Injury is not the goal. But the binge compulsive masturbator will not use physical damage as a guide toward stopping. Instead they will likely continue their sexual activity, hurting themselves further. and bringing about more shame.

For the compulsive masturbator who does so to the point of injury, the analytical aspects of self-harm are varied. Engaging in self-harm allows the person to simultaneously dissociate from their overwhelming anxiety and emotional pain. At the same time feeling some sense of “aliveness” through their physical pain.

One of the most common methods of stimulating arousal pathways are high-risk sex, which masturbating to the point of injury would be included. The numbing neuropathway produces a calming, relaxing, soothing, or sedative process.

Fantasy and Escape

The fantasy neuropathway focuses on escape through obsession, preoccupation, and ritualization. Combining the arousal, numbing, and fantasy pathways together creates a powerful neurochemical package. They are able to achieve high states of arousal through the masturbation. When the physical act becomes painful through repetition, cutting, or the combination of inserting physical objects to cause pain, the client achieves a high state of arousal followed immediately by numbing and fantasy.

Other Side Effects

There is a big change of body chemistry when a client compulsively masturbates. They often experience problems with concentration and memory. This is a dangerous side effect of compulsive masturbation and signals that the brain is being over drained of acetylcholine. This behavior can also drain the motor nerves, neuro-muscular endings, and tissues of acetylcholine. This is replaced with too much stress adrenalin which is where memory loss, lack of concentration, and eye floaters come from. To fight these symptoms, the chemical levels in their body needs to be balanced.


Treatment and recovery for compulsive masturbation can be a varied and complex issue. If you have a teen that is struggling with compulsive masturbation or another sexual addiction give us a call. If you would like more information about a treatment program you can visit our sister site. Oxbow Acadamy

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