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Spitz, R.A. (1952). Authority and Masturbation—Some Remarks on a Biblographical Investigation. Psychoanal Q., 21:490-527.

(1952). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 21:490-527

Authority and Masturbation—Some Remarks on a Biblographical Investigation

René A. Spitz, M.D.

Every culture worthy of the name is based on a social organization and on the norms and values shared by its members. Therefore it must regulate sexual life. The regulation may be pragmatic, with utilitarian aspects, or it may be so highly idealistic as to negate completely utilitarian aspects and lead to self-extinction. But within this wide gamut of possibilities some form of regulation can always be disclosed. Primarily, this regulation involves the function of reproduction in its relation to the group. Inevitably, however, other social institutions sooner or later impinge on sexuality and it is then that regulation of deviant attitudes and deviant sexual practices begin to be imposed.

Such regulations stem from authority, religious or secular, ruling the life of each social system. According to the culture and according to its ideals, it addresses itself to the various aspects of sexuality, that is, to the manifestations of the partial instincts, and to the form in which sexual activity is practiced. Freud states that the earliest such regulations were directed against incest. The function of such prohibitions is obvious. If incest were permitted generally, the ensuing internecine fights would destroy the group. This has been recognized also in modern anthropology.

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