The Psychology of Sexuality

The Psychology of Sexuality

Why sex is still such a central concern in psychotherapy.

SOURCE: Psychology Today

Sexuality is part of what makes us human. Naturally, its fundamental function is to propagate the species. But clearly, sex goes far beyond the powerful evolutionary instinct to procreate. Sex is also about sensual pleasure. Enjoyment. Excitement. Even ecstasy. In addition to the earthly and earthy delights of the flesh–the thrill of physically touching and being touched by another warm body, the mounting excitement toward sexual release, the climactic ecstasy of orgasm, and the pulsating, peaceful afterglow of relaxation following orgasm–human sexuality also serves both a psychological and spiritual purpose. Sex is a way of lessening our alienation, isolation and aloneness by physically connecting with, penetrating or being penetrated by another person at the most primal level of existence. (See my prior post.) Sex substantiates, humanizes and incarnates existence. It produces joy, love, comfort, affection, and sometimes, ecstasy.

Ecstasy is not only a physical, but a psychological and sometimes spiritual experience. The etymology of the word ecstasy is ex-stasis: The temporary transcendence of time, ego and our shared human fate of existential separateness. Sex connects us not only with another being, but with our own being and humanity. Sex, like eros, from which it draws its profound psychological and spiritual power, is daimonic: it reminds us of our intrinsic capacity to be involuntarily taken over at the moment of orgasm; to be possessed by passion; to surrender control. Both lust and falling in love are examples of being possessed by sex or eros.This capacity to experience the daimonic quality of sex or eros is an essential and centering part of being human. It reminds us that we are, first and foremost, as Freud pointed out, passionate creatures, motivated and driven by primitive, irrational forces operating just below the surface of civilization and rationality far more powerful than our puny little egos.

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