To answer this we are going back to the 1960s: the decade in which contraception and pop music developed as entities, and Sexual Liberation came to town, and when the slogan of ‘make love not war’ was a reaction to the global unrest of the time.
This was the decade that Wilhelm Reich, the revolutionary psychoanalyst, did not quite manage to see, having 'left town’ just before in 1957. If he had lived he would have greatly approved. The Guardian called him ‘the man who invented free love’ and if he were alive today he would say an emphatic YES, sex does matter, maybe even more so now when our very wellbeing is under threat.
Reich was no stranger to loss or global infectious diseases, having by the age of 29 experienced great personal loss with family deaths and he himself surviving TB, the pandemic of his time. Reich veered towards the physicality of our bodies and away from the more cerebral psychoanalysis, thus forming the foundation of Body Psychotherapy as it today. One of his latter theories focused on the idea that:
Sexual Pleasure is the key to remaining sane and in good physical health.
However, not just any sexual pleasure. No, it needs to be a truly deep and satisfying orgasm that he saw as connecting to one’s life force or energy through the synthesis between pleasure and action. Eric Berne the founder of Transactional Analysis described sex as a means to change the depressive condition in the outside world and as a way for our species to survive. Importantly, he believed partnership, that sex can be pleasure giving, with a serotonin buzz and emotionally intimate in a trusting safe consenting
However, if fulfilling sex is off the menu because we live alone and are isolated, or because it’s too available, ‘oven ready’ so to speak, and perhaps lacks the excitement we need, we might need some ideas to whet our appetite. (See tips below).
We do need to survive and we also need to thrive; a cliché perhaps, but it is one precisely because we need to do more than just survive in these times. Now it may not be through sex as Reich and Berne would propose, as after all many people have no desire for sex for various reasons, or they may desire but not have the physical means. However, making time to ensure that pleasure and action sit together and that safe intimacy is part of your everyday life would go a long way towards your good health. The need to make an impact on another being - whether it’s hello in passing, an embracing hug, intimate sexual connection, or a simple emotional connection through conversation - is imperative to our psychic emotional, and social survival.
How then to kick start this life force energy and how to keep the drive alive?
Through our senses…….Taste, Scent, Touch, Hearing, and Vision, make it sensual, whether alone or with someone. Reich would add use movement. We would add, if not through sex then try other ways, deep breathing, yoga, walking, dancing anything that makes your body move.
Quick tips to put sex back on the menu
How about a dinner date night, or a dress to impress for work once a week and feel the buzz after with your partner?
Maybe role playing using a favorite character and develop it into a sexual fantasy with your partner?
What about a game of scrabble using sensual sex play words only?
Or try a virtual dance, or perhaps even a kitchen disco?
Whatever you decide - keep the life dance going and thrive to the beat, not just survive.
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