In Solitary Sex Thomas Laqueur aims to provide a comprehensive explanation for the anxiety (both medical and moral) over masturbation which gripped the western world from the eighteenth to the twentieth century. While the study is an important contribution to the debate on this problem, it is marred by lack of specificity, a disproportionate focus on the eighteenth at the expense of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, insufficient attention paid to the contribution of religious ideologies, relevant medical history, such as developments in disease theory, the therapies devised to control the problem (particularly male and female circumcision), and a tendency to decorporialise the body. In this review article an attempt is made to indicate the strengths of the study while suggesting vital questions which the author has failed to pursue.

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pp. 205-210
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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