June 11, 2016

Why Listening to our Sexual Kinks is Beneficial for our Mental Health. {Adult}

Maggie Siff in Billions S01E03

Have you ever discovered that you had a sexual fantasy or preference you really didn’t want to accept?

Have you ever caught yourself being turned on by situations that went against your ideas of right and wrong? This experience can be unsettling, but it is much more common than we think. We are, more often than we would like to admit, turned on by fantasies and practices that aren’t necessarily in alignment with our ideas, convictions or even values.

Or, in short, we often would like to do things in the bedroom that we would never do in “regular,” everyday life.

So why are our sexual and non-sexual behaviors often so different?

We all have convictions, values systems, political ideologies, and all sorts of opinions. But a large part of our psyche, the so-called subconscious operates on a different, more primal level. This powerful part of ourselves understands pleasure, pain, fear, desire, but not elaborate concepts and ideologies.

Our subconscious, in other words, doesn’t give a damn about being “politically correct.”

Our subconscious is also largely responsible for the content of our dreams. Now, if we regularly have unpleasant, violent or degrading dreams, that probably means that something in our subconscious is not aligned with other parts of our psyche—a signal worth paying attention to.

But wouldn’t it be pointless to blame ourselves for having dreams that conflict with our conscious views and beliefs? Or to ask our subconscious to just shut up? We have a much better chance of restoring harmony by instead letting our subconscious express itself, which we can do by listening to our dreams, writing them down, analyzing them, and so on.

This same approach of listening to our subconscious and letting it talk is also valid with sexual fantasies or kinks. Our sexual fantasies send us powerful messages about the content of our subconscious, and ignoring these messages or trying to repress them isn’t generally helpful.

We are much better off letting these kinks and fantasies speak, looking honestly at them and, within the limits of self-respect and respect for others, acting them out. A key factor when we allow ourselves to openly express our “kinks” is consent: if we are going to have any sexual interaction with someone else, everyone needs to be fully aware and willing to participate.

When we allow our sexual fantasies to talk to us and we listen attentively, after a while they become less urgent, while their message becomes clearer. It is then possible to find the root of that “disturbing” sexual fantasy and understand what it is trying to accomplish. Most of the time, this results in healing and integration.

I would like to answer this question and illustrate the healing power of sexual “kinks” with a real story.

A good friend of mine, an attractive and intelligent woman, had strong sexual fantasies involving submission, in both physical and verbal forms. Acknowledging or acting out this sexual fantasy was disturbing for her, especially because of a particular event in her personal story. She had spent a few years in a correction center for youth where she had undergone severe discipline and, in some cases, outright humiliation. She felt more than a bit distressed when she found out that, in sexual play, she was turned on by situations that were similar to the painful experiences she had endured while in the correction center.

Why did her subconscious mind conjure such disturbing sexual fantasies? As far as we can say, maybe there was a good reason. Often, our subconscious tries to re-create painful situations (the degrading episodes in the correction center) but, this time, with an added ingredient: love, or at least reciprocal sexual attraction. This may be the origin of many sexual fantasies that involve aggression, humiliation, even rape: an effort to heal the deep wound of having been treated without love and respect.

For a while, my friend decided not to give attention her sexual fantasies. Instead, she made an effort to experience “normal” sex. That was an important experience for her because she realized that she had some control over her sexual fantasies. Eventually, however, “normal” sex felt dull and uninteresting to her. In general, the subconscious does not allow us to ignore its messages without paying a price: withdrawing its powerful energy from our erotic interactions, which become weaker and duller.

Not willing to resign to an unfulfilling sexual life, my friend decided to embrace her sexual fantasies again, while at the same time doing some serious self-exploration through yoga, meditation, tantra, family constellations, and other powerful tools. She decided to go to the root of her sexual fantasies, treating them as messages to understand, rather than symptoms of an illness to cure. Eventually, she felt strong enough to let her sexual fantasies express themselves freely, but this time with a much more mature understanding of herself and her sexuality. Those sexual fantasies didn’t seem that scary anymore. Gradually, she started also enjoying more gentle, meditative sex.

Ignoring or repressing our sexual fantasies and kinks can create disharmony in the psyche and suffocate our erotic energy. Our sexual fantasies, quirks and kinks aren’t just preferences, but powerful messages that try to bridge the subconscious and the conscious parts of our personality. Those messages want to be heard.

Once we listen to and live out our sexual fantasies without excessive guilt or self-judgment, we often notice that those fantasies start to lose their magnetic power and strength. When we bring subconscious content up to the surface, so to speak, it progressively loses its gravitational pull.

Instead of denying our sexual preferences, we can make an effort to hear and understand them and they will gradually exhaust their power once they have delivered their message.


Author: Raffaello Manacorda

Image: puddingmannenkalle via Imgur

Editor: Catherine Monkman; Renee Picard

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