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J., E. (1936). A Study of Masturbation: By John F. W. Meagher. (Baillière, Tindall & Cox, Third Edition, London, 1936. Pp. 149. Price 8 s. 6 d.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 17:245.

(1936). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 17:245

A Study of Masturbation: By John F. W. Meagher. (Baillière, Tindall & Cox, Third Edition, London, 1936. Pp. 149. Price 8 s. 6 d.)

Review by:
E. J.

The third edition of this well-known book has been revised after Dr. Meagher's death by Dr. Smith Ely Jelliffe. Recognizing how much misery the veil of secrecy cast over the important phenomenon of masturbation causes, the author addresses himself to those specially concerned, such as educators, clergymen and parents. The book is written on very sound lines, the superstitions surrounding the subject are dispelled, but the author does not deny the complexity of the factors involved. The conclusions printed at the end of the book are:

1. Infantile masturbation is practically universal; in adolescents, it is the rule with boys, and is very common in girls; in the adult, it is more common in women than in men.

2. Autoerotic practices are physiological in very young children. They usually drop it if left alone. But the habit is always deleterious in adults, in whom it shews a psychosexual maldevelopment, or a regressive phenomenon.

3. The harm resulting from excessive indulgence in the practice is chiefly in the mental and moral spheres, rather than in the physical sphere.

4. In the adolescent and in the adult, a cure of the practice is easiest where the traits and trends of the individual are predominantly good, where the wish to give up the habit is strong, and where numerous good incentives are actively present.

5. Sympathy and encouragement are great aids to the patient, whereas an antagonistic attitude, censure, and punishment are usually harmful.

6. The problem is one of psychopathology and the best therapy is enlightened psychotherapy.

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