By: Stanley Siegel
Sexual fantasies, whether elaborate romantic themes or sporadic images of muscular arms or big breasts, mean much more than we think. Specific erotic images are connections to deeper inner truths long banished from consciousness.
Porn intensely focuses our mental and physical attention, uncovering specific emotions eroticized much earlier in life. Through our sexual fantasies, we attempt to master feelings of powerlessness, shame, guilt, fear and loneliness that have followed us into adulthood. Encoded in the porn scenes that lead us to orgasm are the psychological antidotes to these feelings. Situating ourselves in humiliating, romantic or risky scenes counteracts painful feelings by turning them into pleasurable ones. Psychologically, this happens outside our awareness, the way blood cells heal a cut finger without our knowing it.
To decode eroticized feelings, look at family dynamics. Childhood conflicts produce strong emotions that never completely disappear. Their impact echoes long into adulthood, woven into our fantasies, even when denied. What arouses us is far from random or meaningless. The porn we choose to watch is dictated by our psychological histories.
So, as you continue to read, consider your answers to these questions as you think about the porn you watch.
- What was your scariest experience growing up?
- Were you afraid of your parents?
- When did you not feel accepted or ignored by a parent, sibling or friend?
- When did you feel controlled by your parents?
- Could you discuss anger with them or disagree with them?
- Were you regularly spanked or disciplined as a child?
- The basic question to put to yourself is this one:
How is the feeling in your favorite porn video like the feeling you had during a conflict in your childhood?
Suppose our parents, teachers, or clergy used excessive shame or guilt to teach or control us. To deal with our resultant anger, we encode the shame in our fantasies, becoming aroused when thinking of ourselves as naughty or engaging in secret or forbidden sexual acts. We feel excited, for example, when punished or disciplined for supposed misbehavior, by being tied up and forced to have sex. Forced to surrender sexually to a dominant aggressor, we allow ourselves to enjoy the sex while escaping from the guilt that has haunted us through life.
On the other hand, some of us respond to underlying guilt and shame by sexualizing the idea of becoming the aggressor, perhaps delving into themes of incest or other extreme sexual behaviors to attach pleasure to unthinkable acts.
As children our sense of self-worth largely depends on how our parents hold and value us as distinct persons separate from the experiences they underwent. Our self-esteem, sense of competence and ability to cope in the world is shaped by specific family dynamics.
Frequent interactions defined by negativity and disparaging comparisons leave us with deep feelings of inadequacy and, most harmfully, a notion of not being lovable. Whether we accept failure as inevitable or rebel against it and become an overachiever, that lack of self-worth influences all our interactions with the world.
It can also define our sexuality. Eroticizing feelings of inadequacy lead to fantasies with themes involving submission, humiliation, verbal abuse or extreme adoration of a partner. We are aroused by being treated as if we are useless, unworthy or weak. Yet, by inviting our own humiliation, we become in charge of it and through the sexual pleasure we receive weaken the impact of childhood pain.
Some of us on the the other hand, counteract feelings of inadequacy with ideas of grandiosity in which we imagine ourselves as important, powerful or irresistibly sexy. We invent fantasies in which we are admired, adored, paid for sex, recreating ourselves as competent, powerful and attainable.
The most common feelings people eroticize are:
powerlessness and helplessness
detachment and emptiness
rejection and abandonment
anger and aggression
inadequacy, guilt and shame
insecurity, loneliness and vulnerability
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