Sexual Dysfunctions (mental & physical):
If one were to type sexual dysfunction into a internet search engine millions of sites come up with hundreds of thousands of articles, studies, opinions, and statistics that generalize and categorize the difficult and confusing experiences our species has with sex.
For my opinion on why we have such difficulty with sex please read: Sexual Intmacy.
The big picture created by putting all of this information together (misleading, confusing, contradictory, and biased as a lot of it may be) is that having issues with sex is completely natural. The main issues people have with sex is that many of them are uncomfortable talking about it. Sure they can read about it, but that keeps it in the mind, hidden from the outside world. Getting your thoughts out of your mind in a safe, non judging environment, often takes away a great deal of the stress you feel from having to carry the burden of your obsessive and repressed thoughts. Ian Kerner stated in his book Passionista that “by suppressing a forbidden thought the mind never has a opportunity to process if fully.” (p. 72).
If you are having problems with sexual intimacy, function, desire, or any number of other issues, it may help to talk about them.
Let’s Talk About:Pornography
May of my clients come in because of issues they have with pornography, or because of issues their partner has with pornography. Sexually explicit images have been used to create feelings of arousal since our species learned how to draw. The only difference now is that these visual images are everywhere. Since the 1960s marketing teams have spent countless millions to create images that manipulate our attention. Since our species is hardwired with a desire to procreate without a designated mating season, the most effective marketing strategies are those that tap into our desire for sex and security. Billboards, television, movies, and magazine covers (including Time, Newsweek, and Psychology Today) are designed to stimulate us, and we find ourselves surrounded by images that we desire, abhor, and/or compare ourselves to. The side effect of being overly stimulated is that our senses eventually become dulled, and images must be made more stimulating and/or taboo to gain our attention.
The side effects of this overstimulation can best be seen by what has happened to the internet with its unlimited usage and faster speeds. Our species, for the first time in its history, has access to an endless stream of visual stimulation. Given that the most marketable form of stimulation is sexual arousal, it is not surprising that several porn stores opened along the Internet highway with a constant flood of new images and videos everyday, which can provide the viewer with a quick dump of dopamine whenever it is desired.
Where once erotic art was secretive and difficult to find, it is now provided in just about any form you can imagine and available twenty-four hours a day. Why? Is it because our species is immoral? I believe our specie’s issue with erotic images goes much deeper than abstract concepts like morality. If a lab rat were given a button that caused a secretion of dopamine, it would press that button indefinitely. If you were able to explain to the lab rat that it shouldn’t press the button because it is “immoral”, it would still think about pressing it and possibly become upset at itself for thinking such a thing. If you explained to the lab rat how the button works, then helped the lab rat take the button apart, so that the rat becomes more consciously aware of the physical and psychological effects the button is having on its neuro system, then the use of the button may reduce or be let go of completely. By providing less abstract reasons for why someone should reduce the amount of time spent on injecting the mind with artificially erotic stimulation, one can create change without resorting to methods that create guilt and self-loathing, which ultimately creates a desire for dopamine.
From a big picture perspective: the beginning of one’s experimentation with artificial erotic stimulation (such as romance novels and visual art) seems to stem from a desire for the mental, physical, and spiritual experience created by connecting with another human being. There is nothing quite like it. Unfortunately, artificial erotic stimulation is the fast food version of that connection. Fast food eaten occasionally is not necessarily good for people’s bodies, but it wont kill them. If people eat fast food all the time it messes with their body down to the DNA structure of their cells. The same goes for artificial erotic stimulation. If one becomes used to injecting their mind with dopamine by using porn or romance novels, then it can turn into an addiction during periods of anxiety, depression, and other negative states of mind. Like all forms of addiction, the cause should be addressed. But so many individuals, and couples, get so hung up on the use of artificial erotic stimulation that the cause of that use is not addressed. If we rise above abstract concepts like “evil”, “moral” and “ethical” we can begin asking questions like; “Is this healthy for your mind?” “Is this allowing you to stay in a sexually dysfunctional relationship without addressing the issue of your sexual dysfunction?” “Are you using porn because you became used to controlling when you experience pleasure?” and the biggest one… “are you using porn to make yourself feel better because you experience guilt for using porn?”
Everything I have read about the use of artificial erotic stimulation suggests that, if it is used excessively, the user will cycle through different types and styles of porn to maintain their ability to stimulate their mind with dopamine (much like a person who self medicates with drugs will up the dosage or switch to something stronger). This means that, to maintain a strong dopamine dump, they will indulge in fantasies and porn styles that they would never imagine recreating in the “real world”. When a partner finds this material the focus becomes directed at “emotional cheating”, “sexual identity confusion”, “morality”, “objectification”, and other issues rather than about dopamine, and the side effects of using artificial erotic stimulation while in a distressed state of mind. This prevents the couple from looking at their situation from a big picture perspective as they become tripped up in their thoughts and emotions.
There is so much more I could address on this topic, but it’s simpler to say this: only by stepping back, and looking at something without judgment, can someone see the reason behind an action and move forward.
Let’s Talk About:Male Erectile Dysfunction and Female Lubrication Issues
What many people do not realize is that erectile dysfunction and lubrication issues are accepted as a future fact of life. By “future fact of life” I mean we are brought up believing that one day everything will stop working. What people fail to realize is that these issues are not necessarily caused by age. Numerical age is a linear concept and has little to do with how our body functions. What we eat, think, and do with our lives creates changes in our biology. For example, most do not realize that “anxiety” is a chemical released into our nervous system, and that this chemical exits at various points along our spine (especially near our digestive and reproductive organs). Therefore, when someone experiences anxiety, it is completely natural for the chemicals that are being released from the brain, and into the nervous system, to override sexual arousal. Think of it this way; an animal in nature, when experiencing a feeling of anxiety, does not turn around and try to mate with something. If a man is anxious it can keep him from having an erection. If a woman is anxious it can keep her from becoming lubricated. Given that sexual dysfunction can create anxiety, then sexual dysfunction can create sexual dysfunction. This is just one of many examples. There are any number of reasons why someone may be having difficulty with sexual arousal, both mental and physical. It is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed by. So, before you pop another Viagra, pull out your bottle of lubricant, or seek out another partner, talk to someone about it.
Let’s Talk About:Orgasms
Again, something so natural can become as complicated as a Rubik Cube. People fake them, can’t have them, have them too soon, and create varying degrees of psychosis because of them. Apparently premature ejaculation is the primary complaint of men under the age of 40, and 80 percent of women have trouble reaching orgasm (or need electronic help to do so). Many people believe that sex has a goal, and that goal is to end with an orgasm (or two, or three), which turns sex into a means to an end rather than an experience in and of itself. So, it is not unusual for someone to feel like they are broken, or that something is wrong with their relationship, if they are having orgasm issues. There are millions of studies on the orgasm, and theories as to why our species has such difficulty with them. Most suggest that the majority of the issues are mental. This is a good thing because, with help, these issues can be alleviated.
Let’s Talk About:The Loss Of Desire Toward Your Partner
It is said that 1 in 5 people experience a loss of desire toward their partner in their lifetime. The percentage is probably higher considering the number of people who do not want to admit the loss. It is not necessarily because the partner has become less attractive. It can be caused by relationship troubles, stress, low self-esteem, apprehension, depression, medication/drugs, illness, menopause, and a number of other reasons that can actually be taken care of so that desire can be revived. With therapy you can discover whether loss of sexual desire is caused by stress, a medical condition or any other underlying circumstances.
Sexual dysfunction is so common that it appears to be dysfunctional not to have it at some point in life. Seeking help, or simply talking about it, can be distressing – which is also common. But, with counseling it is possible to create a healthy sex life and sense of sexual expression.
The main issue we have with sex is that many of us are uncomfortable talking about it. If you have any questions or issues you would like to discuss please feel free to contact me.
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