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For sexual interests that involve imaging one's self in another physical form, see Erotic target location error.

Autoeroticism is the practice of becoming sexually stimulated through internal stimuli. The term was popularized toward the end of the 19th century by British sexologist Havelock Ellis, who defined autoeroticism as "the phenomena of spontaneous sexual emotion generated in the absence of an external stimulus proceeding, directly or indirectly, from another person".[1] The most common autoerotic practice is masturbation, and though the two terms are often used interchangeably, they are not synonymous, since not all autoerotic behaviors are masturbatory. Nocturnal emissions, erotic daydreams, and sexual arousal to 'sexually-neutral' stimuli (music, scenery, art, risk, spiritual reverie, etc.) are also examples of autoeroticism.


A few autoerotic practices are considered unsafe, sometimes even leading to death.[2] These include autoerotic asphyxiation and self-bondage. The potential for injury or even death that exists while engaging in these practices rather than the partnered versions (erotic asphyxiation and bondage, respectively) becomes drastically increased due to the isolation and lack of assistance in the event of a problem.

In other animal species

Animal sexual behavior has been observed in many species, both in the wild and in captivity. Individuals of some[specify] species have been known to create tools for autoerotic purposes.


  1. Lagache, Daniel; Laplanche, Jean (1988). The language of psycho-analysis. London: Karnac Books. p. 45. ISBN 0-946439-49-4. 
  2. © Knowledge Solutions LLC 1996 - 2002 / AN OBJECTIVE OVERVIEW OF AUTOEROTIC FATALITIES by Brent E. Turvey, MS

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