A friend a mine who had been a Mormon missionary came across this “guide,” circa 1970, on tattered photocopy. In fact, the pages were stuck together. Anyway, we were so amused by it (esp. “Suggestion 19”), I thought it deserved a wider audience.
STEPS IN OVERCOMING MASTURBATION
Mark E. Petersen
Council of the 12 Apostles
Be assured that you can be cured of your difficulty. Many have been, both male and female, and you can be also if you determine that it must be so.
This determination is the first step. That is where we begin. You must decide that you will end this practice, and when you make that decision, the problem will be greatly reduced at once.
But it must be more than a hope or a wish, more than knowing that it is good for you. It must be actually a DECISION. If you truly make up your mind that you will be cured, then you will have the strength to resist any tendencies which you may have and any temptations which may come to you.
After you have made this decision, then observe the following specific guidelines:
A Guide to Self-Control:
1. Never touch the intimate parts of your body except during normal toilet processes.
2. Avoid being alone as much as possible. Find good company and stay in this good company.
3. If you are associated with other persons having this same
problem, YOU MUST BREAK OFF THEIR FRIENDSHIP. Never
associate with other people having the same weakness. Don’t
suppose that two of you will quit together, you never will.
You must get away from people of that kind. Just to be in
their presence will keep your problem foremost in your mind.
The problem must be taken OUT OF YOUR MIND for that is where
it really exists. Your mind must be on other and more
4. When you bathe, do not admire yourself in a mirror. Never
stay in the bath more than five or six minutes — just long
enough to bathe and dry and dress AND THEN GET OUT OF THE
BATHROOM into a room where you will have some member of your
5. When in bed, if that is where you have your problem for the
most part, dress yourself for the night so securely that you
cannot easily touch your vital parts, and so that it would
be difficult and time consuming for you to remove those
clothes. By the time you started to remove protective
clothing you would have sufficiently controlled your
thinking that the temptation would leave you.
6. If the temptation seems overpowering while you are in bed,
GET OUT OF BED AND GO INTO THE KITCHEN AND FIX YOURSELF A
SNACK, even if it is in the middle of the night, and even if
you are not hungry, and despite your fears of gaining
weight. The purpose behind this suggestion is that you GET
YOUR MIND ON SOMETHING ELSE. You are the subject of your
thoughts, so to speak.
7. Never read pornographic material. Never read about your
problem. Keep it out of mind. Remember — “First a
thought, then an act.”
The thought pattern must be changed. You must not
allow this problem to remain in your mid. When you
accomplish that, you soon will be free of the act.
8. Put wholesome thoughts into your mind at all times. Read
good books — Church books — Scriptures — Sermons of the
Brethern [sic, Cistern too?]. Make a daily habit of reading
at least one chapter of Scripture, preferably from one of the
four Gospels in the New Testament, or the Book of Mormon. The
four Gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke and John — above
anything else in the Bible can be helpful because of their
9. Pray. But when you pray, don’t pray about this problem, for
that will tend to keep [it] in your mind more than ever. Pray
for faith, pray for understanding of the Scriptures, pray
for the Missionaries, the General Authorities, your friends,
your families, BUT KEEP THE PROBLEM OUT OF YOUR MIND BY NOT
MENTIONING IT EVER — NOT IN CONVERSATION WITH OTHERS, NOT
IN YOUR PRAYERS. KEEP IT OUT of your mind!
The attitude of a person toward his problem has an affect [sic] on how
easy it is to overcome. It is essential that a firm commitment be made to
control the habit. As a person understands his reasons for the behavior, and
is sensitive to the conditions or situations that may trigger a desire for the
act, he develops the power to control it.
We are taught that our bodies are temples of God, and are to be clean
so that the Holy Ghost may dwell within us. Masturbation is a sinful habit
that robs one of the Spirit and creates guilt and emotional stress. It is not
physically harmful unless practiced in the extreme. It is a habit that is
totally self-centered, and secretive, and in no way expresses the proper use of
the procreative power given to man to fulfill eternal purposes. It therefore
separates a person from God and defeats the gospel plan.
This self-gratifying activity will cause one to lose his self-respect
testimony becomes weak, and missionary work and other Church callings become
To help in planning an effective program to overcome the problem a
brieation is given of how the reproductive organs in a young man function.
The testes in your body are continually producing hundreds of millions
of reproductive cells call spermatozoa_. These are moved up a tube called the
_vas deferens to a place called the ampulla where they are mixed with fluids
from two membranous pouches called seminal vesicles and the prostate gland.
The resultant fluid is called semen.
When the seminal vesicles are full a signal to the central
nervous system is sent indicating they are ready to benother, depending on such
things as exercise, state of health, etc.
It is normal for the vesicles to be emptied occasionally at night. Often an erotic dream
is experienced at the same time, and is a part of this normal process. Instead
of course, the reproductive system is operating at a more rapid pace, trying to
keep up with the loss of semen. When he stops the habit, the body will
continue to produce a this increased rate, for an increase is not harmful and
are to be endured until the normal central nervous system pathway returns to normal.
During this period of control several things can be done to make the process easier.
As one meets with his Priesthood Leader, a program for overcoming
masturbation can be implemented using some of it. Remember it is essential that a
regular report program be agreed on, so progress can be recognized and failures
understood and eliminated.
1. Pray daily, ask for the gifts of the Spirit, that which will
strengthen you against temptation. Pray fervently and out
loud when the temptations are the strongest.
2. Follow a program of vigorous daily exercise. The exercises
reduce emotional tension and depression and are absolutely
basic to the solution of this problem. Double your physical
activity when you feel stress increasing.
3. When the temptation to masturbate is strong, yell STOP to
those thoughts as loudly as you can in your mind and then
recite a prechosen Scripture or sing an inspirational hymn.
It is important to turn your thoughts away from the selfish
need to indulge.
4. Set goals of abstinence, begin with a day, then a week,
month, year and finally commit to never doing it again.
Until you commit yourself to never again you will always be
open to temptation.
5. Change in behavior and attitude is most easily achieved
through a changed self-image. Spend time every day
imagining yourself strong and in control, easily overcoming
6. Begin to work daily on a self-improvement program. Relate
this plan to improving your Church service, to improving your
relationships with your family, God and others. Strive to
enhance your strengths and talents.
7. Be outgoing and friendly. Force yourself to be with others
and learn to enjoy working and talking to them. Use
principles of developing friendships found in books such as
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.
8. Be aware of situations that depress you or that cause you to
feel lonely, bored, frustrated or discouraged. These
emotional states can trigger the desire to masturbate as a
way of escape. Plan in advance to counter these low periods
through various activities, such as reading a book, visiting
a friend, doing something athletic, etc.
9. Make a pocket calendar for a month on a small card. Carry
it with you, but show it to no one. If you have a lapse of
self control, color the day black. Your goal will be to
have no black days. The calendar becomes a strong visual
reminder of self control and should be looked at when you
are tempted to add another black day. Keep your calendar up
until you have at least three clear months.
10. A careful study will indicate you have had the problem at
certain times and under certain conditions. Try and recall,
in detail, what your particular times and conditions were.
Now that you understand how it happens, plan to break the
pattern through counter activities.
11. In the field of psychotherapy there is a very effective
technique called aversion therapy. When we associate
or think of something very distasteful with something which has
been pleasurable, but undesirable, the distasteful thought
and feeling will begin to cancel out that which was
pleasurable. If you associate something very distasteful
with your loss of self-control it will help you to stop the
act. For example, if you are tempted to masturbate, think
of having to bathe in a tub of worms, and eat several of
them as you do the act.
12. During your toileting and shower activities leave the
bathroom door or shower curtain partly open, to discourage
being alone in total privacy. Take cool brief showers.
13. Arise immediately in the mornings. Do not lie in bed awake,
no matter what time of day it is. Get up and do something.
Start each day with an enthusiastic activity.
14. Keep your bladder empty. Refrain from drinking large
amounts of fluids before retiring.
15. Reduce the amount of spices and condiments in your food.
Eat as lightly as possible at night.
16. Wear pajamas that are difficult to open, yet loose and
17. Avoid people, situations, pictures or reading materials that
might create sexual excitement.
18. It is sometimes helpful to have a physical object to use
in overcoming this problem. A Book of Mormon, firmly held in
hand, even in bed at night has proven helpful in extreme
19. In very severe cases it may be necessary to tie a hand to
the bed frame with a tie in order that the habit of
masturbating in a semi-sleep condition can be broken. This
can also be accomplished by wearing several layers of
clothing which would be difficult to remove while half
20. Set up a reward system for your successes. It does not have
to be a big reward. A quarter in a receptacle each time you
overcome or reach a goal. Spend it on something which
delights you and will be a continuing reminder of your
21. Do not let yourself return to any past habit or attitude
patterns which were part of your problem. Satan Never Gives
Up. Be calmly and confidently on guard. Keep a positive
mental attitude. You can win this fight! The joy and
strength you will feel when you do will give your whole life
a radiant and spiritual glow of satisfaction and fulfillment.