What do most men and women say they want from sex? Some combination of pleasure and closeness. But during sex most people typically focus on how they look, smell, and sound; obsess on what their partner is thinking; try to manage distracting thoughts & feelings; and most of all, attend to their performance.
That leads exactly to what so many people fear: sexual “dysfunctions” like erection, orgasm, or desire problems. Therapists and self-help books can make things worse, because they’re trying to improve “functioning”—which is exactly wrong. Better friction doesn’t give people what they really want from sex: a sense of relaxation, playfulness, self-acceptance, and connection. Erections and lubrication don’t guarantee desire or satisfaction. And so treating people’s genitalia is the wrong approach to enhancing their passion or pleasure.
In this seminar we’ll examine:
- How to help people identify the good reasons they don’t desire or initiate sex;
- How people construct culturally-appropriate sexual narratives; how these narratives undermine people’s pleasure and intimacy; and how we can help patients see and change them;
- How to support people in making the transition from lust-driven sex to adult eroticism—and how to help people confront the existential issues that arise when they do;
- Why orgasm is not the most important part of sex;
- How we can help people discover what their authentic sexual desires actually are, and how they can share these with a partner;
- How to understand the role of Normality Anxiety and existential avoidance in sexual decision-making, and how to discuss this with patients;
- How to guide patients into a model of sexual engagement and satisfaction that does not focus on sexual “function” and “dysfunction.”