The move from vaginal pleasure to clitoral stimulation was not taken in a single step. In his groundbreaking Psychology of Sex, Havelock Ellis documents that in the late 19th century, urethral masturbation among middle- and upper-class European women became so widespread that a French physician invented a tool to remove hairpins and other such instruments from women's urethras when their self-pleasuring efforts went awry.7

An important concept in physiology suggests that "overuse causes hypertrophy, [and] disuse causes atrophy." As the thinking pole becomes more predominant in the life of women, the sexual life will echo that, producing a more clitoral orientation, which in turn will reinforce the thinking orientation.

Which brings us back to our original question—not "Do you have a match?" but "Does masturbation make you smarter?"

Not smarter, but perhaps more thoughtful—but even that word is unreliable. Thinking is not to be confused with intelligence or, worse, with wisdom. It is merely an activity, and it is possible to think too much for your own good. Indeed, a study done more than a decade ago by a UCLA sociologist found that women in socioeconomic populations with little or no access to higher education or management in business actually masturbate less during "love droughts" than their more educated and "successful" sisters, instead preferring to go without until they find a new partner with whom they can have regular intercourse. They felt clitoral masturbation was demeaning, unsatisfying and "unwomanly."8

So, does masturbation make you smarter? No. When done in moderation, it can certainly ripen the thinking pole, awakening the mind.9 But when done to excess, masturbation can hypertrophy the thinking pole, thereby robbing the other two poles, feeling and willing, of the necessary resources for healthy functioning. Perhaps the Victorians weren't that far wrong in believing that masturbation makes you crazy.

1. If you're not following the argument at this point, please clip out the article, masturbate daily for one year, and then read again.

2. The limbs and their functions are also a flowering of the willing pole but for our purposes will not be considered here.

3. Note that it is the sense of smell that is regarded as having the greatest emotional impact when stimulated.

4. A few examples: They share an intimate relationship with the blood—circulation and nutrition followed by expulsion of the metabolic "wastes" in both respiration and menstruation. Both the heart during normal sinus rhythm and the uterus during orgasm contract at a rate of one beat every 0.8 of a second, and there is evidence emerging that the uterus contracts, or "beats", on a regular basis, regardless of what it is doing. They are both centers of the emotional life, as any love-struck man or PMS-struck woman will tell you (thus the origin of the word "hysteria," from the Greek word for uterus). Their absence empties life of joy and meaning. Witness the severe apathy and depression experienced by those few who received mechanical hearts—is that why the procedure is not being done anymore? Similarly, many women suffer serious, long-lasting emotional trauma following a hysterectomy. Many cultures besides the Chinese regard the heart as the "Sun" of the body (the solar plexus is located just below the heart) and the menstrual cycle echoes the 28-day lunar cycle, clarifying the microcosmic connection between heart and womb. And they both are incubators for new life, the uterus for physical life and the heart for spiritual life.

5. Could this be the true reason behind the barbaric practice of "clitoral circumcision" practiced in Africa and the Middle East? A crude, misguided attempt at de-emphasizing the genital thinking pole so that the woman's natural connection with the Divine through her upper and lower rhythmic/heart pole is not compromised?

6. It's possible, of course, that given its perfect accessibility, clitoral self-pleasuring required no tools and was so obvious a fact of life that it required no literary reference.

7. Noting, of course, that the urethral opening is midway between the vagina and clitoris. Why do we no longer hear of this form of autoeroticism? That is the subject of this investigation.

8. It was the same thing that my partner and I saw in our practice that led us to investigate this whole question. The patients complaining most of sexual difficulties often were those who had achieved the most in terms of learning and business, while those whose life went down humbler paths consistently reported a satisfying sexual life. Merely anecdotal evidence, but still worth investigating.

9. Is this why, to this day, males masturbate more than females—because the man's way of working in the world is so often through thinking? Or do men think because they masturbate?

Dr. Sutherland is a visiting researcher in the OC Weekly DataLab and a doctor of naturopathic medicine. He would like to thank Dr. R. Steiner and the Yellow Emperor.

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