Like addicts of all stripes, compulsive masturbators engage in their addiction not to feel better, but to gain a sense of control over what they are feeling. For them, masturbation is a coping mechanism utilized less for self-pleasure and more for escape, self-soothing, and emotional distraction. In other words, compulsive masturbation is a way to avoid the emotional and/or psychological discomfort caused by life stressors and underlying issues like depression, anxiety, and unresolved childhood abuse, neglect, and trauma.
Most often compulsive masturbators learn in adolescence (though sometimes earlier or later) how to use/abuse the intensity of sexual arousal and masturbation to mask and distract from emotional discomfort. Over time, especially in a “chronic stress” household (a house with ongoing substance abuse, neglect, mental illness, physical abuse, sexual abuse, etc.), a person can learn to use masturbation as his or her go-to “coping response,” an escapist answer to any and every form of pain and discomfort, including issues as seemingly benign as boredom or loneliness.