Sex is an important element for our well-being and the need to physically connect is an innate one. Neuroscience explains the benefits of sex through our brain functions. Chemicals are released, like oxytocin and endorphins, and they are responsible for the reduction of stress and relief from pain. It is also a biological drive and most of us feel the need to sexually engage in various ways. Nevertheless, there are many stories about people who:
- Are challenged with shame or anxiety about sexual issues
- Are confused about their sexual and romantic orientation
- Face difficulties expressing their true desires and hide them from their partner
- Are sex addicts
- Are criticized or socially excluded because of their identity
- Have trouble sharing their issues with friends or even their therapist
- Face sexual harassment issues
And so much more…
It all comes down to understanding who we are, what we want and being healthy. In order for others to accept us we must first accept who we are. Society cannot dictate what is right or ethical, unless it is something illegal. Paraphilia is typically considered to be a set of behaviors that have been deemed socially unacceptable, that involve non-human objects, suffering of one’s self or that of a partner, children or a non-consenting person (for example, fetishism, voyeurism, exhibitionism, and pedophilia) (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). These types of behaviors need special psychiatric care.
How does sex create impairment in occupational, social and relationship areas?
We are exposed to so much information, which can be misleading or create misconceptions. Deep knowledge about sex is important not only to understand ourselves but also to prevent harm to others or ourselves and to be safe. Unfortunately, even after so many years of existence we tend to criticize what we do not understand. Schools or parents do not educate preteens and young adults well enough (or at all) in order to prepare them for this part of their life. That is why shame is prevalent and why many people are hesitant to express themselves. It is fascinating how such a biological drive can affect our decision making process. Suppressed feelings can alter our behavior unconsciously. It is a fact that when people repeatedly engage in sexual behaviors, urges or fantasies, they might actually respond to a stressful situation or to a dysphonic mood state like depression or shame; or even boredom. Sex is often used as an escape from reality.
Sex is connected with so many areas of our life. Our self-esteem, our social or professional life and our emotional regulation are impacted. We could enjoy sex so much with someone that it could make us extremely jealous; or we could be having unsatisfying sexual relations with someone and be afraid of letting them know. This could lead to seeking unhealthy alternatives, boredom or even frustration. Most secret affairs are created because we are afraid of working with our partner on issues such as communication, novelty, excitement, or experimentation. We find it easier to blame our partner, or by projecting our insecurities and, thus, end up denying our part of the responsibility. Our well-being depends on our relationships and intimate relationships need effective communication.
I have been preoccupied with sex in ways that impaired my personal life. I was activating my self-deceit mechanisms constantly maintaining my state of denial. When I realized that I was actually deviating and was in extreme emotional distress, I sought help before it was too late. My relationships were unstable and more often than not I was unable to manage my anger or my shame, which were both the cause and the reinforcement of my sexual behaviors. What I learned from this experience is that the people who we spend time with can save us or doom us. Friends and family must be honest and make us confront our problems. I consider sex to be a unique aspect for each and everyone of us. Compatibility is key, so there is no right and wrong. Protect yourself and practice safe and consensual sex. Love your body and treat yourself and others with respect.
Together we will work on honesty and acceptance. My open-minded approach and experience will be a vehicle for understanding you better. When you know yourself you are able to make better choices and interact more effectively. We will build social skills, and improve our sexual intelligence in working both cognitively and behaviorally. Psycho-education will also be a big part of our sessions. I will guide you on how to control your impulses and enjoy sex without guilt. Don’t compromise, don’t waste time, and don’t hide. It’s more than OK to be yourself!
Dr. George Lagios
PhD, M.Sc. (CBT)
Dr. George Lagios holds a master’s degree in psychology, specifically in cognitive behavioural therapy, and a PhD in sexology. He is a professor of Psychosexual Therapy and author of two best sellers Would You Choose You as Your Parent? (2018) and Inside Your Mind (2020). He is also a clinical mental health counselor, psychotherapist and speaker. He has received the President’s Achievement Award from the Hellenic American Association and continues his research work on erotic desire.