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(1954). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. I, 1953: Masturbation and Symptom-Formation. Jacob A. Arlow. Pp. 45-58.. Psychoanal Q., 23:292-293.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. I, 1953: Masturbation and Symptom-Formation. Jacob A. Arlow. Pp. 45-58.

(1954). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 23:292-293

Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. I, 1953: Masturbation and Symptom-Formation. Jacob A. Arlow. Pp. 45-58.

This paper discusses the relationship between masturbation and the formation of certain neurotic symptoms. To study this the author proposes that masturbation be divided into two major components: 1, the actual manipulation of a certain part of the body, and 2, the appropriate fantasy which accompanies such physical manipulation. In the transition from the struggle against masturbation to the formation of symptoms the two components do not necessarily share the same fate.

The most extreme form of defense against masturbation is complete repression of act and fantasy, ordinarily considered a grave omen during adolescence. In other instances the two components are separated from each other in time and are carried out independently and in separate stages. The contents of the fantasy may become distorted by regression while the physical activity remains unchanged, or the converse of this may occur and hysterical symptoms may result. After the repression of phallic masturbation, extragenital and sado-masochistic practices may be substituted and may lead into compulsive symptoms. If the external object is treated as a temptation to masturbation, phobic symptoms may occur. The substitution of desexualized indifferent thoughts for the sensually charged masturbatory fantasy leads with slight transition to obsessional thinking. The function of thinking may become sexualized.

Masturbation itself may become a symptom, compulsive masturbation serving

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to ward off anxiety aroused during the act. It may also be a form of self-punishment. The sexual practices of transvestites and fetishists may represent the acting out of one or more roles in a masturbation fantasy. Masturbation without fantasy is not necessarily of grave prognostic import. The missing fantasy may appear in a dream or other context. Spasms, rhythmical muscular contractions, and sensory disturbances may be defenses against and substitutes for masturbation. By analysis of the fantasy appropriate to the activity, the two elements of the masturbation may be reunited and the transition from defense to conversion hysterical symptoms may be traced. Both masturbation and symptom-formation are autoplastic or regressively autoerotic and autoaggressive attempts to achieve instinctual discharge. They serve in a measure to preserve object relations.

In masturbation the feelings of guilt may be separated in time from the actual act. In symptom-formation punishment and instinctual gratification go hand in hand.

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Article Citation

(1954). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. I, 1953. Psychoanal. Q., 23:292-293

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