Historical development of new masturbation attitudes in Mormon culture: Silence, secular conformity, counterrevolution, and emerging reform
- Cite this article as:
- Malan, M.K. & Bullough, V. Sex Cult (2005) 9: 80. doi:10.1007/s12119-005-1003-z
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This research investigates the development of Mormon masturbation attitudes and reports new data on the psychosexual struggle with masturbation that is prevalent in Mormon culture today. It is the first comprehensive overview of the entire history of Mormon masturbation policies and attitudes from the founding of the church in 1830 to the present. This history is invaluable to researchers, clinicians, educators, clergy, and individuals who seek to understand the unique sexual attitudes within Mormon, culture. We believe these data may also prove valuable to those who are responsible to create health guidelines, moral standards, or spiritual policy that includes statements about masturbation. We begin by tracing the development of American masturbation attitudes that preceded Mormonism. These attitudes laid a foundation from which the subculture of Mormonism developed various unique and some-times countercultural attitudes. Vern Bullough details these historical roots, from the development of degenracy theory in early American medicine to the dramatic changes in masturbation attitudes that resulted from modern medical discoveries and sexological research. We found that Mormonism sometimes ignored, and at other times appears to have adopted these various attitudes from secular culture. Mark Kim Malan reviews the literature of Mormonism, beginning with official church masturbation policy, followed by the various viewpoints promoted in Mormon popular literature. Mormon literature offers evidence that cultural masturbation attitudes vary and have continued to change over time. Next, he reviews the scientific, literature on Mormon masturbation including available quantitative, qualitative, and phenomenological data. The data reveals a surprising diversity among Mormon viewpoints. This research demonstrates that official Mormon masturbation policy often contrasts dramatically with the private testimonials of individual rank and file Mormons. These data offer important insights into many of the unique psychosexual health problems that modern Mormons face within their culture today.