Sexual Images of the Self: The Psychology of Erotic Sensations and Illusions

Sexual Images of the Self: The Psychology of Erotic Sensations and Illusions

Sexual Images of the Self: The Psychology of Erotic Sensations and Illusions

Sexual Images of the Self: The Psychology of Erotic Sensations and Illusions

Synopsis

This volume documents how sexual practices and fictions infiltrate and are influenced by a person's feelings about the self and the body. Using paradigms derived from self and body image theory, Fisher combines research from the past several decades dealing with sexual behavior to test major theories concerning diverse sexual phenomena. The book integrates, within a broad conceptual scheme, research findings concerning major aspects of sexual behavior such as the development of sexual competence, orgasm consistence, clitoral versus vaginal preference, and homosexuality.

Excerpt

One major aim of this book is to trace how sexual practices and fictions infiltrate and, in turn, are influenced by our body attitudes. The erotic ambience powerfully shapes body images and these images become pivotal in many life choices. Looking back historically, it becomes obvious that sexuality has been one of the major sources of body paradigms. There is no limit to the extremes in body notions that have been either explicit or implicit in sexual teachings. Over time, the prevailing sexual thought has variously demanded that human beings act as if their genitals do not really exist, as if female genitals are badges of inferiority, as if the genitals are inappropriately formed and need to be cut to a new pattern, as if the body in its totality is tainted with lust, as if stroking one's own parts pleasurably is a transgression, and even as if babies can be made without the union of ovum and sperm. In other words, sexual doctrine has called upon persons to be repulsed by their own body experiences and quite literally to be amnesic about parts of their own anatomy. In some circumstances there have been demands to act as if one's total worth were equivalent to the prowess or prominence of just one dramatically highlighted body part, for example, the penis or the breasts.

As we see here, the body image distortions conveyed by our sexual values are probably just as great today as at any time in the past. Recent surveys of children's ideas about sexuality reveal striking unreality and confusion. Also, any number of investigations continue to find that despite the "new sexual freedom," parents do not genuinely want their offspring to learn about the sexual or reproductive potentials of the human soma. In this book I give considerable attention to the childhood evolution of sexual and also derived body images and the consequences. Obviously, parents play a large part in this evolution. Detailed information has become available as to the specific ways fathers and mothers exert their influence. Contrary to commonsense intuition, the paternal role in such body matters often exceeds the maternal. This is a genuine surprise challenging a number of current personality theories. Overall, it is impressive how sexual irrationalities impinge upon the ability to live harmoniously with one's body, and almost as importantly, with the bodies of others. It may be that some of the more serious body image distortions that surface in the schizophrenic, in the anorexic, in the superobese, and in the transsexual are partially rooted in perplexing sexual fictions that were learned early.

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