Masturbation is all-inclusive. It is universal and particular, collective and individual; a solitary pleasure, a shared exchange, an intimate encounter. It is a central - and wonderfully elusive and contradictory - component of human history and culture. It is the great leveller. It is also subject rich in contradictions. Historically, masturbation has been characterized as a disorder, as 'unnatural' and 'unhealthy', and as a violation of the moral law. At the same time, it has been seen as a vital force, as a creative and magical act, and as 'normal' and 'wholesome'. Given our contemporary world's own complexities, what better way to make sense of human beings, human sexuality, and indeed our own true selves? Masturbation: A Handbook is insightful, rigorous and delightful assemblage of historical images and artifacts, popular culture, and modern and contemporary drawings, paintings, photographs, video works and performances about the subject. It includes fascinating examples of visual and material culture, including depictions from ancient China, Egypt and Greece, Japan, and north America and works by modern and contemporary practitioners such as Marcel Duchamp, Francis Picabia, Marina Abramovic, Matthew Barney, Valie Export and Antony Gormley. Barely scrutinized until now, it is the unique aesthetic of masturbation, both ancient and modern, that this book looks to define, investigate, and celebrate. Masturbation: A Handbook is also a sourcebook of writings on the topic. From the libertine Marquis de Sade to the psychotherapist Susie Orbach, it brings together original sources with newly commissioned texts by novelists, artists, scholars, educators, historians, essayists, artists and poets. Together this treasure trove of images, objects, and texts is a wonderful resource for anyone seriously and actively interested in sexuality, eroticism, desire, narcissism, perversity, intimacy and gratification.