The Psychology Of Human Sexuality
The Psychology Of Human Sexuality
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 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, w