Comparing onanism with child sexual abuse

Onanism and child sexual abuse – A comparative study of two hypotheses


For some decades now in the West, there has been
a growing social anxiety with regard to a phenomenon which
has become known as child sexual abuse (CSA). This anxiety
is fed by scientific theories whose cornerstone is the assess-
ment of these experiences as necessarily harmful, due to their
presumed serious consequences for the present and future
lives of the minors involved in them. This principle, widely
held by experts and laypersons alike,was also part and parcel
of the danger presumably posed by Onanism, a phenomenon
which occupied a similar position in society and medical
science in the West during the eighteenth through twentieth
centuries. The present work is a comparative review of these
two hypotheses and the central objective was to compare the
evolution and fundamental elements of the two hypotheses
in light of what history tells us about Onanism theory. This
comparative analysiswill allow a critical look at the assump-
tions of the CSA hypothesis in order to make evident the
similarities to the conceptual model that enabled the Onan-
ism hypothesis in the past.
Keywords Child sexual abuse  Masturbation  Onanism

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