The Psychology Of Human Sexuality _VERIFIED_
Using case studies, the Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) is credited with being the first scientist to link sex to healthy development and to recognize humans as being sexual throughout their lifespans, including childhood (Freud, 1905). Freud (1923) argued that people progress through five stages of psychosexual development: oral, anal, phallic, latent, and genital. According to Freud, each of these stages could be passed through in a healthy or unhealthy manner. In unhealthy manners, people might develop psychological problems, such as frigidity, impotence, or anal-retentiveness.
The Psychology of Human Sexuality
The text presents the major theoretical perspectives on human sexuality, and details the vast diversity of sexual attitudes and behaviors that exist in the modern world. The author also reviews the history of sexology and explores its unique methods and ethical considerations. Overall, this important and comprehensive text provides readers with a better understanding of, and appreciation for, the science of sex and the amazing complexity of human sexuality.
Written for students of human sexuality and anyone interested in the topic, The Psychology of Human Sexuality offers a guide to the psychology of human sexual behavior that is at once inclusive, thorough, and authoritative in its approach.
Sexuality 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.
At some deeper level, sexuality is intimately linked with mortality. With birth and death. This association is depicted in Freud's poetic notion of Eros and Thanatos, the two fundamental instinctual forces of human existence, in which the positive sexual "life instinct" (Eros) does eternal battle with the negative "death instinct" (Thanatos). Sexuality fights against death, affirming life.
Naturally, taking a vow not to engage in sexual behavior does not cause the sexual instinct to simply disappear, as the apparently perverse sexual proclivities of some celibate priests prove. It finds expression in other ways, some positive and creative, and others negative and destructive. So, this primal sexual energy, what Freud referred to as "libido," is more or less always with us throughout life, beginning at birth and lingering into old age. It may wax and wane during different developmental stages, but, even into senescence, the flame of sexuality never totally disappears, extinguished only by death.
But it can also tell us something important about the base, instinctual and primitive part of ourselves. What Freud termed the "id," Jung called the "shadow," and Rollo May dubbed the "daimonic." As well as illuminating what Jung called our anima or animus, which play a major role in sexual attraction. (See my prior post.) Learning to recognize, listen to and honor this creaturely sexual instinct can lead to discovering who we really are. And who we need to become. Which is why sexuality will always play such a significant part in the psychotherapy process.
Certainly, there are exceptions to these tendencies. And, in some cases, role reversals. But, for the most part, psychologically, the significance of sexuality is different for females and males, which is one fundamental source of friction and misunderstanding between the sexes. (See my prior post.)
It is equally crucial to recognize that the primal energy comprising the sex drive derives from the more generic life force or elan vital that animates all human beings. Therefore, it is possible to express sexual energy in many ways, including artistic creativity, altruistic social behavior, or spiritual development. But this sort of sublimation, as Freud called it, cannot fully substitute for or eliminate the sexual instinct. If not given adequate expression, it manifests itself in obsessive sexual fantasies or other psychiatric symptoms.
In Western culture, sex may no longer be the biggest taboo for psychotherapy patients. But it remains a profound force to be reckoned with in treatment, especially when it starts to run amuck, as in nymphomania, satyriasis, pedophilia, mania, pornongraphy or sex addiction, and marital infidelity. (See my prior post.) Or when its absence in someone's life becomes the source of frustration, depression, anxiety or anger. It is then that we are forced to confront and address the daimonic nature of human sexuality: its capacity to take possession of the personality and drive us into destructive behaviors. Like weeds pushing through the smallest of cracks in a tarmac, libido, eros or sexual energy will leak out in some form when chronically denied some healthy outlet.
In certain individuals, this may manifest in an erotic relationship with inanimate objects, such as cars, for example. In others, for non-human sexual partners, like cows, dogs, goats or horses. In still others, it turns into psychotic symptoms such as erotomania, a delusional disorder in which the patient is convinced that another person, often a high-profile celebrity stranger, is in love with him or her. And, for some, dissociated sexuality takes the form of fundamentalist religious or New Age spiritual beliefs, or attraction and susceptibility to dangerous cults that use sexuality to exert power and control over their members. (See my prior post.)
Finally, there is the fact that human sexuality is strongly influenced, for better or worse, by both family and culture, as well as by the way in which Freud's famous psychosexual stages of development are navigated during early childhood and adolescence. To paraphrase Freud, by the time we reach adulthood, there are, psychologically, always at least six people present in the bedroom. Because of all this, sex still plays a significant part in contemporary psychotherapy, albeit not as prominently as in Freud's day.
In Freud's Vienna, there was widespread repression and dissociation of sexual feelings and impulses, which, as Freud discovered, resulted in neurotic symptoms. A century later, we now live in a far more sexually liberated society, having been through the "sexual revolution" during the mid-twentieth century. Indeed, nowadays, it is the chronic repression of anger or rage rather than sexuality to which the more mature Freud finally turned his attention that tends to predominate the clinical picture of people suffering from sundry psychiatric symptoms. (See my prior posts.)
We humans are, it seems, congenital lovers, natural sensation seekers, limitless sources of eros, essentially sexual beings. Sexuality is part of our fate. What we do with it decides our destiny. The uncanny power of sex to motivate and drive us to seek sexual satisfaction must not be underestimated in our post-Freudian sexual liberation. This sexual power can be both creative (and procreative) or destructive to self and others. It is, by definition, irrational, irrepressible and unrelenting. As a key component of the daimonic, sex and eros demand some expression. What we do (or don't do) with this sexual energy determines who and what we become, what kind of relationships we create, and how we express ourselves in the world. And, of course, collectively, whether we as a species survive.
In short, human sexuality is an important part of our life. Open discussion about sexuality can help people to get a better understanding of themselves and others. However, there is still something we could and we should explore in the area of psychology of human sexuality.
With a PsyD/MEd dual degree from Widener, you will develop the skills and expertise to excel as a sexuality educator and clinical psychologist and will be trained to use science to inform your practice.
PSYC 206 - Psychology of Human Sexuality An introduction to the study of the psychology of human sexuality including the study of human sexual behavior, sexual attitudes, sexual motivation, sex roles, relation between sexual behavior and attitudes and personality characteristics, sexual variance, sexual problems, etc. PREREQUISITE(S): A grade of C or better in PSYC 102 , or consent of department. Three hours each week. Formerly PY 206.3 semester hours Course Outcomes: Upon course completion, a student will be able to: 041b061a72