Monday, August 6, 2007

The Secret Logic of Sexual Fantasies and Behaviors

Arousal: The Secret Logic Of Sexual Fantasies by Dr. Michael J. Bader Review by Joe Kort. All rights reserved

I hope those reading this blog might consider reading this book to understand why straight men would be sexual other men. This book is also an excellent guide for all people--male, female, gay, bisexual, straight--about sexual fantasies that has an optimistic point of view.
Dr. Bader’s approach to understanding the sexual fantasies of men and women is from a positive and affirming place. Most people feel shame and embarrassment over their sexual behaviors and fantasies. Since I treat individuals suffering from childhood sexual abuse and sexual addictions I hear a lot of suffering of people who are troubled by their sexual thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Even those individuals who I treat who are not bothered by their sexuality and have healthy expressions of their sexual thoughts, feelings and behaviors find it difficult to discuss them.

Arousal attempts to help all individuals address their sexual fantasies with respect and dignity and understanding. Bader states that, “ theoretical and clinical approach to sexuality is an affirmative one, viewing sexual fantasy and arousal as resulting from an unconscious attempt to solve problems and not, as many psychoanalysts would have it, recreate them”.

Bader says sexual fantasies are not only stories one thinks about when masturbating or having sex. He goes on to explain that everybody has preferences about the way they like to get turned on. There are certain body types people prefer and certain temperamental traits that turn people on. All are telling a story about the person with the specific interests. One can learn more about one’s self when understanding why he/she is sexually aroused by the things that arouse him or her.

Bader believes, as do I, that your sexual fantasies are a result of your psychological makeup. He believes that sexual fantasies, however mundane or bizarre, are attempts compensate for the guilt and fear or worry each of us carries over from childhood. He states that “the details of the fantasy sometimes offer clues” into that persons childhood or history. He is clear that he does not believe that one’s orientation is shaped by childhood. That, like temperament, is stable and unchanging. But sexual arousal is imprinted from childhood.

In my work with men who suffer sexual addictions and compulsions, it has been most helpful going right to what turns them on the most sexually. As difficult as that is for them to talk about, once they reveal their sexual turn fantasies and interests we find plenty of information necessary to help them stop the compulsive behavior. For some men, they discover that sex with prostitutes is a form of “paying for love”. They were not loved as children by their caregivers. Other men are compelled to be submissive and take orders while others want to dominate and be in charge.

Bader’s book explains all of this and offers some practical thoughts and answers for those interested in understanding their sexual fantasies. For sexually compulsive and addicted people, this understand can help remove and eliminate the compulsiveness around the behavior. I highly recommend this book to therapists and individuals struggling with shame and guilt around their sexual fantasies and behaviors.

I highly recommend reading this book.

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