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January 14, 1974

Etiology of Masturbation

Author Affiliations

University of Wisconsin Medical School Madison

JAMA. 1974;227(2):205. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230150053032

To the Editor.—  I wish to comment on one of the problems which appeared in the QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS section (226:87, 1973), entitled "Persistent Masturbation in Severely Retarded 23-Year-Old Man." First, in dealing with the unexpected onset of unusual behavior in a person who has had a severe communication disorder, it is important to exclude underlying organic causes. In this particular case, careful examination of the urogenital area should be performed to exclude sources of irritation such as infection or infestation, and if such an evaluation is unrevealing consideration should be given to a more distant focus as a possible causative factor.Somewhat less seriously, I call your attention to an article in Medical Aspects of Human Sexuality,1 which gives a fascinating illustrated account of devices developed in bygone days to prevent masturbation. While I don't recommend such a device for the case in question, the article does add