Tell Me What You Want The Science of Sexual Desire and How It Can Help You Improve Your Sex Life

Author:
Justin L. Lehmiller
Published in: Da Capo Lifelong Books
Release Year: 2018
ISBN: 978-0-7382-3497-7 
Pages: 258
Edition: 1st
File Size: 2 MB
File Type: epub
Language: English




Description of Tell Me What You Want The Science of Sexual Desire and How It Can Help You Improve Your Sex Life


“I’m scared people will find out what I masturbate to.”
So said television actor Donald Glover in an emotionally raw Instagram post. With a simple photograph of a handwritten note, Glover perfectly distilled the profound sense of dread so many of us feel about our own sexual desires. Instead of seeing them as something to be shared or possibly even acted upon, we tend to tuck them away in the deepest recesses of our minds because we view them as nothing more than a source of potential shame and embarrassment.
Social scientists have long known that sexual fantasies go hand in hand with feelings of guilt and anxiety, having published dozens of academic journal articles over the years supporting this conclusion.2 Anecdotally, I have also observed this among readers of my website, Sex and Psychology—a site I created to provide science-based sex ed for adults. Shortly after posting my first article, I began to receive emails from people all over the world who were worried about their own fantasies or, sometimes, the fantasies of their partners. Women whose most arousing fantasies involve themes of rape, heterosexual men who get off on transsexual porn, married women who have discovered that their husbands enjoy cross-dressing, and men who want to share their wives and girlfriends with other men—they all want to know where these fantasies came from and, more often than not, what’s wrong with them.
Their concern is hardly surprising. For centuries, political, religious, and medical authorities in the United States have argued that what’s acceptable to desire when it comes to sex is very narrow. They’ve pretty much told us that we shouldn’t do anything other than put penises in vaginas and even that, ideally, should only take place within the confines of a heterosexual, monogamous marriage. Desires for any other sexual activities have been deemed unnatural, immoral, and unhealthy—and we’ve been discouraged from acting on them with threats of criminal prosecution and divine retribution.
There are obviously many sources of blame in America’s legacy of sex shame, but I want to focus on one here that has a tendency to get overlooked: our mental health community. Psychologists and psychiatrists have contributed in a major way to the stigmatization of many perfectly normal sexual desires. They have done so by advancing the notion that our sexual fantasies are a source of danger. This can be traced back to Sigmund Freud, who famously wrote more than a century ago that “a happy person never fantasizes, only a dissatisfied one.”3 Freud believed fantasies were a window into our psychological health and that they were necessarily revealing of deeper troubles. According to his view, someone who has a lot of self-loathing, for instance, might develop fantasies about being used, humiliated, or punished.
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