An advantage of rainy days during your holidays is that it gives an excellent opportunity to get stuck into books, especially if you look after a friend’s house who has an extensive library.
A book where I found inspirational thoughts is Paul Pearsall’s “A Healing Intimacy” (New York, 1994). The beginning is a bit dry and the end feels a bit contrived, but in the middle, he makes some valuable points.
What spoke to me most was when he talks about the “Sex Syndicate” that has shaped our thinking about sexuality. I have always wondered if it is sensible to separate sexuality from the relationship, as in “sex therapy”. Is this not yet another compartmentalisation of the person?
The focus in the times of “sexual freedom” had become the “what” and “how” of our sexual expression: “By the mid 1970s, we thought we knew how often and how we should be having sex, and we had a sex syndicate to keep reminding us” (p.108). And “the sex syndicate code is clear and to the point: Sex is natural, the only unnatural sex act is one you cannot do, the more sex the better, too much thinking about the meaning of sex gets in the way of the mechanics, and the more you master the secret spots and techniques and keep your mind and concerns with the meaning of sex out of the bedroom, the more sexually functional you will be. … Sex is a raging impulse within us all, and it is best to let it out often and in the functional ways suggested by the sex establishment” (p. 109). The “real meaning of sex” was seen to be “self-pleasure and joy”. With the focus on “self-fulfillment” and “gratification”, a loving relationship becomes the mere vehicle for our sexual drive.
Pearsall promotes “sexual healing” as an alternative. As a psychoneuroimmunologist, he explores the healing power of sexual connection. Intimacy increases immunity.
“Sexual healing is intimacy for the enhancement of the total health of both partners, and, because of its deep meaning and enduring connection, it ultimately enhances the lives of everyone – the family, the society, and the world.” (p. 110) Sexual healing involves “mindfulness”, it exceeds the technically focused, release driven performance sex. “Orgasm is more than genital and muscular contraction. It is as much mind as body because mind and body are one.” (p.111)
Excitement through external stimulants, as promoted by the sex syndicate, is replaced with “intimate connection”, where the focus is on the partner and not the technique. “Sexual healing looks for the healer between and maximises the power of intimate connection between two people who choose their inner healers, to seek meaning in life together, and to express their connection physically.” (p. 139)
Pearsall is sceptical of sex therapy: “Sex therapy almost never works. It is impossible to separate our sex lives from our whole lives. Sex therapy techniques are mechanical methods rather than the means for merging. … Sexual healing is a matter of togetherness and meaning, not techniques and gimmicks.” (p. 114)
Sex can become another addiction, where “the thrill seeker is motivated by sexual attraction and under the influence of stress chemicals which can overstimulate the immune system” (p. 152f). When the stage of infatuation is left behind, the “love junkie” usually has to move on for another fix, the thrill of a new relationship or an affair. This provides a risk to one’s health rather than the healing qualities that a consistent loving relationship offers. According to Pearsall, backed up by research findings that explore our immune system, we stay healthy and generally improve our well-being, when we manage to stay loving with our partner and are not afraid of intimacy and connection.
“From the sexual healing perspective, sex is not just an expression of love. It is a means of expressing your sense of connection – the totality of your awareness of your feelings of oneness with everything and everyone.” (p. 151) “The sex of sexual healing reclaims sexuality from those who regard it as a means of mechanical self-pleasure. Rather, sex is a means of healing the number one disease of our time: the individual’s lack of profound and prolonged contact with another human being.” (p. 238)
Mirjam Busch & Rudolf Jarosewitsch
Copyright © 1/2005 by Rumijabu | Originally published in “Partners in Dialogue” January 2005