Sex and Sexuality
In recent years, the climate has become increasingly open as regards discussion of sex and sexual problems. Still, the subject is a sensitive one for many people who were raised in more repressive times or circumstances. Sex education La the schools, while widely accepted, is still controversial. Many people seem to feel that if we ignore sex, it will go away; even though years have passed since Freud pointed out that the roots of many neuroses and other problems lie in sexual repression. This extremely powerful drive in all human beings must be understood it we are to understand ourselves, Further, a person who is not satisfied in the sexual aspects of his life, is not a fully-functioning person. in some rare cases a person may attain the ability to channel his sexual energies into the higher center-s and thus achieve realization. For most of us, however, satisfaction requires a pleasurable sexual relationship with another person.
Even more common, however, are the emotional 'hang-ups' due to feelings of guilt, or embarrassment. People who were taught in childhood that sex is 'dirty' or 'bad' or 'something to avoid' may unconsciously carry these teachings even though consciously they have adopted more open and realistic beliefs. Sometimes an otherwise happy marriage is marred by guilt of one party over past sexual experiences that he or she is afraid to admit. Other people deny themselves sexual pleasure through unexamined prejudices about what is 'normal' and labeling certain practices as 'perversions'.
Another area of sexual problems between two persons stems not so much from ignorance or negative feelings about sex, but from problems in the relationship itself, 'games' the partners are playing, lack of of communication, roles they have adopted. Even finance, health, job, and children problems show up in the sexual relationship, and the effects go the other way, too.
There is one more point that is important to remember. A lot of people who have sex problems will be too inhibited to admit them at first. Sometimes you will suspect they are hiding a sex problem behind what-ever they are claiming to be the problem. This will require a lot of sensitivity on your part to know whether to suggest that there might be a sex or a sexual aspect to their other problems; or to wait for them to bring the problem out themselves.
BASIC SEX INFORMATION
Following are some books you could recommend to clients who need more thorough information about sex. Or you could use them to answer specific questions the client may have on his sexual nature.
1.For young people, LOVE AND SEX IN PLAIN LANGUAGE, by Eric W. Johnson, widely used in sex education classes, is recommended, at least as a beginning. Some sexually sophisticated teenagers, of course, will be looking for more advanced material. Remember that information is not the same as encouragement. If they cannot find accurate answers to their questions, they will g@ ahead with inaccurate answers. Thus, it will usually be best not to withhold information, but to combine the factual information with counseling on when and how the information should be put into practice.
2. Often parents may want help with explaining sexual matters to children. What do we tell them when? Most authorities I found agreed that rather than hold down and give him a complicated explanation about 'the birds and bees', the parents should answer his natural questions as they come up, accurately and using the correct terms. Do not go into all the details, which would only confuse the child, but be sure he is satisfied with the answer and that it doesn't give him any erroneous ideas about 'storks' or 'buying a little brother or sister at the department store'.
3. For many people, particularly those who are not very sophisticated about sex, EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SEX, by David Rube, M.D., can be quite informative. Some authorities disagree with a few of his statements and others consider him somewhat prudish. (His comments about homosexuals are particularly offensive.) Still, he is much more liberal than most of his readers, and to some people even these ideas will be quite shocking. (Since this book was written in 1969, some of the information, for example regarding abortion laws, is inaccurate.)
4. A much more explicit book, written for the sexually sophisticated who have few hang-ups and want to do whatever they can to achieve the ultimate in sexual pleasure, is THE JOY OF SEX by Alex Comfort. Since there are many illustrations of unusual positions and techniques, this is not recommended for people who are very offended or easily shocked; but I really believe every Soul Clinic counselor should read it and be familiar with the information and viewpoints. This is not a book that encourages indiscriminate sex, but encourages sex with love, and in fact, is only really useful to couples with a strong relationship who care enough to bother doing everything they can for the other person's enjoyment. The book does, however, lack any really good advice for serious sexual problems and is written mainly for people who already have it good want to make it better.
5. One book I found with some unique information that could be the best available for the two very common problems of lack of orgasm in the woman and premature ejaculation in the man, is called THE KEY TO FEMININE IN MARRIAGE by Donald M. Deutsch (1968, Random House, New York). When these problems are physical rather than emotional in origin, the exercises in this book can be very valuable. Also the information about female physiology can be useful in itself - in fact, this is the only book on sex that really told me anything I didn't already know that was actually helpful. These exercises originally were designed to strengthen the vaginal muscles for easier childbirth and after childbirth. Then their importance in sexual satisfaction was recognized. Of course, they will not work in every case. but are extremely simple, take very little time, and are certainly worth a try.
1. Often the most helpful thing you can do for a person is to encourage him to talk "about his feelings about sex. The more accepting and non-judgmental you can be, the more he is likely to get out in the open. Don't, for example, try to convince him that he 'shouldn't' feel guilty as this will only add another 'guilt' without removing the first one. In fact, the greater openness about sex today makes many people hide their guilt feelings or try to repress them in an attempt to be 'with it'. When a person is able to talk about these feelings, admit them openly, and try to discover the source, then he can move beyond them rather than just pre-tending to be beyond them.
2. Transactional Analysis can be very helpful in this area by helping a person to see that most of his sex hang-ups are prejudices recorded in the Parent that are contaminating his Adult ability to function. In I'M OK; YOU'RE OK Thomas Harris points out that the way to eliminate prejudices is to realize that it is no longer dangerous to disagree with one's parents (pg. 124). There is also some information in BORN TO WIN about the effects of sexual repression on the Adopted Child and on re-leasing the Natural Child (pg. 176). The questions and experiments on pages 186 and 187 are especially useful for these problems.
3. Overcoming inhibitions is only one step in raising one's sexual consciousness. In Chapter 17, 'How to Increase Your Enjoyment of Sex', of the HANDBOOK TO HIGHER CONSCIOUSNESS. Ken Keyes outlines how sex may be experienced at the various levels. On the level of sensation, a person remains attached to his anticipation of the ultimate sensation or climax. This habit of anticipating this future keeps us from enjoying each moment of the experience in the Here and Now. Thus, addictions to certain sensations must be overcome as well as inhibitions. He also stresses that the relationship of subject-object on the lower levels, prevents us from drowning in oneness and love. Keyes even suggests that a person who is very addicted to sexual sensations should give them up for a certain period of time in order to better tune in to his partner as a whole being rather than a source of sensation. The more 'impossible' such a course sounds to a person, the more proof he has of his addiction.
4. Another problem, not so much addiction to sensations or guilt may be involved) is that some bodies at all, sexually or otherwise. se during the act, their attention else either in the past or future. Gestalt exercises aimed at aware in the Here and Now can be explained in the book GESTALT THERAPY, which I suggested earlier but will contains much in theory, I would recommend AWARENESS: EXPLORING, EXPERIMENTING, EXPERIENCING by John 0. Stevens (1971; Real People Press, Box F, Moab, utah 87532), which contains over a hundred Gestalt exercises for use alone or in groups. I strongly recommend that you at least read this book and work through some of the experiments as they will be referred to often in later lessons.
5. Many Oriental religions, particularly the Tantric form of Yoga (the yoga of the nervous system) use sex as a pathway to enlightenment. The goal is that the two partners become so totally tuned in to each other that their separate egos, or individual consciousness, merge into one. Once a person realizes this oneness with another being, he also realizes his individual ego is a limitation rather than something to cling to, and further realizes his oneness with all beings who share in the same consciousness. For those who are interested in this level of sex, the book MONDAY NIGHT CLASS by Stephen has some useful suggestions. Primarily, this involves approaching sex as a form of mediation, possibly meditating together as a prelude, taking time to remove all tension from each others bodies by deep massage, the woman in a position where she controls the movements, all movements very slow, the peace of completely focusing the attention on all points of contact between the two bodies, on the Here and Now, taking long enough for the two nervous systems to merge before climax, and in some cases the practice of karessa, where the man does not ejaculate but gets what may be described as a 'contact high' from his partner's orgasm.
6. Of course, the Judeo-Christian religious tradition often encourages just the opposite attitude toward sex. While there is really nothing in the Bible to back up this attitude, certain interpretations give that impress-ion. Jesus' only remarks on the subject, 'For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they two, shall be one ... What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.' (Matthew 19:6-7), sound a lot like the tantric ideal of sex as a spiritual union. Whether or not this applies to a mere legal marriage in which no true oneness ever occurs is open to interpretation. But he clearly is referring not to what the State has joined together, or even the established church, but what GOD has joined together.
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